It was founded on January 15, 1784 by Sir William Jones and thirty other
members who had responded to his call for pursuing various branches of
Asiatic studies. Membership was voluntary but, until 1829, no Indians
were admitted. The first volume of its publication, Asiatic Researches,
was brought out in 1789. Credit for widespread interest in the field of
indological studies in England and the West is deservedly given to the
work of this society.
Second Phase (1813–53)
Due to the strong pressure exerted on the Company by the Christian
missionaries and many humanitarians, including some Indians, to encourage
and promote modern education in India, the Charter Act of 1813 required the
Company to spend rupees one lakh annually for encouraging learned Indians
and promoting the knowledge of modern sciences in India.
Two controversies about the nature of education arose during the first part
of this phase. They were—whether to lay emphasis on the promotion of
modem western studies or on the expansion of traditional Indian learning and
whether to adopt Indian languages or English as the medium of instruction in
modern school and college to spread western learning?
Macaulay’s Minute on Education Submitted by Thomas Babington
Macaulay in his capacity as president of the Committee on Public Instruction
on February 2, 1835, it was to form the basis of the Company’s educational
policy in India. It marked the victory of the so-called ‘Anglicists’ as well as
‘progressive’ Indians, who supported the introduction and popularisation of
English education over the opposing school of thought represented by the
‘Orientalists’ who preferred to encourage the pursuit of traditional learning.
In late January 1835, the two factions of the Committee—Orientalists
(James Sutherland, John Shakespear, the brothers James and Henry Prinsep
and Elliot Macnaghten) and Anglicists (WW Bird, CB Saunders, GA Bushby,
JR Colvin and CE Trevelyan)—put forward their respective arguments before
the Supreme Council. The Orientalists argued that any substantial reduction
of Sanskrit and Arabic instruction would contravene the Charter Act of 1813.
Macaulay, on the other hand, defended the views of the Anglicists on the