The British in India had always held aloof from the Indians believing that social distance from Indians had to be maintained to preserve their authority over them.
They also felt themselves to be racially superior. The Revolt of 1857 and the atrocities committed by both sides had further widened the gulf between the Indians and the British who now began to openly assert the doctrine of racial supremacy and practice racial arrogance.
Railway compartments, waiting rooms at railway stations, parks, hotels, swimming pools, clubs, etc., reserved for ‘Europeans only’ were visible manifestations of this racialism. 1’he Indians felt humiliated. In the words of Jawaharlal Nehru:
We in India have known racialism in all its forms ever since the commencement of British rule. The whole ideology of this rule was that of Herrenvolk and the Master Race, and the structure of government was based upon it; indeed the idea of a master race is inherent in imperialism.
There was no subterfuge about it; it was proclaimed in unambiguous language by those in authority. More powerful than words was the practice that accompanied them, and generation after generation and year after year, India as a nation and Indians as individuals, were subjected to insult, humiliation and contemptuous treatment.
The English were an imperial Race, we were told, with God-given right to govern us and keep us in subjection; if we protested we were reminded of the ‘tiger qualities of an ‘imperial race’.