Aligarh Movement

Role of British Principals

The principals of the Aligarh College proved to be active agents in propagating the political ideals of SAK. The first principle Theodore Beck gave up a life in England to serve Indian Muslims. He took charge of the Institute Gazette, the literary organ of the Aligarh College and edited it on behalf of SAK.

Beck poured forth venom against the Bengalis for their advanced political and social ideas. In issue after issue he published articles whose central idea was that India contained two or more nations, that the Parliamentary govt was unsuited to India, and in the event of it being granted, the Hindus, who formed the majority “would be absolute masters as no Muhammadan Emperor ever was”. Ref Muslim League pg 4.

It was due to Beck’s efforts that, in August 1988, the United Indian Patriotic Association was established. Hindus and Muslims joined. The objects were A. to inform the Brit parliament and the people of England through newspapers etc that all the communities of India, the aristocracy and the Princes were not with the Congress and to contradict its statements. B To keep the Parliament of England informed about the opinion of Hindu and Muslim organizations that were opposed to the Congress. C. To help in the maintenance of law and order and strengthening of British rule in India and to wean away people from the Congress.

But Beck did not like the idea of a common Hindu Muslim association so under his inspiration a new organization under the name Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental Defence Association of Upper India was founded on 30/12/1893 in the house of SAK. The main objects of the association were to 1. to place the opinion of Muslims before the Brits and the govt of India and to protect their political rights. 2. to prevent political agitation from spreading amongst the Muslims. 3. to strengthen Brit rule in India.

Beck made a systematic effort to divide Hindus and Muslims. A summary of his speech was published in the Aligarh College Magazine of March, April, June 1895. He said –

"A friendship between Muslims and the Brit people was possible but not between for eg the Marathas and Sikhs who would never agree with the Muslims in accepting Aurangzeb as their hero.

Muslims would never accept a system of government in which the Hindus would rule over them. Indians themselves did not like democracy they preferred monarchy.

Muslim behavior before and after the Revolt of 1857 had warned them against the agitational policy of the Hindus and they were now on the advice of SAH following loyalty to the Brits.

Muslims were opposed to the holding of competitive examinations for they knew this step would mean the replacement of many impartial British officers by anti-Muslims Hindus." Ref Ram Gopal pg 73.

Beck’s contribution to the anti-Hindu bias of the Aligarh Movement is considerable. The personal influence exercised by Beck on SAK was believed to be so great that one Muslim writer jokingly said, “the College is of Syed Ahmad and the order is of Beck”.

Beck died in 1899. His work of dividing Hindus and Muslims was greatly appreciated by the Empire. He was succeeded as Principal by Morrison who was in charge of the London office of the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental Defence Association.

Morrison was alarmed at the growing political solidarity among the Muslims. So he tried to wean them away from political agitation and focus their energies on education and economic uplift of the community.

Thanks to Becker and Morrison an open hostility for anything Hindu that included the Congress formed the basis of the Aligarh Movement.

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