When the British came, they also did something. They started the systematic study of India. They started a systematic study of India, which we all understand as Indology and other things. And the British also started characterizing India from their own perspective, from their own, you know, prisms and other things and they said that India is a backward country. India is a spiritual country, India is a caste ridden country. Basically India is some kind of an orientalist, you know, a place and some kind of exotic place where people are not into real work and other things, they are more in to thinking about atma and paramatma and India struck in times of a stagnant society which has continued. It was kind of romanticism as well on the part of British. It was not all ill-intentioned.This is how they saw India coming from an industrial state. What happened that when they started defining it and because they were the ruling power, so when the ruling power defines something that becomes the template. This is the power of the state and the power of the ruling class.
So two responses arouse in retaliation or in reaction. First response was that, yes India is a backward country, India is a caste ridden country, there is nothing good in India. There is only child marriages and sati and Britisher’s are right and we have to undo this India and create a new India. We have to completely restructure India and create a kind of a modern India. These thought has also continued in India and I would say that lots of people who identify themselves as left and liberals, their inheritance of this response. You responded to British when British characterized you by saying that you were a backward stagnant society , you are a caste ridden society, there is nothing good about you, you are some kind of other worldly people, you only think about atma, paramatma and religion, you were not interested in the real world. So these people says yes, Britishers are right to undo this thing and we have to create a modern mode, just society. A lot of liberals have left actually flowed from this strand of thought. Now, speaking in a much generalised manner, because it is not possible to go into nuances of everything.
There was another response and that response says that ‘Yes, Britishers are right, India is an agrarian society, India is as a society which is spiritual unlike the west which is materialistic. Yes, the caste is a reality, this is our structure, but what’s wrong about it’. So this side went and said that yes, we are like that, we are exactly like how you are describing us. But this is how we are and this is better, this is good and we are superior to the west. Now Gandhi exemplifies this approach.
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