India achieved freedom from the British oppression in the year 1947, but the essence of colonialism is still very much present in the soul of the country was what Dr Shashi Tharoor says in his short talk addressing students in the Mount Carmel College, Bangalore on 22nd July, 2017. Dr Tharoor is a well known figure all over the world, and has held important positions in the United Nations and the Indian Parliament, among many others.
A current Member of the Lok Sabha, Dr Tharoor focuses on the consequence of the British Rule even after 70 years of Independence. In his book, “An Era of Darkness”, he talks about the policies, schemes and plans of the British Government to hollow out the Indian reserves of wealth, trade and economy to leave us as one of the poorest countries in the year 1947, when they finally left. His talk, much like his speech at Oxford, touched at the cruel and gruesome oppression of the British oppression which has continued to haunt us even now.
He goes on how rich our country was before the British landed here, as India accounted for 27% of the global GDP and “Made in India” was a mark of quality. He also talk about the ‘muslin’ cloth made by Indian weavers which felt like “air”, Karnataka’s “Ukku Steel” was supposedly, the best steel in the world, and it led the Arabs to import huge amounts of it, which has now turned into “Damascus Steel”. He criticizes Lord Clive by saying “how they took the Hindi word “loot” into their dictionaries, and into their habits”.
While the British rule supporter harp on about the fact that how “Railways were brought to India by the British”, he clarifies by saying that it was just to get the minerals and reserves from the interiors of India to the ports, and to get the soldiers to the interiors to control any type of internal rebellion. He says that the British did everything for their own benefit, to fill up their coffers that any “benefit to Indians was purely coincidental”. He goes on to quote that “1/6th of the British army during the First World War were Indians. But there has been no acknowledgement or commemoration for it”. He ends his eloquent talk by saying “colonialism has left the country, but it still resides in our minds”.
Then, we moved on to the Q&A session which consisted his opinion on a number of current affairs in politics and the future of the country, asked by the young hopeful students in the Diamond Jubilee auditorium. To avoid being tardy in his next appointment, he left with much hurry to a standing ovation by the crowd.
A talk of very short duration, but with great substance for us to ponder over which decides the future the country.