Indian parliamentarian and renowned author Shashi Tharoor wants museums to be built to chronicle Britain’s “two centuries of looting and exploitation” of India, its erstwhile colony, that reduced the country to one of the “poorest, illiterate and diseased places on earth”.
In a searing piece in Al Jazeera, Tharoor stressed upon the need for an “enduring reminder” of the atrocities meted out to 35 million Indians “in totally unnecessary famines caused by British policy, or the ‘divide and rule’ policy that culminated in the horrors of Partition in 1947.”
Tharoor has proposed that the iconic Victoria Memorial in Kolkata, (earlier Calcutta) which incidentally was Britain’s first capital in India, be converted into a museum demonstrating the British Raj’s atrocities.
He writes: “This famous monument stands testimony to the glorification of the British Raj in India. It is time that it be converted to serve as a reminder of what was done to India by the British.”
Calling Britain’s exit from the subcontinent “shambolic and tragic” he said that the “lack of such a museum” across either India or the UK “is striking”.
Tharoor, who’s co-authored a book titled An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India, has been making demands for Britain’s apology for a while now.
Two years ago, at an explosive Oxford Union debate, he had called for reparations from Britain to its former colonies. The speech went viral, clocking nearly 4 million views on YouTube.
He has also in the past referred to former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill as “a thoroughly unpleasant scoundrel” and highlighted how grains and food supplies were shipped out of India even as people were dying on the streets during the 1943 Bengal famine.
Tharoor had earlier recommended that 2019 would be a “good time” for Britain to apologize for all wrongdoings during its 200-year rule in India.
The year marks the centenary of the Jalianwala Bagh Massacre, one of the most horrific chapters of Indian history, where over 1,000 non-violent protesters were butchered by British soldiers under the orders of Brigadier Reginald Dyer.
History has always been written by the victors. Tharoor wants that changed now!