Essay On Is The Colonial Mentality Hindering Indias Success

Finally the IAS Main Exam 2013 started on 2 December 2013 with the Essay Paper. The Essay paper has a new dimension this time that is word limit of 2500 words was introduced in the Essay paper. It is done due to the peculiar requirement of the Essay writing that is orderly presentation of Ideas and the concise writing to present the Ideas. The word limit will bind the candidate to present his ideas in the concise manner and also it will help the commission to evaluate the essay in a better way.

There were only four topics in the Essay Paper and this time it seems to be tougher from the previous year’s Essay Papers. The Topics were concerned with the wholesome approach of the candidates and was deeply concern with the Holistic approach/Big Picture of the Indian Society.

The Tradition of asking the Topics related to the overall development of Society is still continuing but in a tougher way now. The Essays asked are neither direct nor easy to answer but the Essay Enrichment Tips can help the candidates to write better essay.

Following are the Questions/Topics Asked in the Essay Paper

Q .1 Be the change you want to see in others- Gandhiji.

Q. 2 Is the Colonial mentality hindering India’s Success?

Q. 3 GDP(Gross Domestic Product) along with  GDH(Gross Domestic Happiness) would be the right indices for judging the well being  of a country.

Q. 4 Science  and Technology is the panacea for the growth  and security  of the Nation.


Click here for IAS MAin 2013 General Studies Paper I

Click here for IAS MAin 2013 General Studies Paper II

Click here for IAS MAin 2013 General Studies Paper III


Click here for Complete IAS Main 2013 General Studies Paper IV



“Aap ki bheti ki shaadi nahi ho rahi hai kya?
Kya aap ki bheti ko pilot banna hai lekin dark complexion suit nahi ho rahi hai?
Ye saare samasyonki parishkar ab bas sirf paanch rupiye mein.. Aur vo bhi pandra din mein
Haa aap sahi sunra he hoo..
Ab ‘fair and lovely’ cream chota pack mein..”
We come across such commercials every now and then in TV, Radio and cinema halls.
Isn’t this a manifestation of colonial mentality in the form of bias towards fair color against dark complexion?

Two hundred years of British rule in India has profound impact on India that colonial mentality has left significant imprints in all walks of life. Has colonial mentality helped in shaping India as a nation ? Or it resulted in communal divide of tolerant Indian society? What kind of effect does it have on contemporary education system? How far it influenced Indian way of living? Has it led to promotion of English language at the expense of native languages which have been in existence for centuries? How far it helped in strengthening our polity, administration? What is its effect on society, Religion? What changes it brought to the games we play? These are some of the questions that will be discussed in the following passages. However, before arriving at answers to those questions, it is important to understand what is colonial mentality.

Colonial mentality

Colonialism is a phenomenon in which a country establishes its rule over another country with the sole aim of economic exploitation. During this process the ruling country establishes political, socio economic structures such that the ruled country becomes its colony. The rulers of colonial western powers had one set of attitude. This is famously known as “white man’s burden”. They perceived colonies as primordial societies, incapable of learning to transform themselves and it is their responsibility to reform them. If this kind of mentality of rulers is one aspect of colonial mentality, the psychological imprints left on minds of people of colonies is another aspect of colonial mentality. Perceiving oneself as inferior and British as superior, in the process blindly imitating their culture, imbibing their attitudes is seen in this aspect of colonial mentality. The political, socio economic structural changes brought by colonial powers resulted in various attitudinal and behavioral changes which are seen even today. So roles of both colonial ruler’s mentality and colony people mentality have to be analyzed on India’s successes and failures.

Uniting and dividing – making of India as a nation

Colonial mentality of rulers was to look down upon the Indians incapable of governing themselves. Their economic policies resulted in hardships to all people of different regions, linguistic groups, castes etc. resulting into a common struggle against them for self-government or ‘swaraj’. The oppressing colonial mentality helped in raising conscience of Indian nationalism among masses and led to Freedom struggle and helped in making India as a single nation which was earlier divided politically.

Even though colonial mentality helped in making of India as a nation, it also acted as hindrance to national integration by creating communal divide in Indian society. The contemporary communal violence has the roots in ‘divide and rule’ policy and favouring one religion, caste communities over the other during colonial era.

Modern education – its effectiveness

Modern education was introduced by British in 19th century. Among other reasons such as to create uniformity in administration and civil services which are loyal to the Crown, Colonial mentality of ‘white man’s burden’ or responsibility to transform the societies also one of the reasons for spreading modern education in India. Though it succeeded in inculcating modern values of rationality, scientific outlook among Indians, it acted as hindrance to educational development. Emphasis on contemporary rote learning has roots in the same education system that was introduced by British.

English Language versus native language

Even though there are economic reasons and globalization phenomenon that are spreading English language at the expense of native mother tongues today in India, the roots can be traced to love for English language during colonial rule. The employability opportunities due to English education made Indians embrace English language during British rule. To be educated in English was considered to be proud. This resulted in slow erosion of native Indian languages, which have thousands of years of history and literature. This is in contrast to other nations such as China, Japan where native mother tongue was not seen as hindrance to modern education. Even in contemporary society, most middle classes feel proud if their kids talk only English at home. Unfortunately, the same culture is spreading now to other sections of society too. This is a baggage of colonial mentality.

Changes in Indian Life style.

Colonial attitude reflects even in every day Indian life. Clothing and greetings are some of the examples that can be seen. Since they live in cold countries, western people wear suits for their dressing. As mentioned before, the colonial mentality of Indians to look down upon themselves, their culture as inferior and British culture & tradition as superior resulted in blind imitation of their clothing even though Indians live in tropical nation and suits are not suited for the climate. It has become common to greet or wish as ‘warmly’ or ‘warm regards’ in mails and letters in India. Again as British live in cold countries, these greetings are appropriate for them. Preference for gym fitness against ‘yoga’ is another example. Interestingly, now there are more westerners who practice yoga than Indians, though ‘yoga’ originated here in India.

Cricket Versus Hockey

Colonialism played a negative role in the arena of Games & sports of India. Cricket was unknown before advent of British. However, it got impetus at the expense of all other Indian sports such as Hockey, kabaddi, Koko etc. India could win cricket world cup, but it is performing badly when it comes to its national sport, Hockey.

Evolution of Indian polity

Colonial mentality has helped in a positive manner for Indian polity. It resulted in respect for human rights, democracy, rule of law. These values were imbibed by Indians which helped India to transform itself as a democratic country though many other nations who were born at the same time struggled to nurture democracy. However, the colonial nature of over centralization of power at the at the top is still continuing even after enacting 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments to form Gram panchayats and urban local bodies.

Anti-racism and anti-colonialism – in foreign policy

Another colonial attitude of racism helped in a positive way in Indian foreign policy. Strong opposition against racism and colonialism is an important parameter of Indian foreign policy. To that effect, India voiced its strong concern against apartheid in South Africa and at other places in International arena. This is one successful achievement in India’s foreign policy.

Administrative culture

Colonialism has mixed results in Indian administrative setup. On one hand, positively, it helped in establishing strong institutions, civil services at all India level, but on the other hand it also resulted in corruption and bureaucratic attitude of civil services. Policing system in India is quoted as best example of colonial mentality by many. Originally conceived for maintaining law and order to serve the interests of British, the nature to serve for the interests of political executive rather than for public interest is an off shoot of colonial mentality. The bureaucratic mindset, corruption in public office, red-tapism all trace their roots to colonial times.

Economic growth – is it sustainable?

Capitalism was one of the dominant factor for establishing colonies to exploit them by colonial powers. The capitalistic mode of economy developed consumerism. It also gave importance to growth centric models at the expense of ecology. Goods and services are accessed by their money value, even relationships have become value based. It led to erosion of moral and ethical values in society.

Colonial mentality – its mixed role in India’s success

In this respect colonial mentality in two forms – one, as mind set of British, two, as attitude of Indians due to colonialism – played a mixed role. It boosted India’s successes in making India as a nation, providing modern education, taking up English language to become globally competitive, imbibing values of democracy, helping in foreign policy, providing a strong ‘iron frame’ of civil services in administration. However, it acted as hindrance to India’s success by creating divisions in society among different communities, by promoting English language at the expense of native Indian languages, by blind imitation of western culture and eroding unique Indian culture, by leading to corruption and red-tapism in administration, by favoring racism in terms of liking for fair color, by capitalistic mode of economy without due regard to mother nature and local tribes. There is nothing wrong in embracing positive features of colonial mindset such as modernity, rationality and scientific outlook. However, negative aspects of colonial mentality must be reviewed with original Indian mindset – of tolerance to diversities, of Gandhian principles of decentralization – ‘swaraj’, of respect towards the nature.

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