Serfs behave like that. They treat everyone as Rudyard Kipling’s Ramu or a maid who shouldn’t be sitting with the sahibs. The Delhi Golf Club is no different. They may not even know where Meghalaya is. The graceful lady, Tailin Lyngdoh, wearing a beautiful jainsem, had entered a “foreigners” club.
In fact, the basic character of Delhi’s elite is slavish. Selected roads were barred for the natives. Those who testified against revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh were given lucrative contracts. One can see the stone-etched names of such contractors while moving towards the Viceregal Palace, now renamed,as the Rashtrapati Bhawan. They and their children inherited the membership of elite clubs like Delhi Golf Club. They built the Imperial Hotel in memory of their old masters where you see nothing but the pictures of the British rulers — one of the greatest acts of savagery of these rulers was the Bengal famine that took the lives of three million Indians.
The rich and elite of Kanpur — once a centre of revolutionaries — have named their local club, “Cawnpore club”. They know that the legal name of the city is now Kanpur. But they would like to show they are different. To claim the legacy of British elitism, the name must remain the way the British spelt it.
It’s a mindset that thrives on negating everything you belong to. It loves to describe the dark age of the British rule as, “The Raj” — as if whatever existed earlier did not have the rule of law. They will laugh snidely if you say Indians discovered the zero, Indian numerals were adopted by the Arabs and in the West, we were great in arithmetic and science and 2,000 years before Harvard or Cambridge were conceived, we had Nalanda and Takshshila which had collections of more than a million hand-written books on science, technology, and much more.
You will see pictures of marauders and annihilators of an entire race — Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama and British viceroys. Dark-skinned turbaned Indian servants would be squeezed in one corner of the picture while the sahibs and memsahibs would be having a nice time in their wooden floor ballroom. From government circuit houses to the palatial homes of the rich, I see such paintings displayed as works of art.
Authors with a command of English are perfect in telling lies to create an aura of scholarship around them. I was amused to find one asking, “Remember former BJP MP Tarun Vijay’s comment about women from the south with dusky skin” in an article about teaching children to question and dissent. I explored all transcripts, including the interview I gave to Al Jazeera, where I single-handedly fought the people who were bending backwards to declare India a racist country. Unfortunately, I misspoke at the fag end and have expressed my regrets. Nowhere did I say what this writer attributed to me. Such people will not remember Nachiketa, who questioned the god of death, at the tender age of 13. No elite school in Delhi will even teach about him. This elite is the chowkidar of the legacy of those who plundered India.
I stayed for several weeks at Mumbai’s Raj Bhavan when the scholar, Mohammad Fazal, was the governor. One evening at the dinner table, I saw bone china crockery embossed with the British royal insignia. I was shocked. Fazal sahab was infuriated and ordered them to be changed. It was just a small reminder that we love to behave like the angrez.
I wish Delhi Golf club gets de-licensed — some officer must stand tall for India and ignore influential members — and a grand North Eastern Culture Centre be established. The “koi-hai” elite can go and eat at Hotel Imperial, which has a better British ambience and encourages looking down on “natives”.
Vijay, a former BJP MP, is an author, social worker and journalist