18th August 2013
“Lord Macaulay was virtually an Indian nationalist. India should have accorded honorary citizenship to Lord Macaulay posthumously.”
I've extensively outlined earlier on this blog the many instances where Macaulay fought for greater liberty for all Indians. He was a great classical liberal and wanted greater liberty for ALL of mankind, and was not at all a fan of the British imperialists. In fact he challenged British policies in India in many ways. Many times. Just like he had challenged the hegemony of British lords and aristocrats through the British 1832 Reform Act, which brought great liberty to the people of England. Many extremely important Indians like Dadabhai Naoroji singled him out for high praise. But today his is a pariah. Much maligned, totally and falsely misrepresented.
I chanced upon high praise for Macaulay by Chandra Bhan Prasad. This is what he says:
Lord Macaulay was virtually an Indian nationalist. Deploy all the historians of the world and scan all history pages of India to find out who the first used the word 'independence' for India.
It would be, on the most selfish view of the case, far better for us that the people of India were well governed and independent of us, than ill governed and subject to us; that they were ruled by their own kings, but wearing our broadcloth, and working with our cutlery, than that they were performing their salams to English collectors and English magistrates, but were too ignorant to value, or too poor to buy, English manufactures. To trade with civilised men is infinitely more profitable than to govern savages.
Those are the exact words spoken by Lord Macaulay in his Government of India Speech on July 10, 1833 in the British House of Commons.
Who was the first person to find native Indians worth holding public offices under British rule?
We are told that the time can never come when the natives of India can be admitted to high civil and military office. We are told that this is the condition on which we hold our power. We are told that we are bound to confer on our subjects every benefit – which they are capable of enjoying? No; which it is in our power to confer on them? No; but which we can confer on them without hazard to the perpetuity of our own domination. Against that proposition I solemnly protest as inconsistent alike with sound policy and sound morality.
Lord Macaulay again, in the same speech.
If reason was to regulate conscience, India should have accorded honorary citizenship to Lord Macaulay posthumously.
I wouldn't go that far. After all, he did participate in the British government that ruled over India – although it is hard to blame someone for being a reformer from WITHIN the system. But I'd definitely say that many Indians who have an abhorrence for equal liberty for all – are at the forefront of the campaign to malign him. It is good to have people who actually READ Macaulay and are able to place him and his contributions in the context of his time.
Also Prasad writes: "Remember, Lord Macaulay was India's earliest Gandhi, if GandhiJi epitomized freedom movement as it was he who conceived independent India when Gandhi was not even born." [Source]. I'm glad that someone in India has bothered to read and understand Macaulay. Although that's not the key issue today. The key issue is LIBERTY for all Indians.
Btw, I notice a book was released last year: Macaulay: Pioneer of India's Modernization by Zareer Masani (Random House, India, 2012). May be worth reading.