Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Bengal Famine’

Champions at Genocide – Taimur Leng and Churchill

December 31, 2010 7 comments
Cartoonist Leslie Illingworth's faithfully reproduces Churchill's views on India. (Cartoon courtesy - cartoons.ac.uk; Published - Daily Mail, 20 May 1947).

Cartoonist Leslie Illingworth's faithfully reproduces Churchill's views on India. (Cartoon courtesy - cartoons.ac.uk; Published - Daily Mail, 20 May 1947).

Hitler believed that the so-called Nordic race, which in his view included Germans and Britons, was destined to rule the world. He sought to emulate, not supplant, the British Empire: the German empire would comprise the Slavic countries to the east. As he saw it, the United Kingdom would retain its colonies but assume the role of Germany’s junior partner in world domination. (read more via Churchill’s Dark Side: Six Questions for Madhusree Mukerjee—By Scott Horton (Harper’s Magazine).

Eat what you can digest

Looking at the lukewarm  coverage, desultory reporting and the general indifference to Madhusree Mukerjee’s masterly work on the Bengal Famine, I am drawn to some intriguing conclusions.

‘Modern’ Indians can be satisfied with perception and propaganda. Easier to digest, I presume. Empirical evidence be damned. Between the Rightist Islamic-atrocities and the Marxist effete-feudal theologies, Indian history suffers. At this rate, India will become another case of ‘forget-nothing-learn-nothing’.

Indian military might

The commentators are very enamored by ‘victims-of-Islamic-atrocities’ narrative – even though India’s military might would have reduced these ‘invasions’ to extensive plunder-pillage-massacre expeditions. In the few cases where these ‘invasions’ were able to consolidate, the regimes were short-lived.

British jaziya tax?

The crippling taxes that these Islāmic ‘invaders’ were able to impose, were less crippling than Western colonial extraction. At the end of the Mughal Raj, India was still a formidable economy. Even after, the Mughal rulers had bloated their treasury to the largest in the world. By the time the British were sent packing, Indians were left struggling for roti-kapda-makaan.

Taimur and Churchill

The Delhi massacre of Taimur Lame, the Mongol looter accounted for less than 2 lakh victims (most estimates are 1,00,00). The Bengal Famine engineered by the British accounted for 40-50 lakh victims (British estimates are 10,00,000-20,00,000). Taimur was a Hindu-hating Islāmic plunderer. Churchill and the British Raj oozed the milk of human kindness? From every pore and orifice of their bodies?

Westernization – the new religion

So enamored with the new religion of ‘Westernization’ are we, that no criticism will be accepted or tolerated. Compared to the ‘co-operation’ with the Islāmic plunderers our ‘collaboration’ with the West is in no way less damaging or in any way less culpable.

Not a welcome message, I guess.

<!–[if !mso]>

Eat what you can digest

Looking at the lukewarm coverage, desultory reporting and the general indifference to Madhabi Mukherjee’s masterly work on the Bengal Famine, I am drawn to some intriguing conclusions.

‘Modern’ Indians can be satisfied with perception and propaganda. Easier to digest, I presume. Empirical evidence be damned. Between the Rightist Islamic-atrocities and the Marxist effete-feudal theologies, Indian history suffers. At this rate, India will become another case of ‘forget-nothing-learn-nothing’.

Indian military might

The commentators are very enamored by ‘victims-of-Islamic-atrocities’ narrative – even though India‘s military might would have reduced these ‘invasions’ to extensive plunder-pillage-massacre expeditions. In the few cases where these ‘invasions’ were able to consolidate, the regimes were short-lived.

British jaziya tax?

The crippling taxes that these Islamic ‘invaders’ were able to impose, were less crippling than Western colonial extraction. At the end of the Mughal Raj, India was still a formidable economy. Even after, the Mughal rulers had bloated their treasury to the largest in the world. By the time the British were sent packing, Indians were left struggling for roti-kapda-makaan.

Taimur and Churchill

The Delhi massacre of Taimur Lame, the Mongol looter accounted for less than 2 lakh victims. The Bengal Famine engineered by the British accounted for 40-50 lakh victims. Taimur was a Hindu-hating Islamic plunderer. Churchill and the British Raj oozed the milk of human kindness? From every pore and orifice of their bodies?

Westernization – the new religion

So enamored with the new religion of ‘Westernization’ are we, that no criticism will be accepted or tolerated. Compared to the ‘co-operation’ with the Islamic plunderers our ‘collaboration’ with the West is in no way less damaging or in any way less culpable.

Not a welcome message, I guess.

Shortlink

http://dlvr.it/CQTYh

How was Churchill different from Hitler …

October 30, 2010 3 comments

How was Churchill different from Hitler? A mercenary mass-media and a ‘captive’ academia distort the picture!

Churchill blamed Indians for the Gret Bengal Famine - After all, why did Indians have to breed like rabbits ...? he asked.

Churchill blamed Indians for the Great Bengal Famine - After all, why did Indians have to breed like rabbits ...? he asked. Click for larger image.

Decades of planning

Emerging nations (India is, hopefully, re-emerging), at some point, will confront militant and aggressive powers, who have used major massacres to secure their ends. Apart from well documented and known military massacres , there are equally effective massacres – the Bengal Famine of 1943 being a prime example.

Like much of Western history, the British (Lord Willingdon, Neville Chamberlain, Montagu Norman, Winston Churchill – as the Chancellor of the Exchequer) executed a scorched earth policy in India from 1920-1945 – culminating in the The Great Bengal Famine.

After all what is a brown life worth?

A propaganda victory

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. (via How Churchill ‘starved’ India.).

Pictures of the hungry and dying in Bengal during the famine.

Pictures of the hungry and dying in Bengal during the famine. Click for larger image.

Systematic Britons

They implemented a series of economic and administrative measures that killed millions in the Bengal Famine, would impoverish India – and sustain the empire. Between 1920-1945, the British manipulated exchange rates and trade to impoverish the Indians. Food grain prices rose sharply on supply disruptions during WW2. Indians had no financial reserves. 40 lakhs Indians died in the resultant Bengal Famine.

Savage response

After the fall of Singapore, and the rapid Japanese advance, with Subhash Chandra Bose in the vicinity, a revolt by Bengal would have had catastrophic effect on the colonial administration. Howard Fast, in his novel ‘The Pledge’ speculated that the Bengal Famine was a deliberate creation – possibly to weaken the local population. Subsequent research has confirmed that this ‘theory’ of  deliberate famine.

No bodies ... no famine ... What famine ... ? The British efficiently disposed of the bodies in Kolktta. (Picture by life.com; courtesy - oldindianphotos.blogspot.com.).

No bodies ... no famine ... What famine ... ? The British efficiently disposed of the bodies in Kolktta. (Picture by life.com; courtesy - oldindianphotos.blogspot.com.). Click for larger image

Caught in a pincer movement, between Subhash Bose’s trained and armed soldiers and Gandhiji’s unarmed force, the British Raj responded savagely. With massive additions to the Indian police force.

The British were better …

Under dubious licences and restrictions, the British Raj turned Bengal into a huge concentration camp. Like the Spanish had done in Cuba, nearly 80 years ago. General Valeriano Weyler, “The Butcher,” was sent from Spain to stamp out the independence movement in Cuba. He created modern history’s first concentration camps. Hundreds of thousands of men women and children were put into concentration camps. In Havana city alone, 52,000 people died.

Afraid that Bengal would fall to Subhash Bose, Burma’s rice crop was barricaded from Bengal. To cut Bengal from Burmese rice, Indian traders in Burma were hounded out. Grain trucks were not allowed to move into Bengal. Without Burmese rice, on which Bengal depended, an estimated 40-50 lakh people in Bengal died.

All that was left of Indians - Skin and bones. Why did Indians have to breed like rabbits? asked Churchill. (Picture by life.com; courtesy - oldindianphotos.blogspot.com.). Click for larger image

All that was left of Indians - Skin and bones. Why did Indians have to breed like rabbits? asked Churchill. (Picture by life.com; courtesy - oldindianphotos.blogspot.com.). Click for larger image

The Bengal Burma link of the ages was broken. Chettiar money lenders were thrown out of Burma. From being a granary of Asia, Burma started declining – and there was no rice for exports. Result – The Bengal Famine of 1943. Tally – 40-50 lakh deaths. As Gideon Polya has pointed out, Australian sheep have lower mortality rates.

Dignity of death

In his study (Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation By Amartya Sen) about The Great Bengal Famine, Amartya Sen highlights that “…for every dead woman there were nearly two dead men …” Sir Charles Elliot Famine Commissioner in Mysore in 1876 the general belief about Indian famines that “all authorities seem agreed that women succumb to famine less easily than men.”

The end of extraction

After WW2, Churchill very much wanted the option of squeezing the Brown man at least a little more. Whatever little there was left of the Brown man after the Great Bengal Famine of 1943.

A womans collects fallen grains of food from the road. (Picture by life.com; courtesy - oldindianphotos.blogspot.com.). Click for larger image

A womans collects fallen grains of food from the road. (Picture by life.com; courtesy - oldindianphotos.blogspot.com.). Click for larger image

Clement Attlee pointed out that there was nothing left to squeeze. Attlee thought that the cost of squeezing was greater than the value of the extract. After Montagu Norman, Churchill, Lord Willingdon, Neville Chamberlain had finished with the Great Bullion Scam against India from 1925-1945. After the war was over and the Brown man was used in Africa and Europe. They let us go – and allowed us to rule ourselves.

How can we ever repay this debt?

Hitler was never alone

Hitler’s biggest mistake – he lost the war.

The genocide with which his regime was charged with was also carried out against the Native Americans in the USA, the Australian aborigines, in Congo by the Belgians.

Post colonial Governments in Kenya and India have ignored the cover-up of the millions killed by the colonial rulers – in the Mau Mau operations in Kenya or the 1857 War in India.

Bodies were disposed as efficiently as food was denied in Bengal. ((Picture by life.com; courtesy - oldindianphotos.blogspot.com.). Click for larger image.

Bodies were disposed as efficiently as food was denied in Bengal. ((Picture by life.com; courtesy - oldindianphotos.blogspot.com.). Click for larger image.

While Hitler killed millions (some 5-6 millions) in his concentration camps, Britain killed a similar number in  Bengal. Britain wreaked havoc in India by creating The Great Bengal Famine. Some 40-50 lakh Indians died. Hitler rained the Holocaust on the Jews. Some 50-60 lakh Jews died.

Same difference.

What’s the difference

How were German concentration camps different from Bengal-as-a-concentration camp? There was one significant difference.

The British were kind enough not to use Zyklon gas – which would have killed Indians faster. Instead Indians died, slow, horrible deaths, over a period of 2 years. Unlike Jews, who were killed quickly.  The British were without doubt the more humane murderers – compared to the Germans.


The ‘idea’ of Pakistan-II

July 24, 2010 1 comment

Of nearly 10 crore Indian Muslims in 1941, a mere 5 lakhs voted for Jinnah, the Muslim League and Pakistan.

With time, India could see a future beyond Jinnah and Pakistan! (Cartoon - Artist: David Low (1891-1963) Published by Evening Standard, 21 Sep 1945)

With time, India could see a future beyond Jinnah and Pakistan! (Cartoon – Artist: David Low (1891-1963) Published by Evening Standard, 21 Sep 1945)

Britain has often been taunted with employing “divide and rule” tactics in India, but the cleverest attempt at dividing and ruling is that of Jinnah. Moslems number only 94.5 millions according to the census of 1941. Compared with the 255 million Hindus, they will always be in a minority in any system of democratically elected bodies.

To counter this disability the Moslems, as long ago as 1909, pressed for and secured the electoral device of separate Hindu and Moslem electorates, with seats “reserved” in the legislature on a communal basis. This procedure ensured to Moslems a political representation in excess of their numerical proportions. But it did not satisfy them for long.

When Congress ministries took office in seven out of eleven provinces in 1937, Moslem Leaguers (who had polled only 4.6 per cent of the total Moslem vote) were denied any share in the spoils of office. Moslem League propagandists have represented this situation as a denial of their legitimate rights, and as proof of a Hindu determination to dominate India. Tactically, it may have been unwise of Congress, but under a party system of government it is difficult to see how it could have done otherwise. Congress did not refuse office to Moslems as such, but to Moslems who were not members of Congress.

The experience of one election convinced Jinnah that his party could never hope to enjoy a ruling majority. In 1940 he accordingly resurrected the theory of Pakistan, claiming that Hindus and Moslems are two separate nations.

Before 1940 no one outside the Moslems, and few among them, took Pakistan seriously, but by persistent advocation in season and out, Jinnah has made of it the central issue before India today. He has made of the League a real political party, and in the recent elections to the Central Legislative Assembly it won all the Mohammedan seats (30), polling 86.6 per cent of the total Moslem votes. These elections were based on the extremely restricted franchise of the 1919 Act, and the total number of votes cast was only 586,647, representing almost exclusively the propertied classes. (text highlight supplied)

The real problem starts from this point the League is pledged not to make the new Constitution work unless it starts from the basic assumption of Pakistan. There must be not one but two constitution-making bodies, says Jinnah -one for Hindustan and one for Pakistan. Hindus naturally are not willing to submit, in advance of the elections, to the dictation of a minority.

Jinnah wrecked the Simla Conference – called by the Viceroy, Lord Wavell -in July, 1945. He can wreck the elections. All he has to do is to stall, and the longer he stalls, the stronger he grows.

Jinnah’s growing power and prestige have only made him more obdurate. Would he have dared to go so far if he had not felt assured of outside backing – that is, from Britain? At all events, his attitude has caused Jawarhalal Nehru, the most modern and internationally-minded Congress leader, to declare that Congress will negotiate no further with the League under its present leadership.

Britain’s offer of August, 1940, guaranteed minorities against forcible inclusion in any future Indian Union or Federation; the undertaking was reiterated in the Cripps offer of March-April, 1942, and at the Simla Conference.

Jinnah asks the British government to guarantee his Pakistan scheme; he does not ask the people of India, and is quite oblivious to the 30 millions who would be a Hindu minority in the six provinces which he claims: Sind, Baluchistan, the North-West Frontier Province, the Punjab, Bengal, and Assam. Of these, only the first three have a decisively Moslem population.

If Britain backs Jinnah in his intransigence, she will be accused once more of utilizing the communal divisions to delay a settlement and final handing over of power. But what if Britain calls Jinnah’s bluff? What if he is bluntly told that the question of Pakistan is not for Britain or Moslems alone to decide, but must be settled by the whole Indian people through their elected assemblies?

Britain’s Labor Party … has, since it came to power, gone little further than the Tories. Current pronouncements, … have been confined to the old formulas, with emphasis on the necessity for prior agreement among Indians, and warnings against attempts to secure results by violence. They have not dealt with the fundamental question of what the British government will do to break the stalemate.

Failure to grasp this nettle firmly has already led to suspicions that the leopard has not changed its spots, and that despite the change of government, Britain is still more interested in word-spinning than in action. Even the moderate and liberal sections of the Indian press speak of an “Anglo-Moslem conspiracy to keep India in perpetual subjection.” But so long as there is doubt about Britain’s intentions, communal differences will be accentuated, simply because each community wants to secure the best possible terms far itself before Britain “quits India.”

Moslems to this day are the weaker community financially and educationally. Of male Hindus, 14.7 per cent are literate, compared with 10.7 per cent of the Moslems; for women the percentages are 2.1 and 1.5 (1931 census). Separate electorates have merely accentuated communal differences.

The rice-eating Moslem mopla of Malabar has far more in common with his Hindu neighbors than he has with the wheat-eating Punjabi Moslem. Only the most confused thinking could produce a two-nation theory in India, where there are dozens of distinct races and languages.

Jinnah, who is far from being confused in his thinking, knows all this. It is plain, therefore, that the Hindu-Moslem conflict should be seen, not as a religious one, but as a straightforward political and economic struggle for power, with the spoils of office as prizes.

The principle of self-determination, which is of the essence of democracy, applies to nations, not to the fortuitous divisions of a subcontinent conquered by an alien power. The mutinies in the Royal Indian Navy and Royal Indian Air Force are no mere protests against pay or conditions but are political mutinies directed against foreign rule. Whatever the attitude of her political leaders, the people of India are united as never before in vehement opposition to foreign rule. (via India – Magazine – The Atlantic).

Britain 'saved' India from Japan - with the Great Bengal Famine - 40-50 lakhs of people dead! (Cartoon - Artist: Sidney 'George' Strube Published: Daily Express, 07 Aug 1942).

Britain ‘saved’ India from Japan – with the Great Bengal Famine – 40-50 lakhs of people dead! (Cartoon – Artist: Sidney ‘George’ Strube Published: Daily Express, 07 Aug 1942).


The ‘facts’ behind the emotion

This post excerpted from The Atlantic, written in 1946, a year before India’s Independence, makes a few points that are unclear to most Indians.

The ‘innocent’ Indian Muslim

Indian Muslims did not chose the Muslim League. British policy in India made it seem that Indian Muslims had chosen the Muslim League. Of the nearly 10 crore Muslims, less than 5 lakhs voted for the Muslim League. Jinnah’s claim and bravado sprang from the backing of half a per cent of India’s Muslim Population.

Popular leaders like Sheikh Abdullah of Kashmir or the Deoband Seminary rejected emphaticallyJinnah and his Pakistan theory. The ordinary Muslim had no truck with Jinnah or Pakistan. Meanwhile, Sachar Committee report notwithstanding, the ‘ordinary’ Muslim before Independence was behind the general population.

And remains so.

A wolf in wolf’s skin

The British created (through their separate, limited electorates) the ‘idea’ of Pakistan, reiterated the role of this ‘idea’ in 1940, 1942 and the Simla conference of 1946 – and many times in between.

Had Jinnah decided not to get used by the British masters, someone else would have filled Jinnah’s shoes. It would have taken any two-bit politician, no time at all, to fill the void,  had Jinnah declined this role. The leopard has not changed its spots.

The State of Pakistan continues to be used by Western powers for their own ends.

Britain expected 20 lakh Indian soldiers to shed blood for the British Empire. The 'disloyal' Indian leadership did not see it that way - especially Subhash Chandra Bose. (Cartoon - Artist: Illingworth, Leslie Gilbert, 1902-1979 Published - Daily Mail, 6 April 1942).

Britain expected 20 lakh Indian soldiers to shed blood for the British Empire. The ‘disloyal’ Indian leadership did not see it that way – especially Subhash Chandra Bose. (Cartoon – Artist: Illingworth, Leslie Gilbert, 1902-1979 Published – Daily Mail, 6 April 1942).

Now that it is over …

The Congress is taking the easy way out. It demonises Pakistan, which while being counter-productive, also increases the stakes and decreases the ability to engage Pakistan. 60 years is a long time – a long enough time for the Pakistani State to deliver on its self-defined mandate.

In the meanwhile things have changed. Joseph Stiglitz, in April 2010, indicated that Bangladesh and Sri Lanka could become the next export-production centres for the US, specifically and generally the West. After China. A decade down the road, with Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh as US clients, India’s may see itself encircled by Anglo-Saxon client states.

Not a happy thought.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,017 other followers

%d bloggers like this: