Snake charmers and goat eaters

Previously I wrote about “how great were Mughals”, concerning how two millennium worth of Indian history could have been written in the mercy of few ass-lickers at Emperor’s courts. I missed a little part of after that, about next few centuries. Those, which were written in the courtesy of guests of East India Company. Well, not entirely, but a major chunk of it – its just a thought.

Think about it for a second. In this modern era, our journalists cannot report a single news un-prejudiced. “News” is what editor-in-chief thinks, isn’t it? If you need a recent example, Iranian newspaper calls French first lady as a prostitute! just for being a feminist! We know he is a nut case, because he is alone with this view, as compared to vast majority others in same industry. Imagine, 500 years from now all newspaper databases (and stuff like wikipedia) get wiped out, except for some Iranian newspapers. What would be your perspective then? on French? That’s my point.

Back to those four centuries of Indian history, where India was ruled by west – first by a company and then monarchy. They had no intention of giving equal respect to Indian civilisation, as they did for counterparts in Europe. We had lower per capita income compare to Europe, higher ppp did not matter. Indian religions are obviously inferior to western ones, even for today. Would you feel like writing anything about such a country, if it was entirely in your hand?

Fifty years on some part of the world feel Indians still need to be uplifted. For some, we are country of snake charmers, and we meditate on nailed bed and travel on levitating carpets. While doing that we answer the calls on improper shut downs of Dell laptops and calls on password reset of their credit cards. It all result of  how Indians were presented to outside world. Also, on what story was presented to them before Indians were even reached there.

Stereotyping, is entirely up to who is doing it, they can take it either way. For instance, decimal number system was born in India, Chess was invented here. They could have highlighted this back home as “India has few real smart-ass guys inventing stuff”, but no, “India has snake charmers”!. Again, it’s just a thought. I am not going to lose my sleep over it :-).

Here is an example. It’s a painting by an East India company employee 200 years back. He gives step by step procedure on how this Indian kills a raw goat and eats it entirely including bones.

The utterly giddifying weirdness of India
The utterly giddifying weirdness of India

image via the cultured life

The fact is India has biggest number of vegetarians in the world. Most among the rest of the folk who do eat meat, eat twice or trice in a week. Or… forget it! Whatever statistics you provide, there is no one here eating bones(except for few absolute nut-cases). I am almost certain Indians had same of similar food habits couple of centuries back. Now, in 1820s go back to England and show this image to millions of Englishmen, who know India only by the silk they are wearing, what would they think?


9 thoughts on “Snake charmers and goat eaters

  1. Unfortunately, it’s not just foreigners who stereotype India. We do it ourselves! And each person stereotypes in a different way.

    The moral police, the mullahs and the muthaliks see India as a place where people are so weak the government must protect them from hurtful films and books.

    Then there are those who see India only in the past and keep talking about how great we used to be etc etc and how Muslims and the angrez came and pillaged and looted and how we need to get back to our “roots”…


  2. Oh! so during my first TA assignment, a student asked me if we still rode on elephants in india and if i could charm a snake. 🙂 Yes, what the world thinks of us is not who we are and who we are is not what we think of ourselves. Being ruled by the Brits for so many years made us look up to them and look down upon us! Where have we lost our confidence?


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