Free Press Journal

British destroyed trade to conquer India: Tharoor


Jaipur : The East India Company knew the best way to conquer India was to control its trade and that is why controlling of ports became so important for them, noted politician and writer Shashi Tharoor said here on Saturday.

Tharoor, who was speaking at a session at the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival here, said the company indulged in “fair amount of loot” and was “ruthless” in exaction of taxes.

“India was the world’s leading exporter. They destroyed mills in Murshidabad and Dhaka to kill the competition.

“They found they could not succeed by buying Indian textiles and have to destroy it (textile industry) and they did that systematically,” he said, noting that there were “vested interests” involved that kept the company going.

According to him, the “horrendous” organisation did not even spare weavers and cut their funds.

“The Company also cut the funds of the weavers. The largest exporter of textiles was reduced to importing textiles from England,” he said, adding that India also had a “sophisticated” banking system.

Tharoor was in conversation with historian William Dalrymple at a session titled, “The Dishonourable Company: How the East India Company took over India”, where he also talked about his latest book, “An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India” which attempts to challenge the notion that the British rule was beneficial for India.

He said the British were in India only for money and also controlled the revenue in the country.

Agreeing with Tharoor’s description, Dalrymple said the company was a “tiny multi-national which created mayhem”.

Terming the company a “sinister beast”, he said its taking over of India is an “extraordinary” story in history of India.

Exhorting that the post-1857 incidents should be talked more, he said hundreds of thousands of people died in Delhi alone after the first War of Independence.

“The British authorised the murder of everyone above the age of 16. They locked all the gates of Delhi. Hundreds of thousands of people were dead,” he said.           —PTI