As a former international diplomat and Indian politician Shashi Tharoor is well known around the world. I had the pleasure of attending his talk on the book Inglorious Empire in this year’s Emirates Literature Festival in Dubai. I was one of the lucky few to get the book signed by Mr.Tharoor himself.
I was introduced to his writing many years ago when I read ‘The Great Indian Novel’. It is one of my favorite novels. Shashi Tharoor is one of the finest orator in the world, and its a joy to hear him speak.
His fantabulous debate on the British colonisation of India at Oxford Union was the main reason for me to attend his talk and buy the book. His speech was stuff of legends.
Inglorious Empire tells the story of British in India, from the arrival of East India Company in 1757 to the end of British rule. The book argues that colonialism robbed India of many things, which of course is true and it is backed by statistics.
India’s share of the world economy was as large as Europe’s when British came to India and when they left in 1947, it was decreased six-fold. It was impoverished by the British. He argues that everything was built in the times of Raj for the benefit of Britain.
Excerpt from the book:
I do not seek to blame the British for everything that is wrong in my country today, nor to justify some of the failures and deficiencies that undoubtedly still assail India. There is a statute of limitations on colonial wrongdoings, but none on human memory, especially living memory, for as I have pointed out there are still millions of Indians still alive today who remember the iniquities of the British empire in India. History belongs in the past; but understanding it is the duty of the present.
Though I agree with his perspective but I am disappointed with the book as it gets rather boring and repetitive. I felt like I was reading from a history or political science text book from my college days. Yes, its definitely a valuable historical record, but not a great piece of prose.
Would I recommend Inglorious Empire? Nope, I would suggest you to watch his fiery speech on television/online which he had given in Oxford Union.