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Calcutta School-Book Society


Calcutta School-Book Society (1817) was established in Kolkata at the initiative of native scholars with the primary aim of writing and publishing text books and supplying them to schools and madrasas in the country. According to its constitution, 16 of its 24 managing committee members were to be European while the remaining 8 were to be Indian. Out of two secretaries, one was to be European, the other Indian. The managing committee during 1817-18 included Maulvi Aminullah, Maulvi Karam Hossain, Maulvi Abdul Wahid, Maulvi Abdul Hamid, mrityunjay viddayalankar, tarinicharan mitra, radhakanta deb, and ram comul sen. Aminullah was the madares (instructor) the calcutta madrasa, while Karam Hossain, Mrityunjay and Tarinicharan were teachers at fort william college, and Radhakanta was a nouveau riche philanthropist of Calcutta. Mr F Irving and Tarinicharan were its two secretaries.

The membership of the society was open to all, and anyone could become a member on payment of a subscription. The subscription fee was not specified. During its first year it had a total of 225 subscribers, of whom 117 were European, 68 Muslim, and 30 Hindu. Zainul Abedin, Nusrat Jaubg, and Imtiaz-ud-daulla, the nawabs of Murshidabad, Dhaka, and Lucknow paid huge amounts as subscription. The society functioned regularly for the first four years but then became irregular. The tenth annual report of 1834 mentioned the names of only a few Muslim managing committee members, such as Maulvi Karam Hossain, Maulvi Mahammad Sayed and Syed Azimuddin. The number of Hindu members in the committee also declined proportionately.

Although there was a lack of enthusiasm among its subscribers, it continued to perform the activities of writing and publishing textbooks for some time with financial assistance from the government. In 1862, the Calcutta School-Book Society was merged into the Vernacular Literature Society which published 1,26,464 books and pamphlets in English, Bangla, Sanskrit, Urdu, Persian, and Arabic in 1821. Books in Urdu, Persian, and Arabic were written by Muslims, while books in Bangla and Sanskrit were written by Hindus. The activities of the School-Book Society were chiefly confined within the boundary of Kolkata. [Wakil Ahmed]