Bengal Famine

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Churchill’s Man-Made Famine

Death Toll: 4,000,000

This Forgotten holocaust committed by British imperialism was caused by the diversion of shipping normally used to bring food to Bengal. The shipping was used instead to bring military supplies to the British army in North Africa in 1942.

According to Dr. Gideon Polya, a professor in Victoria, Australian, the 1943-44 famine that killed an estimated 3.5 to 5 million people in Bengal was “man-made”. Dr. Polya says that “the British brought an unsympathetic and ruthless economic agenda to India” and that “the creation of famine” was brought about by British “sequestration and export of food for enhanced commercial gain.”

He says that “British disinclination to respond with urgency and vigor to food deficits resulted in a succession of about 2 dozen appalling famines during the British occupation of India.” These swept away tens of millions of people. One of the worst famines was that of 1770 that killed an estimated 10 million people in Bengal (one third of the population) and which was “exacerbated by the rapacity of the (British) East India Company”.

Dr. Polya writes that “An extraordinary feature of the appalling record of British imperialism with respect to genocide and mass, world-wide killing of huge numbers of people (by war disease and famine) is its absence from public perception. Thus, for example, inspection of a selection of British history texts reveals that mention of the appalling Irish Famine of 1845-47 is confined in each case to several lines (although there is of course detailed discussion of the attendant, related political debate about the Corn Laws). It is hardly surprising that there should be no mention of famine in India or Bengal.”

How Destructive Was Colonialism to India?

Colonial era (1765–1947)

Great Bengal Famine  1769–1770      10,000,000

Madras city famine     1782–1783    Unknown

Chalisa famine            1791–1792      11,000,000

Doji bara or Skull famine        1789–1795      11,000,000

Agra famine of 1837–38         1837–1838      800,000

Eastern Rajputana       1860–1861      2,000,000

Orissa famine of 1866 1865–1867      1,000,000

Rajputana famine of 1869      1868–1870      1,500,000

Bihar famine of 1873–74        1873–1874      Unknown

Great Famine of 1876–78       1876–1878      10,300,000

Orissa, Bihar   1888–1889      150,000

Indian famine of 1896–97      1896–1897      5,000,000

Indian famine of 1899–1900  1899–1900      1,000,000

Bombay Presidency    1905–1906      230,000

Bengal famine of 1943           1943–1944      5,000,000

Independent India

Bihar famine of 1966-67         1966–1977   Unknown

Winston Churchill blamed for 1m deaths in India famine

Sir Winston Churchill may be one of Britain’s greatest wartime leaders, but in India he has been blamed for allowing more than a million people to die of starvation.

Dean Nelson in New Delhi

According to a new book on the famine, Sir Winston ignored pleas for emergency food aid for millions in Bengal left to starve as their rice paddies were turned over to jute for sandbag production and supplies of rice from Burma stopped after Japanese occupation.

Between one and three million died of hunger in 1943.

The wartime leader said Britain could not spare the ships to transport emergency supplies as the streets of Calcutta filled with emaciated villagers from the surrounding countryside, but author Madhusree Mukerjee has unearthed new documents which challenge his claim.

In her book, Churchill’s Secret War, she cites ministry records and personal papers which reveal ships carrying cereals from Australia were bypassed India on their way to the Mediterranean where supplies were already abundant.

“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,” the author said.

“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,” she added.

The man-made famine and the contrast between the plight of starving Indians and well-fed British officers dining in the city’s many colonial clubs has been described as one of the darkest chapters in British rule on the Indian subcontinent.

Miss Mukerjee blames Churchill’s ‘racism’ for his refusal to intervene.

He derided Gandhi as a “half-naked holy man” and once said: “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.”

He was known to favour Islam over Hinduism.

“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 Miss Mukerjee.