The White Man Is The Burden – Case Studies In Colonization

Author: Team IK

Editorial Note: Shri Rajiv Malhotra’s recent discussion on the upcoming series of books on the UTurn theory and on the nature of Civilisational Digestion, has provoked deep churn. It raises serious questions on current narratives, which are designed to invoke awe of the white-man. As we try to understand and make sense of our individual state of colonisation, each of us has to come to terms with our “awe” of the white-man. This article explores the nature of colonisation, with two insightful anecdotes. The Indian fascination with the “white man”, runs deep. That the anglicized elite exhibit it in many overt and explicit ways, is well known. Less known is that this phenomenon is present in the larger population in very deep ways. To use Rajiv Malhotra’s Sanskrit Non-Translatables terminology, it is not only the sthula but also the sukshma sharira of the rashtra , that is getting colonised.


It is fashionable in India to talk about religious conversions by the religions of the desert, especially that undertaken by Christian evangelicals. In spite of that, nobody seems to have undertaken any serious study of what are the causes for this phenomenon. It is always assumed that it is predominantly due to economic reasons, be it aspirational or just pure poverty. To even the most cursory reader of Indian history it must be known that the epidemic of poverty has seen the best of times in India in the form of repeated, engineered famines and droughts during the Christian White British colonial rule. Even then, however, the conversion of the population was a fraction or a minuscule part of what it is at the present time. Clearly, economics seems a rather weak argument and perhaps a lazy excuse for our own lack of sociological research into the phenomenon itself.

One such research was recently presented at a humanities conference at one of the prestigious technology institutions of India. The research concluded that the primary driver is neither economics nor social deprivation. It says the primary cause is the colonisation of the native minds. This was about two years ago. (1)

Around the same time, this author engaged to test the conclusions of the study empirically using a few case studies. If colonisation of the mind is the primary driver for conversions, obviously Christianity and what is seen as associated with it and / or seen as symbolically synonymous with it should have a high “emotional” appeal to “lay Indians” who are generally considered the most susceptible to evangelical predation.

So as the first case study, a tuk-tuk driver (auto-rickshaw driver) was chosen. The idea was to employ a qualitative exploratory case study model and to engage in natural conversations while on a ride, in the local language, and to elicit responses to a descriptive and informative though informal chat. The driver wore a visible tilak on the forehead indicating he was most likely a practicing Hindu.

In the course of a naturally evolving conversation, corruption and the traffic police came up. The driver was told that corruption itself was a Western import into India. The following observation from a British archival record was recounted to the driver. In 1783, Alexander Dalrymple, a member of the Madras Governor’s Council wrote on Hindu honesty:

“The Friend, before mentioned, reminded me of one very important part of the Gentoo Establishment; the Watch; “the Polygar (Palegar, Pariar/Talieri, the Indian police community) (2) has a custom or Duty on everything, and he is answerable for everything that is lost in the District. No mode can more effectually prevent Theft and Robbery than obliging the Officer to make good the loss; Even in my memory, this Regulation subsisted at Madrass; … Perhaps it requires Indian-Honesty to make such an Institution efficacious; for in this Country [Britain], Claims would probably be made on the Officer, for pretended losses, to an extent which the wealth of Croesus could not satisfy; or the law teach him to evade payment of actual losses till the day of Judgement”. (2)

The conversation moved on from both sides and he was told how till about the 1800s India was the largest economy along with China for about 1800 years. This data is as per the well-known (amongst scholars) OECD study by an economic historian called Angus Maddison. (3) Then he was explained how even castes-by-birth was a relatively very recent phenomenon. Arithmetically, it was impossible to have had such a system before the British colonial rule. (4–6) Up until this point the conversation went smoothly and was conducted jovially. Now, to test the idea of colonisation of the driver’s mind, it was explicitly pointed out to him, how every single topic of discussion and data (evidence) pointed to the corruption, destruction and undermining of a far superior native system by the colonialist White man. With this turn, suddenly the conversation took a nosedive! The driver sounded irritated when he was asked why he should get irritated after such a friendly chat, He was asked whether it was because the White man was blamed for the economic degradation and corruption now seen in the society. This irritated him further. The author understood that it was time to end the conversation amicably and that was done. Besides, the destination had also arrived by then. Clearly, the inference that can be drawn from this conversation is that there is a soft corner for the White man in this driver. This is an indisputable sign of a colonised mind.

Then, a lady tender coconut vendor and her son who was assisting her were randomly selected to repeat a similar exercise. The religious affiliation of the mother-son duo was not very obvious at first. When this author enquired if she was from the same village where she was selling the tender coconuts, she disparagingly denied it. She said that she did not belong to the fishermen community and that her residence was a non-fishermen community. For some reason, she felt superior about this aspect. So the conversation started with explaining to her that just about 20 or so generations ago everybody there and the fishermen must all have been blood-related (arithmetically). (4) Therefore, it was emphasised that there was no question of superiority or inferiority in that case. She did not appear convinced. Then, she was given the information about the origins of corruption in India, the state of the Indian economy before the British, etc. She started vehemently, though in a friendly manner (and without getting angry like the driver above), defending the White Europeans claiming that the country would be better under them! At this point, it was noted that her son was wearing a gold chain with a cross in his neck and that she was a Christian too. One can well imagine, her sources for colonised thinking.

Neither the Hindu tuk-tuk driver nor the Christian lady was English educated to have been colonised through an anglicised education system. They perhaps did not even speak one sentence in English. Yet they felt a great affinity to the White man to the extent of either getting angry or defending that the country would be better under White colonial rule. The driver would have come across a handful of White tourists. Similarly, the tender-coconut vendor lady would have come across some White European Christian evangelists in her local Church. That is it. However, the level of colonisation of their minds and their affinity to the White man was disproportionate in terms of the effect it has had on them. They acted and reacted as loyal colonial subjects would have done before independence. This is in spite of being made aware of so many facts to be proud of India and being an Indian. Of course, it can be argued that for the facts to sink in will take time. Even then the degree of colonisation, the level of deracination these lay people exhibited was shocking, to say the least.

Obviously, the Christian lady feels like that by being a Christian convert she somehow belongs to an elite White Man’s club.

Some people might wonder what harm comes the way of India and Indians if colonisation of minds has such deep roots even amongst the masses. One has to only look at the fate of the native Americans, native Australians who have been exterminated by the White man’s genocidal campaigns. In today’s population count and density, (normalised numbers) this could be nearly 20 billion, which is almost three times the current global population. Add to it the innumerable native Africans, Asians and the Indians who died in slavery, the slave trade, war, engineered famines and disease epidemics directly due to the White man’s burdensome behaviour. And, consider the sorry state of affairs even to the present day of many African and other colonially ravished countries across the globe.

The colonised, the unaware or the indifferent might think highly of the epithet that the White man’s burden is to civilise the world’s non-White brutes. The conscientious and the shameful will agree with solemn contemplation and agony in their hearts that the White man is the burden indeed.


Postscript : The recently released documentary by Michael Moore, “Planet of the Humans”, more than aptly summarizes the overall thrust of this article.The larger issue of the adharmic nature of “western civilization” , the excesses of the capitalist driven industrial systems (products of white man’s thinking) designed to relentlessly exploit, are exposed in this Michael Moore production. That the White Man is indeed a burden , is showcased in no uncertain terms.


About Author: –

A medic and a graduate of the University of Cambridge, England, involved in inter-disciplinary research for the inculcation of a scientific rigour in the outdated fields of humanities: putting “science” into social sciences.


References: –

1.     Swadeshi Indology (2018) SI 3 Paper Presentations – Track 2 – Session 2 – Modern Hinduphobia and Dravidian Movement (Youtube) Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVOad19GbfY&t=12s [Accessed July 4, 2018].

2.     Dharampal (2003) Rediscovering India: Collection of Essays and Speeches, 1956-1998 (Society for Integrated Development of Himalayas) Available at: https://books.google.com/books/about/Rediscovering_India.html?hl=&id=1POpPgAACAAJ.

3.     Maddison A (2001) Development Centre Studies The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective (OECD Pub.).

4.     Murali KV (2017) Mathematically, caste-by-birth could not have existed in Bharat. Available at: https://therationalhindu.com/mathematically-caste-by-birth-could-not-have-existed-in-bharat-c7be1f38af89 [Accessed November 7, 2017].

5.     Dharampal (1983) The beautiful tree: Indigenous Indian education in the eighteenth century (Biblia Impex) Available at: https://archive.org/details/DharampalCollectedWritingsIn5Volumes.

6.     Dirks NB (2011) Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India (Princeton University Press) Available at: https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=UP7vmkFSJhIC&oi=fnd&pg=PR1&dq=castes+of+mind+dirks&ots=CLs6Zh8hLu&sig=Eoz5gLDiGwq3sZ3pnajCoPeqPsg.


1 thought on “The White Man Is The Burden – Case Studies In Colonization”

  1. This is one well written article and the thesis statement is pretty clear and it all naturally flows. Having said that, the subjects, the reply and reactions of the Tuk-tuk driver and coconut lady may as well be romanticizing Colonial rule. This is not to be confused with deep rooted colonization. Having grown-up in India, it was in trend to say “India was better of ruled by Britishers” when it came to expressing frustration on governance. I have heard my own parents say this many a times but I can tell they do not think highly of the white man, their culture or their burden. This sentiment is rather superficial than deep-rooted. Further inquiry and quick reminders of British cruelty/oppression during colonial era will invoke patriotism and the colonial romanticism simply fades away. The study here does not attempt to distinguish romanticism from a truly colonized mind.

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