HOW COLONIAL LEGACIES CONTINUE TO RULE THE WHOLE MANKIND – AN INDIAN PERSPECTIVE

 

This is the story of how the erstwhile colonialist forces, in their new globalist evolution as the present global corporate forces, continue to rule the world. And they do it by the help of the long lingering colonial legacies, in the forms of their erstwhile colonizing tools, like, the faulty modern dualist science, dualist philosophies, dualist monopolistic mass media, organized religions, highly market-led politics, arts, sports etc.

 

For almost 99% of today’s humans,  who are descendants of both the   beneficiaries and victims of colonists, settlers and displaced peoples, the question is of decolonizing ourselves, our hearts and minds, and the stories, narratives, and pathways that brought us to where we are today. This story is indeed a complicated, touchy, double-edged one. How do we understand our identity and narrative? How do we understand who we are and where we came from? How can and do we reclaim what has been lost or forgotten? And how does that understanding inform our strategies and tactics?

 

During a visit to Pakistan, Prime Minister David Cameron stated that many of the modern world’s problems were the product of Imperial Britain’s legacy. These words do not merely apply to the conflict and strife that prevails from Syria and Egypt, to Israel and Palestine, but also to the destitution, the poverty, the illiteracy, the corruption, and the deep-rooted public sector inefficiencies and nepotism institutionalised by British rule, which today afflicts vast swathes of the developing world.

Earlier, Mahatma Gandhi had warned: “God forbid that India should ever take to industrialism after the manner of the West. The economic imperialism of [England] is today keeping the world in chains. If [a country as large as India] took to similar economic exploitation, it would strip the world bare like locusts.” No different was the advice, to the world, of Dr. Arnold Toynbee, British Historian when he wrote: “It is already becoming clear that a chapter which had a Western beginning will have to have an Indian ending if it is not to end in the self-destruction of the human race. At this supremely dangerous moment in history, the only way of salvation for mankind is the Indian way.” The “Indian way” which Toynbee referring was the India of his historic vision of India before her colonization, and not the post-independent India today.

It is of no irony that virtually all former British colonies, from Kenya to India, and Egypt to Pakistan, have been cursed with almost identical Imperial footprints; the same set of existential problems, the same Victorian social character, and the same wholly disingenuous post-colonial narrative.

Fundamentally, it is wrong to say that Europeans colonized most of the nations in the world that began since the 17th century, and which raised then Great Britain as “an empire without sunset.” Essentially the colonizers were a classical combination of the highly systematized modern education, and its off-shoot, the industrial society, that was driven by the highly commercialized modern science and the degenerated religions that first colonized Europe.

Europeans and, consequently, the whole world permanently thus became the so-called ’empire without sunset’ of this hi-tech market civilization. Even today the whole mankind, including the Europeans, is indeed the pathetic victims of colonization by this highly mechanized market force that continues to use humans as just another sort of use-and-throw-away commodity.

World today claims that it has driven out colonialism. What it has actually driven out is only the carriers of colonialism but not the methodologies of colonialism which it has kept intact and updated in every nation once ruled/infected by colonialism. In the “indigenous” colonial dispensation, the world today has indeed under the worst colonialism of its updated VERSION and this colonial loot has left the whole world a completely squeezed and juiced out shell and now look forward to ways of extending colonization to the space.

Dr. Ananda K Coomaraswamy (1877-1947) the late curator of Indian art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and author of The Dance of Shiva: Essays on Indian Art and Culture, wrote:

“One of the most remarkable features of British rule in India has been the fact that the greatest injuries done to the people of India have taken the outward form of blessings. Of this, Education is a striking example; for no more crushing blows have ever been struck at the roots of Indian evolution than those which have been struck…” It is sometimes said by friends of India that the National movement is the natural result by English education, and one of which England should in truth be proud, as showing that, under ‘civilization’ and the Pax Britannica, Indians are becoming, at last, capable of self-government. The facts are all the anti-national tendencies of a system of education that has ignored or despised almost every ideal informing the national culture.”

“Yes, English educators of India, you do well to scorn the Babu graduate; he is your own special production, made in your own image; he might be one of your very selves. Do you not recognize the likeness? Probably you do not; for you are still hidebound in that impervious skin of self-satisfaction that enabled your most pompous and self-important philistine, Lord Macaulay, to believe that a single shelf of a good European library was worth all the literature of India, Arabia, and Persia. Beware lest in a hundred years the judgment be reversed, in the sense that Oriental culture will occupy a place even in European estimation, ranking at least equally with Classic. Meanwhile you have done well nigh all that could be done to eradicate it in the land of the birth.” …. “A single generation of English education suffices to break the threads of tradition and to create a nondescript and superficial being deprived of all roots – a sort of intellectual pariah who does not belong to the East or West, the past or the future.”

(source: The Wisdom of Ananda Coomaraswamy – presented by S. Durai Raja Singam 1979 p. 38-40). For more on education, refer to chapter on Education in Ancient India and Hindu Culture II).

“British-educated Indians grew up learning about Pythagoras, Archimedes, Galileo and Newton without ever learning about Panini, Aryabhatta, Bhaskar or Bhaskaracharya. The logic and epistemology of the Nyaya Sutras, the rationality of the early Buddhists or the intriguing philosophical systems of the Jains were generally unknown to the them. Neither was there any awareness of the numerous examples of dialectics in nature that are to be found in Indian texts. They may have read Homer or Dickens but not the Panchatantra, the Jataka tales or anything from the Indian epics. Schooled in the aesthetic and literary theories of the West, many felt embarrassed in acknowledging Indian contributions in the arts and literature. What was important to Western civilization was deemed universal, but everything Indian was dismissed as either backward and anachronistic, or at best tolerated as idiosyncratic oddity. Little did the Westernized Indian know what debt “Western Science and Civilization” owed (directly or indirectly) to Indian scientific discoveries and scholarly texts.

Dilip K. Chakrabarti (Colonial Indology) thus summarized the situation: “The model of the Indian past…was foisted on Indians by the hegemonic books written by Western Indologists concerned with language, literature and philosophy who were and perhaps have always been paternalistic at their best and racists at their worst..”

Elaborating on the phenomenon of cultural colonization, Priya Joshi (Culture and Consumption: Fiction, the Reading Public, and the British Novel in Colonial India) writes: “Often, the implementation of a new education system leaves those who are colonized with a lack of identity and a limited sense of their past. The indigenous history and customs once practiced and observed slowly slip away. The colonized become hybrids of two vastly different cultural systems. Colonial education creates a blurring that makes it difficult to differentiate between the new, enforced ideas of the colonizers and the formerly accepted native practices.”

 

MODERN SCIENCE AS A COLONIAL TOOL

One of the least noticed legacies of colonial rule is still lingering effect of colonialism and its methodology, namely modern reductionist science on modern human mind. A necessary adjunct to economic and political colonialism this fatal lingering effect continues to play an important role in contemporary modern society. As the godfather of all systems, modern science was long been considered as the virtual holy cow which successfully thwarted all discussions, debate, let alone criticism, on science. The tragic consequence is that today the problems of science can only be discussed ‘SCIENTIFICALLY’, which is like saying that the world has to depend on thieves to know their method of theft.

Why was science unable to detect the poisoning of our air, water, soil, food etc. when the poisoning was less than 5% or 10% and not like now when it has become more than 90%? It only proves the fallacy of modern scientific thinking. Science again has no qualm again to come out with solution like the top scientists advising mankind to fly to other planets like Mars, as a bid to escape the poisoning of earth and the life forms here. For more on this topic, please read the Note: MODERN SCIENCE IS NO HOLY COW: www.facebook.com/notes/john-muthukat/modern-science-is-no-holy-cow/10205144565875858

 

THE INDIAN MEDIA: YET ANOTHER COLONIAL TOOL

Today the media in Indian media (most of them controlled by global corporate) are waging the bitterest war against the present government. 

The greatest and the longest lasting colonization is the colonization of the mind. In the initial stages of colonization, the conquered people are enslaved and controlled with the force of arms. The weakness of this form of colonization is that the colonized people can rise up in revolution and send the colonizer packing permanently. This colonization is transient. However, the colonizer has other weapons in their arsenal and these are used to colonize the minds of the conquered people, since colonization of the mind is more permanent

Today India is reeling under the worst colonial legacy in history. With key sectors like the Indian Constitution, Indian Democracy, Judiciary, Education, Economy, Science and Technology, Media … all having been deeply entrenched in her colonial legacies and having strong western orientation,  ‘handling’ or dealing with any post-independent government in India has been a child play for the global forces, especially the global corporate owned Indian media.

Within India, the denialism seems to be much stronger because independent India was tethered to the British colonial era. Many of India’s leading nationalists were either Macaulayites or devotees of Harold Laski, the British political mind whose ideas of secularism were digested in full by leaders such as Jawaharlal Nehru and Krishna Menon (though Laski himself was a proud Zionist). As a result, India’s intellectual development was monopolised from the very beginning by those who, unwittingly or not, embraced the Macaulay idea of ‘persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect’. Indeed, the independence movement thinkers rejected British rule but sought to mimic British views and society-building paradigms. Concepts of secularism and religion, sex and sexuality, and even caste and class, were driven almost exclusively by the colonial narrative.

Historian Ramachandra Guha has written about what this sort of intellectual development has done to the study of Indian history, noting it has been encrusted into a rigid partisan and ideological binary: you are either a Marxist or a right-wing Hindu (or, like Guha, a Nehruvian), thereby precluding anyone who falls outside those categories. Not only has this made discourse next to impossible, it has shrunk the potential for debate and turned India’s intellectual class into a caricature of itself. Many Indian intellectuals, particularly on the left and living outside of India now, chase a Hindutva bogeyman, in part because they were never able to separate the religion from the political ideology or adapt to the changing discourses on religious identity that have shaped the Diaspora. To them, Hinduism and Hindutva are one and the same, whether you live in India, Bhutan, Bali, Guyana, Sri Lanka, Trinidad, the United Kingdom or the United States.

As Shiv Visvanathan wrote several months ago, India’s intellectual class never seemed to accept the fact that religion could co-exist with rationalism.

This is why colonialism remains the zombie gnawing at India’s intellectual, social, political and cultural fabric. Very few Indians are appreciative of the expanse of colonialism’s influence. Some on the right—particularly Hindu right-wingers—have disproportionately cast blame on colonialism for everything that ails India, while others on the left have framed their own critiques of the Indian state from a Eurocentric binary. It has thus become extremely difficult to have an organic, homegrown assessment of what India is and what it means to be Indian today. Indian independence still seems to be fraught with a sort of Stockholm syndrome when it comes to developing a post- European framework of dialogue.

 

THE COLONISED MIND

One of the most devastating consequences of colonialism is India’s collective failure to tangibly understand its impact, and how virtually every aspect of society has been impacted to the core by the colonial era. Indian bureaucracy, jurisprudence, and its magnificent— and often decaying—physical structures are all vestiges of the colonial mastery over natives. Ironically, the nearly three centuries of sustained colonialism— whether done indirectly through British, Portuguese or French trade administrators or directly through each country’s rule—was not syncretic. Colonial administrators might have borrowed ideas or tried to placate communal disputes, but there was never a semblance of discourse or equal exchange of ideas. Colonial frameworks were imposed upon Indians.

In many ways, Indians became what Frantz Fanon described of the plight of the natives in France’s African colonies in the 1960s: perpetually inferior and unable to break away from the psychological bondage of the mandate of French superiority. It’s what many scholars later termed ‘internal inferiorisation’. Indians were educated in missionary schools, socialised under norms that the British—and, to much lesser, localised degrees, the French and Portuguese—reified through laws of that era. Even India’s history, one that is being debated by what Guha calls ‘captive ideologues’, was written primarily by the British or those schooled by them. The study of Hinduism was defined by missionary frameworks. This isn’t to discount the Orientalist perspective as a legitimate view, but it’s also ludicrous to downplay the influence such a perspective has had in shaping how Indians understand Hinduism which got conflated with caste and ritualism—two things that Indian independence leaders wanted nothing to do with.

As such, the study of Hindu thought became stunted within India—and lampooned by many intellectuals—and began to flourish outside, which is likely why many Hindus in the West Indies, South Africa and even the United States are much more philosophically versed in Hinduism than their counterparts in India. It’s why so many Hindus in India—particularly among the educated elite—are reluctant to identify themselves as Hindu for fear of violating some rhetoric of secularism. Similarly, even the exchange of ideas among Indians of different religions (and non-beliefs) has become essentialised to a narrative of communalism.

And this is the rub of discussions about India’s relationship with its colonial past. Like an abuse victim, the country has collectively repressed the extent to which colonialism left a self-sustaining—and traumatic—imprint on the country’s psyche and the views of its post-Independence Diaspora. To many, the British continue to be seen as a civilising force that somehow managed and mollified communal tensions, when in fact, the opposite was more often true.

 

Read more related articles:

 

  • WHY STUDENTS COMMIT SUICIDES DUE TO STUDY STRESS: STOP STUDYING START LIVING. It is our modern ‘study’ that is the ‘shit’ and which have rendered us, modern humans, more and more ignorant of realities and truths. Here we go on studying and updating endlessly, and  have stopped living in the process.  Hence it is better now to Stop Studying and Start Living. You may first think it as a bizarre notion, but the essay below will convince you for a rethink.  Please read: http://www.humanfirst.in/essays/stop-studying-start-living/

 

 

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