Elitism, Racism, Mental superiority- all this led to the formation of the ideology dubbed as ‘White Man’s Burden’. Another phrase used to denote the might of the empire was- The sun never sets on the British Empire. This is what the imperialists propagated about themselves in their colonies, one of them being India. One of those who thought this way was Winston Churchill, who once called Indians as those of low calibre and men of straw.
Well, you might be thinking that these are things of the past and have nothing to do today, as Britain is no more a colonial power and India is mighty like never before, building a new world order of its own.
I apologize, but you are mistaken. Britain, no matter, is reeling under an economic crisis, is still meddling with internal affairs of other nations. You see, old habits die hard. The documentary disseminated by the state-sponsored propaganda portal of the UK, the British Broadcasting Corporation, lies in deposition for the same. Now, filmmaker Shehkar Kapoor has questioned if Churchill’s life too could be documented by the BBC, and today it’s crucial to talk about it.
PM Modi, BBC documentary and Winston Churchill
“I wonder if the BBC has even had the courage to tell the truth about one of Britain’s most cherished icons Winston Churchill. Largely responsible for the Bengal Famine, causing starvation and death of millions. The first person to drop chemical bombs on those ‘tribals’ the Kurds,” This is the statement of Kapoor.
Well, for Kapoor and all those having the question, Yes, the BBC has done a few articles on Churchill, including “Winston Churchill: Hero or Villain?” and another one being, “Churchill legacy leaves Indian’s questioning his hero status.” Well, BBC will still take some time to blame Churchill for his deeds, or it may never do so, as bringing the truth out is not BBC’s business. So, who was Churchill?
Winston Churchill or Sir Winston Leonard Churchill, is hailed as one of the greatest leaders Britain ever had. He is referred to as a statesman who contributed to saving the people of Britain from Hitler. Churchill led Britain as its Prime Minister for two terms, from 1940-45 and 1951-55. He is said to have rallied the British along with the colonies during World War II and led the Allied powers from the brink of defeat to victory.
If we look onto the other side, Churchill comes across as a person who is responsible for the death of over three million people, more than six times the British Empire’s casualties in the war.
Winston Churchill: The murderer of millions
While the Indian soldiers were dying fighting for the Allied powers in a war that wasn’t ours, Indians back home were starved to death by the policies of the British in the Bengal Famine. The Bengal famine of 1943 was the only disaster of modern history which did not occur as a result of drought and floods. Instead, it was manufactured by the Winston Churchill-era British policies. The Bengal famine is said to be caused by policy failure instead of monsoon failure, suggested a report by The Guardian.
In the years preceding 1943, food supplies to Bengal were reduced due to natural disasters, due to infection in crops and fall of Burma, then a major source of rice to Bengal. Despite this, Winston Churchill kept on the exhaustive use of Indian resources for the war. While India was already affected, rice continued to leave India and at the same time London kept denying urgent requests from India requesting 1million tonnes of wheat for months.
This was done citing that sending food to India would reduce stockpiles in the UK and take ships away from the war effort. During one government discussion about famine relief, Secretary of State for India Leopold Amery recorded that Churchill suggested any aid sent would be insufficient because of “Indian breeding like rabbits”. Winston Churchill had also asked that if shortages were so bad, how is Gandhi still alive?
Let’s have a look at some data. We all know that the British extracted millions and trillions worth of goods and money from India and built domestic infrastructure. As colonial extraction intensified India’s per capita consumption of food grains collapsed from 210 kilograms per year in the early 1900s down to 157 kilograms by 1930.
This nutritional decline further steeped when the British decided to impose indirect taxes on India through deliberate inflationary policies. This helped in their military expenditure. The prices soared and ordinary people were pushed deeper into the dark hole of poverty, malnutrition and slavery.
English texts may revere Winston Churchill as an author or a statesman or someone who halted Hitler. But for Indians he was a man who engineered famines, which caused millions of deaths. Now, it’s the time India takes its history, in its own words, to the world.
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