Sunday, June 3, 2018

An Era of Darkness by Shashi Tharoor

Image result for an era of darknessIn May 2015, Indian author and politician Shashi Tharoor spoke at the Oxford Union debate for the motion: British owe reparations to her former colonies. In his 15 minute speech, Tharoor eloquently outlined how the British destroyed the Indian economy, amassed huge wealth, and when they departed, left India worst off.

In An Era of Darkness, Tharoor expands his Oxford union speech by collating selected accounts and sources and working them into a forceful, paced narrative. In cogently written eight chapters, he builds an impressive case against the British depredations and misgovernment that British Indian subjects suffered during 200 years of colonial rule of the South Asian sub-continent.

While there is no denying of the fact that many British laws were enacted to repress India’s independence struggle, but post-colonial India has acted much more brutally in occupied regions like Kashmir and Nagaland, where, enjoying impunity under the post-British laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Indian armed forces have massacred, raped, tortured, and disappeared thousands of people.

All this criticism against Tharoor is in no way intended to discount or undermine his valid arguments against the British rule over South Asian sub-continent. He has an impressive case against colonialism. But, not all his opinions and arguments are genuine, some are just too simplistic.

For example, he does not mention how Dalits and marginalised groups view the British rule with respect to their empowerment—about which Dalit intellectuals like Ambedkar have written. If a reader wants to know all the bad things that British did in her South Asian colony, then this book is an apt catalogue for that. It is a well-crafted, racy narrative, with sprinkles of wry humour here and there. But, for a more balanced, complex, account on the colonial history refer to ‘academic’ works.

read entire review @ Free Press Kashmir

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