“Our View Of Imperialism Needs Constant Interrogation”
Early this year, friends from Delhi sent me a new book which has made quite a stir in India – An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India by the author and politician Shashi Tharoor. “Hope you like it!” Krishan wrote with a mischievous flourish.
The book is a polemical history of British India – not the tale told in the pages of Charles Allen’s Plain Tales from the Raj (though Allen’s book is still essential reading to understand the mentality of the imperialists). Tharoor sees the Raj as a massive system of extortion and appropriation designed to extract India’s wealth and, because of the loss of life through famine and violence, one of history’s great crimes. Not surprisingly, the book has become a cause célèbre in India, where a new generation has none of the affection towards Britain that is still found among many over-60s.
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