Sunday, 24 July 2011

Racial coding in Amitav Ghosh.

Annotating a superb account of a Tamil family's escape from the Japanese invasion of Burma- the setting of H.E. Bates' 'the Jacaranda Tree' but also a theme in Karunanidhi's greatest hit'Parashakti'- Prof Ghosh notes w.r.t exit permits  'These permits, and the routes they provided access to, were also racially coded. The ‘White’ routes were generally shorter and easier and were largely reserved for retreating soldiers and European and Eurasian civilians; the ‘Black’ routes were longer and much more arduous – Asians were generally allowed to use only these routes. Another account in my possession, written by an Indian, provides a harrowing account of the writer’s attempts to acquire ‘White route’ permits for his wife and young children.'

This clearly shows the greatness of Ghosh Babu as anthropologist and popular author. He tells us something nobody ever guessed- viz. the British were Racist, the British Empire instrumentalized Race for Service Provision discrimination- but does so in a context which, perhaps uniquely, utterly nullifies and renders ludicrous, the illocutionary force of his claim. 

In Burma, at that time, some Whites didn't get exit permits at all but were ordered to stay back by their employers. Some Blacks did, that too by the easiest route and, what's more managed to bring back their teak furniture and Lars et penates etc. all on the Govt's dime.

 All soldiers and similar strategically valuable personnel, no matter how Black, were given  priority over Civilians, no matter how White. 

Thus, contra Ghosh, the retreat from Burma- at a time when a lot of Indians had gone over to the enemy- provides, not material for a thesis about 'racial coding', but a sui generis instance of the utility of 'Racial profiling' because no White in the area was assiduously, or at all, the object of recruitment by the Axis powers or their compradors.

Indeed,  Ghosh himself does not contradict the notion that Indians, in general, would have been better off staying in Burma under the Japs. Why does Ghosh bring 'racial coding' into this when it makes him  look a facile Politically correct Professorial shithead?

The answer is- he has coded himself as such in order to cipher his middle brow oeuvre. Amitav does  a fair bit of research but, by a failure of digestion, can't rise to the level  of a James Michener because he insists on making everything boring and stupid by continually discovering fascinating facts like White slavers were racist to black  slaves. Women were sometimes discriminated against coz some people thought they were weak or stupid or something. Also there was once this Muslim guy or Mulatto or whatever who didn't actually bugger all the bhadralok Bongs in the vicinity before cutting their throat while saying snide things about their Doctoral theses- which is like real important coz...urm... the Media dun bin turning us all into so many Anders Behring Breiviks due to, urm, Gucci.. sorry, I mean Gramsci's...concept of, like, hegemony and and ...globalisation? yeah throw that in and can the subaltern speak and Ranajit Guha is not actually turning tricks, even as you read this now, spreading Red Light in Vienna's Gurtel road.

Which aint to say our author is intellectually facile. Not at all. It is merely to build a bridge to his readership that, from start to finish, Amitav concerns himself with things like racial coding of the most witless sort.  

Which us guys think cool coz we are boring, stupid and massively fucked in the head.

Who reads novels? Really really stupid and boring people. Why do cunts like us read novels? Coz, in our bones, we know everybody is stupid and boring. Amitav reads like- and hence writes for- us.

For which, personally, I blame David Cameron- that boy aint right.

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