The Company decided in 1835 to introduce English as a medium of education in India on the recommendations of Lord Macaulay (Macaulay’s Minutes). Many progressive Indians, including Raja Ram Mohan Roy, supported it. The Woods’ Dispatch was another important step in the development of education. But despite these efforts, which were taken unwillingly and half-heartedly, the spread of education was meagre in India. By 1857, there were only three medical colleges in India and in 1919 only 400 women were studying in good high schools in the Bengal Presidency.
In 1853, the British decided to open recruitment to ICS to Indians and also decided to make it through a competitive test in London. The year also saw the start of Indian Railways from Bombay to Thane.
The 19th entury India was marked by strong intellectual and cultural stirrings. The modern Western culture and the sense of defeat by a foreign power produced a new challenge. The central figure in this awakening was Raja Rammohan Roy, regarded as the First Scientific Man of India or the Renaissance Man of India. He was a mix of the Eastern and the Western thought. He knew over a dozen languages and in youth, had read much Hindu and Islamic philosophy. In 1809, he wrote his famous classic A Gift To Monotheists.
Rammohan Roy was a great thinker and a man of action. In 1829, he founded a religious society called the Brahma Samaj, whose purpose was to purify Hinduism and to preach monotheism or belief in one God. The best example of his crusade for social reforms was the agitation he launched against the sati. In 1818, he set out to rouse public opinion against it. He visited the burning ghats of Calcutta to persuade the widows’ relatives to give up self-immolation. Ultimately, his efforts resulted in an act by William Bentinck banning the practice of the sati. His devotion is proved by the fact that he was disowned by his mother due to his agitation, but he refused to budge.
Rammohan Roy was a propagator of modern education which, for him, was a major instrument of spreading modern ideas. It was Roy whose pressure brought English education to India, and helped spread modern political and scientific ideas. He had many prominent associates - Ishwar Chandar Vidyasagar whose worked tirelessly for widow remarriage, Jyotiba Phule, a prominent low-caste reformer from Maharashtra, Justice MG Ranade in Poona, Swami Dyanand Saraswati who founded the Arya Samaj in 1875 to purify Hinduism and spread modern ideas, Swami Vivekanand who set up the Rama Krishan Mission in 1896, and Henry Dorazio of Bengal.