The Brown Man’s Burden

By Sunil Kumar

Reading Shashi Tharoor and Obama the past week; the Brown Man’s Burden surfaced in my consciousness with alarming regularity. Although the only dreams appealing are mine alone; yet the eloquence, deep and probing intellects of these two consummate writers and I daresay actors got me thinking on nationalism and the idea of this gut reaction which very often tends to morph into a frenzy.

Although the soon to be ex-President of the US is also remarkably poignant and descriptive about the evils of race segregation; his African heritage and remarkable life story; Tharoor was more emotionally appealing and persuasive due to his Indian ancestry and well-argued denunciation of the evils of Empire.

English: Shashi Tharoor in the Global Redesign...

Visit sunil-kumar.co.in English: Shashi Tharoor in the Global Redesign Session. Participants captured during the World Economic Forum’s India Economic Summit 2009 held in New Delhi, 8-10 November 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In layman terms; the Empire was a succubus; a many tentacled villain that extorted around the world; with India being the epicenter of its global treachery. The systematic impoverishment of India led to the financing of the Industrial Revolution; and the subsequent rise of the West.

Frankly; movie villains may get a complex when it comes to real-life British empire antics. A large number of slummy Englishmen, Scotsmen and Irishmen got richer on Indian money.

Apart from the landed gentry who always lorded over England; a Christian society with class struggle and totally alien values to the Indian subcontinent; which has been defined by its consummate, secular ethos(Indic: Hindu, Buddhist, Jain). Even Islam mellowed down when it entered India; and the Sufi brand was a result of interaction with the spiritual seers of the subcontinent.

Arch-imperialist poet Kipling may not have imagined that a hundred years later; an independent India would have forgiven his countrymen for their lethal loot; and become the single largest investor in the nation. The Brown Man’s Burden is ongoing; and more extensive than the patronizing self-service which the Bombay born Rudyard may have thought of.

Platitudes aside; even Tharoor’s token demand of symbolic reparations or apology has not been considered by the present government(Indian or British). In the great world circus of blah-blah; will this be another addition to the long litany of grievances left systematically unattended to? Looks quite likely. Until then, wishing myself more happy reading!

 

This entry was posted in History, People and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *