Page 49 - Science India August 2022
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           who was foresighted enough to ask for first rate Science education in ‘Maths, Chemistry, Astronomy and other useful Sciences’ in 1823 through his petition to Amherst, yet the teaching of founda- tional Science took fifty more years. The British were primarily interested in ex- ploiting India’s resources to the full and focused attention on disciplines of Geog- raphy, Geology and Botany. However, in other areas, like Physics, Chemistry and Agriculture, in which scientific develop- ment was not imperative, no attention was paid.
Even though the universities of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras were set up in 1857, degrees in Science were granted by these universities only from the 1870s on- wards. By 1870, three institutes in Cal- cutta, the Medical College of Bengal, the Presidency College and the St Xavier’s College were teaching the ‘rudiments of modern Science’. In 1875, Calcutta Uni- versity divided its BA into two branches — ‘A’ course, i.e., literary, ‘B’ course, i.e., Science. Madras University decided to examine its matriculation candidates in Geography and Elementary Physics, and Bombay University started grant- ing degrees in Science. Obviously, these initiatives were not aimed at the tran- scendental goals of Science education like developing critical thinking, innova- tive spirit or a questioning attitude. The teaching of Science was totally textbook based till 1900 and the first Chemistry lab was established in 1901. Research was not mandatory at any of the uni- versities. Being taught in English, with books printed in Britain, on western themed scientific philosophy, following the British educational model, this Sci- ence education alienated the students from the indigenous culture and bur- dened them with a deep inferiority com- plex towards their own nation and its age old wisdom. In fact, Calcutta University was locally called, ‘Goldighir-Golam- khana’ meaning the ‘Slave house by the lake’, implying the slavish mentality of its students. While the colonial rulers were interested in sourcing out young people as assistants to tighten their grip on the
Image Couurtesy: Archives and Publications Cell, IISc
country, the Indian leaders saw in west-
teachers may be, they had to join the pro- vincial services which were lowly paid ern Science education an opportunity to
and had lesser service benefits while their reduce the gap between the modern and
European counterparts enjoyed higher ancient knowledge and beat them in the
salaries and better facilities in the Impe- sphere in which the British had always
rial service. In 1885 and 1889, JC Bose claimed superiority.
 Students outside the first women’s hostel at IISc, in 1945. (L-R) Rajeswari Chatterjee, Roshan Irani, M Premabai, Miriam George and Violet D’Souza
MODERN SCIENCE EDUCATION Mahendra Lal Sircar was one of the pio- neers who could see through the clever ploy of the British to use Science as a means to achieve their exploitative ends and to counter that, he established the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS), in 1876 as a purely Indian and private initiative in funding and management. Initially aimed to pop- ularise science and scientific subjects, it gradually started fundamental research in Physics and Chemistry. Now, the time was ripe for qualified Indian teachers to be recruited for Science teaching. The British, however, discouraged such re- cruitments by using discriminatory ser- vice rules against Indian teachers. How- soever qualified or experienced Indian
Mahendra Lal Sircar could see through the clever ploy of the British to use Science as a means to achieve their exploitative ends
and PC Ray respectively joined as faculty in the Presidency College. Though they were great teachers and were able to raise an army of worthy students by the dint of their merit and passion, however, their careers as Science lecturers were far from satisfactory. Differential financial ben- efits, heavy teaching load and complete lack of any monetary or other support for Science research by the government made the careers of Indian teachers an everyday struggle.
Meanwhile, privately managed edu- cational institutes affiliated to the uni- versities were established in the suburbs, which became hotbeds of student politi- cal activities and burgeoning national- ism. The University Act of 1904 passed by Lord Curzon allowed the British to have a tighter control on these colleges through the authorities of the affiliating universities which were ‘the most com- pletely governmental universities in the world’. No additional financial support was provided to pay the university teach- ers and/or create university laboratories for teaching and research. It became obvious that neither Science teaching nor research could flourish in institutes

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