Anand Mahindra and Charles Dickens

The brief but nice convocation address by Anand Mahindra to the graduating class at IIM-A in 2014 is available here. Worth a read.

Must highlight this part of his speech:

I believe that this psychological legacy of colonialism was at least as pernicious as the memories of physical humiliation. Why on earth did we allow this residue to remain for so long? We were in a state of mind best summed up by this Urdu Sher:

Ajab ye zindagi ki
Kaid hai har insaan
Rihayi maangta hai aur
Riha hone se darta hai

Which essentially means that even though we long for our freedom, we are mortally afraid of being released.

He has questioned the need for us to allow the residue to remain for long. But, worse, we continue to read and extol those who wished to exterminate us from the face of this earth.

Until I read this piece (published in 2007) in ‘Guardian’, I did not know that the famous author Charles Dickens had such a mighty contempt for ‘races’:

According to an article by Dr. Gideon Polya, this is what Charles Dickens wrote to businessman Emile de la Rue in October 1857:

Thus Charles Dickens in a letter to Emile de la Rue on 23 October 1857 about the so-called Indian Mutiny of 1857 :  “I wish I were Commander in Chief over there [ India ]! I would address that Oriental character which must be powerfully spoken to, in something like the following placard, which should be vigorously translated into all native dialects, “I, The Inimitable, holding this office of mine, and firmly believing that I hold it by the permission of Heaven and not by the appointment of Satan, have the honor to inform you Hindoo gentry that it is my intention, with all possible avoidance of unnecessary cruelty and with all merciful swiftness of execution, to exterminate the Race from the face of the earth, which disfigured the earth with the late abominable atrocities [2,000 British killed in the 1857 Indian War of Independence aka the 1857 Indian Mutiny]

Gideon Polya cites this from the book by Grace Moore titled, ‘Dickens and the Empire. Discourses of class, race, and colonialism in the works of Charles Dickens”, published in 2004.

The Wiki page on Charles Dickens and racism is interesting but it mentions that the above intent of extermination was expressed in a letter that Dickens wrote to Baroness Burdett-Coutts. I do not know who is correct. But, it is important to note that he expressed that sentiment. The discrepancy is in the name of the addressee. This discrepancy apart, the Wiki page is worth reading.

Lest I forget to mention, the article in ‘Guardian’ mentions the work of historian Amaresh Misra who claims that Britain’s deacde-long ‘holocaust’ in India claimed about 10 million lives:

A controversial new history of the Indian Mutiny, which broke out 150 years ago and is acknowledged to have been the greatest challenge to any European power in the 19th century, claims that the British pursued a murderous decade-long campaign to wipe out millions of people who dared rise up against them.

In War of Civilisations: India AD 1857, Amaresh Misra, a writer and historian based in Mumbai, argues that there was an “untold holocaust” which caused the deaths of almost 10 million people over 10 years beginning in 1857.

How many such speeches do the Mahindras of India have to make before Indians shed their colonial hangover?

(Cross-posted here)

One thought on “Anand Mahindra and Charles Dickens

  1. Pingback: Anand Mahindra and Charles Dickens | The Gold Standard

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