Congress MP Shashi Tharoor gave a lesson to a British interviewer about the contributions India made towards the colonial empire after being asked to talk about the “trickle down of the repatriation of the funds to the UK”.
Tharoor told Sky News’ Colin Brazier there were vast sums that were sent to the United Kingdom and “not just a trickle” and that the more important thing is the “moral case” and not just the money.
“What really matters is for Britain to look within and to recognise that there is something to be apologetic about,” the former United Nations diplomat said.
The MP from Thiruvananthapuram talked about how Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau apologised to India over the Komagata Maru incident of 1914 when Canada turned away more than 350 Indian migrants seeking a better life, even though the “Canadians didn’t kill anybody themselves”.
“To my mind, I think, just taking collective responsibility is a moral step that the British have simply not contemplated even after 200 years of profiting from their empire,” he said.
“Do you know that a million Indians fought unarmed for the British side? Do you know that it was largely Indian soldiers who stopped the German advance in Ypres in the beginning of the war? Do you know India supplied pack animals, food, clothing, rations and even rail lines ripped out of the ground in India and sent off to aid the war effort? And that the total contribution of Indians in cash and kind is estimated, in today’s money, at about £80 million,” he added.
“I am quite sure you don’t know that. Because the British don’t tell you that.”
In 2015, Tharoor had argued for reparations from Britain to its former colonies at the Oxford Union debate critiquing Britain’s role in India. And in his latest book Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India, he has made a blistering critique of the colonial legacy from the arrival of the East India Company to the end of the Raj.
He has argued in the book that the various institutions that the British left behind in India were brought in to enhance their control and make profits.
Tharoor has also blasted the UK government’s branding of bilateral deals with Commonwealth nations after Brexit as “Empire 2.0”, saying it will go down “like a lead balloon”.