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Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India

The dominance of European scholars and a Euro-centric framework in social sciences, including history, has both stemmed from and perpetuated ignorance about the perspectives and feelings of colonized people in writing about the colonial period. Such narrations portray colonial rule as an inevitable and progressive stage in the economic, political and social development of Asian and African countries.

 

 

The dominance of European scholars and a Euro-centric framework in social sciences, including history, has both stemmed from and perpetuated ignorance about the perspectives and feelings of colonized people in writing about the colonial period. Such narrations portray colonial rule as an inevitable and progressive stage in the economic, political and social development of Asian and African countries. Even though there is plenty of literature about the looting and brutality of the colonial powers, most of this has gone unnoticed among the academic community. Inglorious Empire, which was published in India in 2016 under the title An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India, a brilliant work by Shashi Tharoor, is distinguished among this literature in its manner of presentation and dazzling arguments. Its popularity as one of the Sunday Times top ten bestsellers shows the wide and enthusiastic acceptance of this book. Even though it does not make any new arguments or add value to the existing nationalist literature, Tharoor’s ‘ferocious and astonishing’ writing distinguishes it from others. The book is a continuation of the debate that occurred in in the Oxford Union on the extent to which ‘Britain owes reparations to her former colonies.’ However, the author shifts his focus in the book from reparations to colonial impacts.

 

Tharoor brilliantly depicts the impacts of British colonial rule on the Indian economy, polity and society. He continues throughout the book without diverting from the central question of ‘what the British did to India.’ The first chapter focuses on the economic aspects of colonialism and explains the different forms of looting that caused a weakening of the Indian

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