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‘Indians are a beastly people with a beastly religion’: The racism of British ‘hero’ Winston Churchill

When the Indian Viceroy requested for 1 million tonnes of emergency wheat supply in 1942-43 on account of the famine, Winston Churchill blamed the famine on the fertility rates of the Indians.

A statue of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was vandalised by Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters on Sunday. The ‘activists’ spray-painted the word ‘racist on the statue in Westminster. Sympathisers of the wartime British Prime Minister were shocked by the act and they interpreted it as further evidence of the moral depravity of the protesters.

While those in the West would not want to admit it, for obvious reasons, Winston Churchill was a racist of the highest order. He told the Palestine Royal Commission in 1937, “I do not admit… that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia… by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race… has come in and taken its place.”

However, the most racist, infamous of the deeds of Winston Churchill concern his actions which directly culminated into the Bengal Famine in the 1940s. His actions, which involved exporting rice out of India even as Bengal was struggling with famine, directly contributed to the death of an estimated 3 million people.

The United Kingdom also adopted a ‘denial policy’ in India which involved confiscating great quantities of rice and thousands of boats so as to prevent the Japanese from having adequate resources should they invade India in the future. He was warned repeatedly that continuing to export rice out of India could result in food shortages in the country, however, Britain continued exporting rice out of India to elsewhere in the world to sustain its war efforts.

When the Indian Viceroy requested for 1 million tonnes of emergency wheat supply in 1942-43 on account of the famine, Winston Churchill blamed the famine on the fertility rates of the Indians. He said, “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion. The famine was their own fault for breeding like rabbits.”

Shashi Tharoor, who for reasons unknown to us, is the only Congress leader allowed to speak his mind, has critiqued the British hero in the harshest of words. At an event for the launch of his book, Tharoor said of Winston Churchill, “This is the man who the British insist on hailing as some apostle of freedom and democracy. When to my mind he is really one of the more evil rulers of the 20th century only fit to stand in the company of the likes of Hitler, Mao and Stalin”.

“Not only did the British pursue its own policy of not helping the victims of this famine which was created by their policies. Churchill persisted in exporting grain to Europe, not to feed actual ‘Sturdy Tommies’, to use his phrase, but add to the buffer stocks that were being piled up in the event of a future invasion of Greece and Yugoslavia”.

“Ships laden with wheat were coming in from Australia docking in Calcutta and were instructed by Churchill not to disembark their cargo but sail on to Europe,” he added. “And when conscience-stricken British officials wrote to the Prime Minister in London pointing out that his policies were causing needless loss of life all he could do was write peevishly in the margin of the report, ‘Why hasn’t Gandhi died yet?'”

As a consequence of the actions of Winston Churchill, millions were starved to death in India during the Bengal famine and the resultant spread of diseases such as malaria and cholera. There was great social disruption which changed the landscape of Bengal completely. Thus, considering all of this and his statements, it is an indisputable fact that Winston Churchill was indeed a racist and claiming that he wasn’t is sheer denial.

A contemporary source cited in Historian Sugata Bose’s paper on the matter described Bengal in those days in the following words: “Bengal is a vast cremation ground, a meeting place for ghosts and evil spirits, a land so overrun by dogs, jackals and vultures that it makes one wonder whether the Bengalis arc really alive or have become ghosts from some distant epoch. And yet in the imaginative words of the poet, golden Bengal was once ‘well-watered, fruitful, abundant with crops.'”

The death toll was so high that the disposal of the corpses became a matter of grave concern. Sanitation plummeted and people had no clothes to wear either. Women committed suicide because they had no clothes to protect their dignity. Some came out of their rooms only when it was their turn to wear a single piece of clothing that was to be shared by all the women in a family.

It was one of the darkest phases of the History of Bengal. And this dark phase was fuelled by the evil policies of Winston Churchill that were a consequence of the hatred he bore towards Indians. Therefore, to claim that he was not racist just because he opposed Adolf Hitler is to remain in denial of the obvious. An opposition towards Nazi Germany is not a sufficient condition to declare someone a hero. Stalin killed million as well and yet, no sensible person denies that he was a genocidal maniac.

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OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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