Friday, December 31, 2010

The Mule

“A class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinion, in morals, and in intellect.”

Thomas Macaulay thus proposed to train a new class of English speakers: neither Indian nor English, but an illegitimate offspring of the two cultures - in short, a mule.

This mule has proved remarkably sturdy.

It has carried the twin loads of equalitarian democracy and inegalitarian caste; of election by the people and a Lok Shova of criminals, of popular rule and a durable dynasty, of an English-speaking elite and regional linguistic nationalism...and so on.

A mule is sterile, as we all know - we can expect nothing further from it. And here the analogy ends. When the mule dies, what happens? Do we once again get a horse and a donkey? Or perhaps Pegasus - or pig-asses?

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