Should India seek British Reparations for Colonialism?

Perhaps, but they should look internally as well, realizing they bear plenty of responsibility for their underdevelopment.

In mid-July 2015, MP Shashi Tharoor gave an impassioned plea for Indian reparations after more than 200 years of British colonialism. You can watch the 15-minute clip below.

Many Indians, both in the country and abroad lauded his words.

Prime Minister Modi, even endorsed Tharoor’s sentiments saying ‘Tharoor’s speech reflected the feelings of patriotic Indians on the issue and showed what impression one can leave with effective arguments by saying the right things at the right place.

I agree with most he said.

I disagree with his point about India and the railways. Yes, Britain originally built them to bring Indian goods to the British market. Thereby bypassing the Indian market.  But when the British ‘quit’ India in 1947, they didn’t pack up the trains and millions of miles of track and take that them with them.

The railroads played a prominent role in India’s development. It connects India in ways few other countries can match.

Beyond that one issue, I think his other points were valid.

Without doing hours of additional research, they probably were correct. However, after listening to his speech at Oxford I had the following thoughts: 

Where would India be if there were not an estimated 60 million girls missing in the last 30 years?

India would be further developed if it didn’t continue to exile 170 million Dalits through the scourge of ‘untouchability’ and casteism.

Can the impact of those two facts alone be quantified? I have no idea. But I think both disastrously affect India’s growth, development, and prosperity.

Or this – the Indian government spends 3.1 percent of its GDP on education. They spend a measly one percent of GDP on healthcare. India being an economic juggernaut despite a chronically woeful health care budget is a minor miracle.

The country is an economic juggernaut despite a chronically woeful health care budget which is a minor miracle.

India spent around five billion dollars in 2013 on national health care. Five billion dollars is a pittance, for a country with 1.2 billion inhabitants and with one-third of its population malnourished.

At one percent India’s health expenditure is among the lowest on the planet. Considering all the health problems in India, it’s absurd that the Indian government spends such a small amount on its national health care.

Where would India be if those numbers increased even two or three percent?

Indians are responsible for their missing girls, Not anyone else. Indians alone are to blame for perpetuating the evils of casteism. They bear responsibility for spending vast amounts of money and resources, ensuring that 170 plus million of their fellow citizens are never treated as human beings.

India’s governments, political parties, and leaders are solely responsible for making policy decisions to historically underfund education and health. The effect of their choices is disastrous.

It is time Indian leadership acknowledges these facts. Instead, they keep blaming the West, colonialism, Pakistan, China and any other bogeyman the leadership conjures up. They constantly explain away the many social ills hindering India’s development as if they were imposed on their country.

India must blame itself for years of corruption, backward mindsets, and awful policies.

As India renews its fury with Britain for the wrongs they did to the country, Indians should look inward. They must examine the ways their leadership, culture and religious ideas continually hold India back.

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