artificial famines

Reply Fri 3 Mar, 2006 03:47 am

By Sutapas

People in story: Mr Surendra Nath Bhattacharya
Location of story: Calcutta India
Unit name: Royal Indian Navy
Background to story: Royal Navy
Both my late father (then in his early twenties) and my mother (then a child) recall vividly one thing from the 1939-45 war into which India was dragged by the British. It was the flood of starving refugees pouring into Calcutta (which until 1911 had been capital of British India) from East Bengal (now Bangladesh) due to the artificial famine created by the British which we now know killed 3 million people. What was different from earlier influxes of refugees was the sheer desperation of these starving people, they did not beg for rice but for fanna, the wastewater from the ricepan! This memory was etched indelibly into both of my parents' minds and I heard stories from my uncles and others about it such as the story of the father who bought a Jackfruit with his last few "pennies" to give to his children before sneaking off to abandon them to death.
Amartya Sen (Master of Trinity College Cambridge) also remembers this episode from his childhood and says it was responsible for his decision to study economics and the cause of famines. The 1942-43 Bengal Famine occurred in spite of a good harvest in Bengal and surplus grain stocks in other parts of India. The British exported the grain, pushing up prices and leaving the peasantry to starve. A British policy of destroying boats in case the Japanese invaded stopped villagers travelling to trade for food exacerbating things. The British lied about their policies claiming that grain was not being exported and massively downsizing the death toll, pretending that there was no famine. It was only when the British owned Statesman newspaper broke the silence that they had to acknowledge it and Lord Wavell was brought in to do something. He started bringing in surplus grain from other parts of India but this was, at first just piled up in the Botanical Gardens in Calcutta and not distributed to the starving. Indian protesters piled up dead bodies of refugees outside the gardens.
Later the British tried to suppress the facts about this British-inflicted holocaust in India, occurring simultaneously with the German-inflicted genocide in Europe, as shown in the 1997 Channel 4 Secret History programme The Forgotten Famine.
Indeed, this was not the first British-inflicted famine holocaust in British-ruled India. In 1901, The Lancet estimated conservatively that 19 million Indians had died in Western India during the drought famine of the 1890s. The death toll was so high because of the British policy of refusal to intervene and implement famine relief (unlike the anti-profiteering measures etc. taken by the Mughals and Marathas during famines) as detailed by American historian Mike Davis in his Late Victorian Holocausts. Similarly in the 1870s some 17 million or so Indians dies in the Deccan and South India due to the "let them starve" policies encouraged by Lord Lytton and other British rulers. Indeed, whilst millions starved in 1876, the British held the biggest feast in human history in Delhi, the Delhi Durbar to celebrate Victoria becoming Empress, feeding 70,000 Britishers and Indian princelings for a week. In 1901 when people called for famine relief, the London government urged Delhi to contribute to the Boer war instead of famine relief but had no objection to the huge expense of the Victoria Memorial in Calcutta.
Thus it comes as little surprise that Hitler's favourite film was The Lives of a Bengal Lancer and that he wrote in Mein Kampf that Ukraine should be Germany's "India". The policies of racially motivated colonial exploitation which were taken to the extreme by the Nazis were in part inspired by the policies of the British in India as witnessed by my parents a few years before the British left. Indeed, soon after the British conquest of Bengal in 1757, British policies led to the Great Bengal Famine of 1770 where, in certain regions up to a third of the population died. India has not suffered from a serious famine since the British left!!

(so much for the pom claim that india was actually better off during their misrule)
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Reply Fri 3 Mar, 2006 04:04 pm
the British considered Indians sub-humans the same way the Irish were considered when famine struck Ireland. Many of the Irish went to North America i.e. New York, Boston, Quebec (Canada). But it is history and no use in dredging up the past unless to level the morality field which is a good place to start.
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Reply Sat 4 Mar, 2006 11:12 am
i know about the british contempt towards all and sundry. i also know well about the canards they spew to cover up their many, many crimes on humanity, crimes which could easily make hitler seem like a saint.

and i know about the the special connection that the irish have with indians when it came to countering the poms. (aside of the other special connection that the irish have with indians - http://www.atributetohinduism.com/articles_hinduism/258.htm )

but let me not digress. the following is a link that has a lot of info about the 200 year old misrule in india.


and here's an exerpt that discusses the many attrocious techniques they used for subjugating indians. i'll post about artificially engineered famines shortly.

British Sources Confirm Atrocities against Indians

"With the disappearance of the native Court, trade languishes, the
Capital decays and the people are impoverished. The Englishman
flourishes and acts like a sponge, drawing up the riches from the
banks of the Ganges and squeezing them down upon the banks of the
Thames."1850s British Writer and Traveler John Sullivan

A Report By Vrin Parker (VP Vedic Friends Association)

The following is from the book Rani of Jhansi-LAKSHMI BAI by E. Paul
and published by Lotus Collection Roli books. In this book are
authentic quotes from British authors and witnesses to the many
massacres carried out by the British in mid 19th century India. These
incidents are not denied they are just ignored. The fact is the world
has yet to come to terms with the horrific record of the British
Empire. Whether it's the infamous tea-clippers that were really opium
runners or the intentional distribution of small pox infected
blankets to the Red Indians, and many other crimes against humanity
too numerous to mention here, the British record is horrific. There
are those who will try to deny any connection between this and the
ongoing Vedic renaissance. The fact is a correct understanding of the
brutish British record allows one to differentiate between fact and
fiction. To this day India and Hinduism in particular, is burdened by
many false accusations. If we can understand that much of this burden
has been artificially imposed upon Indian society by the policies and
actions of the British administration we will able to understand the
trauma of modern India. Even on the economic level we find that
before British rule, India was responsible for nearly a 3rd of world
trade output. Agriculturally, India was a bountiful bread basket.
However the British enforced the growing of crops such as cotton,
tea, opium etc. and thus nearly destroyed India's natural
agricultural rhythm and self sufficiency. Only now, starting in the
year 2001 has India been able to catch up and become the agricultural
power house it had been throughout history.

All through history, India has been recognized as a land of plenty, a
realm overflowing with fabulous wealth. That is one of the reasons
conquerors such as Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar tried to
reach India. It was Cleopatra's supposed knowledge of a route to
India that first attracted Caesar to her. India has always been a
target for trade, conquest and knowledge. Again it was Columbus's
belief that he could reach India that led to the European discovery
of the Americas. Scholars of today are loath to admit this and will
use terms such as "Columbus's search for the Indies etc." Actually he
was trying to reach INDIA, the same India the Portuguese had reached
earlier under Vasco de Gama. The fact is, the British stripped India
of its wealth, massacred its people and set up a strategy that has
now placed the world on a path towards Armageddon. Pakistan, a
British-Saudi-US creation, is the legacy of the British Empire and a
kind of poison apple now stuck in the throat of the world.

The sooner we can expose the British record; the sooner humanity
will be able to unravel the hell we have inherited. Whether it's
Israel/Palestine, India/Pakistan, Iraq/Kuwait, Greek/Turk Cypriots,
N. Ireland Catholic/Protestant or Zimbabwe/Rhodesia, the world has
been burdened by the policies of the British. We can also thank the
British for the ongoing violence of Afghanistan. Current events in
Afghanistan are rooted in the "Great Game" of Empire played out
between the British and Russian Empires during the 1800s. It was the
British who built up the Japanese military as a deterrent to Russia.
The Japanese then went on to massacre thousands of Chinese, Koreans
and others. Rather than the British, it was thousands of young
Americans who died in the effort to contain the Japanese
Imperialists. On the intellectual and academic level, again we find
that some of history's most barbaric philosophies found their genesis
within British Imperial circles. The Eugenics movement and the Aryan
Racial concept were both British creations. The atrocities committed
by the Nazis have a direct connection to the policies and philosophy
of the British Imperialists.

Through knowledge of the history of a problem, society can find just
solutions. As the physician is empowered by the knowledge of a
patient's history, in the same way, knowledge of the past will
empower society to overcome the burdens of the past.

It is also important to recognize that it is the policy of the
British elite that is to be condemned and not the British people. No
race or nation has a monopoly on nobility or inhumanity. But the
record of the British in India has never been clearly and accurately
presented. Any true student or researcher of history would demand to
know the facts as they were. It is in this spirit that I share this
information. Below is some information on the acts of the British in
India during the late 1850s. Vrin Parker March 23, 2004


"In May 1857, Colonel James Neil, a Scotsman, arrived in Benares with
the 1st Madras European Fusiliers and unleashed the most hideous
terror in the province. Colonel Neil's "hangings" became notorious
and are described thus and quoted in M. Edwards' book Red Year:
"Volunteer hanging parties went out into the districts and amateur
executioners were not wanting to the occasion. One gentleman
(original word used by British author) boasted of the numbers he had
finished off in an artistic manner with mango trees for gibbets and
elephants for drops, the victims of this wild justice being strung
up, as though for pastime, in the form of a figure eight."

Neil next moved to Allahabad and the town was bombarded and
set on fire. As the inhabitants tried to escape, they were mowed down
by grapeshot. The surrounding villages were attacked and set on fire,
while European British troops ringed the villages and anyone who
tried to escape the fire was shot down.

In a few months Colonel Neil was promoted to the rank of
General. But he got his just deserts when he was ambushed by the
Sipahis (Sepoys) in the streets of Lucknow and shot through the head.
Queen Victoria awarded Neil a posthumous knighthood and his praises
were sung by many British writers.

There were hundreds of others as diabolical as Neil,
massacring old men and helpless women. The British were bent on
paying off scores making up for one British life by killing fifty
Indians. To kill an Indian became the "Best Sport". Thousands
perished at Varanasi (Benares) and "their corpses hanging from branch
and signpost all over town….For three months did eight dead carts
daily go their rounds from sunrise to sunset to take down the corpses
which hung at the crossroads and marketplaces poisoning the air of
the city and to throw their loathsome burdens into the Ganges," wrote
Bholanath Chander in the Travels of a Hindu.

One of the most gruesome punishments adopted by the British
was the blowing away of rebels from the mouths of cannons. The victim
was lashed to a cannon, the small of his back or the pit of his
stomach against a muzzle and then, "he was smeared with the blood of
the Englishmen murdered by the rebels." When the gun was fired, the
head of the victim, hardly disfigured, would fly through the smoke
and then fall to the ground slightly blackened, followed by the arms
and leg, which would also only be partially mutilated. The trunk
would, of course, be shattered giving off a "beastly smell" and
pieces of flesh and intestines and blood would fall on the gunners
and the eager spectators who had ventured too close. The vultures
flying above would, with amazing skill, snap up the bits of flesh in
their beaks.

An eyewitness account of this punishment quoted by Sir John
Smythe from the History of the 86th regiment, British Infantry, is
worth reproducing here….
"It was indeed a fearful sight. The square was formed on
three sides, the fourth being occupied by the artillery with a field
piece which was about to blow the poor wretch to eternity. I must
confess I felt a shiver of horror when I beheld the doomed man
approach. He was a splendid looking fellow, the perfect cut of a
Hindoo high-caste soldier. He stepped firmly and resolutely as if on
a parade, not a shake or shiver of his limbs, not a trace of emotion
on his countenance denoting the slightest fear of the frightful fate
he was about to encounter. He did not appear to be more than twenty-
five years of age. He placed himself composedly before the gun to
which he was fastened. Although perfectly aware that he might expect
the word "Fire" that would blow him into a thousand pieces, his face
never altered, but a slight sneer might be traced on his upper lip.
It was a moment of horror to all, and when the word "Fire" was given
it was almost a relief. We heard a dull "thud", a Scotch word more
expressive than any English one I could give, and after a second or
two, the remains of the Hindoo soldier were falling to the ground
like large hailstones, and particles of bone and muscle struck my
officer and men who were stationed behind the gun. There was dead

(Note: The above incidents took place after the war of 1857 had
begun, the incidents below preceded the outbreak of war)

…What further fuelled the people's hatred for the British was their
worsening economic situation. The administrative setup of the
Maharaja of Jhansi was dismantled by the British as a result of which
several people became unemployed. Many landowners suffered and some
were dispossessed of their land. British Major Erskine, the
commissioner of Sagar and Narbada territories, also ordered that all
land granted by the Rani of Jhansi must be confiscated. The Jhansi
army had already been disbanded and the soldiers were unemployed. The
cumulative effect of all these measures was that the purchasing power
of the elite declined and the economy of Jhansi suffered, adding to
the woes of the people. D.B.Parasnis in his book Jhansi ki Rani, 1894
quotes John Sullivan who wrote, "With the disappearance of the native
Court, trade languishes, the Capital decays and the people are
impoverished. The Englishman flourishes and acts like a sponge,
drawing up the riches from the banks of the Ganges and squeezing them
down upon the banks of the Thames (river in London)."

Another measure which was particularly galling to the Rani of
Jhansi, as to all Hindus, was the introduction of cow slaughter to
Jhansi. In all Hindu states of the country, cow slaughter was
strictly prohibited and the introduction of this in Jhansi showed
total British disregard of the religious sentiments of the people.
Further offense was given to the Rani and the people by the British
measures relating to the beautiful Mahalakshmi temple. This temple,
built beside a lake on the outskirts of the city, was a place of
worship for a majority of Jhansi inhabitants. The Rani also
worshipped there regularly. The former Maharaja had granted two
villages in perpetuity two villages to this temple and the revenues
were used for its upkeep. The British ruled that these two villages
must be resumed along with the rest of the State of Jhansi. This
would have dire consequences for the temple. The Rani's protests were
in vain. Already there were sinister rumours among the people all
over north and central India that both Hindus and Muslims were being
forcibly converted to Christianity. In Jhansi, the measures against
the temple and introduction of cow slaughter fanned this widespread

In the case of Nagpur, where the Bhonsle family had ruled,
the British annexation was implemented in a way which gave great
offense to public feeling. Despite the protests of the ladies of the
royal household, the elephants, the horses and even the bullocks were
sold off to cattle dealers at the price of carrion. The furniture was
removed from the palace and these, along with the jewels of the
Bhonsle family, were sent for sale to the Calcutta market. These
actions created a worse impression on the surrounding provinces than
the British seizure of the kingdom itself.

It was during the time of Lord Dalhousie was Governor-General
(1847-56) that a stupendous growth took place in the British
territory in India. Dalhousie annexed several Indian States under the
policy of lapse, whereby on the failure to produce natural heirs, the
sovereignty of the `dependent' states lapsed to the British
government. It also did not acknowledge the right of those states to
adopt heirs, which had been a long standing practice among Hindus,
without the consent of British authorities. Consequently, whenever a
ruler died without a natural heir, the British got an opportunity for
territorial aggrandizement.

S.N. Sen, the historian, has offered the provocative
assessment of the impact of Dalhousie's policy. In his view,
annexation contributed unwittingly to the political unification of
India and thus became the foundation of the modern Indian nation.
Dalhousie's policy led to a strong sense of insecurity and injustice
among the rulers of various Indian states. Many discontented princes,
expropriated landlords and their followers and retainers were thus
driven to join the revolt against British rule. Dalhousie left India
a year before the 1857 war broke out, ravaged by disease, and died a
few years later at the early age of forty-seven. After the outbreak
of hostilities, he was bitterly criticized in Britain for his
policies, particularly the policy of lapse. As a result he stopped
keeping copies of his private correspondence and forbade publication
of his private papers until fifty years after his death. Ironically
Dalhousie had no sons and his own titles became extinct on his death.
It would seem that even the Gods disapproved of his policy.

These and other British policies led to the cause of India's
1857 War for Independence. The British, to this day, try to portray
the whole affair as simply a mutiny. However the fact that the
British went on a massive genocidal campaign and massacred thousands
of non-combatants proves they recognized the true nature of the
struggle. In a mutiny only the mutineers are targeted. However wars
of liberation are national efforts that encompass all members of a
community. Thus the British targeted all members of the community in
their drive to strike fear and terror into the hearts and minds of
one and all.

Another crucial point to recognize is that the 1857 struggle
was a united effort. Whether Hindu or Muslim, they all saw themselves
as Indians and worked together to liberate India from the British.
When the Indian Sepoys in the British army rebelled they issued a
proclamation, "The people are God's, the country is the King's and
the two religions Govern." In other words, all are children of God;
it didn't matter if God was called Allah or Rama. All, Hindu and
Muslim both, agreed to accept the Moghul Emperor, Bhahadur Shah as
Sovereign and to recognize both Hindu and Islam as the official State
religions. It was this spirit of unity that was destroyed by the
British in the years following the 1857 war. It was the result of
this policy that led to the creation of Pakistan. When it was
created in 1947, 30% of its citizens were Hindus. Within a few years,
the Hindu population dropped to 3%. On the other hand, India
maintained its tradition of inclusiveness without regard for
religious identity. Thus, today, modern India has more Muslim
citizens than even Pakistan and has the world's second largest Muslim
population. While not one Muslim nation has had a Hindu in its
government, India has had four Muslim Presidents. The Hindu
perception of Nationality encompasses all of its citizens. Hindu
Civilization recognizes all of its citizens to be Indians. All are
accepted regardless of religion, race, social status, caste or

(Note: The incidents below took place after the British
falsely accused the Rani of Jhansi of massacring British citizens and
after the outbreak of the 1857 War of Indian Independence. It took
nearly two weeks for the British to storm Jhansi. Even then they only
succeeded with the help of a traitor, Dulaji Thakar. The British
later awarded him an estate for his betrayal of Jhansi.)


Halwaipura, an elegant locality, where the Sardars and other wealthy
people lived, had been looted by the British soldiers and then set on
fire. Men, women and children in their hundreds were burnt to death.
Shrieks of agony, crying and wailing could be heard in the fort along
with the sounds of fighting, shooting and pillaging….

Heavy street fighting continued in Jhansi for two whole days. No
quarter was given even to women and children. Those who could not
escape threw their women and babes down wells, and then jumped down
themselves. The British were not just intent on capturing Jhansi but
on destroying the people-they were out for revenge. "No maudlin
clemency was to mark the fall of the city," wrote British Dr
Lowe. "The Jezebel of India was there, the young, energetic, proud,
unbending, uncompromising Rani."

Looting and massacre were freely allowed. British soldiers dived into
every house and searched its dark corners and pulled down walls. All
gold and silver articles were taken, even the deities of Gods from
temples. They pulled jewelry off women's ears and necks. One Indian
eyewitness, Vishnu Godse, a Brahmin priest, described how one band of
British soldiers would descend on a house and the inmates, in fear of
their lives, would hand over all their valuables, but along would
come a second band and not finding anything of value, would put them
to the sword anyway.

After the fall of Jhansi to the British, it was the turn of the
inhabitants of this city to be put through the horror of wholesale
slaughter and looting. English writers have maintained a discreet
silence about this and the only one person to have mildly suggested
that there was looting was the assistant surgeon accompanying British
troops, Dr. J.H. Sylvester. "So as soon as the fighting had ceased,
officers and men began to look about them with that spirit of
curiosity. They dived into every house and searched its dark corners
and pulled down walls, all in this self same spirit of curiosity…not
to loot of course. One class of articles, however, seemed to me to be
looked on as fair loot by even the most scrupulous, these were the
gods found in temples."

Vishnu Godse, who went through the nightmare of the killing and
looting by the British in Jhansi, has painted a grim
picture: "Everyone thought they were standing at the edge of the
graveyard." He asked his host, "How are we going to save ourselves
from being massacred?" His host Keshav Bhat told him not to worry as
in a nearby haveli (mansion), there were bakhars or recesses built
into the thick walls where no one would find them. These recesses
were dark and stifling but that was where they must hide. That night
Godse looked at the city from the roof-top and the whole of Jhansi
looked like a cremation ground with the fires blazing everywhere. In
the light of these fires he would see people in the streets crying
pitifully and hugging the corpses of their loved ones. In Halwaipura,
the elegant havelis of the rich were on fire, the flames leaping to
the skies. There was no way they could be extinguished and the fires
were spreading from one house to the next. "That night, says
Godse, "the gunfire was incessant. I could not sleep; I lay
trembling, my mouth and throat dry."

The next day, Godse and his hosts fled their home and crept to their
hiding place. When they got there it was crammed with people and they
forced their way in. Vishnu Godse, with a tinge of humor says that
the niche in which he took shelter was very small and he was squeezed
against a couple of attractive young women for several hours but not
one carnal thought entered his mind, He could only visualize the
horror outside.

In three days of looting, the white soldiers had emptied the houses
of all valuables: gold, silver and gems. After that came the Indian
contingents of Madras and Hyderabad and they made off with brass and
copper vessels, clothes and even grain stored in houses. On the
eighth day an amnesty was declared. It was the month of April and it
was hot. Hundreds of dead bodies lay rotting in the streets and a
loathsome stench pervaded the city.

The main royal palace of Jhansi had the accumulated wealth of several
generations of Maharajas. The British denuded it of all its
treasures, the Panna diamonds and other gems, the priceless carpets
and miniature paintings and other artifacts. The greatest loss was
the library. This had been damaged in the bombardment but many
manuscripts and books could have been saved. But now the European
soldiers attracted by the rich and beautiful cases and silk bindings
in which the manuscripts were kept, tore out the pages and took away
the cases. These books were irreplaceable and Indian writer Parasnis
says this wanton destruction was worse than the ancient depredation
of the Mongols. The library had been founded by the Rani's late
husband, Maharaja Gangadhar Rao, who had obtained rare manuscripts in
Sanskrit, Hindi and Marathi from centres of learning in North India
as well as the Deccan. The Rani continued this splendid institution
and helped to increase its collection. Unfortunately, the library was
destroyed during the British bombardment and the world is the poorer
for it.

The loot from the royal palace of Jhansi, the horses and elephants
and other treasures, were auctioned by the British. Scindia of
Gwalior, a British ally, delightfully snapped up most of the prize
animals and other precious items from the palace.

By Sep 22 1857, Delhi had been reoccupied. Delhi then suffered its
reign of terror. There was no sanctity of life or property. The
innocent suffered along with the rebel-they were shot and strung up
on gibbets; the revenge was bloody and cruel. Ghalib, the great poet
wrote, "Here is a vast ocean of blood before me. God alone knows what
more I have to behold….thousands of my friends are dead. Whom should
I remember and to whom should I complain? Perhaps none is left even
to shed tears on my grave." The Moghul Emperor Bahadur Shah was made
a prisoner and his three sons were killed although they had
surrendered on the condition that their safety would be guaranteed.
Twenty one other princes of the royal family were hanged. The three
sons were killed in cold blood after putting their faith in British
honor. The Emperor was tried in court and banished to Rangoon, Burma
where he died a few years later, far from his home and his family,
unhonoured and unsung.End Quotes from the book, Rani of Jhansi-
Lakshmi Bai.

Some have tried to whitewash the British actions as an example
of `collateral damage' frequently sustained in combat conditions.
They highlight atrocities committed by Indians and completely ignore
the fact that these acts were generally carried out by individuals
and groups acting independently. Whereas the British atrocities were
part of official State policy the Indian atrocities had no official
sanction. Some have even suggested that the Rani of Jhansi, Lakshmi
Bai, was implicated in the massacre of British women and children. We
only need to read a letter to Damodar Rao, the adopted son of the
Rani of Jhansi, written by T.A. Martin, one of the Englishmen at
Jhansi who managed to escape the massacre. Martin wrote the letter in

It says, "Your poor mother was very unjustly and cruelly
dealt with and no one knows her true case as I do. The poor thing
took no part whatever in the massacre of the European residents of
Jhansi in June 1857. On the contrary, she supplied them with food for
two day after they had gone into the fort, got one hundred matchlock
men from Kurrura, and sent them to assist us. But after being kept a
day in the fort they were sent away in the evening. She then advised
Major Skeene and Captain Gordon to fly at once to Duttia and place
themselves under the Raja's protection-but this even they would not
do-and finally, they were all massacred by our own troops-the police,
jail and customs etc. (all in the employ of the British.) How could
the poor Rani have succoured them?"

Sir Robert Hamilton, an Agent of the Governor-General for
central India had met the Rani on several occasions. He says, "Not a
paper incriminating the Ranee did I find nor did there appear any
evidence that she desired or was privy to the murder of any
Europeans….the English were induced to leave the fort (and thus
massacred) by the persuasion of the Darogah (warden) of the jail and
by a Rissaldar of the Irregulars. The Ranee was not present nor any
man on her behalf."

General Sir Hugh Rose, the leader of the Jhansi campaign had this to
say about Lakshmi Bai, the Rani of Jhansi. "The most important result
was the death of the Ranee of Jhansi who although a lady, was the
bravest and best military commander of the rebels."

Yamuna Sheorey, a grand-daughter of the Rani's uncle gives the
following account on the death of the Rani. "The Rani had already
donned her red soldier's uniform. The bombardment from the British
cannons began. The Rani mounted her steed and plunged into battle. As
the hand to hand fighting developed, a white soldier lunged at the
Rani with his bayonet and pierced her below the chest. She turned
like a lioness and struck the man down. She saw her companion, Mundar
Bai, killed by a bullet. Another bullet hit the Rani on her left
thigh. She dropped the sword in her left hand and pressed the wound
and with the second sword in her right hand slashed and hit a
soldier. A third assailant struck the Rani on the head with his
sword, cutting the right side of her face and eye wounding her
mortally. Her followers valiantly extracted her from the battle and
carried her to the hut of Baba Ganga Das and the Sadhu put Ganges
water in her mouth. She was heard to mutter, `Har Har Mahadev' before
passing into eternal sleep. A funeral was hurriedly made up of dry
grass and her wish that her body not fall into British hands was

British Military Secretary to the Commander in Chief in India, Sir
O.T. Burne wrote in his book Clyde and Strathnairn, published in
1891, "This Indian Joan of Arc was dressed in a rd jacket and
trousers and a white turban. She wore Scindia's celebrated pearl
necklace she had taken from his treasury. As she lay mortally
wounded, she ordered these ornaments to be distributed among her
troops. The whole rebel army mourned her loss."

Let me conclude by offering a couple glimpses from the life of Queen
Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi. The first incident took place at the beginning
of her reign and the other on the eve of her final battle.

"Twice a week, the Rani and her son, Damodar, went in procession to
the Mahalakshmi temple, with its lake filled with lotus flowers. The
procession was an impressive one and wound through the main streets
of the city. Sometimes she went on horseback and at other times in a
palanquin decorated with curtains and gold brocade. Her ministers,
feudatories, and other officials mounted on horses accompanied her.
At the head of the procession were a drummer and a flag bearer while
the rear was taken up by a mounted escort of soldiers in Maratha
uniforms. A further touch of glamour was added by her beautifully
attired handmaidens who walked alongside her palanquin. If it became
dark men baring flaming torches lit the way. At the palace gates, the
melodious notes of the shenai greeted her return.
One cold wintry evening, while returning from the temple, she saw the
poor of the town in coarse cotton garments huddling around hastily
built fires in the by lanes of the city. She got down from her
palanquin and asked them all to come to her palace in four days time.
All the tailors of the town were kept very busy for those four days.
When the poor in their hundreds gathered in front of the palaces,
every one of them was handed over a woolen jacket, cap and a blanket."

"…as a morale-boosting measure, she decided to make the annual
ceremony of Haldi Kunku into a far more brilliant function than
usual. As this ceremony is only for women, Lakshmi Bai invited most
of the women of Jhansi from all walks of life, caste and creed, Hindu
and Muslim alike. The wives of the noblemen and officials arrived in
richly hung palanquins with liveried attendants whilst the majority
walked to the palace. An image of Goddess Gauri adorned with diamond
jewelry was installed and the Durbar Hall of the palace was
resplendent with brocade curtains, rich carpets, fragrant flowers and
brilliantly lit chandeliers. One hundred handmaidens were in
attendance passing around silver trays laden with sweetmeats, haldi
kunku, sandalwood paste and flowers. The function continued from two
in the afternoon to nine at night. The women were dressed in
shimmering silk saris or brocade lenghas and cholis and gorgeous
jewelry. The function achieved its objective of restoring confidence,
as the women, on returning home, talked of her warm hospitality and
her determination to win the forthcoming battle."
0 Replies
Reply Sat 4 Mar, 2006 11:13 am


History is written by those who win a war and not by the losers. No wonder, the history of Second World War is written by British and American authors. We are told that the war was necessary to eliminate the evil of Nazism and Hitler from the earth. Nazism and Hitler are painted as devils because they killed six million Jews (a figure put out by British and Jew historians and disputed by many).

The last chapter in the history of Second World War was written in early October 1945 at the famous Nuremberg trial, when the four prosecuting nations -- the United States, Great Britain, France and Russia -- issued an indictment against 24 men and six organizations. The individual defendants were charged with the systematic murder of millions of people.

Sixty years after the end of the war, time has come to reopen the case and institute a fresh Nuremberg trial - this time against one of the prosecuting nations -- Great Britain -- for systematic and intentional murder of millions of people. This genocide was not confined to the Second World War. In fact, only its last episode was played out during the war. The ghastly genocide, which used hunger and starvation as tools, lasted for about eighteen decades and was carried out in Bengal, India (at present Bengal is partly in India and partly in Bangladesh) by the British colonial masters claiming about thirty million victims.

It started in 1770 with a big bang, when approximately one third of the total population of Bengal died because of a drought. About 10 million people died! East India Company, which had occupied the country five years earlier, did not even once attempt to introduce any measures of aid worth mentioning. British officers in India were happily reporting to their bosses in London about having maximized their profit through trading and export of food. (Incidentally, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, the prophet of Indian nationalism, wrote his celebrated novel "Anandamath" with the battle cry 'Bandemataram' in the context of the agony evoked by the ravages of the famine of 1770.)

It must be mentioned here that Bengal is a land of rivers and most fertile land of Ganges delta. Bengal was a granary of India till British came in. Every village had, and still has, a pond, which has fishes that can feed the village even when there is no rice. It needed British intervention to convert the lush green land of Bengal into famine-starved land.

Bengal had 30 or 40 famines (depending on how one defines famine) during 182 years of British rule in Bengal. There are no reliable accounts of the number of people who dies in these famines. We have only the figures put out by British colonialists. But even given the limited data availability, once can see the barbaric face of British colonialism in India.

The last big famine in Bengal occurred between 1942 and 1945. At least four million people died during these three years. Some scholars believe that the number of dead was much higher (remember that the figure of four million is based on British sources). Notwithstanding the controversy about the number of dead, it is widely accepted that the famine was man-made. Nobel laureate, Amartya Sen, has demonstrated quite convincingly that the famine deaths were caused by British policies and not by drastic slump in food production.

The following facts deserve attention:

a) In May 1942, Burma fell to Japanese. British were afraid that Japanese aided by Indian National Army (led by Subhash Chandra Bose) would invade India from the east. Bose's slogan - Dilli Chalo (Let us go to Delhi) - had struck fear in the hearts of British. The British followed a policy of 'scorched earth'. On one hand, this was to ensure denial of food to invading armies, in case the Japanese decided to march across Bengal. On the other hand, the British wanted to break the will and ability of people of Bengal to rise in rebellion in support of the invaders. It could not be a coincidence that British executed a military police action in October 1942, during which 193 camps and buildings of the Congress Party were destroyed and countless people arrested. Between August 1942 and February 1943, 43 persons were shot by the British occupation police. Additionally, British troops were involved in an unknown number of rapes and lootings of food supplies, among other things.

b) Bengal was overcrowded with refugees as well as with retreating soldiers from various British colonies which were temporarily occupied by the Japanese. In March 1942 alone, around 2,000 to 3,000 British soldiers and civilians arrived every day in Calcutta and Chittagong, and in the month of May, a total of 300,000 were counted. As a result of the massive food purchases by the government, food prices in the countryside skyrocketed.

c) Expecting a Japanese landing in the Gulf of Bengal, the British authorities enacted the so-called "Boat-Denial Scheme" leading to confiscation of all boats and ships in the Gulf of Bengal which could carry more than 10 persons. This resulted in not less than 66,500 confiscated boats. Consequently, the inland navigation system collapsed completely. Fishing became practically impossible, and many rice and jute farmers could not ship their goods anymore. Subsequently the economy collapsed completely, especially in the lower Ganges-Delta.

d) The confiscations of land in connection with military fortifications and constructions (airplane landing places, military and refugee camps) led to the expulsion of about 150,000 to 180,000 people from their land, turning them practically into homeless persons.

e) Food deliveries from other parts of the country to Bengal were refused by the government in order to make food artificially scarce. This was an especially cruel policy introduced in 1942 under the title "Rice Denial Scheme." The purpose of it was, as mentioned earlier, to deny an efficient food supply to the Japanese after a possible invasion. Simultaneously, the government authorized free merchants to purchase rice at any price and to sell it to the government for delivery into governmental food storage. So, on one hand government was buying every grain of rice that was around and on the other hand, it was blocking grain from coming into Bengal from other regions of the country.

f) The blank check of the government (for food purchases) triggered price inflation. As a result, some merchants did not deliver food to the government but hoarded it, hoping for higher profit margins when selling it later. This led to further food shortages on the market and to further price increases.

g) In addition to this inflationary thrust, massive military activities in Bengal were basically financed by overtime of money printing presses. Oversupply of paper money by Government led to a general inflation, which hit the impoverished population in the countryside especially hard.

h) Even though British law in India provided that emergency laws were to be applied in case of famines, the famine in Bengal was never officially recognized as such; an emergency was not declared, and therefore no drastic counter measures were taken for its amelioration. It was not until October of 1943 that the British government took notice of the emergency situation, but it still refused to introduce any supportive measures that would have been necessary.

i) Even though India imported about 1.8 million tons of cereals before the war, Britain made sure that India had an export surplus of rice at record levels in the tax year 1942/43.

j) The bad situation in Bengal was discussed in the British Parliament during a meeting at which only 10% of all members participated. Repeated requests for food imports to India (400 Million people) led to the delivery of approximately half a million tons of cereal in the years 1943 and 1944. In contrast to this was the net import to Great Britain (50 Million people) of 10 million tons in the second half of the year 1943 alone. Churchill repeatedly denied all food exports to India, in spite of the fact that about 2.4 million Indians served in British units during the Second World War.

Given a choice, I would rather die in a gas chamber than die of starvation begging on the streets. Viewed from this perspective, Hitler appears humane and even angelic, while Churchill puts even the devil to shame. The thirty million men, women and children who died slow, painful deaths in the villages of Bengal were not enemies of the British Empire. They had done nothing to deserve the cruel fate. Howsoever much one might disagree with Hitler, at least in his own warped logic, he had a reason to hate Jews. British Government and Churchill did not even have such a fig leaf of distorted logic to justify their cruel barbaric act.

Amartya Sen has used the Bengal famine to justify democracy and run down dictatorships. The fact is that Churchill was democratically elected by British people. After independence, from 1947 till date, East Bengal (presently known as Bangladesh) has been ruled by dictators for many years. Yet, during the past five and a half decades, the number of starvation deaths in East Bengal (or West Bengal) is not even one per cent of the number of people that died of starvation during the half-century before independence. The issue, obviously, is not dictatorship versus democracy.

We are also told that the rulers of Bengal, before the British arrived, were self-centered despots, who did not care about their people's well being and were spoilt by luxury. British take pride in the fact that they brought 'good governance' and 'rule of law' to India, starting from Bengal and spreading to the rest of the country. In spite of all the alleged misrule that the Indian rulers of pre-British era indulged in, there is absolutely no historical account of any major famine in Bengal prior to the arrival of British in Bengal.

Academicians have a tendency to miss the holistic reality when they go hammer and tongs over fine details. Most academic debates about Bengal Famine have missed the most essential aspect - criminal act of the British Government. There is a tendency to study the Bengal famine in terms of parameters, which were internal to Bengal, like food supply, disease history of rice, inflation economics, democracy as a system of governance, weather analysis and many such wonderful terms. All such studies treat the famine as if it was a product of some systemic internal parameters peculiar to Bengal; and all that is needed is to study the parameters with a view to ensure that the same do not recur. This is a wrong premise.

Bengal was a victim of a criminal act perpetrated for more than one and three quarters of a century. British establishment indulged in brutal genocide in Bengal, at times to further their own interests and at other times out of sheer negligence of their duties. In either case, the British Government stands guilty of the worst crime in recent human history.

The Holocaust in Germany was a minor event compared to what the British did to a people, who trusted them and were loyal to them. Nazis have been accused and convicted of the Holocaust in Germany. Even today, there are attempts to hunt down ex-Nazis and bring them to justice. A few weeks ago, a court awarded compensation to a Holocaust victim.

Is it not time that the descendants of the victims of The Great Holocaust of Bengal sought compensation from the present Government of the United Kingdom? Is it possible to initiate a criminal case against Winston Churchill and all those who were in power during 1942-45 (or during 1765-1947) in British Government? Is that too much to ask for?
Do you believe that the systematic murder of six million white-skinned Jews was a crime worthy of punishment, while the killing of thirty million black-skinned people of Bengal does not even deserve a footnote in history?

The least that people of India and Bangladesh can do is to construct a memorial in the memory of millions who died at the hand of a cruel barbaric monster. Let us at least shed a tear for them! Let us at least rewrite the history!
0 Replies
Reply Sun 5 Mar, 2006 05:02 pm
I was reading an Atlas about South America and Christopher Columbus. His 'discovery' of the Americas in his quest to find India led to the conquest of the Americas by the Spanish. As bad as the British were the Spanish slaughtered the natives and stole their gold. Imagine if the Spanish had instead 'discovered' India instead?
0 Replies
Reply Mon 6 Mar, 2006 02:41 am
its not like the iberians didnt at all do their bastardy in india at all -




if the spanish had discovered india instead there would be more blod shed but a lot less colonial looting. its not possible to wipe out the robust population of india, like the spaniards did in latin america. the poms were quick to realise this and thus they never killed indians for the kech of it, at least not a lot, but quietly went on bleeding india white economically. the killing that poms caused was through socially engineered artificial famines.
0 Replies
Reply Fri 12 May, 2006 01:33 pm
Check out this book - *Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nino Famines and the Making of the Third World by Mike Davis

its funny how the original third world managed to make a third world out of the original first world. whats funnier is how the tables are turning.
0 Replies

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