India has a long tradition of learning and education. The country presents an image of impressive scientific and technical progress, while showing massive illiteracy and a weak educational system.
When India became independent, only 14% could read and write. After the liberation, a debate arose between those who wanted to preserve the British-Indian education system from the colonial era, and those who wanted Mahatma Gandhi’s alternative system (nai taleem). Gandhi’s system, which emphasizes that theory and practice should develop throughout the child, was given priority.
The Constitution states that the states are responsible for ensuring that all children between the ages of 6 and 14 have an 8-year free and compulsory schooling. Equal educational opportunities should be provided for all, the school should be free and give special protection to those belonging to linguistic or religious minorities. In 1999, almost 100% of children started primary school, while less than 50% continue in high school.
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The school varies enormously, from well-equipped public schools based on British designs, schools run by Gandhi’s educational ideas, to schools without educated teachers and textbooks. The idea of combining theory and practice has been difficult to implement. In 2000, only about 5% of the students were on vocational lines. Curricula for primary and secondary schools are the responsibility of the state, while the central government is responsible for higher education. India has 216 universities and over 8000 colleges. The oldest universities are located in Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Allahabad. 6% of young people take higher education.
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According to UNESCO estimates, well over 42% of the population over the age of 15 was illiterate in 2000. But there are major geographical and gender differences. In Kerala, only 6% are illiterate. In the four states of the so-called Hindi belt, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, almost 50% of the country’s illiterates live. Women account for 2/3 of illiterate.
Babur’s descendants consolidated Islam – especially in present-day Pakistan and Bangla Desh respectively. northwest and northeast. There was a boom in culture and art. Among other things. the Taj Mahal was built around 1650. But at the same time the Europeans began to emerge. In 1687, the British East India Company was established in Bombay. In 1696 Fort William was built in Calcutta, and from this, wars were fought through parts of the 18th century against the French, who also tried to settle. They were only finally beaten in 1784. From 1798, the Company’s troops, led by a brother of the Duke of Wellington, began to systematically conquer Indian territory. Around 1820, Britain hadin this way, almost all of India, except Punjab, Kashmir and Peshawar, ruled by one of their allies, the Sikh Ranjit Singh, ruled. In 1849 Singh died and the British annexed these areas as well. The “faithful allies” retained a nominal autonomy that allowed them to retain their courts, palaces and privileges.
Meanwhile, the Indian economy was uprooted. Based on craftsmanship, very high quality textiles were exported, but this hindered the development of the English textile industry. It was outperformed by poor industrially manufactured English textiles. It hit the villages hard, where most of this production was located. At the same time, they were affected by the conversion of agricultural production to export crops. The immediate consequence of English colonialism was therefore a reduction in income and greater unemployment. The colony administration reshaped the economic structure to good standing. For example. became all military spending – including the military campaigns against Afghanistan, Myanmar (Burma) andMalaysia – paid out of the Indian Treasury. In fact, 70% of the budget consisted of “defense spending”. All UK spending was posted as expenditure on the Indian Empire, no matter how little they had to do with India.
The parole of the colonial power was: “Share and rule”. Rental troops from one region were sent to another, to force it. It was e.g. the case of the Nepalese Gurkhas and Sikhs from Punjab. The religious differences were also exploited to the extreme. For example. at the beginning of the 20th century, an electoral reform was implemented, according to which Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists could vote only on candidates of their own religion. During the colonial era, this manipulation led to a myriad of social explosions, both at local and national levels. Some with low participation and others very extensive.
The main revolt was the cipayo – Indian soldiers in British service – the uprising in 1857-58. It started as protests in the barracks, brought in several demands and became a nationwide protest movement. The Hindus and Muslims joined forces, reaching as far as the proposal for the restoration of the Great Mogul empire. The protest movement stated that the British East India Company was unable to administer all of India. The consequence was that the British crown, after violently fighting the uprising, took over the administration of India.
The educational system was based on the English model and was to prepare the “natives” to step into the administration of the colony. But at the same time, it created an intellectual elite familiar with European culture and thought. In 1876, the first public service union was formed in India under the leadership of Surendranath Banerdji. The English had not imagined that this new association should take its inspiration from Giuseppe Mazzini and make him the patron saint. It was this intelligentsia who in 1885 created the Indian National Congress – the later Congress Party. Liberal Britons also took part in Congress, and for many years it confined itself to proposing superficial changes in the British administration.