Letter: `Conquest' of India by English

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`Conquest' of India by English

Sir: The sub-heading "but they are being written in the language of the conqueror" to your otherwise excellent article "The Indian conquest of English" (20 May) is misleading.

The British were careful not to interfere with local customs in the areas they administered in India. They used the court language of Persian in the Nawabate of Bengal and the local languages everywhere. English was only introduced into India in the 19th century by Macaulay when the British Sirkar (government) wished to improve the level of education available at the time.

The schools of the Bengal presidency used either Arabic and Urdu in the Muslim Madrassahs, or Sanskrit in use by the Hindus. Neither language could provide the books needed by the proposed state education service. So English was chosen. It is not really seen as the language of the conqueror. Indeed the British were not at first seen as conquerors at all, but liberators from the disorders of the time.