Modern India eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 495 pages of information about Modern India.

Of course there are many native homes in which widows are treated kindly and receive the same attention and are allowed the same pleasures as the other women of the family, but those who understand India assert that they are exceptional, and hence asylums for those who are treated badly are very much needed.  This is a matter with which the government cannot deal and the work is left entirely to the Christian missionaries, who establish homes and teach friendless widows to become self-supporting.

XXV

EDUCATION IN INDIA

Allahabad is the center of learning, the Athens in India, the seat of a native university, the residence of many prominent men, the headquarters of Protestant missionary work, the residence of the governor of the United Provinces, Sir James La Touche, one of the ablest and most progressive of the British officials in India.  Allahabad was once a city of great importance.  In the time of the Moguls it was the most strongly fortified place in India, but the ancient citadel has been torn down by the British and the palaces and temples it contained have been converted into barracks, arsenals and storehouses.  Nowhere in India have so many beautiful structures been destroyed by official authority, and great regret is frequently expressed.  Allahabad was also a religious center in ancient times and the headquarters of the Buddhist faith.  The most interesting monument in the city is the Lat of Osoka, one of a series of stone columns erected by King Asoka throughout his domains about the year B. C. 260, which were inscribed with texts expressing the doctrines of Buddhism as taught by him.  He did for that faith what the Emperor Constantine the Great did for Christianity; made it the religion of the state, appointed a council of priests to formulate a creed and prepare a ritual, and by his orders that creed was carved on rocks, in caves and on pillars of stone and gateways of cities for the education of the people.  The texts or maxims embodied in the creed represent the purest form of Buddhism, and if they could be faithfully practiced by the human family this world would be a much better and happier place than it is.

Several handsome modern buildings are occupied by the government, the courts and the municipal officials, and the university is the chief educational institution of northern India.  There are five universities in the empire—­at Bombay, Calcutta, Lahore, Allahabad and Madras—­and they are managed and conducted on a plan very different from ours, having no fixed terms or lectures, but having regular examinations open to all comers who seek degrees.  The standard is not quite so high as that of our colleges and the curriculum is not so advanced.  The students may come at 15 or 16 years of age and be examined in English, Latin, Greek history, geography, mathematics and the elements of science, the course being just a grade higher than that of our high schools, and get a degree or certificate showing their proficiency.  They are very largely attended by natives who seek diplomas required for the professions and government employment.  After two years’ study in any regular course a student may present himself for an examination for a degree and is then eligible for a diploma in law, medicine, engineering and other sciences.

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Modern India from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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