Kipling was Wrong when he spoke of the Colonies of England as “White man’s Burden”

ladybird By ladybird, 26th Nov 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>History

Rudyard Kipling is a writer who spent a fair amount of time in India. He was howeverv a imperialist and made some silly comments that haunt the English even now

Kipling was wrong


Rudyard Kipling was a writer who spent a lot of time in India and also wrote many books with India as background like “Kim”,“Mowgli” and “The Jungle Book”. He is considered a good writer, but he was a dyed in wool imperialist. During the glorious days of the British Empire when the sun never set on Britannica, he made a statement that the colonies were the “white man’s burden”. In other words it was the lot of the white man to rule over Asia and Africa and ‘civilize’ them. What a silly man he was. I wonder whether he really believed in what he said, but I don’t.

Kipling conveniently forgot that the white men came to colonize the Africa and Asia for economic benefit and looted the resources of the colonies so the white nations could prosper. So long as the colonies were there, England and France prospered and now without colonies all they can do is to ride piggy back on the USA as they themselves are 5th rate powers. Whatever so called development was brought in was only to benefit the rulers and not for the Indian people. The fact is that the forces unleashed by Adolf Hitler weakened the colonial powers and reluctantly they had to leave their colonies. Kipling must be turning in his grave at the silly statement he made and the fact that the empire is no more, just a page in history.

What do the colonized people feel about Hitler? Let’s not forget that the French and British Empires which lasted for over 200 years collapsed in a heap of cards inside 5 years after the Pyrrhic victory over Hitler. So Hitler did do a lot of good as well. I for one will never condemn Hitler. I remember I was once ushered into the office of Bala Saheb Thackeray, the Shiv Sena leader and I found a photo of Hitler hanging on his wall.
Coming to the English rule, the Englishmen never thought they would leave India and in 1939 they looked omnipotent, but within less than a decade they had to go home. It was an exit without parallel in world history. Normally empires take decades to fold up, but the English empire collapsed within 2 years of the end of World War II.. People like s\Kipling deserve no praise whatsever.

Tags

British Empire, English Rule, Hitler, Rudyard Kipling

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I am a lawyer who is fond of riding and active sports

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author avatar Retired
26th Nov 2015 (#)

I think you're being a little unfair to Kipling who - as you rightly say - knew India inside out, having been born there. His writings include a great deal of sympathy for the people of India and you will find many examples of condemnation of British excesses and admiration of Indian wisdom - just look at "Gunga Din" and "The Man Who Would be King" for examples.

You must also bear in mind that Kipling was a Victorian who was imbued with the sense that it was the duty of Britain to "civilise" India and bring Christianity to it. With hindsight we know that that was wrong, but seen from his perspective it was not - and very few of his contemporaries would have disagreed with him.

I'm also disturbed by your statement that you "will never condemn Hitler". Apart from anything else, do you really think that India would have done any better if Adolf Hitlar had taken over the British Empire and become the ruler of India? At least the British weres - in the main - benevolent despots.

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author avatar ladybird
26th Nov 2015 (#)

Thank you for your comment. As you yourself have said everything is in perspective. If Kipling in a way was correct and echoed the thinking at that time, so do many Indians feeel about the German leader.
Hitler had agreed with Subhas Bose to free India once the British were out

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author avatar Retired
26th Nov 2015 (#)

When did Adolf Hitler ever keep his word to do something worthwhile?

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author avatar ladybird
27th Nov 2015 (#)

Our great leader Subhas Bose would not have agreed for anything less than complete freedom.

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author avatar Retired
29th Nov 2015 (#)

Was Bose really such a "great leader"? Having failed to get Nazi Germany to come to his aid he tried to encourage Japan to defeat the Raj. Surely either power would have demanded a huge price from India had they succeeded.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
28th Nov 2015 (#)

Bold take without mincing words, Ladybird.

Kipling was also a product of his times and it might have been difficult to take a contrary stand.

Personally I feel India benefited too and learned some bitter lessons but we tend to forget even those and get carried away. The main benefit has been a working knowledge of English that serves as an international passport. Sometimes I feel too we still need them as a referee to settle our endless bickering! siva

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author avatar ladybird
28th Nov 2015 (#)

Thank you siva, yes English is a great unifying force

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