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Saint Nihal Sing, "Opportunity in India and America" (March 1908)

An article by Saint Nihal Singh (misspelled as "Sing") in the March 1908 Hindustan Review on the industrial character of Americans. Singh writes that Americans are essentially an "industrial and commercial people," and that the laboring class earns a certain amount of social privilege in the U.S. This point is set against the conditions in India, where "[w]orking men [...] would merit scant respect, probably be socially ostracized." "Here lies," Singh writes, "an essential different between India and America." Singh blames the institution of caste for this difference.

Sing goes through a list of figures from North America, whose lives allegedly began in poverty: industrialists Henry C. Frick (steel), James J. Hill (railroads), John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt, as well as U.S. presidents Abraham Lincoln, U.S. Grant, and James Garfield. Sing also spends some of the article relating anecdotes about Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, and Stephen Girard.

In addition to describing the American narrative of "rags to riches," Singh comments on the increasing criticism in the U.S. press against trusts and monopolies, insisting, nevertheless, that "America continues to be the continent of opportunity." Singh ends the article with a lesson for India: "The people of Hindustan need an inspiration to thrust out into the world. They have to quit being consumers of goods manufactured by other peoples and to so organize their resources, both of persons and property, as to become producers of all they need."

Reflections on America

Date: March 1908
Language: English
Source: The Hindustan Review
Creator: Saint Nihal Singh

Item History: 2011-10-18 (created); 2013-08-27 (modified)

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