Thomas Babington Macaulay, the British historian, poet and politician also played a key part in the British rule of India. He was, according to a new biography, a racist with no use for Hindu culture, but he was also a far seeing liberal who had a vision of the future of India that was remarkably prescient.

Zareer Masani, a historian who is himself the son of prominent Indian political figures, is the author of Macaulay: Pioneer of India's Modernization. Macaulay is controversial in India, but it turns out that he has a big fan club, mostly among the Dalits (scheduled castes = former untouchables). The reason for the fans, says Masani, is that he introduced teaching English, and they consider that to have been crucial in their social and political advancement.


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