“In laying out this case against British colonialism in India, 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 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.”
Author, politician and former international civil servant Shashi Tharoor will shed light on the history of India under British rule through his recently published book, Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India. In this bold and incisive reassessment of colonialism, Tharoor exposes the inglorious reality of Britain’s stained Indian legacy from the East India Company to 1947 through historical accounts and commentary.
In the 18th century, India’s share of the world economy was as large as Europe’s. By 1947, after two centuries of British rule, it had decreased six-fold. Beyond conquest and deception, the Empire blew rebels from cannon, massacred unarmed protesters, entrenched institutionalised racism, and caused millions to die of starvation.
British imperialism justified itself as enlightened despotism for the benefit of the governed, but in his new book Tharoor takes on and demolishes this position. He demonstrates how every supposed imperial ‘gift’ – from the railways to the rule of law – was designed in Britain’s interests alone as well as how Britain’s Industrial Revolution was founded on India’s deindustrialisation, and the destruction of its textile industry.
Having served for twenty-nine years at the UN, culminating as Under-Secretary-General, Tharoor is now a Congress MP in India. He is also the author of fourteen fiction and non-fiction books on a variety of subjects. His debut novel, The Great Indian Novel, was published in 1989 and is required reading in several courses on post-colonial literature. Some of his other fiction titles are; The Five Dollar Smile (1990) which is a collection of short stories, Show Business (1992) which has been made in to a Bollywood film and Riot (2001), a searing examination of Hindu-Muslim violence in contemporary India. He is also known for his non-fiction titles such as India: From Midnight to the Millennium (1997), an acclaimed analysis of contemporary India, and Pax Indica (2012), a study of India’s foreign relations and global strategy. Tharoor has won numerous literary awards, including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.
The event will be followed by a book signing and drinks reception.
To book tickets for this event, please click here. Asia House Arts Members need to enter their unique membership number when booking online. This can be found on the back of your membership card. Please call 0207 307 5454 if you experience any issues booking tickets
Tickets: £10, Concessions: £8, Asia House Arts Members: £5
Asia House Arts Members need to enter their unique membership number when booking online. This can be found on the back of your membership card. Please call 0207 307 5454 if you experience any issues booking tickets.