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Mother India (1927) is a polemical book by American historian Katherine Mayo which attacks Indian society, religion and culture.[1]


Written in opposition to the Indian demands for self-rule and independence from British rule, the book pointed to the treatment of India's women, the untouchables, animals, dirt, and the character of its nationalistic politicians. A large part of the book dealt with the problems resulting from the marriage of young girls. This was considered to be one of the main causes that led to an uproar across India after many newspapers declaring it scurrilous libel against Hindus and Hinduism.[2] Mayo singled out the allegedly rampant and fatally weakening sexuality of its males to be at the core of all problems, leading to masturbation, rape, homosexuality, prostitution, and venereal diseases.[citation needed]


Mayo's book created outrage across India, and it was burned along with her effigy.[3] Mayo's book Mother India was criticized by Mahatma Gandhi as a "report of a drain inspector sent out with the one purpose of opening and examining the drains of the country to be reported upon".[4] The book prompted over fifty angry books and pamphlets to be published to highlight Mayo's errors and false perception of Indian society, which had become a powerful influence on the American people's view of India.[5]

Critics of Mayo accuse her works of being racist, pro-imperialist[6] and Indophobic tracts that "expressed all the dominant prejudices of colonial society."[7]

In 1929, Harry H. Field, whom she had thanked in the foreword of her book wrote a book called After Mother India in which he responded to the criticisms made of the book, added more commentaries and wrote a brief biography of Katherine Mayo. A chapter was dedicated to the most important critique, that of Gandhi.[8]

After its publication Dalip Singh Saund (later a congressman) wrote My Mother India (c. 1930) to counter Mayo's assertions.[9][10] Another response to Mayo's book was Dhan Gopal Mukerji's A Son of Mother India Answers (1928).[11]

The title of Mehboob Khan's 1957 Hindi epic film Mother India is a deliberate rebuke to Mayo's book.[12]


  1. ^ Sinha 2006, p. 248.
  2. ^ Field 1929, p. 7.
  3. ^ Frick 2006.
  4. ^ Gandhi 2002, p. 214.
  5. ^ Jayawardena 1995, p. 99.
  6. ^ Paul Teed. "Race Against Memory: Katherine Mayo, Jabez Sunderland, and Indian Independence". American Studies. 44 (1–2): 35–57. JSTOR 40643432.
  7. ^ Sinha 2006, p. 68.
  8. ^ Field 1929, p. 3.
  9. ^ Saund, Dalip Singh (c. 1930). My Mother India. Stockton, California: Pacific coast Khalsa Diwan society (Sikh temple). p. 218. LCCN 30013748. OCLC 3401226. LCC DS421 .S25 OCLC 253315388
  10. ^ Tisdale, Sara (19 December 2008). "Breaking Barriers: Congressman Dalip Singh Saund". Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Pew Research Center. Retrieved 10 March 2012.
  11. ^ Mukerji, Dhan Gopal (1928). A Son of Mother India Answers. E. P. Dutton & company, 1928. Retrieved 16 January 2014. Reprint 1928 by Rupa & Company, ISBN 978-81-7167-650-7
  12. ^ Sinha, Mrinalini (2006). Specters of Mother India: The Global Restructuring of an Empire. Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0-8223-3795-9.


  • Sinha, Mrinalini (2006). Specters of Mother India: The Global Restructuring of an Empire. Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0-8223-3795-9.
  • Frick, Katherine (2006). "Mayo, Katherine". Pennsylvania Center for the Book. Archived from the original on 13 December 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
  • Gandhi, Mahatma (12 November 2002). The Essential Gandhi: An Anthology of His Writings on His Life, Work, and Ideas. Random House Digital. ISBN 978-1-4000-3050-7.
  • Jayawardena, Kumari (1995). The White Woman's Other Burden: Western Women and South Asia During British Colonial Rule. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-91104-7.
  • Field, Harry Hubert (1929). After Mother India. Jonathan Cape.

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