• 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
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
Does the book end by demanding Britain to repay the value of
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.