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In September 1901 Curzon summoned the highest educational officers of the Government. Throughout India and representatives of Universities at a round table conference at Simla.
The conference opened with a speech by the viceroy in which he surveyed the whole field of education in India. “We have not here he said, “to devise a brand new plan of educational reforms which is to spring fully armed from the head of the Home department and to be imposed Nolens Volens upon the Indian public.”
Later developments were to prove the hypocrisy behind this assertion. The conference adopted 150 resolutions which touched almost every conceivable branch of education.
This was followed by the appointment of a commission under the presidency of Sir Thomas Raleigh on 27 January 1902 to enquire into the condition and prospects of Universities in India and to recommend proposals for improving their constitution and working.
Evidently, the commission was precluded from reporting on primary or secondary education as result of the report of the recommendations of the commission the Indian Universities Act was passed in 1904. The main changes proposed were as-
1. The Universities were desired to make provision for promotion of study and research, to appoint University professors and lecturers, set up University laboratories and libraries and undertake direct instruction of students.
2. The act lay down that the number of fellows of a University shall not be less than fifty or more than a hundred a fellow should normally hold office for a period of six years instead of for life.
3. Most of the fellows of a University were to be nominated by the Government. The elective element of Universities of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay was to be twenty each and in case of other Universities fifteen only.
4. The Government control over the Universities was further increased by vesting the Government with powers to veto the regulations passed by the senate of a University. The Government could also make conditions or alterations in the regulations formed by the Senate and even frame regulating itself over and above the head of the Senate.
5. The Act increased University control over private colleges by laying down stricter conditions of affiliation and periodical inspection by the syndicate. The private colleges were required to keep a proper standard of efficiency. The Government approval was necessary for grant of affiliation or dis-affiliation of colleges.
6. The Governor-General in council was empowered to define the territorial limits of a University or decide the affiliation of colleges to Universities.
The Universities Act of 1904 met with severe condemnation at the hands of Indian leaders. According to Chirol “As was to be expected under a viceroy who was a great autocrat with an even whelming faith in the efficiency of the Government machinery, the chief purpose of the Act of 1904 was to tighten the hold of the Government on the University, and in the first place on their senates, which were still retained as the ruling bodies. It has alleged that Curzon sought to reduce the Universities to the position of departments of states and sabotage development of private enterprise in the field of education.
According to Frozer “The greatest controversy of Lord Curzon”, viceroyalty which produced bitterness among the leaders of Indian opinion and which was responsible for making the viceroy the most unpopular with the educated calls in India was the Act of 1904. The Sadler Commission of 1917 also observed that the Act of 1904 made “the Indian Universities among the most completely governmental Universities in the world.”
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