Churchill deliberately let millions of Indians starve to death

Discussion in 'Foreign Relations' started by White Clouds, Sep 9, 2010.

  1. White Clouds

    White Clouds Regular Member

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    NEW DELHI — British prime minister Winston Churchill deliberately let millions of Indians starve to death, the author of a new book has claimed, alleging he was motivated in part by racial hatred.

    As many as three million people died in the Bengal famine of 1943 after Japan captured neighbouring Burma -- a major source of rice imports -- and British colonial rulers in India stockpiled food for soldiers and war workers.

    Panic-buying of rice sent prices soaring, and distribution channels were wrecked when officials confiscated or destroyed most boats and bullock carts in Bengal to stop them falling into enemy hands if Japan invaded.

    Rice suddenly became scarce in markets and, as worsening hunger spread through villages, Churchill repeatedly refused pleas for emergency food shipments.

    Emaciated masses drifted into Kolkata, where eye-witnesses described men fighting over foul scraps and skeletal mothers dying in the streets as British and middle-class Indians ate large meals in their clubs or at home

    The "man-made" famine has long been one of the darkest chapters of the British Raj, but now Madhusree Mukerjee says she has uncovered evidence that Churchill was directly responsible for the appalling suffering.

    Her book, "Churchill's Secret War", quotes previously unused papers that disprove his claim that no ships could be spared from the war and that show him brushing aside increasingly desperate requests from British officials in India.

    Analysis of World War II cabinet meetings, forgotten ministry records and personal archives show that full grain ships from Australia were passing India on their way to the Mediterranean region, where huge stockpiles were building up.

    "It wasn't a question of Churchill being inept: sending relief to Bengal was raised repeatedly and he and his close associates thwarted every effort," Mukerjee told AFP in a telephone interview.

    "The United States and Australia offered to send help but couldn't because the war cabinet was not willing to release ships. And when the US offered to send grain on its own ships, that offer was not followed up by the British."

    Churchill's record as a war leader against Nazi Germany has secured his place in history, but his attitude towards Indians attracts less admiration.

    "He said awful things about Indians. He told his secretary he wished they could be bombed," Mukerjee said. "He was furious with Indians because he could see America would not let British rule in India continue."

    Churchill derided Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi as a lawyer posing as a "half-naked" holy man, and replied to British officials in India who pleaded for food supplies by asking why Gandhi had not yet died.

    "I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion," he told Leo Amery, the secretary of state for India. Another time he accused Indians of effectively causing the famine by "breeding like rabbits."

    Amery once lost his temper after one rant by the prime minister, telling Churchill that he could not "see much difference between his outlook and Hitler's."

    Amery wrote in his diary: "I am by no means sure whether on this subject of India he is really quite sane."

    Mukerjee believes Churchill's views on India, where he served as a young army officer, came from his Victorian upbringing. Like his father, he saw India as the fundamental jewel in the crown of the British empire.

    "Winston's racist hatred was due to his loving the empire in the way a jealous husband loves his trophy wife: he would rather destroy it than let it go," said Mukerjee.

    Mukerjee's book has been hailed as a ground-breaking achievement which unearths new information despite the hundreds of volumes already written on Churchill's life.

    Eminent British historian Max Hastings has described it as "significant -- and to British readers -- distressing."

    Author Ramachandra Guha said it provided "for the first time, definitive evidence of how a great man?s prejudices contributed to one of the most deadly famines in modern history."

    Mukerjee attributes the book's revelations to her training as a physicist.

    "People suspected that something like this happened but no one really went through the evidence properly to find out what the ships were doing at the time, proving that grain could have been taken to India," she said.

    "I didn't set out to target Churchill. I set out to understand the famine and I slowly discovered his part in it.

    "The famine, you could argue, was partly a deliberate act. India was forced to export grain in the early years of war and in 1943 was exporting rice at Churchill's personal insistence. Britain ruthlessly exploited India during war and didn't let up even when famine started."

    Mukerjee, a 49-year-old Bengali who now lives in Frankfurt with her German husband, believes the Bengal famine has also been air-brushed from Indian history books.

    "I was never taught about it in school and my parents never mentioned it," she said. "There's middle-class guilt as they were employed in professions that meant they received rations. But villagers were considered dispensable."

    Seven years of working on the book, and of hearing gruelling tales from famine survivors whom she tracked down in remote villages, have left Mukerjee with a harsh opinion of Churchill.

    "He is often criticised for bombing German cities but has never before been held directly responsible for the deaths of so many people as in the Bengal famine. It was the greatest stain on his career."

    "I find it very hard to be open-minded about him now," she said. "After all, he would have thought that I am not worth the food I eat."

    Source:Book claims Churchill deliberately let millions of Indians starve to death | Raw Story
     
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  3. roma

    roma NRI in Europe Senior Member

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    england's very own adolf !
     
  4. devgupt

    devgupt Regular Member

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    Amartys Sen had also pointed out long back that Bengal Famine was a British creation and could well have been avoided.
     
  5. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Nothing surprising.

    Churchill was a racist.

    One should see the Bengali films on the Great Famine. Very moving. Satyajit Ray's Ashani Sanket is one.

    I regret to say that this news makes me wonder about the contemporary situation in India with regards to the rotting food grain and malnutrition that one reads and sees in the media day in and day out.

    Now, what would one say of the rotting wheat in the FCI open fields in the rain, prices rising and yet the GOI not distributing the same on some pretext or the other?

    Is there no way we can save the food grains?

    If it is to rot, why did they procure it? To keep the farmers happy? What is the procurement and storage policy of the Govt? Any idea?

    Every year this rotting food grain issue comes up. Why? Is there no solution?
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2010
  6. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    Ive known this for some time. Churchill is a known racist!

    We seem to have forgotten what they did to us and see them as our "valued friends" now.
     
  7. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Let me at the outset state that I am not holding any brief for the British.

    However, let me play the Devil's Advocate.

    Can we blame the British for being racists? Why the British alone, anyone would be a racist and an oppressor who has a cringing, kowtowing, fawning class under their charge and governance. Had we not our own such elements in our society? What about the cringing and fawning peasants before the Thakursaheb in the villages that the Bombay films show? Education has brought emancipation and such things are there no more, but it was there before the British and during the British reign.

    Yet, one the other hand, Gandhi, the 'half naked fakir', as the same said Churchill called him, shook the British Empire, wherein the British Monarch had to meet him and accept his terms. So, if one wants to stand up, then one has to suffer, but in the end, victory shall be at your doorstep.

    Churchill and Kipling are the worst manifestation of the British people, but there were others who were not that evil.

    I personally feel that because of a tormented history with Conquerors coming in floods and pillaging and raping the country, be they the Mughals or the British, we Indians understand the value of freedom better than most other people. That is why inspite of us being a multilingual, multireligious, multicultural nation, we stand as One - Unity in Diversity.

    We have learnt that we can no loner be Slaves and we cherish our Independence and freedom!
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2010
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  8. Iamanidiot

    Iamanidiot Elite Member Elite Member

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    Sir Gandhi "the half naked fakir" brought the british empire to its fall something churchill couldn't prevent.Something which adolf hitler couldn't achieve.At the end of war the Brits knew perfectly well that if they push anything more the british indian army would be the first to mutiny and the british army officers would be the the first casualities.Heck sir during Quit india in UP and Bihar kidnapping and culling englishmen was a norm.Lord linlithglow had to resort to do machine gunning from air in UP and Bihar .The British got the signals during the quit india movement well and clear in 1942 itself.

    PS:Modern India by sumit sarkar is a very good book to read sir
     
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  9. sandeepdg

    sandeepdg Senior Member Senior Member

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    Yup, Amartya Sen had mentioned this previously that the Bengal famine was not because of natural , but artificial reasons created by the British ! And, Churchill was a long known racist !
     
  10. LalTopi

    LalTopi Regular Member

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    An old thread, but still a must read book for any Indian. Uses the 1943 famine as a focal point but also goes into the background of Britain's entry into India, and Churchill's policies with respect to dividing Hindhus and Muslims, and also the (alleged) assassination of Subash Chandra Bose.

    This review is from: Churchill's Secret War: The British Empire and the Forgotten Indian Famine of World War II

    Churchill's Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India during World War II: The British Empire and the Forgotten Indian Famine of World War II eBook: Madhusree Mukerjee: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

    This is a work of monumental proportions that sheds new light on Indian and British history. Not only has Madhushree trawled through British archives and personal accounts from Chruchill's own right hand men, but she has also conducted original research by interviewing the survivors of the 1943 Bengal Famine.

    Being a science writer, Madhushree analyses and lays out the facts in a meticulous and academic style. But do not be fooled into thinking that this is a dry academic read; her book draws the reader into the personal accounts and tragedies of the famine victims as well as the mixed joy of eventual freedom and partition. My advice is - do not read this book in bed - it will give you sleepless nights due to the personal harrowing accounts.

    In Britain our education system still to some extent gives us a rose-tinted view of colonialism -spreading civilisation, removing savage practices, building railways etc. Madhushree shatters this image in the very first chapter but detailing how within 20 years of the battle of Plassey in 1757, the British East India Company brought poverty and terrible famine to this once richest and most prosperous corner of the planet - causing the deaths of millions of Bengalis. Again, with Churchill, our historical teaching tends to portray him only as a national hero, whilst dismissing as irrelevant his racism - e.g. his description of Hindus as "A beastly people with a beastly religion". Madhushree, through her meticulous research lays down a compelling case for how this racism was responsible for the deaths of so many in Bengal 1943. Whilst Churchill fans no doubt will be critical of Madhushree's work, even they cannot argue against the fact that 3 million people, under direct British protection, starved to death whilst British ships carrying grain were allowed to sail by. These deaths should be explained, although belatedly, and Madhshree deserves high praise for her painstaking research and highly readable account of this holocaust.
     
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  11. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Around Millions Indians Died due to starvation..

    Its our past, we should learn from it rather forget it as a bad memory..
     
  12. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    War priorities. Would more Indians have died had the Japanese overrun India?
     
  13. Rahul92

    Rahul92 Senior Member Senior Member

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    What do you expect from them ??
     
  14. LalTopi

    LalTopi Regular Member

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    Interesting question. I would say probably not as, per Mudhushree Bose offered free rice but the British refused. I think the INA had a fair amount of autonomy.
     
  15. Bangalorean

    Bangalorean Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    What's wrong with seeing them as "valued friends" now? Not that I think they are that valued - but what is the point of constantly harping on the past? It is already 70+ years. If you keep grudges from pre-WW2 days, there will be a million things to crib about, by many nations.

    I always believe that it is silly to punish (or hold responsible) people's descendants for the crimes their ancestors may have committed. It is like a so-called "lower caste person" who achieves a high position in corporate India, and then begins raging at present-day so-called "higher castes" for the crimes the latter's distant ancestors may have committed against the former's distant ancestors!!

    The UK is fine, I am more worried about the pappi-jhappi with Pakis that we seem to be seeing nowadays. That is something that we should stay well away from.
     
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  16. Dovah

    Dovah Untermensch Senior Member

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    I'm not sure that the Japanese ever intended to invade India. And war priorities don't imply starving people to death, if that were the case France should've faced similar famines before it was occupied. It wasn't our war in the first place.
     
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  17. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    The British did the same thing to the Irish during the Potato famine

    Digital History
     
  18. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

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    It is a well-known fact that many famines in India starting in the late 18th century were engineered by the British, either directly or indirectly.

    The British are the beacon of progressive civilization, after all.
     
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  19. Blackwater

    Blackwater Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Koi Shak. We all know how much Churchill love India:taunt1::taunt1:
     
  20. kaustav2001

    kaustav2001 Regular Member

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    Thank you for bringing that up. In a way as despicable as it may sound, I can still understand a racist British doing this, but about the question of rotting food grains in the FCI facilities that's more criminal. I mean how can our own leaders just watch, standby let this happen. MP, Bihar even interiors of Maharashtra .. few mores states as well have this issue. People like Sharad Pawar would probably make every possible effort to block the elimination of middlemen & hoarders to protect their interests. Sad but true....Indians today are unfortunately the victims of their own system & leaders.
     
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