Debunking A Myth
A MOLE IN THE CROWN by Michael Carritt Rupa Paperbacks, 1987, 204 pp., 30.00
Jan-Feb 1987, volume 11, No 1

The historiography of British bureaucracy in India, more particularly of the Indian Civil Service, has been over-saturated by an aura of romantic mythology. This slender volume is a refreshing contrast making fun of the traditional make believe. It is admittedly a personal recollection of ‘anecdotes and descriptions’ of the author’s ‘experience as a Government officer in India during the decade before World War II to review the process by which in the space of few years’ he developed ‘from an ultra naive public school boy with a veneer of Oxbridge sophistication, classical scholar¬ship and a mind full of conventional prejudices into a starry-eyed activist in the Indian Independence movement and in particular, its communist led trade union and peasant committees.’ The transformation was by no means unusual among several Indians educated in Great Britain during the thirties, even if some of them had meanwhile become members of the ICS. But when it happens to a British entrant to the ranks of the ‘heaven born’, the story acquires exceptional interest.

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