Drawing a Line between Knowledge and Prejudice

Recently, a friend posted a video of Shashi Tharoor speaking to Channel 4 on the sidelines of his London launch of the book, ‘Inglorious Empire’ (The British title for his remarkable book ‘An Era of Darkness’). And that took me back a few months when ‘An Era of Darkness’ had released in November 2016 and I had promised myself that I’d pick one up.

Well I haven’t as yet and plan to add it to my Kindle today itself, but the video also brought back important discussions that were taking place back in November around the book, before the demonetization drive took away all limelight from every other topic.

The discussions about educating ourselves and the world, of the colonial history of the British Raj, have come to the fore again. And while we go about acquiring this knowledge, we need to keep ourselves away from the prejudice that could seep in to our behaviour towards people.

This is especially important now, in the wake of India being touted as the fastest growing economy for the second successive quarter in the October to December period by CSO.

And why do I equate economic growth to a need for an unbiased perspective on Britain’s role in Indian history? Well, it’s simple. The longevity of economic growth is driven by people who are consistently looking at enforcing progressive policies.

And by progressive, I mean policies that are tolerant and inclusive and that are focused on growth rather than xenophobia.

As an Indian, I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Tharoor that I need to read and be aware of what happened in history, and hence my plan to add the book to my Kindle library. But as a person who is living in a global environment that is extremely susceptible to all the possible vices of society, I also need to be vigilant of the fact that what happened in history cannot and should not influence me in my disposition to any person or business today.

Very often, we tend to ride in the wave of revolution and that’s good if it is progressive, but we need to be mindful of the fact that education and prejudice must never be intertwined.

As Mr. Tharoor himself points out in the Channel 4 interview, the relations between India and Britain today are that of two sovereign nations. And we, as readers, must also be cognizant of this and not let xenophobia kick in at any point in time.

I felt like I needed to write this post as much a letter to myself as another article out there. Because I’m going to start reading a wonderfully written book and I could not have afforded to lessen the worth and brilliance of this book by letting it influence my liberality of character.


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