Kipling ignores dissent

Sepoy Mutiny, 1857, by Granger

The Great Mutiny of 1857, which started the Sepoy Rebellion, was the a violent and clear indication that India was not happy with British rule. Kim was published several decades later, but there is no hint amongst the Indian characters that they in any way dissapprove of British rule, or that it is not the natural order of things.

Some texts I have read imply Kipling was refusing to acknowledge the beginning of the unravelling of British rule in India, that he was writing for a readership in England and Scotland and Wales that were enraptured by the 'discoveries' of oriental studies, and most happy when believing in the stability of British might. This is all very plausible but where is the evidence Kipling was playing to his audience in this way? Do we believe this just because he was a writer with a market to please? I don't think so. Does he write about this in his letters or essays? Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. He might instead have been writing about the status quo that he loved and grew up with because he could see it beginning to dissipate. Wrting about dissent might simply not have fitted with the plotlines he wanted to spin. We see obvious racial and colonial implications, but would they have been that clear to him?

Probably these are impossible questions that the serious study of literature should avoid but any questioning or discussion of racism in Kim, such as those by Edward Said and by Ibn Warraq, is an implicit investigation into Kipling's stance. If you have an opinion of Kipling's racism, you've already made a decision about these questions.