The house where Rudyard Kipling was born in India is to be turned into a museum, but the author will be written out of history, failing to get a mention anywhere in the building because of “political sensitivities”. The foundation restoring the house, located in Mumbai, has shelved plans to use it to house a Kipling museum, fearing that commemorating the colonialist author of books like The White Man’s Burden will lead to a political uproar. Instead the house is slated to feature a collection of paintings by local artists.
Kipling was born in 1865 in the house, known as “The Dean’s Bungalow”, on the grounds of the JJ School of Art in the city then known as Bombay. His father, John Lockwood Kipling, was the school’s first dean. Kipling went on to describe the location of the bungalow in his poem “To the City of Bombay” and his experiences there formed the template for the character he created in his novel Kim – a white boy who is indistinguishable from the Indian children around him.
Sharad Keskar, Chairman of the Kipling Society, explained, “You have a fairly ignorant officialdom in India, who don’t know much about Kipling apart from that he was an imperialist or part of the Raj. Officially he’s still persona non grata. I think that is changing, but it’s rather a slow change.”