What is an assessment of a Hindu nationalist critique of Forster's A Passage to India?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that there are a couple of elements needed here.  On one hand, many nationalist critiques of Western works of "the other" have some value.  In the end, the nationalist critiques help to bring to light how the West views the rest of the world.  In this light, there can be some validity in assessing Forster's work in this manner.  There is little evidence that the voice of the indigenous Indians is evident in the work.  While the work might critique imperialism in India, there is not much sustaining the idea that the voice of the indigenous people is present in an empowering and collective manner that advocates solidarity.  Adding to this would be that Forster capitulates in his presentation of Hinduism to be more stereotypical than anything else.  While the universality that Forster presents is a part of the religion, there are subtleties and spiritual nuances that he discards in favoring of presenting a religion that is more seen as opposite of the Western traditions, more than anything else.  At the same time, I think that this has to be balanced with how Forster sought to create a novel that transcends national identity in its anti- imperialist statement.  The idea that Forster's work is "human" in its scope, not surrendering to boundaries of geography and seeking to broaden the way in which all people interact and connect is where he might respond to the nationalist critique.  In Forster's configuration, if individuals continue to look at one another bound by culture and national identity, as the nationalist does, there cannot be a transcendence into a more holistic and human realm.  It is here where I think Forster's own assessment of his own work has to be balanced with the nationalist point of view.

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