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The Raj and the Housemaid

A senior Air warrior and a graduate of the Staff College as well PG in management and law is well qualified to write on contemporary India a

another-benefit-of-the-raj-house-maid-as-mistress

Introduction

The period of British rule in India is often referred to as "the Raj" or simply the "Raj". Earlier it was referred to as the "Company rule" as India was governed by the East India Company. After the Indian Mutiny of 1857 the crown took over and Queen Victoria became Malika -e Hind. The Raj is a period that has an equal number of supporters and an equal number of opponents who felt the Raj was bad for India. But good or bad this period of 200 years cannot be written off. It is a significant part of Indian history and in terms, of a percentage constitutes 20% of the history of the last 1000 years. The Raj is generally identified from 1757 when Lord Clive won the famous battle of Plessey. In this battle, Clive defeated the combined forces of Nawab Siraj-ud Dowlah aided by the French from Cossipore.

The Raj left an indelible mark on India and its biggest contribution was the emancipation of the Hindus. The Hindus were liberated from the Muslim yoke. It also saw rights being given to women and the abolition of the purdah system as well as nefarious practices like sati and thuggery.

Loneliness

The British rule meant that till such time as some Indians could shoulder the administrative burden of governing India, the monopoly of day-to-day governance was with the Englishman. He came to India looking for adventure and riches and many succumbed to the charm of the land and fell in love with the sub-continent and never went back. Over a million Englishmen are buried in cemeteries all over India. Many even converted to Hinduism and the cemetery at Park Street in Calcutta is a living memory of hundreds of English men who converted to the Hindu faith.

These men went deep into uncharted forests and tribal areas and lived lonely lives. This was the genesis of the Maid- Sahib equation. In such lonely places, the Gora ( white Sahib) picked up relations with a maid working in the house. Over a period of time, a single Britisher or a man whose wife had gone home for months resulted in a maid -Sahib relationship. For many, it was an emotional release and the lonely sahib came back to his bungalow in the wilds and all he had for solace was the maid.



another-benefit-of-the-raj-house-maid-as-mistress

The Anglo- Indians

A fact not touched by many is that this was not exploitation as made out by some writers. It was a natural outcome of a lonely world of the Sahib. Many maids loved this relationship. To be loved by the white master of the house was almost like a status symbol but many Indians were aghast and felt the Sahib was using his power to seduce the maid. Maybe partly it could be true, but the fact is in many cases love blossomed also. The Anglo- Indian came from such a relationship and one can't deny it. It is a fact of history and cannot be obliterated.

John Masters the doyen of Anglo- Indian writers from India has alluded to this relationship in his novels. John Masters wrote13 books and his 'Bhowani Junction' brings out the exciting story of how the Anglo Indians originated in India. British gave the Anglo Indians a higher status than the local natives but did not treat them as equal to them. This remains a sore point with Anglo Indians throughout the days of the Raj. Despite this Anglo Indians had access to plum appointments in the police, railways, military, and tea plantations.

another-benefit-of-the-raj-house-maid-as-mistress

Last word


This maid–sahib liaison led to the coming of the Anglo Indians. Many of the maids were impregnated as in such remote places contraceptives were not at hand and a new breed of Indians, the Anglo- Indian took birth. Many writers have alluded to this fact and recently an excellent film on the subject " After the Rains " with Nandita Das as the maid who has a sexual relationship with the white Sahib and master of the house has been released.


Maid-master sexual relationship

The maid-master sexual relationship is actually imported from Victorian England and there are so many tales that glorify this relationship and dialogues like " Master, was I good" have become folklore. I came across a real case in a cantonment town when Brigadier leading a lonely life got into a relationship with his Assamese maid, three decades younger. It ended with him making her the mistress of his house.

Most English historians have not commented much on this aspect of the Raj.

One can safely say that this gift of the Raj has trickled on. One can't really get away from the fact that this gift has been tacitly accepted. Generally, this subject is considered taboo and nobody wishes to discuss it. Only Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre in their book "Freedom at midnight" have alluded to this spillover of the Raj.

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another-benefit-of-the-raj-house-maid-as-mistress

Comments

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on June 18, 2021:

Thanks, Tom, I haven't seen this movie. John Masters is my favorite.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 15, 2019:

Thank you Jimmy for commenting

Jimmy Mason on December 15, 2019:

Wow! Housemaid for .....? Loved it.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 15, 2019:

Thank you Sir, for your comment

Col Raj Singh on December 14, 2019:

It's pretty common in the civil services and echelons in the army. Yes, it could be a hangover of the English Raj but all in all it serves a purpose.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 09, 2019:

Hi Sally, in a way you are correct but the average Indian copied this from the English

Sally Field on December 09, 2019:

Housemaid as mistress is not in my view a hangover of the Raj. It's a typical Indian concept where women working with lord of the house attended to his whims. It's centuries old and English only copied it.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on January 09, 2019:

Thanks

Francesca from bedford on January 09, 2019:

Get a grip mate..... a housemaid as your what???

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on January 09, 2019:

Interesting article on a topic that is taboo

R Mehra

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