More bias in books

I can understand that, in a colonial environment, the education provided to the ruled reflected that provided to the children of the rulers back home. This would glamorise the achievements of the nation, as well as of individuals (irrespective of any brutality or chicanery imposed upon the ruled). For instance, I was taught about the great exploits of Sir Francis Drake in defeating the Spaniards. Now, I wonder whether he was the most successful of the English pirates who stole from the Spaniards what the latter had stolen from the peoples of Central and South America. Am I being unfair?

It was during the descriptions of India’s cultural heritage by the European ruling and scholarly class that the real bias crept in. That highly complex cosmology, that insightful rich philosophy-cum-religion could not be older (it was allegedly claimed by European writers) than the philosophies attributed to the Greeks (or was it only the Athenians?). As well, was it the view of the writers of the day that no religion could be older than Judaism, the mother faith of the European conquerors of native peoples? Against that, the Indians claim that their learning goes back quite a few thousand years, long before the European got out of his Dark Age. The Indians might know more about their own history and heritage than those who seemed to have a great need to glorify themselves.

In Australia, long after the grandeur of the British Empire had been placed in proper perspective, my children were exposed to out-of-date stories. How was it that text books for children, and some other books of history, could claim that Alexander the Macedonian (now described as a Greek) had conquered India, when he apparently did not cross the Indus River? Then, how did Burton and Speke discover the origin of the Nile, when the Africans had seemingly shown them the way? Were Australia’s explorers assisted by the Aborigines to find their way here and there?

Indeed, was Lt. Cook provided with an appropriate map by an official agency in the UK to find this land, with a view to its use as a replacement for North America as the new home for the products of the nation’s cultural cleansing?

I did advise my children that a colonial mindset could have influenced certain writers, apart from their relative ignorance. As for narratives about the ‘white’ man’s discoveries, it is quite understandable for a traveler/explorer to say to his people ‘Look at what I found.’ That would have been news for them. But, does it justify the subsequent dissemination of such ‘discoveries’ by book writers, proud of their heritage, but not too mindful of that of others?

We do need to be more aware of the content of education, and the way this is presented.