In its heyday the British empire covered many parts of the globe in all continents. In this respect, they were well ahead of other imperial European powers and it shows the British rulers' sheer ability and dynamism in administration, engineering skill and exploration of new frontiers. In many countries, they introduced the railways, postal and telegraphic services, shipping, etc., and many historians, however, comment they did all these for their own advantage which may be true in the case of India. But unfortunately the British rulers with enormous military power and vast land under their direct control, were bogged down by their over confidence, arrogance, military prowess and too much pride - may we call it too much Britishness. In many countries, besides India, they practiced racial discrimination in a subtle way. Wittingly or unwittingly, they side by side also committed many costly mistakes that tarnished their name. Many of the crimes committed by them in various countries could have been prevented.
In 1950s in Malaya, when the peasants went against the British, they imprisoned all the peasants numbering more than 400,000 in highly fortified camps. For several years the poor people's voice was muffled by them. There was no contact with outsiders, not even families. In Cyprus between 1955 and 1959 the British arrested 3000 people - suspected terrorists and treated them badly - water boarding, beatings, floggings with whips laced with sharp irons, etc. In India no body can excuse the British and the way they handled that maniac killer Dyer who massacred several hundred innocent people including children on the Baisaki day, April 13,1919 at Jalianwala Bagh, Amritsar, Punjab, India. Back in England a section of British public gave Brig. Gen. Dyer a bundle of money and the title ''Saviour of women.'' Like wise no body can forgive the British the way they split the huge Indian subcontinent into two countries Pakistan and India on communal lines in August, 1947 and the consequent communal flareups that saw a million plus people very much affected by violence, murder, loss of properties, etc on both sides. The handling of the Kenyan affairs in 1950s when they wanted freedom from the British rule and the Boer war - 1899 to 1902 in S. Africa in which more than 20,000 civilians and 20,000 blacks were killed, showed them in poor light.
|British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1943.en.wikipedia.org|
|old India map.www.columbia.edu|
The above are just samples of crimes committed by the British. No body can count the scores of crimes committed by the British government when they were sitting over a huge empire.
Among the crimes mentioned above, the worst one consciously committed by the British was during the the Bengal famine of 1943. It was master-minded by Winston Churchill who disliked Indians. The casualty ran between 3 to 4 million and the people died painfully due to starvation and malnutrition. It was a deliberate and wanton negligent act on the part of the British government led by the famous India baiter Sir. Winston Churchill whose arch enemy was fragile, loin-clothed Gandhiji. This Churchill-made disaster and the indifferent attitude of the British government have long been forgotten both in India and abroad.
This worst 1943 famine was caused by a combination certain uncontrollable factors, for example monsoon failure, fungus epidemic, etc., However, the huge tragedy that occurred in undivided Bengal could have been curtailed to bare minimum had the British government been extra careful on humanitarian grounds. They were busy supplying adequate stocks of food grains to various war fronts to feed the hungry British as the World War II was on and the British had already been trounced by Japanese in places like Burma and Singapore.
Recent studies confirm the biased attitude of Churchill, who headed the government, and the relief measures were not taken up on war footing at his instigation. Further, Churchill refused to divert supplies to India on 'war' grounds. The colonial Indian government was unable to either use the ships or reserve funds to import the food grains from other countries. Incidentally Burma, a major supplier of rice, was captured by Japan. Emergency aids from Canada and USA were overlooked and not allowed by the British government. In the international market the prices of food gains shot up far beyond the reach of Indians who were frantically looking for ways and means to feed the millions, suffering from pangs of hunger and disease. Locally, panic purchases, hoarding by the rich and helplessness of the local government aggravated the situation.
|Racist Churchill, Bengal famine of 1943. Bharata Bharati|
Another nauseating aspect of Churchill is the way he responded to a telegram from the government in Delhi about increasing casualty in Bengal, Churchill stooped to such a low level by asking disparagingly, "Why Gandhi hadn't died yet?" On one occasion when he heard that Gandhi was on hunger strike against the British he said, ''Let Gandhi starve to death.'' His hatred for Indians was well-known. He told Secretary of State for India Leopold Amery: "I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion." At one point he blamed the Indians for the famine and said, "They breed like rabbits." The revelations about Churchill and his poor response to the plight of starving and dying people during the Bengal famine have baffled the historians. They are unable to reconcile to the fact, Churchill, the war hero, who faced Nazi leader Hitler with confidence, could indulge in such a degrading act, forgetting the Christian spirit and care for fellow humans.
In 2010, Bengali author Madhusree Mukherjee wrote a book about the famine called “Churchill's Secret War,” in which she explicitly blamed Churchill for worsening the starvation in Bengal by ordering the diversion of food away from Indians and toward British troops around the world. She also mentioned that India's grains were exported to Sri Lanka where there was no famine situation. Australian ships carrying wheat went past some Indian cities to destinations in the Balkan states. In the words of Lord Wavell, Viceroy of India, Churchill government's attitude towards India was "negligent, hostile and contemptuous." Any way, the Bengal tragedy of 1943 won't let Churchill have eternal sleep in his grave. He will be turning around every hour.
Reparation is a way to reduce the magnitude of sins. The British, have not yet done it, till such a time those millions perished in Bengal in 1943 will haunt the British politicians and their cronies.
10 Evil Crimes Of The British EmpireMorris M. February 4, 2014.