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Convocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras online

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strongly impressed with the conviction that the spread of educa-
tion, and especially of Western culture, carried on as it is under
the auspices of this and the other Indian Universities, imposes
new and special difficulties upon the Government of this country.
J t seems to me, I must confess, that it is little short of folly that
we should throw open to increasing numbers the rich stores of
Western learning ; that we should inspire them with European
ideas, and bring them into the closest contact with English
thought ; and that then we should, as it were, pay no heed to the
growth of those aspirations which we have ourselves created, and
the pride of those ambitions we have ourselves called forth. To
my mind one of the most important, if it be also one of the most
difficult, problems of the Indian Government in these days is how
to afford such satisfaction to those aspirations and to those am-
bitions as may render the men who are animated by them the
hearty advocates and the loyal supporters of the British Govern-
ment. It is in such considerations that those who care to seek
for it may find the explanation of much of the policy which I
have pursued in this country. Gentlemen, at this late hour I
will detain you no longer, but I will assure you that the deep
interest which I have felt, and ever shall feel, in the progress of
education in India makes me esteem very highly indeed the
honour which you have conferred upon me to-day. My best
wishes will ever accompany the onward progress of this Univer-
sity, which is doing in India for England work so noble, and is
binding together the two lands and their numerous races with
cords more powerful than the strength of armies and more
enduring than the craft of Statesmen. Gentlemen, I thank you

16*4 University of Bombay.



Gentlemen of the Senate, When I succeeded to the office
of Vice- Chancellor on -the departure of my friend Mr. West, I
did not anticipate that I should so soon be called upon to under-
take the duty of addressing you in this place at the Annual
Convocation of our University. I should -have accepted with
more pleasure a responsibility so honourable, if I did not deeply
regret, as you also must regret, and it is a feeling which the
Chancellor has begged me to say that he entirely reciprocates,
the absence from the Chancellor's seat at the last Convocation
which falls within his term of office, of a Governor of Bombay
who is so steadfast and liberal a friend of education, so cordial
in recognizing private educational enterprise, and so unwearied
in encouraging our scholars by his kindly presence at school
anniversaries, as is Sir James Fergusson.

The Eegistrar has read to you portions of the report of the
proceedings of the University since the last Convocation, and the
full report will shortly be placed in your hands. You will find
therein the results of the University Examination, of which let it
suffice to say that they are generally satisfactory, and prove by
the increasing number of successful students in nearly all branches
of study that the demand for higher education is still extending.
The unprecedented number of 2,036 candidates presented them-
selves for Matriculation. As three-fifths of these candidates
were unsuccessful, I note, without disparagement of others almost
equally meritorious, the New English School at Poona and the
Native State Schools of Bhavanagar and Junagad as distinguished
by passing all or nearly all the candidates they sent up. Of
the successful candidates, 22 were female students. I have been
asked to observe that for the first time two members of the com-
munity of Beni-Israel have received University degrees to-day.
There has been an addition to endowments in the shape of a
medical prize and indeed I do not know that any year has passed
without adding something to the endowments of this University.

But beyond the ordinary statistics of business, there is much
in the record of events which give a special signifi-
Educafcion f cance and importance to the history of the past year,
The spontaneous energy in education which is mani-
festing itself in our large towns may perhaps owe some of its
vigour to the invitation held out by the Government to private
enterprize, but chiefly it marks the fact that forces which have

1885 The Honorable J. B. Peile. 165

been gathering strength beneath the surface of society are begin-
ning to show their vitality in a practical way. From much on which
I might dwell, including the remarkable movement in the cause
of higher female education at Poona, and the acceptance of the
management of primary schools by our Municipalities, I select
for remark the foundation of the independent Arts College in the
capital of the Deccan to which we have recently granted recog-
nition. In the narrative of the origin and purpose of this college
it is stated that it is designed as a private arts college which
might become in time to come a source of continuous supply of
graduates and under-graduates ready to carry education for a
small remuneration into the remotest parts of the Deccan, and
thus to cover, if possible, the whole country with a network of
private schools under the direction and control of a central edu-
cational organization. There is a modest strength of purpose
about this forecast, which commands our sympathy and respect.

It recalls to me what I have recently read of the
ample n ble **" wor ^ ^ t ^ Le Christian Brothers in France set on foot

at the close of the sixteenth century By John Baptist
de la Salle, who abandoned his prospects of advancement and
devoted his life to the humble task of organising and spreading
elementary education. He founded an institute, the members
of which after a careful training for the office of school-masters,
were to devote their lives to the work of primary education.
The Brotherhood extended its labours over France, it survived
the Revolution of the Commune and carried its operations into
other countries, and although the present Government has
unhappily withdrawn from it all countenance and support, yet
in Paris alone it has 60,000 scholars and is largely aided by the
private benevolence of all classes, both the rich and the poor.
Here is a noble and encouraging example for the infant institution
in the Deccan, and if its spirit is equally pure and disinterested,
I doubt not that its success will not be less remarkable.

From the contemplation of this college of poor scholars
if I may so call it let us turn to the college in Kathiawar,
newly founded ; and to be endowed from the revenues of Bhava-
nagar, by the ruler of that State, Sir Takhtsinggi, in memory
of a faithful minister. This college is also a sheaf of the harvest
returned by the education which we foster, for it is to the good
principles grafted by liberal and judicious teaching in the Kaj-
kumar College on an open and generous nature, that we must
trace the [public character of a prince distinguished above his
peers for loyal affection to the Government which guided his
youth, and wise munificence in contributing from his revenues to

166 University of Bombay.

every good work of the time, for instance although this Chief
is establishing an arts college in his capital at his sole cost, lie
has also by a donation of a large sum of Rs. 20,000 aided the
Committee of the Guzerat College in making up their endowment
fund to a sum sufficient to meet a liberal offer of Government for
the reconstitution and expansion of that college, which we may
hope to see carried into effect in the course of the present year.

Above all our University and the Presidency are to be con-
gratulated on this, that with all the colleges newly established
in our provinces, and the Native States at Pooiia, at Ahmedabad,
at Kolhapur and Bhavanagar and Baroda, our older colleges are
not depleted of their students, nor are the means of collegiate
education found to be in excess of the demands. On the con-
trary, the Elphinstone and Deccan Colleges hail the affiliation
of the new institutions as a timely relief to their overcrowded
lecture rooms and to classes which are so overgrown as to have
passed beyond the grasp of their professors.

And now, as I have taken for the key-note of my remarks the
springing forth of spontaneous and independent educational
enterprise, as a practical end and object on which the growing
power and activity of thought of which our educated classes are
conscious, may satisfy their craving for expression and action,
my train of reflection leads me to the motive of the first exercise
by this University of the power of granting an honorary degree
under the Act of 1884. That ceremony is too fresh in your memo-
ries, and was too fully illustrated by the eloquence and enthusiasm
which it evoked, to require many words from me. It seems to me
that the strong emotions which then broke through the normal
calm of oriental life are attributable to this coincidence, that at a
time when the social forces created by the educational work of our
Governments and Universities during the last 30 odd years
had begun to seek a voice and recognition, Lord Ripon met
and gratified these aspirations when he reasserted with the
point and the emphasis of intense personal conviction, the prin-
ciples of policy which have long guided England in its splendid
duty of raising the people of this empire to a higher place
among civilised men.

You have been reminded by a passage in the report just
read that we have to condole with the sister University on the
death of the Principal whose value we can well estimate by the
quality of the services which he rendered to this University.
Sir Alexander Grant brought to our infant University in Bom-
bay the high academic tone of Oxford and the mark of his

1885. The Honorable J. B. Peile. 167

spirit and touch of his hand are perceptible in every part of our
system. It has been said that by the devotion of his best years
to India he sacrificed something of the reputation which he
might have achieved in England. However that may be, those
years in India were expended on noble work, and his memory
is green among us as one of the foremost founders and guides
of Indian academic life. Next, let me say a word of another
Vice-Chancellor who has gone from among us, and whose loss,
as more recent, may be more sensibly felt by those to whom I
am speaking. I refer to Mr. West, to whose last eloquent words
in this office you listened in this hall hardly more than a month
ago. He has gone to aid a country which is sorely in need of the
reign of law under which our University prospers, and what is your
loss is Egypt's gain. I do not doubt, however, that these young
students and lawyers here present will miss the tonic of his
frank and blunt but never unkindly counsel . But the example of
his life will remain with us and I would remind the young gradu-
ates around me that Mr. West was known as a patient and indus-
trious student from the first day to the last of his career in India,
and that by these unremitting labours, not less than by his high
natural abilities, did he achieve one of the noblest positions
which can be held by a servant of the Crown, the position of a
sound and learned Judge who commands the confidence of all
who come before him.

And now it remains for me to say a few words of exhortation
and encouragement to those young men who have to-day received
their University Degrees, and are about to go forth with the
good seed of education in their hands, to sow and reap. My time
of preparation for this duty has been so short that my words
will be plain and brief. I shall not follow my learned predeces-
sor in dwelling on the delights of learning pursued for its own
sake and for the good it can do, in disregard of earthly honours
and ambitions. That prospect is all-sufficing for a selected few
and my earnest hope is that is may attract and enchain more and
. more of our students as the academic life is more highly esteemed.
But no more in an Eastern than in a Western University can any
but a small proportion of students devote themselves to a life of
philosophic research. And in truth it is evident that the material
progress of India demands ever more imperatively that those
whose minds have been strengthened and cultured in our Univer-
sities should apply their powers to practical life as teachers and
workers. But if I direct you rather to the active than thec on-
templative life, I shall of course avoid any contact with the
strife of political parties above which as the Chancellor pointed

168 University of Bombay.

out last year, the University dwells serene. I propose only to
Various op- suggest the answers to this question. What op-
portunities for look has the Indian graduate in active life and
distinction and * wnafc purposes can he apply his acquirements ?
First, then let mesaythat, with thegreatand urgent
needs of your country, intellectual, moral and material, your
career should be one of life-long and devoted labour, if it is
to be worthy of your University and fulfil the expectations of
your Government. You have won no thing as yet but the means
of usefulness, the weapons of your warfare, and you will do well
not to look for a premature reward in some inglorious stipend
or rest content with a cheaply earned, unproved and unfruitful
reputation for ability. You can act more worthily by entering
into the competition of the learned professions, law, medicine
and civil engineering, which are open to all according to their
capacity and in which field the Indian graduate has already estab-
lished his place. Then there is the public service of the country
a most legitimate object of aspiration. And although impatience
is often expressed at barriers and restrictions in the official career,
yet when I see natives of this country in the Legislative Councils,
on the Benches of the High Courts, in the Magistracy, the Civil
Service and in nearly every department of State, I cannot admit
that the obstacles to the higher offices are such as need depress or
discourage. I would remind you that under your Government
barriers are temporary and are surmountable by the force of
proved merit and worth. And no victory over difficulties is of
much ethical value which is achieved without serious effort.
The great field of local public business has been made your own
to occupy and possess. And I hold that whatever limitations
must in this day be imposed on access to higher office, the
selection of men to conduct local affairs should be subject to no
other conditions than the selection of men to serve the public in
the liberal, professions. The man who is best fitted by education
and character to perform the services which the public requires
should be the man who is employed. But besides all these
there is a boundless field of useful activity open to those who
have acquired in this University the habit of research, and
will apply it to investigations useful to Government and
their country. Keflect, for instance, on the imminent problem
connected with the growth of population under the Roman
peace of this empire. How shall these multiplying millions be
sustained ? By what resources of agricultural science may the
land through higher cultivation be enabled to support a larger
number ? What products can be grown for export which will
bring wealth in return from other lands ? What alternative

1885. The Honorable J. B. Peile. 169

industries can be set on foot for the employment of the surplus
population ? These are a few of the economic questions to the
solution of which natives of the country trained in scientific
knowledge and to accurate habits of thought should be able to
contribute. With all these interesting subjects and pursuits
opening and expanding before us and with freedom of speech and
thought, one is disposed to envy the young scholar of India, his
free and various opportunities for usefulness and activity in civil
and political life.

Let me in conclusion, along with the promise of your future
present a few words of caution to you graduates

ti^and advice! f 1884 and to a11 tllOSe before y U > who in tn e

long procession of years, have received. the degrees
of this University and gone out hence to encounter the struggle
of life. You are living in a dawn of much promise of which no
man can yet foresee the perfect day. Then realise how much in
the future of your country depends upon yourselves and the
character you have formed under the discipline of your colleges.
If you are called on hereafter, as you may and will be, to think
and speak and write on public affairs, let your participation
therein be in the spirit of the great authors whom you have
studied, thoughtful, scrupulous, liberal and free from pre-
judice. Let me draw your attention to the words uttered lately
at Poona by one whose great historical attainments entitle
him to speak with high authority of the lessons of history
I mean the learned Principal of the Elphinstone College, who
told you that you as an educated minority among illiterate
masses are exposed to special temptations and dangers from
which you can be protected only by habits of mental discipline and
patient self-denial. Keep your minds free from exaggerated ideas
and pretensions. Do not mar and nullify the great power and
privilege of a free press by petulant and inaccurate criticism of
public affairs. Let honest work in some of the fields of action
which I have briefly indicated, and the patriot's singleness of
purpose for the public good, abstract your minds from any crav-
ing for the personal notoriety which is so often mistaken for fame.
Thus may you obey the charge which I have addressed to you,
that ever in your life and conversation, you shew yourselves
worthy of the degrees conferred upon you by this University a
University founded in a year of war and tumult, by a Government
which revolution was impotent to divert from completing the
beneficent work of which you enjoy the inheritance.

170 University of Bombay.

_-_______ *M'



Gentlemen of the Senate, In a second year the duty has
fallen to me of addressing yon in this place at the Convocation
for conferring degrees. I had hoped that this chair would be
otherwise and more worthily filled to-day. You, I am sure,
hoped that also. If you are denied an intellectual pleasure on
which you had counted, it will still be easily understood that
the claims and interests of education in this empire, the aim
and grasp, the tendencies and influences -of the University and
of public and private instruction, are many-sided and complex,
such as are not to be learnt from books or the conversation of
those who have been in India ; and the mastery of them in all
lights, political, social, material, literary, requires some time.
Next year, if I am present, I shall be glad to take a lower
place, and to listen while our educational performances are
passed through the crucible by the refined intelligence of Lord

Now, I will advert here to an unpleasant subject which I

am bound to notice, but from which I shall be
" S la . d ^ pass on, I speak of the unhappy event

which marred the Matriculation Examination of
1885, and which, though its shadow lies only on the threshold
of the University precincts, is so abhorrent to the clear air
of elevated studies, that it may well fill all friends of learning
with dismay. If there was a breach of trust, latent it may
be, in a carelessness which is not defensible, or even corruption
somewhere, the reproach of which rests on us the Executive
of the University how much more grievous was the breach of
trust committed by the young men who were not true to
themselves at a time of life when all the worth of the future
character is staked on a rigid conscientiousness about the work
in hand? What can be the value or quality of a youth's studies
at college who gains his title of entrance to the higher course
by an acted lie ? Carlyle, addressing the students of Edin-
burgh, said of even the minor offences of shallow pretentious-
ness and cramming : " Avoid all that is entirely unworthy of
an honourable habit Morality as regards study is, as in all
other things, the primary consideration, and overrides all others.
A dishonest man cannot do anything real. This is a very old
doctrine, but a very true one ; and you will find it confirmed
by all the thinking men that have ever lived in this long series
of generations of which we are the latest/'

1886. The Honorable J. B. Peile. 171

The new benefactions of this year are from the province of
Gujarat. The most interesting is that of a Fellow of last year
the Thakore Saheb of Gondal who has presented Ks. 6,000 to
form a collection of ancient records of the literature of India
to be placed in the University Library. The second is the
endowment of a scholarship in memory of the late Majumdar
Manishankar of Kathiawar. The third is an endowment of two
scholarships by Mr. Haridas Veharidas Desai, of Nadiad, and
Divan of Junagad, a filial tribute to the memory of his respected
father. It is worthy of record that one female student passed
the First Examination in Medicine, and eleven female students
passed the Matriculation Examination. Of the latter, three are
Parsi young ladies, and I am informed that all of them will carry
their studies further, one in the Grant College and the other two
in a college of Arts. Examination results show, in Matriculation,
2,262 candidates, of whom 887 finally passed. Last year the
numbers were 2,036 and 840. There is a decrease in the number
of candidates who passed the Previous Examination, and in those
who have qualified for the degree of B.A. The successful
candidates for the degree of B.Sc. numbered only three. There
is an increase in the new graduates in Law and Medicine ;
- a decrease in those in Civil Engineering. There are no
doctors in Medicine this year, and a fall from 9 to 3 in Masters
of Arts. Looking back some fifteen years to the time when I
was more specially connected with the administration of public
instruction, I observe that the yearly average of men who
Matriculated was then under 200. The B.A.'s were about
12 to 18 .yearly. The average of the past three years is over 70.
The M.A.'s were very much as they are now. The number
this year represents the average since 1865. Some thoughts
are suggested by these numerical results reviewed side by side
with the means of teaching. We have four Arts Colleges of old
standing, with a College of Medicine, a College of Science, and a
School of Law, all recognized between 1860 and 1869 chiefly
about 1860. Then comes the younger generation the Gujarat,
Kolhapur, Baroda, and Bhavnagar Colleges, and the Fergusson
College at Poona, all recognized in the last five or six years.
But these are elementary colleges, teaching the less advanced
part of the Arts course ; they are all concerned with the Arts
course ; they are also scantily provided with European Professors.
Three of these are supported by Native States. The other two,
though partly supported by subscriptions or endowments, make
a demand on our public taxation fund. So also will the college
to be established in Sind. It would seem, then, that the increase
of the higher teaching power by which I mean the fresh acces-

172 University of Bombay.

sion of Professors of liigli attainment from Europe has not been
in proportion to that of the numbers seeking to be taught. The
subject presents itself in this light that, if there are narrow
limits to the increase of the professorial body maintained by
the State, as I am afraid that we must admit that there are, it
is better to apply some sifting process to the students than to
allow the teaching power to be overtasked by numbers. The
Previous Examination of this year has certainly acted as a sift-
ing process, 345 candidates having been rejected out of 487. Half
of all the candidates failed in English, and cannot have been
competent to profit by lectures given in that language. But not-
withstanding this check, the numbers who pass the preliminary
barrier, and the numbers who reach the B.A. degree, show a
remarkable increase in the last two or three years. This is no
doubt attributable to the enlargement of the means of secondary
education, but the question suggests itself What is the object
of this great body of students marching chiefly on one and the
same line, and would any just expectations be thwarted by the

Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 19 of 66)