On a blustery cold and rainy Sunday afternoon on 5th March 2017 I joined, like many enthusiastic supporters to participate in the launch of a latest book by Dr. Shashi Tharoor called Inglorious Empire.
The inaugural event was organised by Vidyapath at the Royal Over-Seas League clubhouse in London’s West End backing on to Green Park. As I joined the rest of eager participants I could see a queue already forming to purchase the new book which is now among the No. 1 top sellers at Amazon and leading bookshops.
One does not need introduction to Shashi Tharoor who apart from having held such prestigious position as Deputy UN High Commissioner is a very talented man, a student of History and excellent narrator. I had seen his orating prowess in now world famous YouTube video of a debate at Oxford Union in 2015 when he made the case that Britain Does Owe Us Reparations. His dozen or so minutes of electrifying speech had over 3 million hits within 48 hours, which according to him prompted Hurst the Publishers asking him to write the book.
As he took the stage after introductions, he outlined the main argument saying that when British took India over, in early 1600’s India represented some 27% of the total global GDP! And they left us some 300 hundred years later poor and destitute, that many important buildings in London were built on the proceeds of the revenue the British received by being in power. One cannot write a book of such historic significance except with scholarly rage which he articulated so professionally in front of the Indian High Commissioner Mr Sinha, highly intelligent people from media and politics. Naturally the discourse was mixed with smattering of good humour.
Anita Anand of BBC then conducted in-depth analysis going through various facts rounded by questions from the audience. As a British Indian it is sometimes difficult to reconcile the injustice of the past with what the future holds and what was very gratifying to hear him say that in spite of whatever has happened, the relations between the two countries would be stronger even with publication of the book. He did not buy into the assertion that Britain gave us Democracy, Rule of law or even Industrial Revolution as India was already rich enough to avail such progress. He is sitting Congress MP and naturally Indian politics is never far from such discussion and he referred to the current BJP government as less liberal unlike his party, in charge of the country with a religious bias which some found bit over the top. Upon the question of India Pakistan partition one of the amusing fact in the midst of dire statistics he mentioned that Pakistan army has the State whereas in India a State has the army!
I was mesmerized by the experience. It is thrilling to watch the video of his speech. We are all proud to have a charismatic world figure in Dr. Tharroor and we wish him best for his endeavour in setting the records straight. His final words which still ring true as a message to the people of India ‘you see you don’t have to revenge yourself upon history, history is its own revenge’
DESH PREMI @Eashadoot