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Impact of British Raj on the Education System in India: The Process of Modernization in the Princely States of India - The case of Mohindra College, Patiala

Kanika Bansal

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Education Reforms; British Raj; East India Company; Christian Missionaries; Princely States; Patiala

PUBLISHED DATE July 03, 2017
PUBLISHER The Author(s) 2017. This article is published with open access at

British rule is said to have been responsible for the modernization witnessed in the Indian civilization. The impact of this process was quiet evident from the changes adopted by the Indians in their life style, thinking processes, attires, food and education. Besides the advancements made in the spheres of roads, transports, postal services etc, their rule acted as a significant period of transition from the indigenous style of education to western education. The foundations were laid by the East India Company and the Christian Missionaries to employ Indians for administrative tasks as well as to serve their political, economical and colonial interests. Originally the access to education was limited to the royal families, as the British were of the opinion that Indians could become aware of their rights and positions and protest against their Raj posing a threat to the British establishment in India. Lord Curzon’s efforts in the 20th century gave way to spread of higher education within the masses and channelized Indian education system. However the rulers of the Princely States in of India who were granted autonomy by the British to manage their own kingdoms acted as major agents to undertake the social and educational reforms within their territories. With the spread of education from elementary to higher levels, many new schools, universities and other institutions were developed during this period which are symbols of educational advancement as well as hold high architectural merit. Patiala, aprime princely state is a well known academic centre also important for its rich culture since the British Raj. Education in Patiala originated under the Maharajas with the opening of the school of languages in 1860A.D. With the introduction of Mahindra College (the first Degree College in a city) in 1870, became came an important educational centre. It was the only college between Delhi and Lahore for a long time that promoted contemporary higher learning in Northern India. The historic college building represents an aesthetic mix of regional interpretation of Indo-Saracenic style of architecture. Later on many educational institutes catering to medical facilities, sports education etc. was set up in this princely state. This paper is thus an attempt to explore the education reforms during the British Raj, the changes that happened and their triggers. It also brings out reforms initiated in Princely States specifically Patiala as a seat of learning and a detailed study of the Mohindra College, Patiala, that represents an excellent example of educational institutions developed during the 19th century. The present study was done as a part of an academic project undertaken during Masters of Architecture under the able guidance of Prof Kiran Joshi..


The British Raj in India triggered the process of modernisation and was primarily responsible in the making of a liberated India free from the medieval traditions. With the aim to govern the entire nation they brought about a uniform administrative system, improved modes of transportation and communication specifically by the introduction of rails, unified postal services and telegraphs. Several movements of the 19 century by eminent Indians against the atrocities of the British rule too set off reforms leading to modernization and help abolish the social evils prevalent in India at that time. India also witnessed a sea change in the system of education under the British (Bidwaikar, S. 1813). They replaced the indigenous schooling system with the education of the new state system. In addition they established a number of educational institutions of high academic and architectural merit. This spread of education awakened middle class that led to the national movement for independence.

Page(s) 13-28
ISSN Print : 2321-3892, Online : 2321-7154

The system of education in India has gone through many changes and developments primarily during the British era before the Indian independence[14]. Education reforms during this time continue to be in place in the contemporary system of education. It is evident that these reforms abolished many social ills and spread education among the common public to make them aware of their powers and rights. Within the state of Punjab, the contribution of the British Raj to the field of education has been noteworthy especially education for the public which promoted the setting up of various symbols of education i.e. educational institutions in Punjab and throughout the country (Essays, UK. November 2013). The development of these structures has remarkably contributed in the economic and social modernization and democratisation process in the 20th century. Literacy policies and awareness spread by the rulers of the Princely States have been the most important tools that are responsible in bringing about the change[13]. Thus the educated royals became agents for bringing about irreversible social, cultural and economic changes.

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