Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday fumed over an American television host’s assertion that India has not built a single structure “as beautiful as the Bombay train station the British colonialists built.” Tucker Carlson, a conservative political commentator who hosts the nightly political talk show ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ on Fox News, was comparing the “mess left behind by the US” in Afghanistan to the British colonial era.
Carlson said that the Britishers left behind an entire civilization in India and abolished the Sati Pratha – a regressive Hindu practice in which a widow used to sacrifice herself by sitting atop her deceased husband’s funeral pyre – without acknowledging the efforts of Raja Ram Mohan in abolishing the practice.
“I think @Twitter ought to have an option for something to press when you can’t respond without losing your cool,” Tharoor wrote on Twitter, adding that he will, for now, content himself with emojis that convey anger, frustration, or rage.
Tharoor has authored several books on the colonial era, including ‘An Era of Darkness’ and ‘Inglorious Empire’, to highlight the excesses of the British empire.
The Fox News anchor opined that the Britishers took their “colonial responsibility” seriously and didn’t just take things but added too.
Here’s the train station that English built in Bombay for example,” says Carlson as an image of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus comes up on the screen.
“There’s nothing like that in Washington DC right now, much less in Kabul or Baghdad. Today India is far more powerful than UK, the nation that once ruled it. And after 75 years of independence, has that country produced a single building as beautiful as the Bombay train station that the British colonials built? No, sadly it has not. Not one.”
He added, “The British empire was more than just genocide. In fact, the British did not commit genocide, except, arguably, against the Dutch during the Boer War. The British did leave the world the Magna Carta and Habeas Corpus and free speech. They helped end the Transatlantic slave trade as well as the ritual murder of widows in India.”
A Twitter user, who posted the clip from Tucker Carlson’s show, disagreed with the Fox News anchor and said, “Funny, when I travelled all over India, the most stunning buildings I saw weren’t built by the British but by Indians themselves!”
That was before colonialism, when they could still afford to…”
The user added, “Colonialism wrecked India, it didn’t build it. They’re only just starting to recover”