Brown Color’s ‘Inferiority Complex’ Over the White: IIT-Kharagpur Episode

By: Rajiv Malhotra

I want to tell you an incident. In 2002 IIT-Kharagpur wanted to celebrate its 50th anniversary and they wanted to have many conferences on various disciplines.

They applied for a grant from my Infinity Foundation to fund some conference. I looked at the list of conferences I found the one called “Mind Sciences” to be very interesting. So I wrote to them saying that I would like to sponsor the conference on “Mind Sciences” and requested them to send me the list of speakers and topics.

What they sent me in the list was 100 % Western. There was no mention of Indian theory of mind. It was all fashionable western theories of mind. Some of them were the obsolete ones and speakers who were experts in those theories.

So I sent back a note saying I will sponsor this conference on the condition that there should be at least one panel on Indian ideas of mind.

And I got a nasty note saying: We are not chauvinist; we are not saffron; we are scientific people; we don’t believe in all this kind of stuff you know.

It was a very pejorative view of Indian ideas by a premier Indian scientific institution. A sheer inferiority complex of the brown color over the white!

So I took it to 4 or 5 of my white, American friends who are scholars of Indian theories of mind. And I said please you submit a proposal about Indian theories of mind which is what you are borrowing and teaching and practicing, so this is your time to pay back.

So there was a Buddhist Robert Thurman, he wrote an abstract on Buddhist theories of mind and how they are at the cutting edge. There was one scholar in Cambridge a western scholar. He wrote on Patanjali’s yoga sutra theories of mind. Somebody else wrote on Sri Aurobindo, somebody else wrote on Kundalini.

So I got a collection of these proposals and I sent it to the IIT-Kharagpur people and they immediately accepted them, because now its white people saying it.

You see after all we have an inferiority complex but if its white people saying it must be ok.

So these people were sent to do a panel in that conference; we sponsored it and they got standing ovations.

Indians loved it, the Indians love to hear good things about themselves provided it is being said by westerners.

So we started a whole movement called “Indian theories of Mind” and for about 10 years we were funding conferences every year; we had conferences in Pondicherry, in Kerala in various places and finally in Delhi.

In fact, knowledge has no color!

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Santanu Dey
    Jul 28, 2017 @ 00:09:59

    This exactly was the purpose of the colonial rulers of India for which they designed the Indian education system behind which a lot of research went in. Well, I really don’t blame the White guys so much for this – after all they were just looking after their own interests. But the biggest tragedy was that even after the so-called independence when power shifted from the White masters to a bunch of Brown Sahibs, the worst example of which was our first Prime Minister duly complemented by his descendants that ruled India for a total of nearly 55 years, things not only didn’t change but it got worse. To start with for the first 15/20 years after 1947 there still existed a tinge of Indianness alive in our education system but with years going by things got worse to worst. In most of Indian cities in today’s India the only reckoner of a person’s education is his/her knowledge of English. Shame on us.

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