Britain must “apologize”, but the apology may not come from new PM May: Shashi Tharoor
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor has said he would demand an apology from Britain for the wrong doings and misgovernance during the colonial rule but maintained he is not expecting the “apology” from British Prime Minister Theresa May, who is arriving in India on November 7.
“It is a coincidence that the book is being released today, just two days before the arrival of the British Prime Minister,” Tharoor said at a function organized for the release of his book “An Era of Darkness- The British Empire in India“.
The perception that Indians lacked “emotional and political unity” before the advent of British colonial masters into Indian sub-continent as endorsed by Vice President Hamid Ansari was questioned by Congress MP and noted writer Tharoor.
The Congress MP said the British have only “portrayed one-sided vision of the colonial rule” so far.
Vice President Ansari said, “famine, forced migration, and brutality” were principal characteristics of the colonial rule in India. He said these were ‘three examples of why British rule over India was “despotic and anything but enlightened”. But the Vice President wondered at the same time: “But is this not the story of all colonial and imperial ventures in history?”
Posing questions to himself, “Was there an India as a cohesive entity” before the advent of colonial masters, Ansari himself maintained that an answer to this question would help understand the process by which the British succeeded to rule India. “We need to accept that there was, in that initial period, no India politically or emotionally,” Ansari said.
But interacting with Karan Thapar, TV anchor at the book release function, Tharoor “disagreed” with the Vice President on the point of absence of emotional unity amongst Indians. Thapar said even Dr Manmohan Singh had spoken on these lines during his stint as Prime Minister – to which Tharoor, however, maintained, “I have high respect for Singh”.
Tharoor argued that both schools of thought – the Hindus and the Muslims in ancient India – suggested that there was enough “emotional unity” between different parts of India. In this context, Tharoor referred to the visit of Adi Shankaracharya to various parts of India – from south to north and from Gujarat to Puri in Odisha. Similarly, the Congress MP said Indian Muslims during their Haj always jointly identified themselves as belonging to the “Hind”.
On the British policy of divide and rule, Tharoor said it was a “conscious” policy and added that the colonial masters also exploited Indian caste system to keep Indians divided as prior to British rule, the caste system was “more fluid”. The former UN diplomat and former MOS External Affairs and HRD in the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s UPA cabinet, said British scholars have so far only portrayed “one-sided view”. “After all, the beauties of the city like London were built by the resources taken away from India,” Tharoor said.
He alleged that Britain has constantly suffered from “deliberate historical amnesia” about their wrongdoings during their colonial rule in India. Tharoor alleged the past colonial masters destroyed the textile industry in Dhaka and also carried out the same formula with the steel and shipping industry in south India.