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How Churchill 'starved' India

Discussion in 'World Affairs' started by Molawchai, Oct 29, 2010.

  1. Molawchai

    Molawchai BANNED

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    How Churchill 'starved' India
    28 October 2010

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    It is 1943, the peak of the Second World War. The place is London. The British War Cabinet is holding meetings on a famine sweeping its troubled colony, India. Millions of natives mainly in eastern Bengal, are starving. Leopold Amery, secretary of state for India, and Field Marshal Sir Archibald Wavell, soon to be appointed the new viceroy of India, are deliberating how to ship more food to the colony. But the irascible Prime Minister Winston Churchill is coming in their way.

    "Apparently it is more important to save the Greeks and liberated countries than the Indians and there is reluctance either to provide shipping or to reduce stocks in this country," writes Sir Wavell in his account of the meetings. Mr Amery is more direct. "Winston may be right in saying that the starvation of anyhow under-fed Bengalis is less serious than sturdy Greeks, but he makes no sufficient allowance for the sense of Empire responsibility in this country," he writes.

    Some three million Indians died in the famine of 1943. The majority of the deaths were in Bengal. In a shocking new book, Churchill's Secret War, journalist Madhusree Mukherjee blames Mr Churchill's policies for being largely responsible for one of the worst famines in India's history. It is a gripping and scholarly investigation into what must count as one of the most shameful chapters in the history of the Empire.

    The scarcity, Mukherjee writes, was caused by large-scale exports of food from India for use in the war theatres and consumption in Britain - India exported more than 70,000 tonnes of rice between January and July 1943, even as the famine set in. This would have kept nearly 400,000 people alive for a full year. Mr Churchill turned down fervent pleas to export food to India citing a shortage of ships - this when shiploads of Australian wheat, for example, would pass by India to be stored for future consumption in Europe. As imports dropped, prices shot up and hoarders made a killing. Mr Churchill also pushed a scorched earth policy - which went by the sinister name of Denial Policy - in coastal Bengal where the colonisers feared the Japanese would land. So authorities removed boats (the lifeline of the region) and the police destroyed and seized rice stocks.

    Mukherjee tracks down some of the survivors of the famine and paints a chilling tale of the effects of hunger and deprivation. Parents dumped their starving children into rivers and wells. Many took their lives by throwing themselves in front of trains. Starving people begged for the starchy water in which rice had been boiled. Children ate leaves and vines, yam stems and grass. People were too weak even to cremate their loved ones. "No one had the strength to perform rites," a survivor tells Mukherjee. Dogs and jackals feasted on piles of dead bodies in Bengal's villages. The ones who got away were men who migrated to Calcutta for jobs and women who turned to prostitution to feed their families. "Mothers had turned into murderers, village belles into whores, fathers into traffickers of daughters," writes Mukherjee.

    The famine ended at the end of the year when survivors harvested their rice crop. The first shipments of barley and wheat reached those in need only in November, by which time tens of thousands had already perished. Throughout the autumn of 1943, the United Kingdom's food and raw materials stockpile for its 47 million people - 14 million fewer than that of Bengal - swelled to 18.5m tonnes.

    In the end, Mukherjee writes eloquently, it was "not so much racism as the imbalance of power inherent in the social Darwinian pyramid that explains why famine could be tolerated in India while bread rationing was regarded as an intolerable deprivation in wartime Britain". For colonial apologists, the book is essential reading. It is a terrifying account of how colonial rule is direly exploitative and, in this case, made worse by a man who made no bones of his contempt for India and its people.
    BBC - Soutik Biswas's India: How Churchill 'starved' India
     
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  2. roach

    roach FULL MEMBER

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    NEVER thought I'd say this, I am never saying never again.....thanks Molawchai, good find.

    I had heard that the Bengal famine was man-made, but now i know how. May Winston Churchill's soul burn in hell forever for this.
     
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  3. paritosh

    paritosh SENIOR MEMBER

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    Churchill always hated India...and it's leaders...we fought and bled for their war...
     
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  4. KS

    KS ELITE MEMBER

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    What else can we expect from a racist,half-educated retard ??
     
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  5. xenia

    xenia FULL MEMBER

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    there was wheat present even in warehouses of dhaka but those colonial morons dint allow to give them to masses..:frown:
     
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  6. LaBong

    LaBong ELITE MEMBER

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    He probably found it funny that Indians were starved, never have seen such an obsessed person.
     
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  7. muse

    muse PDF THINK TANK: CONSULTANT

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    So, was it racist of Indians to have tolerated this action by the British? British were Europeans and Colonials Masters, so they are not really to be looked to for moral or ethical behaviour, but in what was unified India, how is it that this famine, this man made tradegy with "security justiciations" as well, went unchallenged by the rest of Indians of every political hue, creed, caste and religion?? Why were Indians unable, even unwilling to challenege the English on this policy?

    Sure the English colonials were immoal and unethical, or racist, and the Indians, whether Hindu, or Muslim or whatever, what of them, that they tolerated this?
     
  8. Pratik

    Pratik BANNED

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    THis was in1943 and East Bengal(now Bangladesh) bore the worst brunt.Many migrated to Kolkata and areas in west Bengal to survive the famine.

    My question is when East Bengal had become the fiefdom Muslim league and Jinnah ,what caused their uncaring attitude while we know Jinnah shared a very good equation with Mr Chuchill??
     
  9. Pratik

    Pratik BANNED

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    A colonial ruler is a colonial ruler . I don't think another colonialist in place of Churchill would not have done same in those wartime days. To expect anything better from a colonial ruler is futile .

    Famine relaed deaths were routine occurrence during uncaring British colonial rule while in independent India we dodn't see its repetition as food supplies are immediately transported to drought hit areas from other parts of the country.
     
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  10. paritosh

    paritosh SENIOR MEMBER

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    Muse...you know about the Jallianwala incident right?
    The thought of it fills me up with anger...!
    there was just one Brit...rest all the police men were Indians...
    I could never understand how they had the nerve of firing at unarmed civies...women and children...some of whom they might have known....
    I guess it was because they were brain-washed....they were trained to do as they were told...the human-mind gets conditioned like that...it's a trance like state when that happens...
    the whole 200year period we were caught in this trance we couldn't help ourselves out...that is why we needed leaders..that is why there was one Che guevara...one Gandhi and one Jinnah...
    That is why mankind has always depended on prophets to shepherd them into enlightenment...
     
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  11. Pratik

    Pratik BANNED

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    U talked about Jallianwala massacre.
    But u must remember thats its not police ,but army contingent who under command of General Dyer that fired up on the gathering.Those were army men who are only following an order to act obviously a horrific brutality when General Dyergave the order
    to fire .Its General Dyer who was sole responsible for the massacre.


    Jallianwala Bagh massacre - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  12. below_freezing

    below_freezing ELITE MEMBER

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    can't blame the indian soldiers. they were doing as they were told, and if they resisted they'd be killed. happens everywhere there is colonization. in china during WW2 30% of the occupying army was actually Chinese; 1 million traitors joined the Japanese to oppress and murder other Chinese. No nation can colonize another without the support of internal traitors.
     
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  13. IND151

    IND151 BANNED

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    For more than 45 years, the Winston Churchill book industry has purred along smoothly, cosseted by western biographers in thrall of a man described as the most important statesman of the 20th century. In a 2002 BBC poll, Winston Churchill was voted the "Greatest Briton of All Time", ahead of Shakespeare, Darwin and Newton.

    Richard Toye's new biography, "Churchill's Empire: The World That Made Him and The World He Made" sets his life and politics in a modern context. Previous biographers of Churchill such as William Manchester ("The Caged Lion") tip-toed around their subject. The occasional attempt to uncover Churchill's racism, especially his contempt for Mahatma Gandhi, dissolved quickly into platitudes that justified Empire as a force for good.

    Churchill's racism, Toye suggests, was acceptable in the early 1900s because almost all white people held racist views at the time. This sophistry is the principal reason why this biography, so promising in precept, fails in practice. Churchill's dysfunctional family forged his attitude to race, imperialism and war. His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, briefly Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, "actually loathed Winston", wrote Manchester. His mother, a beautiful American named Jennie Jerome, "devoted most of her time to sexual intrigue, slipping between the sheets with handsome, powerful men in Britain, in the United States, and on the Continent. Her husband was in no position to object. He was an incurable syphilitic."

    A father who loathes you and a mother who embarrasses you (one of her lovers was the Prince of Wales) are not a recipe for a happy childhood and Winston's was not. He went to Harrow, came last in class, flunked Oxford and Cambridge and was packed off to Sandhurst as a consolation prize. Churchill's lack of a university education nagged him throughout his adult life and he acquired many affectations to disguise it.

    Churchill arrived in India in 1895, aged 20. He spent his time in Bangalore reading Plato, Aristotle, Gibbon, Macaulay and Schopenhauer, honing his skill with words and ideas. They were to serve him well in later years. Churchill inveigled the Prince of Wales to get him plum war reporting assignments. By 1899, he was in South Africa, covering the Boer war. He was imprisoned, escaped heroically and became nationally famous at 24. He was elected to parliament and, by 33, was a cabinet minister. It would take him, despite ambition and single-mindedness, another 32 years to become prime minister.

    Toye acknowledges Churchill's pathological aversion to India and how he wished Partition upon the subcontinent. "The mere mention of India," he writes, "brought out a streak of unpleasantness or even irrationality in Churchill. In March 1943, R A Butler, the education minister, visited him at Chequers. The prime minister 'launched into a most terrible attack on the 'baboos', saying that they were gross, dirty and corrupt. He even declared that he wanted the British to leave India, and – this was a more serious remark – that he supported the principle of Pakistan. When Butler argued that the Raj had always stood for Indian unity, Churchill replied, 'Well, if our poor troops have to be kept in a sweltering, syphilitic climate for the sake of your precious unity, I'd rather see them have a good civil war.' "

    Toye devotes less than three pages to Churchill's malign role in the Great Bengal Famine of 1943-44. Britain's plunder of India is dispensed with equally briskly: "One factor that increased Churchill's resentment towards India was the issue of the sterling balances. These were British debts chalked up in London in exchange for goods and services required for the war effort. These grew, in total, from £1,299 million in December 1941 to £3,355 million in June 1945, of which around one-third was owed to India. From one perspective, this was very good news for the UK. She was, in effect, extracting an enormous forced loan which she was unlikely to have to repay in the near future."

    Globally, reviewers have called this biography "revisionist". It is not. It exposes Churchill's warts
    but, often in the same paragraph, presents a contextual justification for them.

    The concluding lines of Toye's book reveal where his sympathies lie: "The decline of Churchill's Empire, much as the man himself regretted it, can be seen in part as a tribute to the power of beliefs that he himself prized dearly."

    It is a disappointing end to a biography that sets out to critically re-examine Churchill but fails the final test, unheroically, like Churchill himself.
     
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  14. IND151

    IND151 BANNED

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    Churchill was racist!wt could you expect from him!
     
  15. CardSharp

    CardSharp ELITE MEMBER

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    The difference here is, those Chinese traitors got what they deserved when Mao came to power. Whereas the KMT made a few token executions of high end Japanese puppet administrations letting most of those responsible keep their jobs, the communists rooted out those involved with Japanese thoroughly and completely.
     
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