Reparations for the Jewel in the Crown
Shashi Tharoor makes the case for reparations for India from Britain, at an Oxford Union debate. He makes a lot of good points, about India’s contributions to Britain’s war efforts in both the World Wars, the economic depredations that were India’s lot, including the infamous famines. He does not mention the hasty handover of power in 1947 and the ensuing bloodbath. If anything, he is too gentle with his criticisms. Watch it, it is only about fifteen minutes long.
Remember this when you are watching Downton Abbey, that the fabulous wealth of Victorian and Edwardian England was built on the backs of starving millions in India.
The ninety years of direct Crown rule and of the East India Company before that saw a tremendous transfer of wealth from India to Britain. As far as rapacious corporations go, present day mega corporations like WalMart and the like have nothing on the East India Company.
It should be of no great surprise to anyone that Bengal (West Bengal + Bangladesh) the part of India, ruled by the British for the longest time is one of the poorest regions of the subcontinent. Once known for its riches it is now famous for its sweatshops and grinding poverty. Coincidence? I think not.