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The New Statesman, 6 (18 Dec 1915) 258 1

Why is it that so many cultivated British officials in India persist in ignoring what the young and educated Indians of to-day are thinking, and occupy themselves by preference, when they write about India, with a perpetual rehash of what they imagine to be the philosophy of the Vedas? Indians complain, not unnaturally, of the assumption that there is nothing else in the Indian mind, or that what else it holds is beneath the Englishman’s notice. We should consider it both incongruous and presumptuous if the title of “British Thought” were given to an analysis of the most ancient British Literature. Yet it apparently seems to Mr. R. W. Frazer quite natural to give the title Indian Thoughtto his nicely printed and well-illustrated account, not of the interests and achievements of Indian thinkers and writers during the past half-century in the various realms of knowledge and literature, but exclusively of the Vedas and the Upanishads, and their various philosophical interpretations. 2 Why should these speculations on “the problem of the Universe”–in the case of India only–monopolise the word “thought”? No one would suppose from Mr. Frazer’s book, or could infer from the excellent illustrations that are its best feature, that Indians ever thought about economics or politics, or any branch of physical science, or had any controversies about commerce or currency, art or industry; or that both the Hindoos and the Parsees had shown extraordinary originality and constructive power, alike in educational institutions, in such manufacturing industries as the cotton mills of Ahmedabad and Bombay, and in the really remarkable enterprises of the Tatas. 3

We do not find this exclusive absorption in philosophical speculation in what is written by Indians themselves. Works on industrial development, and on the application to India of the economic principles worked out in Britain and America, and are now appearing one after another. We take up the little volume by Mr. Sayani, not because it is a first-rate work, but because it has got to a second edition, and as being the sharpest possible contrast to Mr. Frazer’s representation on Indian Thought. 4 Here we have an extremely practical survey of Agricultural Industries in India, giving concise information about a large number of agricultural products, old and new, from the sugar cane to India-rubber–not forgetting “agriculture, floriculture and sericulture”–with a quite interesting discussion of the methods by which the total product of India may be increased. In this connection may be noticed, too, the new and enlarged edition of Mr. Alfred Chatterton’s work on Lift Irrigation, which may not seem to the metaphysicians to be “thought,” but which is, at any rate, finding Indian purchasers in whom it provokes thought. 5 A wider range is covered by the essays on Indian...

Published By:   Johns Hopkins University Press

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