At the end of May, the Oxford Union held a debate on the motion “This house believes Britain owes reparations to her former colonies”. Speakers included Indian politician and writer Shashi Tharoor and British historian John MacKenzie. Mr Tharoor’s argument in support of the motion has found favour among many Indians, where the subject of colonial exploitation remains a sore topic. Here, Professor MacKenzie, who spoke against the motion, offers his views.
Mr Shashi Tharoor is a remarkable man, a great ornament in India’s diplomatic, political and literary life. He spoke at the Oxford Union reparations debate with great elegance and wit, but he overstated the case.
And he is wrong about reparations.
Having just emerged from editing a four-volume encyclopaedia of all empires in human history, I can say categorically that no empires have pursued tender or altruistic policies.
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Source Credits: BBC. Photo by George P. Landow