Please give a critical assessment of "India: a Fable" in The Meaning of India by Raja Rao.

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Raja Rao’s story can be considered a fable in several ways. The story, which is set in France, is concerned with the relationship between an adult man from India and a French boy. The boy has very clear preconceptions of what India is like; as most of them are...

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Raja Rao’s story can be considered a fable in several ways. The story, which is set in France, is concerned with the relationship between an adult man from India and a French boy. The boy has very clear preconceptions of what India is like; as most of them are incorrect, these in themselves constitute a fable.

More broadly, such a fable is emblematic of European perspectives of India and other non-western locales, as the boy, Pierrot, is also fascinated with Arabia. The overall exoticizing of the Other extends to its peoples. Pierrot imagines that the narrator’s jacket buttons contain faces; he fails to recognize that what he sees in the shiny buttons is a reflection of himself.

In addition, the narrator—also called Raja—tells the boy elaborate stories; he thus participates in constructing a fable of India that includes elements of truth but largely corresponds to what he imagines the child wants to know or is willing to accept as conforming to his preconceptions. In that regard, the fable comprises the ongoing construction of nation to meet the needs of the colonizer rather than the colonized or formerly colonized. Rao thus implies that the condition of independence is partial on the individual and cultural level, even when it has been accomplished at the political level.

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