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“By Any Other Name”
by Santha Rama Rau
Getting to know Santha
Rama Rau . . .



Santha Rama Rau was an Indian-born,
Western-educated journalist.
She was born in Madras, India, on January 24,
1923. Her father was a high-ranking civil
servant in India’s finance department who
later became an ambassador to Japan and to
the United States.
Her mother was a crusader for women’s
reproductive rights and involved in the
International Planned Parenthood
Federation.
Her story “By Any Other Name” is
based on real-life events in India.
When Santha was a girl, her father was
stationed in India.
 She made several trips to Indian, however,
at the age of 5 and again at age eleven.
 It was a trip back to India at age 16 with
her mother and sister that inspired many
of Santha’s early writing endeavors.

One event in particular influenced
Rau.

At age 5, Santha and her sister She, 5 and
a half, and her 8-year-old sister Premila
briefly attended an Anglo-Indian School
where the teacher anglicized their names.
Because of this event in her life, Rau
wrote “By Any Other Name”.

The condescending environment of the
teaching staff at this school made a
profound influence on Rau.
Santha Rama Rau went on to write
a number of literary works . . .

She is best known for her adaptation of
“A Passage to India” which was a play
talking about the impact of colonialism on
both the British and the Indians.
What was the British influence on
India?

The British had control over most of
India from 1858 until August 1947.
There were positive things that
happened during this period.
Good things that happened during British
colonization of India:
 14 universities established
 13 colleges started
 23 schools dedicated to the education of
girls.
 Child labor laws (no child under 7 could
be employed; no child under 12 could
work more than 9 hours).

#1

What does the headmistress think of
Indian culture and of her own Indian
culture?
#2

Which details help you contrast the
status of English children with that of
Indian children at this school?
#3

At only five, Santha speaks, reads, and
writes English, although it is not her first
language. What character trait does this
fact suggest?
#4

What has the author directly said
Premila’s character so far? Please write
two examples from the text.

What has she indirectly shown about
Premila’s character? Please write two
examples from the text.
#5

How do Santha’s and Premila’s responses
to their mother’s questions differ?

How does this contrast show the effect
on Santha of having her name changed?
#6

Changing the Indian children’s names is an
attempt to change their culture as well –
to Anglicize them. How effective is this
attempt with Santha and Premila?

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