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Gandhi and Kipling: cultural schizophrenia and the White Man’s burden

February 6, 2017

Thoughts while living in a postcolonial age. Because we need each other more now than ever. Everything is going to be all right. Because our children are wiser than we are. We can’t go back to what we were and where we came from. What now? Just dream.

The Vast and The Intricate

img_0001When asked what he thought of Western civilization, Mahatma Gandhi, in his characteristic style, quipped, that it would be a good idea. This was a typical remark from Gandhi, who was not just any other Oriental wise man, but also a consummate politician, who had built his career around showing the mirror to the British imperialists in India. The British Raj was founded on many myths, the main among them captured in the phrase ‘the White Man’s burden’, popularized by Rudyard Kipling, himself an almost schizophrenic imperialist.

Kipling, as most who know him will also know, grew up in India, but what not many are aware of is that until he was about 6-7 years old, he did not speak a word of English. It was, in many ways, his second language. (Among the ‘many ways’ is that he was raised almost completely by his Indian nanny, and grew up…

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