Will Britain say SORRY – a brilliant speech by Dr Shashi Tharoor

In an explosive speech at the Oxford Union, Dr. Shashi Tharoor, a member of the Indian Parliament and a Congress MP argued that the British looted and plundered India during the 200 Years of British Raj of the subcontinent, and that Britain must accept that it owes a debt to India for its wrongdoings during the days of the British Empire.
Taking part in a debate at the famous Oxford Union, he argued why Britain owes India reparations for the economic and psychological decline of its people during the rule, and that of all the countries in the Commonwealth, India was Britain’s biggest cash cow during that period.
He explained the manner in which Britain used India and its resources for its own benefit, and that British families working for the Empire had minted money at the expense of India for over two centuries.
He explained how India’s share of the world economy fell from 24% of world economy when it invaded India to about 4% when British Empire left India in 1947 in a space of 200 years. Between 15-29 million Indians died due to starvation during their Rule. Its appalling to hear him say that when there was the great Bengal Famine where hundreds of people were dying each day because Britain diverted the food from India to UK, Winston Churchill had the temerity to ask “is Mahatma Gandhi still alive and why is he not dead”.
Violence & Racism (famous Divide & Rule strategy) was rampantly implemented in the country.
During the world war of all  all the British forces that fought in the war, fifty-four thousand Indians, actually lost their lives in that war 65,000 were wounded and another 4,000 remained missing or in prison. Indian taxpayers had to cough up a hundred million pounds. India supplied seventy million rounds of ammunition 600 thousand rifles and machine and 1.3 million Indian personnel served in the war.
In the end but total value everything that was taken out of India and that too during the Great Depresssion / Recession time and poverty and hunger was in today’s money its billion pounds.
During the Second World War (where my Father late Major Dr K Rajagopal served), it was even worse two and a half million Indians in uniform and Britain at  one point $25 billion was owed to India.
Our railways and roads were really built to serve British interests are not those for the local people. They were designed to carry raw materials from the hinterland into the ports to be shipped to Britain. Indian Railways were built with massive incentives offered by Britain to British investors guaranteed out to Indian taxes paid by Indians with the result that you actually had one mile of Indian rail was costing twice what it cost to build the same  in Canada or Australia because there was so much money being paid and extravagant returns. Britain made all the profits, control the technology supplied, all the equipment and absolutely all these benefits came as private enterprise at public risk.
The wrongs that have been done cannot be denied, the fact remains that many of today’s problems in these countries including the persistent in some cases the creation of racial and ethnic and religious tensions were the direct result of the colonial experience. So there is a moral debt that needs to be paid.
It’s not without precedence. Israel gave reparations to Poland. Italy’s reparations to Libya, Japan’s to Korea and even Britain has paid reparations to the New Zealand Maoris so it’s not as if this is something unprecedented.
There was reference to democracy and rule of law. What sort of democracy was it, when the British oppressed, enslaved, killed, tortured and maimed people for two hundred years and then celebrate the fact that the democratic at the end of it wreaths.
The debate is not of how much should Britain pay to India as Reparation, but the question is, is there a debt that Britain owes to India. More than in money terms it’s the moral debt that Britain owes to India. Would Britain have the gumption to acknowledge a wrong that has been done – to simply say Sorry to India for all the misdeeds perpetuated on India for 200 years during their Colonial British Rule (Raj).
Would they or not depends on their Conscience & their value systems…….

Truly a great speech and carried a lot of resolve &guts to have spoken against the British right in Britain. Hats off to you Shashi for standing up to India right in the Opponents territory. For what ever your past and controversies, I remain your ardent fan for your sheer ability to articulate and the communication skills and the poise & grace with which you deliver……..
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