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Roberts, Austen John (1974) Education and Society in the Bombay Presidency 1840-58. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The foundations of a modern educational system were laid in western India by the Bombay Board of Education in the years 1840 to 1855. The Board integrated the results of earlier ad hoc efforts into a network of vernacular-medium primary and English-medium secondary schools, spread throughout the three linguistic-cultural regions of the Bombay Presidency. The Board was responsible for the detailed allocation of all government educational expenditure, but, as a merely semi-official body, it enjoyed considerable autonomy. In deciding those sections of society upon whom the available funds should be spent the Board was influenced more by the views of its own officials ,who were able to evaluate the pattern of effective demand than by general theories ,or by broader considerations of government policy. The Board's schools were aimed neither at the cultivating peasantry nor at the wealthier landholding or trading groups. but at the widely dispersedyhigh-caste9non-cultivating rural elites, which formed the reservoir from which previous regimes had recruited their political and administrative personnel. The schools facilitated the accommodation of such groups, whose members had participated in the exercise of political power at the local level under the pre-British system, as a secondary elite in the new British power structure. The extension of education throughout the rural areas of the Bombay Presidency in the 1840's coincided with the establishment of the Bombay Revenue Survey Settlement, which, by fixing the revenue liability of each 'field' directly with individual proprietors, dispensed with the old hereditary intermediaries, and necessitated the creation of a large salaried bureaucracy. Many of those whose hereditary functions were abolished the settlement were absorbed, through the district schools, and the associated system of local public service entrance examinations, into the new administration. The heirs of such hereditary local officials figured prominently in the district schools, and the locally dominant castes froms which they came usually provided the majority of the pupils in their own localities. The educational system helped to transform these dispersed non-cultivating rural elites into a new bureaucratic and professional social aayer. Those recruited into the administration and associated professions through the schools usually enjoyed some hereditary income from land, but their new employment entailed movement away from the locale of recruitment, thereby weakening the ties which bound them to village society, and involving them in social interaction with others of a similar social status throughout each linguistic- cultural region. It thereby reinforced horizontal (status- equal) social bonds at the expense of vertical ones. The Board's schools also helped to stabilise regional linguitic norms, and , thereby, encouraged the development of the vernacular press and of new voluntary associations, through which this Wider feeling of corporate idntity found expression. The vernacular schools acted as feeders to the English schools, from which the leaders of the early social and political reform movements came; they also created the wider constituency which these leaders canvassed through the press and voluntary associations.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:25

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