Colonial administrators and evangelists were able to divide and rule the peoples of the Indian subcontinent, based on imaginary histories and racial myths – to the extent of inventing an entire race called ‘Dravidians’.
British Colonial administrators, such as Francis Whyte Ellis and Alexander D. Campbell, studied the grammar of Tamil and Telugu and proposed that these languages might belong to a different languagefamily from other Indian languages. Another British administrator, Brian Houghton Hodgson, invented the term ‘Tamulian’ to refer to what he considered to be the non-Aryan indigenous population of India. While Ellis and Campbell proposed a linguistic theory, Hodgson had a race-based perspective.
But the catalyst who is credited with the construction of the ‘Dravidian race’ was a missionary-scholar from the Anglican Church. His name was Bishop Robert Caldwell (1814–91), an evangelist for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, who combined the linguistic theory of Ellis…
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