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'Forgive but do not Forget' - Worth Remembering on Republic Day

NEW DELHI India -- "Forgive but do not forget," said Kenya’s first President Jomo Kenyatta referring to atrocities by the colonial British rulers, writes Swami Anand Kul Bhushan.

This is worth remembering on India’s Republic Day, 26 January.

Now an accomplished Indian author, Shashi Tharoor, made the same observation about the horrendous facts about the loot, killings and exploitation of India over 200 years detailed in his recent book, ‘Era of Darkness; The British Empire in India’ (Aleph) published a couple of months ago.

Those of us educated in the colonial era have been brainwashed about how the British ‘civilized’ not colonized India and other countries like Kenya.

How the British introduced schooling and education for the natives; applied ‘fair play’ with English law; built roads, railways, postal services to develop their colonies; developed farming and industries; bestowed the parliamentary system of government and so on and on were all drilled into our brains to thanks the rulers.

What nonsense!

On the contrary, the British ruthlessly exploited, oppressed and tortured their subjects and bled the colonies white!

Tharoor presents the stark facts with passion, sarcasm and dark humour. And every statement is well documented and referenced.

Here are a few:

• India was a prosperous nation in the 18th century as documented by even the East India Company’s own men like Robert Clive, Macaulay and others.

India’s share then of the world economy was 23 per cent, as large as all of Europe put together.

By the time the British left India in 1947, it was three per cent.

• When Britain left India in 1947, India had a literacy of 16 per cent; an average longevity of just 27 years and 90 per cent of the population were in poverty.


NEW DELHI India -- Accomplished Indian author, Shashi Tharoor [inset] and his recent book, ‘Era of Darkness; The British Empire in India’  published by Aleph.
• Between 1757 and 1900, the British per capita GDP increased in real terms by 347 per cent while that of the Indian by a mere 14 per cent.

• India experienced recurrent devastating famines due to the ruthless economic policies enforced by Britain.

At least eleven major famines were recorded in different parts of India between 1770 and 1944.

About 30 -35 million Indians died in these famines.

• India exported to Britain £13 million worth of goods each year from 1835 to 1872 with no corresponding return of money.

• The salary of the British Secretary of State for India in 1901, paid for by Indian taxes, was equivalent of the average salary of 90,000 Indians.

• Tharoor deals with the destruction of India’s textile industry and the ruin of its agriculture. India was also a great manufacturing nation before the British arrived.

Its de-industrialization was systematically engineered by the British to capture the markets for its own producers.

• Tharoor shows how India’s vibrant steel and ship-building industries were also destroyed by colonialism.

In the early 17th century, 4000 to 5000 ships were built at 400 to 500 tonnes each in Bengal for the Bengal fleet.

Between 1801 and 1839, a further 327 ships were built there, but all British-owned. Gradually, by late 19th century, both industries were only a memory.

And what about the great British statesman Sir Winston Churchill?

He was a vicious India hater.

When he read a report about millions of Indians dying in Bengal due to famine, he wrote in the margin, "Is Gandhi among them?"

Does the book end by demanding Britain to repay the value of their loot?

It would run into trillions of pounds, beyond the ability of a weakening Britain of today, much more than UK’s GDP.

But UK must at least make a full and unconditional apology as in the case of Chancellor Willy Brandt to Polish Jews, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to Aborigines and Canadian Prime Minister Justine Trudeau for the Komagata Maru incident.

So what should Britain do to atone?

Apologize, of course but also educate its children to how the Raj exploited India and other colonies.

Then he says, "We must forgive but not forget".

Very pertinent for Indian Republic Day.


Tharoor at Oxford had over 3 million views:

     Launch of Era of Darkness:

     About the book:


Osho says - India is not just geography or history. It is not only a nation, a country, a mere piece of land. It is something more: it is a metaphor, poetry, something invisible but very tangible.It is vibrating with certain energy fields which no other country can claim.



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