Isha Tamta

Caste Prejudice, Colonial Education in Kumaon: Dynamics of Depressed Class Education, 1881–1947

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Anthropology
  • Cultural Studies

From the last quarter of the eighteenth century, the East India Company slowly acquired the area which is now called Uttar Pradesh. Territories were acquired from different powers by the company were initially kept under Bengal Province. However, in 1833 these, areas were separated and a new province called North-Western Provinces was created. Again, after the annexation of Oudh, this province came to be called in 1877 as North-Western Provinces. The United Provinces of Agra and Oudh was changed to United Provinces in 1902 which later became present Uttar Pradesh. Colonial rule wanted to control the knowledge systems of the colonized. The epistemology and knowledge systems produced by the colonial state sought to create the feeling of interiority among the colonized people. Education is one such area through which the colonial state wanted to justify their rule. The British argued that Indians were inferior and justified their monopoly of all higher posts. They, further, pointed out that untouchability, rigid caste system are some of the reasons for inferiority. In this article, I would like to discuss the colonial state policy towards education of lower castes and depressed classes in Kumaon division of United Provinces of British India. I argue that although the British professed that it wanted to educate all people, yet in practice the colonial state gave in to the caste prejudices of the society and also because of its own ambivalent policy towards depressed classes. Doms constitute majority of Dalit community in Kumaon division of United Provinces from whom Shilpakar community emerged gradually.

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