Dr. Shashi Tharoor, writer, politician and former diplomat who will be one of the major crowd-pullers at the 2nd edition of the Kerala Literature Festival – KLF 2017 is noted for his oratorical skills and verbosity was once again at his best at the world famous debating society, the Oxford Union. Dr. Tharoor who was speaking at the debate entitled ‘This house believes Britain owes reparations to her former colonies’, stressed on economic toll that British rule took on India.
He said: “India’s share of the world economy when Britain arrived on it shores was 23 per cent. By the time the British left it was down to below four per cent. Why? Simply because India had been governed for the benefit of Britain. Britain’s rise for 200 years was financed by its depredations in India.”
Dr Tharoor and the other speakers at the debate were not arguing about a specific amount that should be handed over as reparations but rather on the question whether there is a debt, and whether Britain owes reparations or not.
Concluding his speech, he said: “As far as I’m concerned, the ability to acknowledge a wrong that has been done, to simply say sorry, will go a far, far, far longer way than some percentage of GDP in the form of aid.”
“What it required is accepting the principle that reparations are owed. Personally, I’d be quite happy if it was one pound a year for the next two hundred years, after the last two hundred years of Britain in India.”
His articulate and rousing speech was received well at the Oxford Union and also a struck a chord with Indians the world over. The 15 minute video of his speech has been shared thousands of time and is already the fifth most popular video on the Union’s YouTube channel.
It was a spirited debate over a controversial issue, but in the end Dr. Tharoor’s side, which also included Jamaican High Commissioner Ndombet Assamba and Ghanaian economist Dr George Ayittey, won the debate with 185 votes to 56.
Indian politician, former diplomat, writer and current Member of Parliament Dr Shashi Tharoor has confirmed his availability for the 2nd edition of the Kerala Literature Festival (KLF 2017).