Archive for the ‘Colonialism’ Category

Burmese days : A review

September 12, 2016

On 8 June 2016

A review of Burmese days by George Orwell
The most unflattering account of India and its people is there in ‘Burmese days’. The authenticity of the book is stunning. George Orwell saw things far more clearly than even Forster, who totally ignored Hindus for they appeared mysterious to him, besides noting passingly Dr. Godse.
On the reverse side, the Gorge Orwell’s book presents the colonials in even poorer light. The true nature of colonialism and its soul-sapping decadence and corrupting influence on both the parties is pity-provoking.
You simply can not detest the British underclass, representing the face of colonials in India. They are capable of inflicting the severest violence on the natives to prove their loyalty to the Raj and win promotions, while they are distressed by their financial worries, childrens’ education or their future, once they complete their tenure in India.
For the ones not married yet, finding a suitable English match is almost out of question. At best they will find a woman who is considered too low in Britain and fit to be a servant only, or fit to marry a British man serving in India.
Then you have orphaned and destitute English young woman coming to India looking for a husband.
(Such was the tyranny at home–Towards which he was drawn ‘Like a moth to a flame” in the words of BBC–and Orwell went out looking for it all over the places to begin his revolution.)
The prospects of joining the retirees’ ghetto of British-Indian servicemen in England is the another loathsome inevitability at the end of a such a career.
That is, if an uprising of natives does not annihilate them before that.
They drink and indulge excessively to keep their minds off the dirty work they are doing here in most cases. Then there is the fear of tropical diseases.
From the first sentence it holds you by your neck and hits you with brilliance almost relentlessly.
He was disillusioned of his job and despaired as a writer to almost kill himself by smoking while writing 1984. He had weak lungs and a TB and lived a life of exile mostly. For his writing rendered him an alien in Britain.
To this day few writers have the courage to follow his legacy and Britain reads and produces occult-fiction or mommy porn mostly, if it not regales in foreign cultures.
The concept of home guard he suggested and the government adopted during the WWII gave him a hope that a revolt will take place in Britain itself, with millions of armed civilians. But he failed to see that British people were incapable of it, being very tribal by nature.
Before that he joined the Spanish civil war to fight the tyranny and got nearly killed. His personal life says that he was a born revolutionary with no true comrade. So writing was the last resort to him though it earned him very little to ever get settled in life. Today his works earn millions of pound in royalties.
What is the most appealing about Burmese days is the intimate scenes between Flory and his Burmese mistress in the earlier part of the book. The hostility and mutual distrust among them is total. Flory needs her to relieve his carnal desires and she needs Flory to extort money. They hate each other as much as possible otherwise. Once this relationship fails the woman turns vindictive, prompted by the villain and finally destroys Flory. The villain is a Burmese in British civil service who is against Flory because Flory supports a South Indian doctor for the membership of the club, where only one Indian will be entered to make it look more egalitarian, as per orders from higher commands.
It divides the members of the hitherto all white club, who sulk at the prospects of having an Indian now in a all white club. Now they want the one closer to them. It makes Flory an enemy of the rest of the whites and the other wannabe for the membership: the Burmese villain, for he clearly supports his friend the South Indian doctor for the membership.

It is the most forthcoming narrative of the writer where he doesn’t hide behind many symbols or allusions. Which is the case with his later work which was more celebrated than his first.
Though it is about Burma rather than India, it is almost about every country ever colonised.
The ending disappointed a bit. For neither Flory is that sensitive a soul to commit suicide after killing his pet dog when he was rejected by Elizabeth for the second time after his disposed Burmese mistress creates a scene in a church gathering. He was never that proud of his Englishness that the rejection of an English woman, who is an orphan and a destitute and is desperate to find a husband in India after finding none at home.
On the part of Elizabeth too, the second rejection of Flory is too much over done with. More so since she already rejected Flory for the same reason earlier and then accepted back after she herself was rejected by the military officer Varrell, who she and her aunt were prospecting for her husband. Flory was rejected first time as soon Varell arrives in the town and is accepted back as soon Varrell leaves without saying a goodbye to anyone after his month long stay in the town, during which he took out Elizabeth almost every evening but never proposed the marriage Elizabeth wanted from him so badly.
In the meanwhile the uncle who gives her shelter in Burma has repeatedly tried to rape her.
All British characters are too practical in the book for they are from the underclass at home and are out there to make a career in British Raj in India. When they appeared inordinately principled in the end of the book, it looked disingenuous to say the least.
If it was created to make the end dramatic it has failed completely. If it was done to uphold the uprightness and pride of British colonials it again fails miserably. For the book gave away a great deal earlier on that count.

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Failing world

May 2, 2014

The last quarter, the US growth was flat reportedly. The Europe is in recession already. Reforms are on the hold. Bail outs of Banks is fashionable in Western democracies apart from the criticism of the low growth of China at 7%. Now the sanctions on Russia which will worsen the recession. Are people waiting for a war really, which they think might bail them out?
The world seems like failing. BBC conducted a programme the other day, where most of the Americans interviewed lamented that the USA is almost a lost case–mostly due to the current administration. Really? How can it fail under one President only? It has started to fail long back. Read ‘The Great Gatsby’. This book is more than a sad love story.
When you run out of ideas, you look the most poor. We had no writer of his class after him.

Mandela and Mugabe

April 29, 2014

Mugabe was opposite of Mandela. Mandela allowed the colonials to control the wealth and resources of the country, while the natives had their freedom. Also he made some humiliating compromises in TRC, which allowed the most heinous crimes of the apartheid regime go unacknowledged. For it he won the Nobel and other accolades. Mugabe did the opposite. He snatched the wealth and resources from the colonials and distributed them among natives. Recently, it became public that he gets only four thousand dollars a month as salary and has no account in a Swiss bank. He rightly said that he deserves the Nobel prize. The academic world can not ignore Mugabe for long. The way he survived the protracted economic sanctions will be a subject of research. Also, many former colonies should take a leaf out of his book. To learn how to become truly independent. Any University worth its name must hurry to honour him.

The post colonial history of Zimbabwe is unlike any other country. This unique experiment of doing away with colonial institutions and replacing them with indigenous should be studies closely. For it the Zimbabwean should be proud of their country and its leader. Having a dispassionate debate about this nation is almost impossible as the economic sanctions making life of the country arduous. Mugabe survived all it. So he is no common leader. As I said, in the times ahead it will become more obvious.

An IMF man

April 6, 2014

Of all the people, a former IMF official is now the governor of Reserve Bank of India. It sounds very intriguing that English media is trying to build an image for him. Kejariwal will find a lot of things to clean, if he gets into power.

Rich, poor and democracy

March 8, 2014

There are 700m poor for 70 Indian billionaires. So much for democracy and welfare economics of Amartya.

The British revolution

March 1, 2014

The British ambassador says Nepal is receiving $100m dollars from Britain every year as donation. It goes mostly to employ mainly the British people here. The Nepalese coffer is full of money extorted through taxes. Which did not disappear in the vortex of corruption because the stake holders called politicians keep on bickering on how to share it.
In Britain hunger deaths are being reported now. By the logic of Amartya Sen, there is no democracy in England. It is time to shake it up all. Britain today is mainly the destination of laundered money, unlike Germany, which is a genuine industrial power. If Scotland breaks up, it will give a new twist to situation. So used to making and unmaking nations elsewhere, Britain seems ready for a revolution finally, which will make it a modern nation.

Surrender

September 19, 2013

Give up the ambition of changing the world.
It is practical thing to do, to survive it.
there are many stereotypes you can choose from,
in order to fit in. It can be a way to
make peace with you.
Else it is a long pain,
of creative honesty troubling you fore ever.

The hunt

August 27, 2013

The hunt is on to find an enemy, when the things appear getting worst enough and beyond salvation. Several rounds of bail-outs seem to have failed to give the stimulus, as promised by the experts and politicians. So what is wrong with the world? Why is it slipping from the grip?
We are the innocent people having our share of privations in life. But still there are people who do not wish us well. They even may organize and try to finish us. The only defense would be for us to consolidate the league we have made and find the real enemy. It was not a dictator like in Iraq, we have seen.
But there must be some one else, who is responsible for our plight. There are other dictators ruling nations beyond our influence or under the influence of our rivals. It is time to target them. We can not wait for ever to find one. The world can not be stopped before it becomes democratic.

The great Gatsby

August 4, 2013

Trying to read ‘The great Gatsby’, after selecting it as paperback amongst several versions of its movies, I thought so, if the word great was fitting in the title. It was difficult to find the book. And I felt if it was written for a movie by a man who wrote advertising slogans in the beginning of his career. Every scene appears fast like a movie and dialogue are very dramatic. The prosperity of America almost ugly then. Uglier were the Britons trying to have a share of it. Very little passing hints at the WWI the writer had recently fought. Or did he? But you are trapped by your situation and are bound to write about it.
The brisk few lines about a Jew, who finds Mr. Gatsby gentleman enough to introduce to his mother and sister, succinctly describe the matters. As did the presence of flat-footed or short-sighted young men, who could not join the army during war, only around, for the girls; and the husband of Nick’s cousin, who is threatened that other races are overwhelming the superior, white race, and the need to reverse this trend. The America between the two wars sounds a strange place indeed, from this book.
Before long one starts to think about the driver, who was dismissed for an hour or so by Daisy, on finding his cousin Nick, the narrator of the story, waiting for her for the tea, to which she was invited. Mr. Gatsby pretends to drops in and stays long, to meet his lover of earlier times. Nick leaves them alone for half an hour, while he comes out of his apartment and has a long look at the house of Mr. Gatsby nextdoor.
Then they go to that house, which is as big and glamorous as a palace. Mr. Gatsby brings to tears Daisy, throwing in front of her and Nick his shirts in various colors, imported from England, making a heap. It was her confession of the revived love. And then they wake a sleeping artist to play the piano for them, while it rained with thunder and Mr. Gatsby dropped the curtains of his house to light it as in night. Probably the driver will return, though Nick has left to leave the old lovers alone, listening to the embarrassed artist. The circumstance and scenes pass as if in a daze. Things look nebulous. One could forget the driver, alternately, or that he was away longer than he was sent for, in a free country.
The language is as glamorous as the people and life it describes. But it is nearly impossible to read more than a few pages at a time, as the prosperity of oil described is greasy and sticks the pages of this book. This author is made of a different sensibility, than, (?), say Hammingway, and never wears his Amaricanhood on his sleeves, to scrutinize it only. But does he?

Before long the short novella deteriorated into a love triangle, with the two men trying to win the love of Daisy. It was an unpleasant surprise of a celebrated book. The saving grace was the wisdom of Nick, who had earlier discovered the wickedness in the character of his cousin Daisy, who manipulates the men around her by falling for the richer. But her husband Tom is creating a scene, by claiming to have loved her only, and not his mistress. In spite of the temptation of going for the far more richer man, Mr. Gatsby, his earlier but poorer lover, who had earned his riches through shadowy bushiness after the war, as Tom has discovered, she is unsure of herself, as usual.

On his thirtieth birthday it occurs to Nick: ‘So we drove on towards death through the cooling twilight.’ There are none of the tragedies described belong to him, apart from the fact that he is poorer than his friends and relations and by choice not in a serious relationship. He is a clever man who is able to see through the people and their emotions with clarity, at times avoiding alcohols while everyone else is drinking, to do so. But to express such a despondent emotion on his birthday privately, there is no motive described in the story. So it neither shocks or wins sympathy of a reader.

A successful book becomes a trend which dogs the literary culture for decades later.

Free speech

December 7, 2012

As the outlook worsens for Europe and the crisis in Syria deepens, the USA looks like again being sucked into the vortex of possible greater conflict. For Europeans are unwilling to work their way out of their debts. Germany can not bail them out for ever.
I find a kind of MacCarthyism taking hold in the former colonies and other countries, where English is almost the national language. The carefully managed show is finally coming apart–it may seem.
The crisis is deepening and the plot thickening.