. During the late 1820s and early 1830s, there emerged a radical, intellectual trend among the youth in Bengal, which came to be known as the ‘Young Bengal Movement’. A young Anglo-Indian, Henry Vivian Derozio (1809-31), who taught at the Hindu College from 1826 to 1831, was the leader and inspirer of this progressive trend. Drawing inspiration from the great French Revolution, Derozio inspired his pupils to think freely and rationally, question all authority, love liberty, equality and freedom, and oppose decadent customs and traditions. The Derozians also supported women’s rights and education. Also, Derozio was perhaps the first nationalist poet of modern India.
The Derozians, however, failed to have a long-term impact. Derozio was removed from the Hindu College in 1831 because of his radicalism. The main reason for their limited success was the prevailing social conditions at that time, which were not ripe for the adoption of radical ideas. Further, there was no support from any other social group or class. The Derozians lacked any real link with the masses; for instance, they failed to take up the peasants’ cause. In fact, their radicalism was bookish in character. But, despite their limitations, the Derozians carried forward Rammohan Roy’s tradition of public education on social, economic and political questions. For instance, they demanded induction of Indians in higher grades of services, protection of ryots from oppressive zamindars, better treatment to Indian labour abroad in British colonies, revision of the Company’s charter, freedom of press and trial by jury.
Later, Surendranath Banerjea was to describe the Derozians as “the pioneers of the modern civilisation of Bengal, the conscript fathers of our race whose virtues will excite veneration and whose failings will be treated with gentlest consideration”.