K Subba Rau.

Convocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras online

. (page 21 of 66)
Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 21 of 66)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


I believe, than on any former occasion, and it is rather sad to
observe that of those who have succeeded so well, perhaps the
largest proportional number is due to two institutions over whose
face there has been not a little just lamentation in recent days.
It happens by a strange coincidence that in some of the exami-
nations the largest proportional number of those who have passed
relatively to those who have come up have issued from the
Gujarat and the Deccan Colleges. I say no more on this subject
at this moment, except that it proves that these institutions, even
as it maybe in their hour of weakness and impending danger, have
still worked up to a high standard, and have done their duty by
the people amongst whom they have been placed. The great
increase in the numbers of the gentlemen who come up for these
lower stages leading towards the degrees suggests always to
one interested in the advancement of learning that the prepara-
tory studies for this University ought to be made wider, deeper,
and more complete than they are. I believe there are few of
the gentlemen who have taken their degrees to-day, and few
who had to go through the torture of examinations in the lower
stages, who will not admit that they have suffered considerably
by the defects of the primary and secondary education through
which they have passed preparatory to their coming to this
University. And certainly it is an object well worthy of the
attention of an enlightened Government to endeavour to complete
the course of study, to enlarge its scope, and to ripen it especially
in the secondary schools of this Presidency, if it wishes to have
genuine scholarship apart from the mere faculty of passing
examinations amongst those students who are hereafter to be
the representatives of the intellect of India to the learned world.
The Government, however, is not the only power or the only



182 University of Bombay.



institution which is responsible in a matter like this. In every
Municipal!- Roman city of the ancient days there were estab-
ties and Edu- lishments for the education of the people which
were supported out of municipal funds. Every
great municipality of the Roman empire encouraged learning
in its schools by liberal grants, by obtaining for the Professors
in those scohols certain political privileges and titles, and
by freeing them from municipal taxes. I believe that the
Professors in Bombay would highly appreciate an honour of
that last kind. But whether the municipality may feel itself
disposed to violate all the canons of political economy or
not by conferring an exemption of that kind, I do say that
the municipality of Bombay might very well, and with great
advantage to the citizens it represents, do something towards
supporting three or four or six secondary schools of the first
ranks, presided over by men of distinguished abilities and
distinguished attainments, and teaching pupils sent into them
upon the two great lines of literary and scientific develop-
ment, and then sending them so prepared into this University
to make in this University an entirely new career for it, to set
up a new standard, and to make the institution more and more
worthy of the great place which, I believe, it occupies now and
is destined to occupy in the future of India. That great in-
terest is felt in this University amongst all the classes of the
community in this Presidency is in no way perhaps so well
indicated as by the endowments which it receives from year to
year. Never, I believe, since this University began its career,
since the Chancellor or Vice- Chancellor addressed you from this
place, has any occasion passed without the announcement of
some endowments. This year the endowments are not large, but
still the stream has not failed. They have been commemorated
in the report which has been read to you, and they claim a
word of gratitude from us. Divan Mambhai Jasbhai, the
Committee for the Countess of Bufferings Fund, and the Com-
mittee for establishing a memorial to the late Mr. James Greaves,
have made endowments which demand our recognition and our

gratitude. But perhaps there are not a few here

oS>^of i su ^r- w ^ nave a g 0( l deal of wealth to dispose of, whom

fluous wealth. we may remind that although a great deal has been

done, a great deal more remains to be done, and
there is still room for the munificence of our wealthy citizens.
For instance, we have only to look round the enclosure of
this noble building to see that a handsome railing round
it would add to the beauty and the architectural effect of
this magnificent pile. Again, our University Library, which



1887. The Honorable Mr. Justice West. 183

has formed so pleasing a topic of discussion to the journal-
ists for some years back, and which may be destined to
form a topic of their discussion still for some time to come, is
really but the leavings of three or four old libraries, a collection
of scraps and odds and ends. It has nothing of the systematic
or complete in it, and I put it to you, gentlemen, who have
wealth, and to gentlemen who shall read what I am now saying,
whether some portion of their riches would not be really well
disposed of in adding to the treasures of the library by which
all the citizens of Bombay might be benefited. Again, we have
been extending the range of our University examinations, we
have been enlarging the theoretical sphere of its influence ;
but where are the Professors, where are the teachers, who are
to give life to this skeleton, who are to fill out this great outline
and make our performance equal to the promises that we hold
forth to the world ? I think that for the completion of this
University course it is obviously necessary that there should be
constituted, in one at least of the colleges, a Professorship of
the classical languages, Greek and Latin. Perhaps it is news to
many of you that there is such a deficiency, but it does exist,
and I trust it will not be suffered long to exist. Again, those
gentlemen who were so zealous in advocating the cause of the
French language in the curriculum of the University are,
I think, bound to go about among some of their wealthy
friends and to urge them with all the influence they possess
to establish a Professorship of the French language and litera-
ture. No language and no literature could be more interest-
ing, none could be more worthy of the expenditure of some
of the superfluous wealth which is now rusting, actually rusting,
in the coffers of the wealthy of Bombay. Again, we have
established a degree in Science, but it has unfortunately not
proved very attractive hitherto, and the somewhat poor
show in point of numbers of the gentlemen distinguished, as I
have no doubt they are in their attainments, who have come up
to take their degree of Bachelors of Science to-day, indicates
that there is something wanting in the attractions as yet held
out to a career in that line. I believe that as the system of
technical education is extended, the Science degree will become
more and more appreciated, as it certainly ought to become.
But in the meantime I will put it to those who have the means,
that they might do a great deal of good to their University and
their countrymen by establishing one or two chairs in the
department of Applied Science, such as a chair of Agricultural
Chemistry. Those who are desirous of filling out the great
outline which is laid down of University studies here will find



184 University of Bombay.

plenty of opportunities, and they can gratify their own indivi-
dual taste in supporting or endowing this or that particular line
of research or mental development without in any way affecting
the special susceptibilities of any members of this institution.
Bombay, the There was a city in ancient days founded by a great
modem Alex- conqueror, I am speaking of Alexandria, L and
andna. when that great conqueror founded that city he

established it as a gateway of communication and as a means
of connection between the East and the West. That great city
of commerce was the seat of a long line of kings. It had wealth
beyond most cities of the ancient world, and it was the favoured
resort of many of the great ones of the earth. It has occupied a
great place in history, but the greatest place it has taken has been
on account of its library, on account of its learned men, and on
account of the philosophy and learning which grew up there, and
which have left its name, whatever its future fate may be, imper-
ishable in the intellectual history of mankind. Now in our day
and our age Bombay occupies quite an analogous position to that
of Alexandria in the ancient world. Bombay is for us the gateway
between the Bast and the West. There meet the men of various
nations, and there they exchange their merchandise. There also
then, I say, should be that interchange of thoughts and ideas by
which Bombay, like Alexandria, may rise to a fame quite independ-
ent of the wealth of its citizens, and of any fate which may befall
it. Here in Bombay, where converging races from the East and
West meet, should rise a school of scholarship and philosophy,
which should make this city a worthy successor to the great city
founded by Alexander the Great. Surely to forward such a
work as this is an ambition worthy of the greatest and most dis-
tinguished of our citizens. I hope they will now and in all
future time rise to the occasion, and it will be a part of
their ambition certainly it will be the noblest and purest
part of their ambition to endow the learned institutions,
and especially the University in this city, with such gifts,
make them so rich, and furnish such encouragements to learn-
ing, research, and study, as shall make Bombay intellectually
the first city in Asia and second to none in the world. Let me
remind these citizens that at the period of the Renaissance in
Europe, which corresponds much in many ways to the awakening
of thought and intellectual light which is now making its way
in India, the citizens of the great cities were lavish in their gifts
and in their expenditure for the encouragement of learning. The
great merchants of Florence, as some of their day-books, their
" mels," preserved down to our own time show, not only had
their correspondents in all parts of the world for gathering up



1887. The Honorable Mr. Justice West. 185

rich merchandise, but also to seek out learned men and to send
home valuable manuscripts. There is an example for our citizens
to follow. Again, I find at the same stage in the
world's progress that a city like Bologna spent half
of its municipal funds in the support of its Univer-
sity. Now I should like to go to the Municipal Council of Bombay,
and ask them what they would say to expending fifteen lakhs per
annum on the University of Bombay. In these days when there
are so many calls on the funds of the municipality as on those of
individuals, no one looks for such liberality as that. But something
at least might be done, and certainly when we look to the history
of great cities in the past, it can hardly be said to be an improper
disposition of municipal funds, when at any rate within moderate
limits they are expended on the advancement of learning and
science. Padua, another great city, supported at one time thirty
Professors in its University Professors of Law and Medicine
and General Literature. Now, if the Municipality of Bombay
would undertake to support in this institution even one-half of
that number, I am sure that the community would be extremely
grateful, and this institution would derive the greatest possible
benefit from such liberality. But at the same time that the
municipalities of Italy at the period of the Renaissance were so
liberal in their gifts in aid of learning, there was still a field left
for the princes and nobles and chiefs of that country, and there
is still a field left for the princes and nobles and chiefs of India
Excellent ad- * ^ a g reat deal ^ or tne University of Bombay. It
vice to Indian will be familiar to those of you who have read
ble^n and n " I 5 * 16 nistor y o that great period of the re-awaken-
ing of European life and knowledge that the new
learning was but somewhat coldly received by the Univer-
sities themselves, which by that time after a period of three
or four centuries of activity had already sunk pretty deep into
the ruts of routine. It was in the courts of Popes and of the
princes and nobles of Italy that the great scholars found means
for carrying on their studies and the Universities, which wero
somewhat chary of receiving them, found to their cost after-
wards that the wave of learning had in the long run passed
them by and left them standing. Here is an example for the
chiefs in India, and especially chiefs who have any relation
to the Presidency of Bombay. Here is an institution which
would be in no wise jealous of anything they can do for learn-
ing. It invites them to come into its arms and to go hand in
hand along with them in the work of assisting and promoting
learning, literature, and science. I suppose there are few
chiefs of higher rank who would not give a lakh or even two
24



186 University of Bombay.

or five lakhs for an addition of one gun to their salutes. I do
not ask these gentlemen in any way to despise the salute, which
shows the respect felt for them by the Paramount Power in
India. Far from it ; but I ask them to win a still greater and
nobler salute by giving a lakh or two or five to an institution
of this kind, and then on every occasion of their entering this
building, and showing their face among the community to
which they belong, they will receive the noblest salute of a
people's applause. I would fain see on every one of the panels
of this hall, in which we are assembled, a tablet containing
the names of chief after chief, hereditary donors of bounties
to this University, hereditary benefactors who would within its
sacred walls find a nobler Walhallah than anything -that
northern mythical imagination can conceive, where instead of
drinking mead out of the skulls of their slain foes, they would
move about in ideal society, one with the other, an idolized
body of benefactors worthy of the recollection and almost
of the worship of those who in future generations will flock into
this hall, as they have done to-day, to take their degrees and
to receive the recognition of those who come to witness the
Government proceedings. Now I dare say that the benefactions
and Higher Edu- which I have had to acknowledge to-day would
have been somewhat greater than they have been
but for some degree of uncertainty and of a strain of misgiving
which pervades the mind of the community at this moment as to
the future of education in this country. We have recently seen
one educational institution very materially changed in its condi-
tions. We see, or we think we see, a sort of sword of Damocles
hanging over another institution which is much prized by the
community. I do not venture at all to question the policy, from a
strictly political point of view, which dictates the movements of
Government in this respect. Bub it may be allowed to us as an '
University, however great and emergent the necessity may be, to
express our regret that any evil fate should befall institutions
such as these, and that is an evil fate, we consider, which
severs them now from the control and the support of Govern-
ment. We think, we members of this University think, and I
am snre I am speaking the feelings of nearly all, if not all,
who are assembled here, that it is desirable in the present
state of education in India that there should not be a total
severance of the Government from the higher educational
institutions. No doubt in England, with its peculiar history
and with a special individual character which has been devel-
oped there, the Government may sever itself from schools and
institutions for higher education, But a great deal of that



1887. The Honorable Mr. Justice West. 187

depends on the special circumstances of the history of Eng-
land, and we think that those circumstances may not exist
here, and that, therefore, the reasons why a particular line of
policy may be expedient in England, at least deserves fresh
examination and review before they are applied crudely and
without consideration to the circumstances of India. However,
in saying what I have said, I would not be understood, for a
moment, as calling in question the necessities which press on the
Government at this moment. We are living in a period of very
great financial pressure, every one knows so much as that ; but
no one feels it, I am sure, so acutely as the Government,
Moreover, the Government is called on at this moment to consider
what aid it can give to the advancement of technical education,

Importance of an( ^ ^ s ^ s a matter of vast importance. Technical
Technical Edn- education is that on which a great deal of the
future development of this country depends. It
is one of the most striking phenomena of the day, the swift
advance of the European countries in applying the resources
of science to the advancement of technical education ; and we
cannot any more than England afford to be left behind in the
competition and race for progress in this line. The Govern-
ment must do what it can to support technical education;
and technical education on its own behalf, even if there were
no competition and no stress of necessity, has great and para-
mount claims to the support of the Government and the com-
munity itself. It is through technical education that the riches
of the world are brought to our feet, that the weak are made
strong, and the poor rich, and that the fainting soul receives
the lightning-like communication that gives it peace. All these
things are owing to the application of science in our day, and who
shall therefore say that it does not deserve the recognition and
support of the enlightened men of the community. The Govern-
ment in supporting it deserves our sympathy, and if sacrifices
must be made for it in some directions, we must be reasonable
and enlightened enough to see that the Government itself is in a
strait, and submit to the necessity in the hope that better times

Government's W ^ L come * ^is subject of technical education has
indifference to hitherto been, I must say, somewhat lamely handled
Technical Bdu- as f ar as Q RQ can gather from what has appeared
in public by the Government. It seems almost
sometimes as if they had called up a Frankenstein, and were
afraid to look the subject in the face, and as if they were
hesitating with the "blank misgivings of creatures moving
about in worlds half realized." So much has been talked and
so little has been done in this great and important sphere of



188 University of Bombay.

activity ! But I hope that ere long something like a practical
beginning will be made, and that then step by step we shall rise
through those middle principles on which Bacon has dilated as
being so important in connection with the progress from the lower
to a higher, that by degrees we shall introduce technical schools
to advance our humbler students to a perfect grasp of what they
now but faintly appreciate, and also that the masters and managers
of factories and agriculture on the larger scale will be furnished
with that higher technical education which is so essential, and
which comes into close communication with the abstract physical
sciences. It is at this highest point that technical
cation 11 !^ E the e d a cation comes into connection with the Univer-
University. sity and polytechnic institutions. Whether the one

or the other should be the culminating point is a
problem which has been resolved in different ways by the think-
ing and practical minds of Europe. One thing, however, is cer-
tain, that whether a polytechnic institution or University should
be the ultimate home of science education, a preparatory system
laying the groundwork of general literature and science can do
nothing but good. The highest grade of instruction in general
literature and general science, according to the conceptions which
have prevailed, and which I think must be sound, has been allot-
ted hitherto to the Universities, and I think that whatever might
be the result from other points of view, the University itself would
largely gain by an addition to its forces in the department of
science. There is no doubt that mere learning and philosophy
faint and fade and wither in the absence of contact with positive
science and the daily interests and needs with which it is con-
nected. That has been illustrated by many instances, and not least
by the Universities of Italy to which I have made reference. No
University can afford to put itself out of touch with the general
movement of thought in the world, and when the general move-
ment is proceeding along the line of science, it is fatal to any
institution, be it ever so capable and learned in other ways, to let
itself fall out of communication with that movement. I say,
then, that it is in the University that we should, for the benefit
of the Universities and I think of the community, have those
masters of pure science who will furnish to the professors of
technology the means of carrying on their teaching with the

greatest benefit. These University professors of

Qualifications science should be men specially devoted to their

Science? 80 subject ; they should be men not engaged in many

different occupations, but there should be in them,
in order that they may attain perfection in their own pursuit,
that specialization of labour, that devotion to single subjects



1887. The Honorable Mr. Justice West. 189

of study which it would be impossible for any one engaged
in an ordinary profession, or in any ordinary business to have.
The professor of a particular subject, as of Chemistry in an
University, must give himself np to that one subject. At the
same time mixed trades and professions on account of their
involving attention to a great many fragmentary subjects are in
themselves almost incapable of being taught in an University ;
you require a combination of qualities, a readiness of resources,
and an application of very various species of information for the
purpose of carrying on any business which is not best learnt in an
University or not learnt there at all, but must be learnt in the
practice of the profession and of the business itself. Therefore, I
say, that although the scientific part of an education can best be
communicated in the University, and by University teachers of
the highest rank, yet as for the mixed business and professions
but little can be done in the Universities except laying the
foundations. These remarks apply especially to the University
of Bombay, and I hope that while technical education is being
advanced by the Government it will still be accompanied side
by side with a large endowment for pure science in the Univer-
sity, and that from out of the studies and the lecture rooms
of the professors of science will proceed a large number of men,
who will then apply their scientific attainments to the instruc-
tion of those who again, in the descending scale, will communi-
cate that fertilizing stream to the members of the community
who must needs use it in their ordinary avocations.

These are the chief remarks that occur to me on this occa-
sion. Gentlemen of the Senate, I had intended to say something
at greater length on the position which Indian Universities have
now attained, on the great services they have rendered to the
community amongst whom they are placed, on the duties which
devolve upon them, and on the great future which is before
them. The topic, I find, is somewhat too extensive and too
important to be treated at this stage of my address to you.

I will reserve it, if ever I have the opportunity, for
vice tcr Indian*" som s other occasion of addressing you, and I will

say no more on the present occasion than to remind
my younger hearers, in whom we all feel so much interested, that
whether in the field of science, or in the field of literature, there
is a certain exaltation of spirit required, and that can be attained
by true attachment to a great institution of this kind, which brings
out the noblest abilities into splendid activity ; that they owe to
this institution and to their country great services on account of
their connexion with the University, that they should make their



190 University of Bombay.

position in it the means of guarding and guiding them amidst
the manifold temptations of life ; that they should remember that



Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 21 of 66)