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Diplomat turned politician, Shashi Tharoor, is currently visiting Australia as a guest at Melbourne Writer’s Festival.
On Monday night, the Indian MP appeared on national television as a panel guest where he slammed British colonisation of India and former Prime Minister of England, Winston Churchill.
On ABC’s Q&A, Tharoor was applauded multiple times by the audience as he thrashed British rule in India and compared Winston Churchill to “some of the worst genocidal dictators of the 20th century” because of his role in a catastrophic famine in Bengal.
A member of the audience asked Tharoor if he could put a price on intangible values that were gained during the British rule in India?
To this, Tharoor replied, “The British came to one of the richest countries in the world and over 200 years of exploitation, loot and destruction, reduced it to a poster child for third world poverty.”
He came down heavily on Winston Churchill who has been hailed as heroic leader during the Second World War and defender of freedom.
Tharoor told the audience Churchill was responsible for millions of deaths in India and it was he, who as a prime minister, ordered Australian ships bearing wheat, to not offload the food in India where millions were dying in famine, and bring that food to England to be stored for future.
“This is a man the British would have us hail as an apostle of freedom and democracy, when he has as much blood on his hands as some of the worst genocidal dictators of the 20th century,” Tharoor said to applause.
When Q&A host, Tony Jones asked about what happened to India’s textile industry after British rule, Tharoor said the “excuse that apologists [of British empire] like to make is, it’s not our fault, you just missed the bus for the industrial revolution”.
“Well, we missed the bus because you threw us under its wheels,” he said, again to applause.
— ABC Q&A (@QandA) September 4, 2017
British writer Laurie Penny on the panel said that “young Britons of every class have no idea about our colonial past” as the “graphic facts of what the British did around the world, including to the people of this country” had been deliberately concealed from them.
“The crimes of the British over 400 years of pillage and conquest is something that we don’t like to think about and yet it is everywhere in modern British history,” she said.
Tharoor, who recently authored “An Era Of Darkness", published in the UK as "Inglorious Empire" What the British Did to India, rose to Number 1 in the London Evening Standard bestseller lists.
His book was inspired by a speech he delivered at the Oxford Union in 2015 which has been viewed over 4 million times on YouTube.
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