Shashi Tharoor says British Raj division of India needs Museum

Indian writer Shashi Tharoor speaks out on the representation of British Raj in museums. He believes more should be done to educate school children.

Shashi Tharoor says British Raj division of India needs Museum

The writer has requested that the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata convert into a museum.

Indian writer Shashi Tharoor has called for museums to present more exhibitions on the British Raj division of India. He believes many school children will soon forget about the oppressions that India faced during the British colonisation.

He called for action from both London and Indian museums. The comments came from an article Shashi Tharoor wrote for Al Jazeera.

“It is curious that there is, neither in India nor in Britain, any museum to the colonial experience,” he wrote.

Shashi Tharoor called for museums to provide better education on the British Raj. By educating children, they learn more about the brutal realities of this harrowing time in Indian history.

The British Empire led to famine, millions murdered and also sparked a campaign of “divide and rule”.

Now, the writer has also requested that the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata convert into a museum. The museum should dedicate an exhibition to display and remember the destructive rule of the British Raj.

The Indian writer said: “The British conquered one of the richest countries in the world and reduced it, after over two centuries of looting and exploitation, to one of the poorest, most diseased and most illiterate countries by 1947.

“An enduring reminder is needed, both for Indian schoolchildren to educate themselves and for British tourists to visit for their own enlightenment.

He also added: “As I say to young Indians: if you don’t know where you have come from, how will you appreciate where you are going?”

One of the key incidents that Shashi addresses is the Amritsar massacre. The tragic event witnessed colonial soldiers murder between 379 and 1,000 people. Those murdered had been peacefully protesting against the British rule.

While the British Raj left India in 1947, its colonial effects on the country lasted a lot longer. Tharoor believes that a museum can uncover some of the misconceptions that many have about the legacy left by the British in India.

One of these is the Indian Railway system, which was perceived as a wonderful achievement in uniting Indians across the vast nation. Tharoor however argues:

“In reality, the railways were conceived, designed and intended only to enhance British control of the country and reap further economic benefits for the British.

“Their construction was a big colonial scam, through which British shareholders made an absurdly high return on capital, paid for by the hapless Indian taxpayer.”

Shashi Tharoor has written various material on the subject of the British Raj. His latest work, An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India, looks at the British Raj in India’s perspective. The book released in 2016.

Now, many will wait expectantly to see whether British and Indian museums will acknowledge Shashi’s requests.

Sarah is an English and Creative Writing graduate who loves video games, books and looking after her mischievous cat Prince. Her motto follows House Lannister's "Hear Me Roar".

Image courtesy of Shashi Tharoor's offical website.

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