Rosenthal, A. M.
July 1957
Foreign Affairs;Jul57, Vol. 35 Issue 4, p620
Academic Journal
The article throws light on the book entitled "Mother India," by Katherine Mayo and its implication thirty years after its publication. There are few people more important in the relationship between India and the United States than Katherine Mayo, few books, if any, that contributed more violent coloring to the American mental image of India than Mother India. Indians made the point that "Mother India" could no more be used as a basis for discussing India than could the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" be used as a basis for discussing Israel. Some Indians seem to have the idea that every American who visits India has read the book carefully. The likelihood, of course, is that by this time most Americans who come to India have never even seen a copy. But Indians' hatred of the book is not simply founded on what they take to be a monstrous distortion of their country and religions, but on the belief that too many foreigners have the "Mother India" picture of their country. The importance of the book, therefore, is not its accuracy. A small shelf-full of books has been written attacking Miss Mayo point by point. The authors of these books question Miss Mayo's facts, her judgment, and her ability to understand the country on the basis of a few months' visit, her method of presentation and her fairness. But what nobody is able to question is that the picture she drew of India is the picture that remains alive in the mind of the rest of the world. That is why "Mother India" is worth talking about 30 years after publication.


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