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Convocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras online

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wider employment of graduates and undergraduates in the public
departments of the State has resulted in better work, and in a
distinctly higher tone of the public service. These results might
have been anticipated, but the fact that the character of the ser-
vice has been manifestly improved by the enforcement of general
and special tests of competency, will undoubtedly encourage the
State to maintain, and increase, rather than relax, the stringency
of the tests now accepted.

I have advised you to be modest in the estimation of your
own value, and to be content with beginning life
Sound mental on the lower rungs of the official ladder. If you
^ g . m< possess ability, zeal, and integrity, advancement

and promotion must follow, as surely as the night
follows the day, because every department of the State has an
interest in being well served, and efficiency in lower grades is
the best passport to the higher. But let it be borne in mind
that the State cannot create offices because graduates abound,
and that when the State service, and the learned professions
have drawn their supplies of educated labor, there will still
remain a number of graduates, who, of choice or necessity, will
have to seek elsewhere for occupations suited to their circum-
stances. Whether you betake yourselves to trade, commerce,
agriculture, or industrial handicrafts, there are vast and unex-
plored fields before you, which, so long as you enter upon them
discreetly, prudently, and honorably, will afford you the means
of living and enjoyment, and opportunities of demonstrating to
your countrymen, that a sound, mental and moral training is the
oest of all preparations, for any and every pursuit in life,

Education in India, as you know, is a very one-sided affair,
insomuch that until very recently, it was confined
A grave fanlt to the male sex alone, and at the present moment,
tional System*" the education of the female sex is pursued under
grave disadvantages. The truest friends of the
people of India cannot but entertain serious misgivings as to the
outcome of a system which practically excludes one sex from
the advantages of mental training and discipline ; and having
the opportunity granted me of speaking, I cannot pass over
this grave fault in your educational system in silence. The
influence of a mother on her offspring is most powerful and far-
reaching. Her physical and mental characteristics pass to the
fruit of her womb, and her children learn of her instinctively,
before they are capable of speech or intelligent thought. It is

180 University of Madras.

the opinion of eminent men who have studied the subject that
the transmission of certain mental and physical attributes of a
race is more commonly influenced by the mother than the father ;
and the simple fact that nearly all the men of high eminence in
Science, Art, and other pursuits, now living, have descended
from mothers of more than average mental vigor and capacity,
should be enough to cause us to ponder whether the Indian
system is a wise one, or suited to the development of the highest
Educated man intellectual power of the people. The gulf be-
and uncultured tween the educated man and uncultured woman is
woman. verv w j ( j e ^ anc ^ if the views of scientists are true,

there is some danger that the descendants of unions in which
there is great disparity of mental development may favor the
mother rather than the father, and that the intellectual powers of
the males of succeeding generations may be of the feminine or
childlike type, never ripening into the fulness of the higher
order of manhood. The late Charles Darwin thought that a
similar arrest of mental development followed, when there was
great disparity in the ages of father and mother ; the offspring,
according to his observations, generally showing the child-type
of intellect throughout the period of mature life.

So strongly have the disadvantages of the lop-sided system
of culture prevailing in India appeared to me, that I have often
thought, and said, that given the position of a Dictator, and with
full command of the State purse-strings, I would spend no public
money on education, other than the primary teaching of both
sexes, and the higher training of the future wives and mothers
of India, until the existing disparity between the culture of the
two sexes had in a great degree ceased. But, gentlemen, so
heroic a treatment of the subject is unnecessary. I am delighted
to acknowledge that you have already recognised the evil, and
that every graduate of this University is doing his best,, con-
sciously or unconsciously, to cure it. Kindly give me your atten-
tion to the following figures. Twenty years ago the number

of girls " under instruction" in this Presidency
cation* 16 6dU " w as 3,763. In 1878-74 the numbers were 17,113.

Nine years later, in 1882-83, the female pupils
had increased to 43>671. Thus, in the space of nineteen years,
the female pupils in school had increased by about 40,000, and
last year, they exceeded, by more than ten times, the numbers at
school in the official year 1863-64. These results appear to me
to prove, that an important revolution in native thought, as to
the position of women, is actually in progress in our very midst,
and, seeing that the extension of female education has proceeded

1884. The Honorable W. R. Cornish. 181

step by step, with the dispersion of the graduates and under-
graduates of this University throughout the land, I cannot
dispossess myself of the belief that there is a close connection
n T,n/.* aoo between the two phenomena. I believe that the

fv iitrCGSSciry IT* 1*1 / T 1

consequence of training and education of the women of India
man's culture. j g a nece ssary consequence of your own cul-
ture. You will not rest satisfied until the female members of
your families are able to meet you on a common intellectual
level. Man's imperfect nature craves for sympathy in his toils,
aspirations, doubts, and anguish, and where shall he find the
sympathy and loving help for which his soul earns, if not
amongst the women of his family, who know his strength and
his weakness, and love him none the less for his imperfections ?
The need of intellectual companionship in the home is a power-
ful motor, impelling you to set the educational system of women
on a satisfactory basis. But this is not the only force at work.
A stronger one, probably, is the natural desire of women not to
be left on a confessedly lower level than yourselves, to say
nothing of your own honest convictions that educated woman is
best fitted by her counsel, sympathy, and encouragement, to
strengthen your own efforts in mental and moral advancement.
These forces are silently, but most surely, and irresistibly,
influencing thought and conduct. Every graduate who leaves
these walls, if he is himself imbued with the true spirit of learn-
ing, of necessity becomes an advocate of female education.

The difficulties before you in putting your desires into
practice are neither few nor unimportant, but I doubt not that
the women upon whom the spirit of knowledge and wisdom has
already descended, will be your strongest supporters in those
domestic reforms which may favor the sound teaching of useful
knowledge to the females of India. Your most ancient law-
giver, though his ideas of woman's fitness for learning were not
in accord with modern thought, forcibly impresses upon you the
obligation of doing honor to woman. He says, " Where females
are honored, there the Deities are pleased, but where they are
dishonored, there all religious acts become fruitless,"* and again
<( where female relations are made miserable, the family of him
who makes them so, very soon wholly perishes, but where they
are not unhappy, the family always increases." How can you
honor and add to the happiness of your womankind better than
by making them partakers of your intellectual pursuits, as well
as the sharers in your domestic joys and sorrows ?

It is expected that wherever your duties may call you, you
* Manava Dharma Sastra, Chapter III.

182 University of Madras.

will take an intelligent interest in the management of local
affairs. The extension of the principal of Local Government,
in accordance with the views of the Viceroy, will give to all
graduates of the University, either as electors, or representa-
tives of their fellow-citizens in local assemblies, the necessary
opportunities of showing their capacity in leading public opinion
or in administration. You will forgive me, if I remind you that
a careful study of the social conditions of the
soddwnditioM. community amongst whom your lot may be cast
is absolutely essential, if you would play a useful
part in local administration. In the Census Report of this
Presidency, published in 1883, you will find a vast number of
hard facts and stubborn figures, over which you may ponder with
the greatest advantage. These facts relate not only to the country
as a whole, but to every inhabited village and town. They
bring before yon the numbers, sexes and ages of the people,
their civil and conjugal condition, their degree of education,
language, religion, caste, or nationality, and occupations. Your
first duty should be to make yourselves thoroughly acquainted
with the actual condition of the people in these respects,
as without such knowledge your personal influence and activity
may be employed in wrong directions, and become positively
mischievous, instead of beneficial. It is one of the unavoidable
A blemish of blemishes of the caste system peculiar to this
the caste sys- country, that men's interests should tend to gravi-
tate almost wholly towards the family, the clan,
or caste ; but, to be useful and impartial in the adminis-
tration of local affairs, you must widen your sympathies,
and look mainly to the common good of those who make you
their mouth-piece. It may be well to caution you that the gift
of fluent speech is, in itself, but a poor provision for one engaged
in local government. What you want is accurate knowledge,
and a fixed determination to do justice to all classes of your local

In every town or village, you will find work to be done,
which shall benefit your fellow-men. The insanitary conditions
abounding everywhere, and which are directly, or indirectly, the
cause of much preventible suffering and mortality, call for your
thoughtful attention as to the most practicable means of dealing
with them. It is fitting that men on whom this
University has conferred Degrees should at all
times take a leading part in reforms that may tend
to make a community more healthy, happy, and prosperous. The
care of the public health should be your first consideration, for a

1884. The Honorable W. R. Cornish. 183

sickly community, or one in which the bread-winners are cut off
in the prime of their days, must always be miserable and
impoverished. And when the people shall have been shown the
importance of cleanly habits as affecting their health, you may
well direct their attention to some other customs which have an
important bearing- on their happiness and prosperity. Look for
Profuse ex- instance at the custom, so universal, of profuse ex-
penditure on penditure on the occasion of marriages and family
ceremonial. The wealthy may indulge in such a
custom without hurt to their estate, but see how pernicious is the
example to the lower classes, when a poor man, apeing his rich
brother, does not hesitate to sell himself, and all belonging to
him, into life-long slavery, for the price of a wedding feast !
The light-heartedness with which people, otherwise thrifty and
self-denying, will incur overwhelming debts, sanctioned by cus-
tom and usage, is a matter that strikes strangers to your country-
men with astonishment, and you may well use your personal
influence in discouraging habits which lie at the root of three-
fourths of the chronic poverty of the Indian people. In these
and other matters, in which you would be an example to your
fellow-men, remember the advice of the poet :
" Be useful where thou livest, that they may
Both want, and wish thy pleasing presence still.
Kindnesi, good parts, great places are the way
To compass this. Find out men's wants and will
And meet them there. All worldly joys go less,
To the one joy of doing kindnesses."

And in battling against customs injurious to health, material
prosperity and morals, I may remind you in the words of John
Milton that

" Peace hath her victories
No less renowned than "War."

Indian philosophers of old were remarkable for the two excellent
qualities of "plain living" and "high thinking." We live now
in 'the days of a higher civilization, and in an age when men
spend much of their substance in luxury, or on the non-essentials
of existence. I would not have you depart from the simple
habits, inherited from a long line of ancestors, and which the
experience of countless generations has proved to be best suited
to the inhabitants of tropical lands. Food and clothing must
vary in different countries, as climate and other

Alcohol and conditions vary, but in adhering to the simplicity
meat not essen- /. v ,. v, /. ,P -A i

tial to health. t "* e practised by your forefathers, you will have

the sanction and approval of some of the most
eminent of modern scientists, who have come to the conclusion,
hat alcoholic drinks and strong meats are not essential to

184 University of Madras.

health, life, or mental and physical vigor, while the abase of
strong drinks, at any rate, has proved a curse- to the Northern
peoples. I would have you, in the words of the poet,

" Keep all thy native good, and naturalize
All foreign of that name ; but scorn their ill."

The simplicity of your habits in eating and drinking, which
climatic considerations have imposed* upon you, has had the
advantage of enabling you to solve a problem which still troubles
and perplexes more advanced nations. I allude to the mainten-
ance of the poor. India, to its credit be it said,
The mainten- nas needed no poor law. The obligation to feed
poor. ' the poor, and more unfortunate members of a family

has always been regarded as a sacred duty by its
principal members. The simplicity of your domestic life has
enabled even the poorest members of society to fulfil these obli-
gations, and I can vouch for the fact that they are fulfilled
except when great natural calamity causes a failure of the food
supplies, and there is no bread to give to him that asketh.
During the great famine of 1876-77 there were not wanting
critics, (chiefly of the carping order) who protested that the
wise and humane policy of the Madras Government in State
relief would result in the chronic pauperisation of the industrial
classes. The prophecy was a cruel libel on the toilers and
workers of your countrymen, and women, and has been completely
falsified, for the broad truth remains, that immediately on the
cessation of the food scarcity, the people everywhere resumed
their normal habits of providing for the necessities of their
dependants, and for years past the State has incurred no
expenditure in the relief of Indian paupers. Having seen the
people of the land in times of prosperity, and also
bowed down in adversity, under the influence of a
terrible national calamity, let me add that I enter-
tain a profound and lasting respect for their many virtues, and a
high admiration of their keen sense of self-respect.

And now, gentlemen, before concluding, I must add yet a
few last words. Time will not suffice me to touch upon a variety
of subjects of deep and vital import, but I should like you to
understand that your educational training, ending with the
ceremonial of to-day, has been conducted with the view of
making you better and stronger men, physically, morally, and
intellectually. If that training has been success-
ful, your future lives will prove. As you have
living examples of graduates of former years, many
of whom. I am pleased to see around me, leading noble, pure,

1884 2%e Honorable W. R. Cornul. 185

and honorable lives, filling the highest stations in State service,
and in the learned professions, with the unqualified approbation
and respect of all who know them, so we hope you will serve
as examples worthy of imitation to those who come after you,
and become men of light and leading in your generation. If
you bear in mind that no man can live wholly for himself, that
in your daily lives duty should take the place of inclination, that
self-sacrifice should be the law of your being, and that selfish
objects and motives should find no response in your hearts, you
will have risen to a high conception of your responsibilities, in
connection with the days that may be in store for you. In George
Herbert's words, once more,

" Pitch thy behaviour low, thy projects high,
So ahalt thou humble and magnanimous be ;
Sink not in spirit : who aimeth at the sky
Shoots higher much, tkan he that means a tree."

But it will happen to you, as to all of us, that intellectual culture
or scientific research alone will not satisfy your
Dmnd spiritual cravings for deeper knowledge of the
mysteries for life. This University, very properly,
does not deal with theological questions, but leaves every man
free to worship his Creator, and to seek His help and guidance
in the manner that seems best in accord with his hereditary
training or honest convictions, but this much I may say, that
your education will have been but of small benefit to you, if it
lias not strengthened and expanded your views of the Divine
Government of the Universe. H. E. the Viceroy, in opening a
Science Hall in Calcutta, a few days ago, concluded his address
in words which express my meaning so fully that I cannot do
better than repeat them. Lord Ripon is reported to have said :
"When the widest generalizations of science are reached, and
its loftiest discoveries are mastered, there will still remain, above
r.iid beyond them, all those mysteries of life which prove to us
that the utmost knowledge of the outward universe will never
solve the greatest problem of life, and that we must look else-
where for that help which is to enable us to fulfil our work on
earth, for the glory of Him who is the Ruler, not only of the
world around us, but of the hearts and spirits of men."

I have nothing to add to these noble and touching words of
one of the truest friends of the people of India, except that it
remains for all of us to seek the Divine help we need, in earnest
prayer, and spiritual communion with the Most High.

" For what are men better than sheep or goats
That nourish a blind life within the brain,
If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer
Botfh for themselves, and those who call them friend,"


186 University of Madras.



Gentlemen, I have been deputed by His Excellency, the
Chancellor, to address a few words to you on behalf of the
Senate ; to congratulate you upon the diplomas you have just
obtained, to measure the prospects before you, and to indicate
the course you should take, the better to enable you to fulfil
and keep the promises you have made. I do heartily con-
gratulate you upon the success which you have gained, and
upon your adoption as sons of the University of Madras. That
What success success implies the possession by you of qualities
in examina- which give no small assurance of fitness for the
tions implies. various callings to which you are destined. Apart
from special studies to qualify yourselves for particular avoca-
tions, you must have applied yourselves with ardour and earnest-
ness to the acquisition of knowledge, and you have given proof
that you are sufficiently intelligent to use and apply the know-
ledge so acquired. You have proved that you are capable of
sustained application to scholastic work, that yon have an
aptitude for intellectual studies and are not unwilling to have
your knowledge examined and tested. You have measured
yourselves with your equals in age, and have reason to be satis-
fied with the result. You have shewn that you can subject
your inclination to discipline and control. You will go into the
world with advantages of intellectual and moral preparatory
equipment which ought to prove serviceable in your future
career; but in order to maintain your vantage ground you will
need to shew that you are equal to the constantly recurring
demands upon your mental powers and resources which active
employments require. You will be frequently confronted with
practical difficulties which you must meet and overcome, and
as your experience will grow with your responsibilities, you will
gradually acquire the requisite skill and confidence to enable
you to discharge the several duties which will devolve upon
you, as others before you have done.

It is frequently said the number of persons trained under
the auspices of this University exceeds the num-
f b er of suitable employments within their reach.

. * ...

cSo tar as 1 can judge, this is not more true as
regards this University than most other Universities. In Eng-
land the commercial value of a University Degree is not highly
appraised. The number of persons who have graduated in the

1885. The Honorable P. 0' Sullivan. 187

University of Madras, since its foundation in 1857, not including
the accessions of to-day, is about 1,355, which gives an annual
average of not more than 50. Only twenty-seven persons took
degrees in medicine during that period. It may be true that
many persons are not yet prepared to employ a high class of
medical advisers, and that the great bulk of the people cannot
afford to do so. It is also found that practitioners in the
Subordinate Medical Department under Government are resorted
to for advice in the various localities where they perform
their duties. Making all reasonable allowance for these impedi-
ments, it is evident that, under more favourable conditions,
a greatly increased number of persons of high attainments
ought to be in practice in various parts of the country to minis-
ter to the ailments of a population numbering upwards of thirty
millions. It may, I think, be expected that the extension of the
area of education, the increase in material prosperity which has
begun, and is likely to continue, the development of agricultural,
manufacturing and commercial industries and the increasing
wants of the people, who are entering upon a higher phase of
civilisation, will open careers for an increasing number of the
educational classes. There is also a growing tendency to re-
strict the conditions upon which the right of access to some of
the professions is founded, and the Government of Madras is
disposed to reserve some at least of the more important public
offices for graduates. After May of this year no persons will be
permitted to appear for the Tests in the Revenue Higher Grade
who have not passed the First in Arts Examination, or who
are not graduates of an Indian University, except persons now
in the service of Government who will be allowed to appear for.
examination in the Revenue Test Higher grade up to and includ-
ing the year 1889. And it is the declared policy of the British
Government, of whatever party, Tory or Liberal, Whig or
Radical, to avail itself of the services of natives of this country
to a greater extent in future than it has or perhaps could have
done in the past. If you take these circumstances into con-
sideration and many others might be mentioned leading to the
same conclusion I think you will have no reason to regret that
upon merely practical grounds you have elected to pass into the
world of work and action through the portals of the University.

You will each of yon adopt some profession or calling.

Whatever that calling may be, you should devote
^Attend to de- ^. Q ^ y OUr highest powers and best energies. Do

not consider mere details unworthy of your atten-
tion, There are few occupations which do not require a close

188 University of Madras.

and intimate acquaintance with details which it is needful
to master in order to be prepared for the unexpected which
so frequently happens. The Duke of Wellington said he had
passed a considerable part of his life guessing what was on the
other side of a hill. In the exercise of your callings you should
bear yourselves with fidelity to those who employ you, with
candour and consideration to those who are associated with you,
and with integrity to all, always maintaining a high standard of
honour and rectitude, and always disdaining by unworthy acts

Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 51 of 66)