Of Brown Sahibs and their Gora Memsabhib Boss

In India’s case, being ruled by foreigners has perhaps become something of a habit. What else can it be if something is so persistent that it lasts centuries. The most recent foreign rule was by the British, nominally ending around mid-20th century. I say “nominally” because what replaced it was really a continuation of the British raj under the brown sahibs (and now under a gora memsahib.)

As I know precious little history, I can only guess what must have happened. My guess is that the foreigners could not have ruled India without the enthusiastic support and connivance of some of the Indian movers and shakers. The Indians had to be involved in enabling foreign rule because the ruled Indians numbered in the hundreds of millions and the foreigners were pitiably few in comparison.

Even a casual glance at the present rule of India by an Italian and her family will convince you of the plausibility of my guess. Without help from the Singhs (don’t forget Diggy dear), the Mukerjees, the Chidambarams, et al, it would not be possible for the Italian lady to rule 1.2 billion Indians. These people are the proud inheritors of a long tradition of locals colluding with the foreigners to enrich themselves and the foreigners at the expense of the country.

Deva, deva. It’s all karma, neh!

PS: I don’t remember exactly where but I had heard a rumor that AB Vajpayee was instrumental in convincing the Italian lady to stay on. I hope it is not true.

PPS: I notice that I messed up the the title of the post. Instead of “gora” it should be “gori” since the adjective “gori” refers to a female.

Author: Atanu Dey


22 thoughts on “Of Brown Sahibs and their Gora Memsabhib Boss”

  1. Why are you so upset about madame’s regime? Her party and government panders to every base demand from the citizenry, starting from employment guarantee (huh?) right up to kickback guarantee, with a fervor that would put true blue Brittania to shame. Calling madame’s rule “foreign” is about as meaningful as calling Bipasha Basu a Bangali.


  2. India has been a unified political entity for maybe 10% of its entire history. For 50 centuries it has been a case of numerous squabbling kingdoms that never noticed the outside invader till it was too late. A couple of generations later, the now settled invader imbibes the same sense of complacency, and then the cycle repeats.
    Nothing could be truer than the fact that we were ruled with the active connivance of several Indians with the British. The war of 1857 might have seen them driven out – but for the loyalist troops who helped squash the rebellion. Learning from their mistakes, the British simply divided the troops into caste/religion based regiments. Even the Jallianwala Bagh massacre was carried out by Gurkha soldiers acting under the orders of General Dyer. (Deliberately chosen Gurkha, who would have no ties to the local Sikh/Punjabi population).

    It will take a long,long,really long time before any sort of regime toppling public rage like the Arab Spring happens here. A thousand years of meekly giving in to invaders while remaining divided against ourselves has made us this way.
    And don’t even get me started on the Anna Hazare movement.


  3. Rex,
    A lot of nationalists cannot handle the truth that the modern day India in its form never existed under one rule ever before British. British ruled India for ONLY around 100 years.
    This fact should be kept in mind to not get irrational nationalism come in the way of creation of sound economic and political policies that can lead to development resulting in breaking of the cycle of poverty.


  4. A country is just a technical term describing political borders on a piece of paper. India as it is today may be technically called a country but is it really a cohesive nation? I’d say no. A nation is a collection of people united by language, religion, ethnicity or culture, like France, Germany, Chile or China. India is divided precisely because of these factors, we as a people have and will never come together and work together because, for example, we are always Tamil first then Indian, or Christian first then Indian, or even Reddy first, then Telugu. That’s where our allegiance lies, always.

    Don’t blame only the people. We’ve been brainwashed and exploited on caste, language, religious and cultural grounds since the British times and before. The ruling polity actively sticks their knives into these divides for their benefit through the vote-bank silos.

    You will never see a Tahrir square or Jasmine revolution here precisely because we have been conditioned to think and behave along divisive lines, and we choose to delude ourselves by intentionally blinding ourselves to the ills of the land as long as we can “somehow manage” to get along by paying some bribes and ignoring the deep rot in the system. No, we’ll keep kissing white-ma’am’s feet and even feel thankful for the semblance of order, not because we don’t know better or can’t think better, but because we choose to delude ourselves that things will somehow work out.


  5. Atanu

    When “intellectuals” such as yourself resort to such racist attacks, there is very little hope that your chellas would behave differently.

    Instead of Sonia Gandhi’s skin colour/place of birth, could you focus on things that really matter? Shouldn’t we try to raise the level of political debate in India?


    1. Ashish,

      Labeling someone an “intellectual” (with the word in quotes) and then proceeding to disapprove of the person’s action because he is an “intellectual” is a rather pointless exercise. I have never claimed to be an “intellectual” and more importantly, no one has proclaimed me to be an “intellectual.” Regarding my “chelas” — sadly I don’t have any since I am not a guru.

      Now about racist attacks. It is not about race. It is about the foreign origin of a person who holds power in India. Foreign origin means foreign allegiances. I think that point should be clear to the meanest intelligence. Did you know that people who serve in the military are not allowed to fraternize with foreigners (and of course have to get permission to marry foreigners)? Why do you think that would be?

      I have no objection to a Caucasian or a Chinese ruling India — provided that person was born in India of parents domiciled in India. I don’t approve of a foreign-born citizen of a foreign country being in control of India.

      Many of Gandhi’s chelas make a great big deal about Gandhi fighting for India’s independence. What’s the big deal if foreigners ruling India appears to be just friggin’ fine? Gandhi must have been the biggest racist for insisting that the British not rule India.

      Let’s make up our minds. Are Indians capable of self-rule or not?

      I hope you will answer.


  6. Ashish, people have been trying to raise the level of political debate here in India for decades. The people who care are by and large powerless, the people who are in power have every incentive to maintain status quo to benefit from the malaise of the system.


  7. @Ashish Deodhar:
    Interesting perspective you’ve raised.. that let’s not call SG ‘gora memsahib’…but just wondering whether your ‘PC’ness is ignoring the elephant-in-the-room?

    Would Soniaji have been installed on the pedestal she occupies (even the media pay obescience to the diety) if she’d been an African Black from say, Ethiopia? I’m not sure, not sure at all…

    You speak of enhancing the level of political debate? In a country which practices ‘secularism’ where religions-are-equal in interfering with politics and society? And in reality some religions and communities more equal than others in their right to do so? I’m told that if I’m not a member of member of any organised religion (particularly of Abrahmic origin) then I’m quixotically lumped into a membership of the ‘Majority’ Religion! And politics and political debate proceeds accordingly..

    Indians, like the majority of humans are racist – they could grow out of it, but right now like all cultures we still are..
    I thought what’s being pointed out is the reverse-racism, if you will, a fawning servility to one particular race that’s still part of our culture, that is rampantly distorting our political and social scene – and not too many are having a healthy debate on it..


  8. Atanu

    You said, “Now about racist attacks. It is not about race. It is about the foreign origin of a person who holds power in India.”

    The country of one’s birth does not necessarily give one a certain skin colour. I suppose “gora memsahib” had something to do with the colour of her skin, not just her country of origin?

    You said, “Foreign origin means foreign allegiances.”

    That certainly appears to be true in your case. But that doesn’t mean you should lump everyone together in your category. Furthermore, allegiance could mean many things. She may continue to love Italy, and there is nothing wrong with it, but you seem to have adjudicated without concrete evidence that she would, and indeed does, favour Italy over India in matters of political importance. I find that unfair.

    You said, “I don’t approve of a foreign-born citizen of a foreign country being in control of India.”

    I don’t mind a foreign-born citizen in control of India provided that person has adopted India as his/her homeland and is competent enough to run the country’s affairs. That’s where I don’t like the idea of Sonia Gandhi in-change for she is utterly incompetent. But that’s for another debate.

    You said, “Gandhi must have been the biggest racist for insisting that the British not rule India.”

    I don’t know what many other Indians think. You may well be right about that. However, if I lived in those days, I would’ve opposed the British rule not because it was foreign but because it undermined liberty. Besides, I am republican at the core and wouldn’t have accepted some person/family as my monarch. That’s another reason why I don’t like the idea of the Gandhis being at the helm but again, that’s for another debate.

    Now about your final question, “Let’s make up our minds. Are Indians capable of self-rule or not?”

    Yes sure we are. We have shown just how capable we are in the last 60-odd years. And that’s why I think we don’t need to go all hysterical about the subject of Sonia Gandhi.

    Unfortunately, this is not the first time I have come across a racist (and often sexist) attack on her and this won’t be the last. The BJP tried this stunt in earlier general elections and burnt their hands badly. From the results of those elections, I have concluded that most Indians don’t give two hoots about her country of origin and when every time people such as yourself raise that issue, you play right into her hands.


  9. Atanu said:

    “Foreign origin means foreign allegiances.”

    Even foreign passport means foreign allegiances which you choose to ignore.

    No one has a control over being born into a country, however choosing a passport is a deliberate act. A deliberate act speaks much more about one’s true allegiance rather than an involuntary one.


  10. We must all study the constitution of the countries which allows a person not born in the country to become a PM or numero uno. I know for sure , in USA, you have to be born in USA to become one. Infact a a big hue and cry was raised when Barack Obama became the President , that he was muslim till he was seven or for the matter till his father was alive.

    Here is a classic case study of the Japanese Peruvian President.


    Extracts from the above web site

    That his parents were born in Japan was well-known, as were Mr Fujimori’s efforts to establish close ties with the Asian country.
    Fujimori’s opponents say he lied to them What was not known – or rather confirmed – until Tuesday was the fact that the Peruvian president had always been a Japanese national.

    Had that been known 10 years ago, Mr Fujimori, according to the Peruvian constitution, would not have been able to run for the presidency, even if he was born in Peru.

    Now here comes constitution,of the country. There is the citizenship act


    which says a lot of things.

    One thing is sure every country faces these problems. The US is clear that one should be born in USA to be President. Taking into consideration the Peruvian President case, it is better to have a person like Sonia Gandhi or for the matter even Mark Tully or Vivian Richards or Sunny Leone give her or his acquired or adopted countrys citizenship to hold offices of high power like Home, Defence , Finance and above all PM. If they are not ready to give up their dual citizenship , then the best govt post they can have is a nominated Rajya Sabha member category in the classification ” Rajya Sabha member with dual citizenship or OCI” as it is deemed now.

    The best way is to be transparent. There is the right to information act. Just ask whether so and so is holding the citizenship of his or her country where she or he was born, If yes tell her or him , please sir/mm renounce your first citizenship by birth. We cannot have two loyalties. One leg there and one leg here. This will create cramps not only in the legs, but deficiency in concentration towards where you want to be powerful. The Peruvian President filled a lot of sacks for his relatives, because he had one leg in Japan and one leg in Peru.

    I feel India should first be very sure about all this and set out strict rules for having only one citizenship that is of India if he or she wants to hold powerful offices. It can be done.


  11. Suhas, you are right. There was a Tamil poet Subramanya Bharati who in 1909 said in Tamil : Vellayan chonal aadhu Vedham , Nammavar chonnal aadhu bedham, meaning if a westerner says it is word of God, if the same thing is said by an Indian, we Indians interpret it differently.

    We have to be decisive on this power positioning with respect to citizenship. The Govt of India has to lay down all the rules very clearly in this sensitive area.


  12. The thing IMO that is problematic is that Sonia Gandhi is the de-facto leader yet does not have any such responsibilities. She is ruling by proxy. She doesnt do any interview where she can sit down and tell the nation where she stands on important issues, yet her word is final on every policy decision. She’s got a manager who plays the role of a front man for the regime.


  13. All said and done, the said memsahib boss chose this route only for power and political gain, not out of some strange “love” for a country she was never connected to or lived in, and which was backward in every way compared to her land of origin.

    I can accept a person coming to a progressive nation from a backward country growing loyal and loving his new adopted motherland. I myself am one such example.

    Knowing her past history I can’t by any stretch of imagination picture this memsahib’s only intent and heart’s desire is to uplift the suffering millions of India. Hogwash. Call a spade a spade, it’s black and white for anyone to see.


  14. @Deodhar saheb – u said “The BJP tried this stunt in earlier general elections and burnt their hands badly”.. BJP did not lose because it called sonia foreigner. it lost because of mismanaging alliance and media.

    btw, do you think sonia g would have got the same ‘acceptance’ if she was from africa? think again!

    indians have a fair-skin complex. and unfort people like you form the bulk of indian voters. so there..


  15. @Kautilya saheb

    If you think people like me “accept” Sonia Gandhi because of her skin colour just don’t get it!

    I oppose not only Sonia Gandhi but the entire Congress party with every fibre in my body; for genuine ideological reasons, not because “she’s white”. Not only is it a stupid reason to oppose someone, it also doesn’t make a dent to her popularity amongst the masses.

    If you guys put half of your focus on her incompetence, her family’s almost dictatorial grip on the government, and her party’s failed governance; she wouldn’t have a chance in hell to form another government.


  16. i m not opposing her for being ‘white’. the point i m making is, most of the country supports her because she’s white, and not in-spite of it.

    i am saying, if she was an african, she wouldn’t have sycophants like diggy singh and kapil sibal licking her legs. her skin color has a role to play here. whether u agree or not. and that gets my goat.

    [agreed. u may not be the one ‘accepting’ her for color. so peace]


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