Shashi Tharoor argues in his new book, Inglorious Empire, that the British Empire was involved in theft, murder and expropriation of wealth.
The Indian MP and former UN diplomat talks about “historical amnesia” when it comes to the country’s colonial past.
During an interview with RT, he said India went from being the richest country in the world in 1700 to one of the poorest after 200 years of British rule.
When English people cynically say ‘it’s not our fault that you missed the bus for the Industrial Revolution’ my answer is ‘we missed the bus because you threw us under its wheels'.
He said the British “destroyed” India’s textile, steel and ship-building industries, and “substituted their products into what had become a captive market held down by force of arms”.
He criticised the UK’s education system, and said the curriculum brushes this part of history “under the carpet” because it’s “more convenient” to forget it. He compared it to Germany after World War Two:
The Germans went through a similar period of trying to brush everything under the carpet immediately after the Second World War.
Tharoor also had some strong words along similar lines in an editorial he wrote for the Guardian:
Far from crediting Britain for India’s unity and enduring parliamentary democracy, the facts point clearly to policies that undermined it – the dismantling of existing political institutions, the fomenting of communal division and systematic political discrimination with a view to maintaining British domination.
The Foreign Office said:
As two modern democracies, UK and India have a long standing friendship and work very closely together to promote our shared prosperity and global security. Our friendship is characterised by extensive political engagement and deep economic co-operation.