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Tharoor says ‘cricket and english’ were only two benefits of British rule

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Shashi Tharoor
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Jaipur: How should we view the British Empire and its legacy for its former colonies? Was it one of the world’s greatest modernizing forces, as some historians claim, or was it only a destructive bane? The latter, says Congress politician Shashi Tharoor, who maintains that the only two benefits for India were cricket and the English language.

Tharoor contested the contentions of co-panelist, British historian, author and MP Tristram Hunt, that the benefits included rule of law and an effective parliamentary system, saying he was not sure how good the latter has been for India.

“The system of governance of a small island nation was sought to be transplanted to a nation where there were not only ideological differences, but a bewildering range of diversities,” he said, at a session titled “Empire” at the Jaipur Literature Festival here on Monday.

On the idea of rule of law, Tharoor contended it was part of the normal evolution of society and India could have achieved it for itself.

“You don’t need foreigners to come and oppress you for benefit of development,” he asserted.

“(Historian) Niall Ferguson (who has termed the British Empire a great modernizing force) has not questioned for whose benefit it was done. I only accept cricket and the English language,” said Tharoor.

Hunt, who had stepped in for Ferguson, who wasn’t able to make it for the event, contended that there was renewed interest in the Empire in his country — where it had been absent for years from the school curriculum — as Britain took decisions on its place in the world.

The author of ‘Ten Cities that Made an Empire’, which seeks to chart the changing nature of the British Empire through 10 (formerly) imperial cities spread throughout the world, Hunt said the empire had had an influence on his country too — and still has.

“British politics are becoming like Indian politics. The centralized system is shifting to a more federal system… We are willing to take coalition partners,” he said.

On the question of financial compensation for the damages to the former colonies’ social and economic fabric, Tharoor, who had made headlines by making the demand at a debate in Oxford, said it should be a token amount, say a pound for every year of rule, rather than a ridiculous amount as had been calculated and would be “an exercise in absurdity and futility”, could never be paid and besides, “India couldn’t even know what to do with all that money”.

Hunt noted that such a demand was more advanced in the former Caribbean colonies, but they instead of money, had sought help in education and development.

On whether bygones should be bygones, Tharoor said he agreed. “History cannot be undone. But it haunts our past and affects the future. By all means let bygones be bygones, but never forget it… We must remember it.”

Hunt said he agreed. “We must interrogate, analyze and reinterpret the bygones,” he said, adding he was quite skeptical of official apologies for historical wrongs. (Vikas Datta, IANS)(Photo: Wikipedia)

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President Ram Nath Kovind Pays His Condolences to Former UN Chief Kofi Annan

Annan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the UN in 2001 "for their work for a better organised and more peaceful world".

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India condoles former UN chief Kofi Annan's death.
India condoles former UN chief Kofi Annan's death. Flickr

India on Saturday condoled the death of former UN Secretary General and Nobel laureate Kofi Annan with President Ram Nath Kovind expressing his condolences to the former Ghanaian diplomat’s family and the UN community as a whole.

“Sorry to learn of the passing of former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan,” Kovind said on the Rashtrapati Bhavan Twitter handle.

“My condolences to his family and to the UN community,” he stated.

Annan, 80, died on Saturday in Switzerland after a short illness, with his wife and three children by his side.

“It is with immense sadness that the Annan family and the Kofi Annan Foundation announce that the former Secretary General of the UN and Nobel Peace Laureate, passed away peacefully on Saturday 18th August after a short illness,” his family said.

Kofi Annan
Annan was the first black African to take up the role of the world’s top diplomat, serving two terms from 1997 to 2006. Flickr

Annan was the first black African to take up the role of the world’s top diplomat, serving two terms from 1997 to 2006. He later served as the UN special envoy for Syria, leading efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

He also led a UN commission to investigate the Rohingya refugee crisis in Myanmar.

The Myanmar government led by Aung San Suu Kyi supported Annan’s recommendations on the crisis in the country’s Rakhine State.

Also Read: New AI Model to Identify the Risk of Heart Disease in Indians

Annan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the UN in 2001 “for their work for a better organised and more peaceful world”.

His tenure as the UN chief coincided with the Iraq war and the HIV/Aids pandemic. (IANS)