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Abstract

In May 1888, travelling through the princely states of Rajputana as a reporter for the Allahabad Pioneer, Rudyard Kipling found himself unexpectedly bivouacked one night with three sepoys.1 As they settled down together around the campfire, the young Anglo-Indian journalist, anxiously knowledgeable, hastily established his credentials for his readers by fixing in place the ethnographic framework of the scene.2 It is a brief, lightly sketched reference, but it determines the very possibility of the guarded conviviality that follows. ‘They were all Mahomedans’, he wrote simply and without fear of controversy:

and consequently all were easy to deal with. A Hindu is an excellent person, but … but … there is no knowing what is in his heart, and he is hedged about with so many strange observances. […] But a man who will eat with you and take your tobacco, sinking the fiction that it has been doctored with shrab [liquor], cannot be very bad after all.3

Keywords

Indian Society Princely State Comic Tale Simple Axiom Excellent Person 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Some of the details of this tour can be found in Harry Ricketts, The Unforgiving Minute: A Life of Rudyard Kipling (London: Pimlico, repr. 2000; 1999), chapter 7.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Rudyard Kipling, Letters of Marque (Allahabad: Wheeler, 1891), p. 143.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Rudyard Kipling, From Sea to Sea and Other Sketches: Letters of Travel Volume II (London: Macmillan & Co, 1900), pp. 384–5.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    Ronald Inden, Imagining India (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990), p. 86.Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    Thomas R Metcalf, Ideologies of the Raj (New Delhi: Cambridge University Press, 1998), p. 89. The term ‘discourse’ is used throughout the study in Foucault’s sense not simply of ‘language’, but of the spectrum of ‘practices’ which determines the conditions of ‘emergence’ for ‘the objects of which they speak’.Google Scholar
  6. Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge, trans. A M Sheridan Smith (London: Routledge, repr. 1995; 1972), pp. 40–9.Google Scholar
  7. 12.
    Alan Greenberger, The British Image of India: a Study in the Literature of Imperialism 1880–1960 (London: Oxford University Press, 1969), pp. 47–8.Google Scholar
  8. 13.
    T Metcalf, Ideologies, pp. 138–40; Greenberger, British Image, pp. 45–51; and Benita Parry, Delusions and Discoveries: Studies on India in the British Imagination, 1880–1930 (London: Allen Lane, 1972), pp. 49–50.Google Scholar
  9. 15.
    Susan Bayly, Caste Society and Politics in India from the Eighteenth Century to the Modern Age (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, repr. 2001; 1991), pp. 18, 99.Google Scholar
  10. Richard M Eaton, The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204–1760 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, repr. 1994; 1993), p. 101.Google Scholar
  11. 18.
    On the evolution and effects of colonialist descriptions of Sikh identity, see Richard G Fox, Lions of the Punjab: Culture in the Making (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985).Google Scholar
  12. 20.
    Partha Chatterjee, The Nation and its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993), p. 10.Google Scholar
  13. 21.
    Gyanendra Pandey, The Construction of Communalism in Colonial North India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, repr. 1994; 1990), p. 16.Google Scholar
  14. D A Washbrook, ‘Ethnicity and Racialism in Colonial Indian Society’ in Robert Ross (ed.) Racism and Colonialism: Essays on Ideology and Social Structure (The Hague: Nijhoff for Leiden University Press, 1982), p. 157.Google Scholar
  15. 28.
    In this respect, see for instance: Lewis D Wurgraft, The Imperial Imagination: Magic and Myth in Kipling’s India (Middletown, NJ: Wesleyan University Press, 1983).Google Scholar
  16. Sara Suleri, The Rhetoric of English India (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1992);CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jenny Sharpe, Allegories of Empire: the Figure of Woman in the Colonial Text (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1993).Google Scholar
  18. 32.
    Christophe Jaffrelot, The Hindu Nationalist Movement and Indian Politics 1925 to the 1990s (London: C Hurst & Co, 1996), pp. 20–1; John Zavos, The Emergence of Hindu Nationalism in India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 2; and Thomas Blom Hansen, The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, repr. 2000; 1999), pp. 60, 71.Google Scholar
  19. John Zavos, The Emergence of Hindu Nationalism in India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 2;Google Scholar
  20. Thomas Blom Hansen, The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, repr. 2000; 1999), pp. 60, 71.Google Scholar
  21. 33.
    Francis Robinson, Separatism Among Indian Muslims: The Politics of the United Provinces’ Muslims 1860–1923 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, repr. 1994; 1974), pp. 1–174.Google Scholar
  22. 34.
    Peter Hardy, The Muslims of British India (New Delhi: Cambridge University Press, repr. 1998; 1972), pp. 61–70.Google Scholar
  23. 38.
    Farzana Shaikh has approached this discourse from the vantage point of Islamic norms of expectation in Community and Consensus: Muslim Representation in Colonial India, 1860–1947 (Bombay: Orient Longman, repr. 1991; 1989).Google Scholar
  24. 39.
    C A Bayly, Empire and Information: Intelligence Gathering and Social communication in India, 1780–1870 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), p. ix.Google Scholar
  25. 40.
    J Malcolm, ‘Report of the General Committee for Public Instruction’, in Friend of India, 27 October 1836, quoted in C A Bayly, Empire, p. 2.Google Scholar
  26. 41.
    On Indo-Muslim interpretations and reformulations of this level of public debate, see in particular Javed Majeed, ‘Narratives of Progress and Idioms of Community: Two Urdu Periodicals of the 1870s’, in David Finkelstein and Douglas M Peers (eds) Negotiating India in the Nineteenth-Century Media, (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000), pp. 135–63Google Scholar
  27. Ayesha Jalal, Self and Sovereignty: Individual and Community in South Asian Islam Since 1850 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2001). Syed Ahmad Khan’s role in the British ‘Wahabi’ debate in the post-‘Mutiny’ period is discussed in detail in Chapter 11.Google Scholar
  28. 42.
    Sander L Gilman, Difference and Pathology: Stereotypes of Sexuality, Race, and Madness (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1985), p. 26. The role of stereotypes in colonialist discourse is discussed in more detail in Chapter 2.Google Scholar
  29. 43.
    Clive Dewey, The Mind of the Indian Civil Service (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, repr. 2000; 1993), p. 9.Google Scholar

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© Alex Padamsee 2005

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  • Alex Padamsee

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