It's hard to find something that brings Indians, at least the political kind, together these days. Eggs in mid-day meals, the chairman of a government institute, even a lovely little initiative like #SelfieWithDaughter, everything gets interpreted through a political bias. And you have to pick your sides, because there is no middle ground.
Occasionally, however, we get a reminder that Indians aren't entirely polarised and that there are some things that unites (most of) the country, and certainly much of the political class. The British Raj is one of those things. Indians are still continuing to understand just how much two centuries of political exploitation by the British Empire has affected this country and even liberals like the Congress' Shashi Tharoor – who the Right might insist is a "colonised mind" – can make a clear case that nothing can redeem the Raj.
Speaking at the Oxford Union Society, the Member of Parliament from Kerala argued for the motion that Britain should pay reparations for all that it wrought upon colonial India. Tharoor went after the argument that the British actually helped modernise India, saying, "it’s a bit rich to enslave, maim and torture people for 200 years and celebrate that they’re democratic at the end of it."
And though Tharoor doesn't ask for actual reparations, mostly because no amount could be good enough to make up for the exploitation and destruction of the Raj, he makes it clear that Britain simply cannot whitewash history. Tharoor's speech, a call-back to his time spent at the United Nations, helped end the debate on his side, with the house voting 185 to 56 that Britain owes reparations to its former colonies.