The attitude of India towards its neighbours in the context of India’s acceptance of the British Raj was dicussed during a talk on inglorious empire by writer politician Shashi Tharoor at the recently concluded Mountain Echoes festival in Thimphu.

A participant asked that in terms of British rule in India and the way Indian bureaucracy has continuously come to accept the Raj mind, to what extent is India’s foreign policy driven by this perception in the context of its neighbours.

Shashi Tharoor (Phd), said that to some degree there would always be problems among neighbours. “For example, in South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, India accounts for the 70 percent of the population and 80 percent of Gross Domestic Product.”

He said that Indians despite being humble would displace more weight and that the question is about how policies are constructed. “India has to give more whether in amount of actual aid or policy concessions and by and large this has been the approach,” he said. “We do need to be humble; if there is some arrogance from some of our people, that’s regrettable but in terms of policy we need to be giving.”

On India’s stand regarding Sikkim in 1975, Shashi Tharoor said that unlike Bhutan, Sikkim was seen as a protectorate from the time when India was a colony of the British. “Bhutan has a treaty with the British empire that Bhutan would remain independent.”

Talking about his book, “An Era of Darkness – The British Empire in India,” Shashi Tharoor said that it was derived from a speech that he gave at the oxford union. When asked on what he intended to do by writing this book, he said that it was to first, lay out the indictment of the British rule. “The second one is to take the defence of the Raj which claimed that the Raj laid the foundations of success. I take all of these arguments and one by one refute them.”

By writing the book he intended to have a royal member of  Britain to apologise for the wrong the British did in the 1919 Jallainwala bagh massacre in Amritsar, Punjab. “The Jallianwala bagh massacre is the fitting example of everything that the British did wrong. April 13, 2019 would complete a century of the massacre.”

He said that the British should teach their children the truth. “The whole truth and not violate or glorify stuff.”

Rinchen Zangmo