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Tharoor's Oxford Address Was Brilliant, But What Next?

24/07/2015 8:30 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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FILE- In this June 19, 2006 file photograph, India's junior foreign minister Shashi Tharoor, then a United Nations undersecretary general for communications and public information, speaks to the media in New Delhi, India. Tharoor has resigned amid allegations of corruption in the bidding for a new team in the lucrative Indian Premier League cricket tournament. The former UN diplomat met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and several senior leaders of the ruling Congress party on Sunday, April 18, 2010, before sending in his resignation later that night.(AP Photo/Gurinder Osan, File)

It is not often that a video clip of an Indian politician trends on social media for a "good" reason. So when I heard about this 15-minute clip going viral on the internet, I decided to have a peek. Like most other people who have a strong patriotic streak for India, I found that the video resonated deeply with me.

The politician featuring in this clip is Dr Shashi Tharoor, a diplomat, a writer, a former minister, and a current Member of Parliament of India. The video clip is of his speech at a debate organised recently by the prestigious Oxford Union, an English debating society. In his speech, Dr Tharoor, emphatically presses forward his opinion that Britain must pay reparations to India and all its other former colonies for the oppression unleashed upon them during its extended imperial rule.

Shashi Tharoor is no stranger to controversy and has been dogged by scandals of various hues, but at this juncture I think he deserves to be celebrated as a modern citizen of the much-touted "Modern India". He is the kind of outspoken Indian citizen that so many of us desperately aspire to see more of, more often. Especially within the political ranks of the country.

"Do you intend to show similar conviction and passion and seek reparations from your colleagues in the Indian political fraternity, for the oppression and loot over the last 60-odd years?"

No fluffy slogans, no throw-away lines, and no hollow remarks. Rather, he relies on a potent blend of intellect, passion, and old-fashioned confidence to run home a debate on behalf of every single citizen of India. He doesn't play victim, or portray India in that vein. At no stage does he endeavour to inflame emotions, yet manages to leave you with goose-bumps.

He acknowledges the history of the imperial rule for what it was and then gradually peels away the layers, exposing how colonialism held back India for almost two centuries. And then, as he closes off his well-placed arguments, he seeks some pragmatic reparations to move on from the scars of the past. He does not demand a monetary ransom disguised as an apology. Just a heartfelt acknowledgement of the oppression suffered by the people of India in those times.

Not for a minute does he come across flustered or out of his depth. His arguments are rational, succinct and articulate, steeped in passion and peppered with humour.

So, what now? Dr Tharoor put forward a sound voice of reason on behalf of India, but in the end, it was just a debate. One does not expect much to come out of it. But hopefully, this will project a better image of a "Modern Indian" to the rest of the world. An Indian who is educated, aware, and most importantly, empowered.

And as for Dr Shashi Tharoor. Well, you nailed it, Sir, with your oration. But here's a question I have for you. Do you intend to show similar conviction and passion and seek reparations from your colleagues in the Indian political fraternity, for the oppression and loot over the last 60-odd years?

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