How the mighty have fallen

Dhaka,  Wed,  28 June 2017
Published : 13 Apr 2017, 00:38:51
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How the mighty have fallen

Mahmudur Rahman


Shashi Tharoor is a politician who doesn't mince words. The former minister and author is one who speaks his mind and engages the British psyche in his Oxfordian expressions. From sparking outrage over his inclination not to travel 'cattle' (coach) class to demanding the return of the resplendent Kohinoor diamond that is the jewel in the British monarch's crown he continues to be quite the maverick. And in true character he hasn't withdrawn his 'cattle' comment but gracefully accepted stepping down from ministerial duties, though that wasn't the only cause of his fall from grace.

Tharoor's recent demand of retribution for all the misdemeanours committed during the British Raj has gained new significance.  With Phillip Hammond traipsing through the thriving business alleys of Delhi in the full glare of media exposure Britain has descended, under compulsion to hobnob with the same people that Winston Churchill described as 'a beastly people with a beastly religion'. Nine years ago, David Cameron lined up with other world leaders seeking a piece of the now savoury Indian pie as global recession set in. Hammond has a different mission, to organise, in advance trade treaties that can bolster his country's economy post Brexit. The thriving and promising Indian economy offers opportunities of a lip-licking nature but Narendra Modi has his own vision when it comes to global trade, one that doesn't resonate with the demands of the recession-hit Euro Zone or indeed Britain. France and Britain have both struck defence equipment contracts but the present day is more about its other job-creating exports.

Tharoor has quite a few points in his list of demands, most of which currently border on the rhetoric. Sir Winston Churchill steered Britain through the Second World War, won a Nobel prize for literature but is also held responsible for the famine of 1943. That alone brings up visions of audaciously shameful statesmanship from one revered for it. While he was uncharitable about India, its leaders and the people, the economic value to the British Empire wasn't lost on him. Even so, when the writing was on the wall through centuries of misrule and unfairness, he was one of the last to be convinced. Systems and processes did help in adding momentum to India's growth but the British cannot sweep under the carpet the fact that a prosperous land was reduced to a certain abject status after their annexation of it through means that were both foul and ill-conceived.

The United Kingdom is one of those countries that eschew an environment friendly future. Whether they will have the gumption to admit that the infamous indigo cultivation, especially across Bengal and today's Bangladesh deserves reparations on its own, can't be gauged till someone raises it. For our sake it will have to be a maverick, someone like Tharoor and with a lot of noise.

 mahmudrahman@gmail.com
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