Payment of reparations – Sashi Tharoor’s speech
I watched Sashi Tharoor’s speech on the payment of reparation that Britain owes to India. It was a well argued, well presented and an eloquent speech.
I also liked the content and delivery of the speech. Rather it was one of the best speeches that I have heard recently.
But, it is a big but, when I thought over it... I came to realize that there is more danger in it than it shows and it disturbed me.
Yes Britain opporessed and suppressed India. That India was not this India of today. Even Britain of today is not that Britain that was an imperial power. India of today is different from that imaginary India which did not exist politically. We Indians imagine today a country in the past as if that existed politically. This India is only in the minds of political leaders rather than in reality. There were nearly six hundred kingdoms and the people in those kingdoms were oppressed by their feudal lords called in many names like Kings and Emperors etc. The people who have actually suffered have long gone and the present generation can only experience pain by emotionally recalling the history of oppression.. Yes, we should study history, we should not let it repeat itself. But we should deal with history in an intellectual and rational way rather than in emotional way.
In a country whre History refuses to get off from our backs it would be dangerous idea to speak or seek reparations fro the past sins or misdeeds that are perceived today to have happened long ago. It is like Britains seeking reparations from Romans for their conquest of England in the beginnings of Christian era or from the French for their conquest of Britain in 11th century. The biggest oppression is history is the existence of caste. It is even continuing today. The moment the proposition of reparation is accepted, this juggernaut will star moving and mowing the present and the past. The atrocities committed by one region on other, one religion on other, one language on another will appear on the scene and we will be exposed to the fact that we have behaved more like savages than like human beings and will start behaving like savages in the present to say the least.
Yes, we should know the past and not suffer its pains i.e. we should look at it as a relic or an used object no more useful now. After 1947, our history should be assessed with reference to the promises we have made to ourselves in the form of Constitution of India.
My answer to reparations is no for now.