Voices Tuesday, July 21, 2015 - 05:30
To say that Shashi Tharoor has a way with words is probably the same as saying that we Indians love our cricket. It is more than a given. What has caught the attention of the Internet audience at this time however, is a video of Tharoor engaging in a discussion at the Oxford Union Reparations Debate. Why has the video of the Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram gone “viral”? Well if the love for cricket is predominant in our country, the abhorrence for our colonial masters probably matches up to it. And how Tharoor creamed them! We Indians try to find the proverbial silver-lining in every bad headline too, sab acche ke liye hota right? Not quite, as Tharoor went on an eloquent rampage in the hallowed halls of Oxford, debunking every possible inkling of the argument that British colonialisation could have aided us in any way. If they said they gave us the Railways, Tharoor said it was only a means to suit their ends. If they said they left us better off, he pointed out that our share of the world economy had fallen from 23% to close to 4%. If they questioned our support during the World Wars, he had the numbers to surprise them, and us. It was not just his refuting of theories, as any academic worth his salt would have coughed them up. There was irreverent sarcasm, sardonic wit, the willingness to dish out a jab, wait for the opponent to stutter and then deliver the punch-line, which, more often than not, was met with wild cheering by the audience.   The wild cheering also came from an audience in which you could probably count Indians on the fingers of your hands. Why it must have also been particularly sweet and satisfying for the Kerala politician is because his detractors constantly accuse him of being more “colonised” than the average man. Tharoor’s riposte clearly showed that he was far from it. He may be one of the more suave politicians around but he sure knew how to give it back as we had got it. The icing on the Oxford cake though, was his remark on the reparation issue. The debate was about whether Britain owed a debt to the countries they colonised. Moral and economic ones are owed, to sum up Tharoor’s argument in a bland phrase. And while issuing a characteristic retort to the argument that Britain gives aid to India, Tharoor elaborated a bit, mentioned that it was 0.4% of our GDP, but also that we spend more on our fertiliser subsidies. He began by saying he had eight minutes, and let’s be honest he did overstep his mark, but he tugged at more than a couple of our sensitive chords. And didn’t we just want him to go on and on and on… Video of f7CW7S0zxv4  
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