The British started settling in India at the beginning of the seventeenth century after the establishment of the British East India Company that dealt with spice trade. This was proceeding during two hundred years. The country was colonized for some years but, in 1947, India finally gained its independence from the British rule, and the Indians had freedom to rule themselves and run their country. However, the Indians were confused on how they would rule themselves, because they had initially been treated as minorities for a long time. Even after, the Indians gained their independence and freedom from the British rule, remnants of the British colonial rule still infiltrated and affected the lives of Indians, even in the post colonial India. This is observed in many spheres of the Indians’ life including traditions, language, identity and later the sense of nationalism that the Indians felt after the departure of the British colonizers. This paper analyzes the post-colonial effects in India on tradition, language, identity and the continued effects of colonialism of the Indians. An investigation is conducted by citing specific instances in the lives of some Indians like Biju, the judge, Sai and the society’s perception.
Effects on Tradition
Long after the colonization had ended, the Indians largely felt the presence and effects that the English people had on them. They felt oppressed and with no freedom. This was because of the mistreatment they had received in their own country. An analogy is given of giving freedom to a slave, and the slave following its previous master for guidance. The freedom and prerogative to make decisions was suffocating to the Indians. These people were, therefore, filled with hatred for themselves and their traditional ways. According to them, the only way to free themselves fully was by learning and adopting English traditions. They pursued this with all their energies and even loathed their own traditions. This is shown in several instances.
During and after colonization, most of the Indians pretended to reject the way of life of the English people, but secretly admired them.1many Indians explored opportunities to make money outside India, in developed nations like America and Britain. This is seen through the character, like Biju, who is an illegal immigrant in the US. He does odd jobs there like working in restaurants and selling hotdogs in fast food joints. Despite this, he would rather stay and work in the US than go back to India and get a decent job. He prefers to hold on to the little money he receives to going back home. An Indian would rather undertake demeaning jobs in the United States rather than stay at home. This is further demonstrated, by the way, his people back at home admire what he is pursuing in America. They think that he is doing well just because he is working in the US. Biju's father, the cook, proudly speaks of him because he is in America.1
We can further see the way many Indians struggle to leave India in order to go to America and Britain. This is because they all believe that their lives can be better there. We see the way Biju scrambles with other Indians to obtain his visa. He mentions to the officers in charge that he is civilized and, therefore, he merits receiving a passport. This shows the way these Indians viewed their traditional ways as being backward. In a bid to emancipate themselves from the colonial oppression they had suffered, they preferred to abandon their traditions and embrace the new ways of the colonizers as a way of civilization hence freedom. To this extent, they viewed tradition as a tool for oppression. They abandoned traditions and pursued civilization so as to attain freedom. Post-colonial India was rife with cases of people going against their traditional norms and culture.
For instance, despite the fact that the judge was from a lower caste than his wife, he is allowed to marry her. This is because he is educated. This is totally against the Indian traditions. According to the Indian traditions, people could only marry from the same caste. This instance shows how education, as introduced by the English people, changes and affects the Indians’ traditional beliefs.1The English man’s education is in this case viewed as an indicator of higher value. Association with the English norms and culture is perceived as sophistication and advancement in the society.
Some Indians go as far as striking off their genuine Indian identities and adopting new names. An example is given of the Harish-Harry family, an Indian family, which is living in America. They change their name from their traditional Indian name and adopt an English name. This can be viewed as a way of abandoning tradition and following new ways. A traditional name should give one identity as it reflects their origin in the society. This family chooses to alienate themselves from that by rejecting their original Indian name. Colonization, thus, (directly or indirectly) resulted in loss of identities.
This is also demonstrated through the character and practices of the judge (grandfather). We are told by Gyan who had dinner with them on several occasions that they did not eat traditional Indian food. Instead, they ate English and American food. Gyan despises Sai and her family because of this. Gyan also feels that the way Sai gives herself to him easily is not Indian at all. According to him, she should have made things harder for him. He equally feels that he cannot have anything to do with her, because they belong to different classes. The Indian tradition does not allow such a union.
We can, therefore, see that even after independence, there are those who despised their traditional Indian culture like the judge and Sai. This is because they thought the Indian ways were backward. On the other hand, other Indians like Gyan preferred hold their traditions as this was the only way through which they could identify themselves and free themselves from the oppression they had suffered under the British rule.