You Can Always Blame the British

Those who endured this week’s Q&A would be hard pressed to nominate a greater peddler of oily sophistries and dubious statistics than Shashi Tharoor, the Indian lawmaker who wants Britain to pay compensation for its perfidious colonialism.

Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India
by Shashi Tharoor

At its height in the 1920s, the British Empire was the largest and most populous empire in world history, with up to a quarter of the world’s landmass coming under the British flag. A central component of the empire was the Indian Empire or Raj, which contained the bulk of Britain’s imperial subjects, estimated at over 300 million people in 1914. It was situated between the borders of Afghanistan and Thailand and included the present-day states of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Burma. What began from extremely humble beginnings—a cluster of isolated trading posts and “factories” along the coast—had by the late eighteenth century turned into a huge, sprawling Asian empire and the “jewel in the crown” of Britain’s overseas possessions.