Three Famines – book review

51tiihpi3wl-_sx327_bo1204203200_Thomas Keneally has written this book ‘Three Famines’ that talks about the Irish, Bengal and Ethiopian famines.

British colonialism is seen as the major cause of Irish and Bengal famines. I didn’t read about the Ethipoian one. While the Irish famine was as abominable as the other two, I shall write about Bengal.

What we get to see is: Winston Churchill, the then Prime Minister of Britain fighting the WWII, diverted Bengal’s produce to Egypt and Turkey to feed the British troops and thereby bled Bengal to death.

Lord Linlithgow, the British representative in India, did nothing to present the case of Bengal to the British government. His successor Field Marshall Archibald Wavell tried to do much more than his capacity to contain the famine on the one hand and pleaded with Churchill to increase food shipments to Bengal on the other.

Churchill comes out as the chief villain when he orders grain stocks to be burnt so that the advancing Japanese Army doesn’t get hold of the stocks. Even boats were burnt and that directly hindered the distribution of supplies to the famine affected people of Bengal. When Wavell sends an SOS telegram to Churchill, the latter replies with a wise-crack,’If famine is so severe, why hasn’t Gandhi died yet?’

That Churchill denied Bengalis the food they produced speaks volumes of the sense of justice that the British were supposed to be famous for.

Even though the famine started due a great cyclone followed by a severe drought, Great Britain comes out as the chief perpetrator of the famine in Bengal.The millions of Bengalis who died due to the famine would never forgive Churchill for letting them die such an unjust death. Even Burma, then under Japanese control, offered rice shipments to Bengal, Churchill had refused.

An absorbing and damning book on the British atrocities in India. A must read for every Indian just to remember the 3 million innocents who were let to die for no fault of theirs.

Thomas Keneally, the author of this book, has also written ‘Schindler’s Ark’ which was later made into the movie ‘Schindler’s List’ by Steven Spielberg.

Churchill’s Secret War – a review

‘Churchills’ Secret War’ by Madhushree Mukerjee has been a great yet melancholic read. The book talks about the complete disdain that Winston Churchill had for India and its people, how he looked the other way when there was an artificial famine created in India during World War II so that the British soldiers got food elsewhere as a result of which many thousands of poor Indians starved to death.

When the world was besieged by fascism and nazism and democracy and equality were threatened by the Axis powers, Britain under Churchill was supposed to be the harbinger of freedom and democracy. Hence they fought against tyranny and in-humanity unleashed by the Axis powers Japan, Germany and Italy while indulging in tyranny themselves in India and other colonies. Britain and Churchill fought for democracy and freedom while denying India, its colony then, those egalitarian concepts.

Churchill was and is still regarded as the hero of World War II and is called as the savior of millions of freedom loving people all over the world, but what is not known is the complete travesty of these very same ideals by him on Britain’s colony, India. The ways he employed to quell the independence movement, the methods he adopted to kill the unity among the different religions in India so that they would remain un-united and thus ensure Britain’s domination of the Indian subcontinent- speak less respectfully of Churchill. His stature as a world statesman certainly takes a dent as one goes through reams and reams of evidence of Churchill’s’ rough handed treatment of the natives.

Churchill was utterly disrespectful of Gandhi’s peaceful movement. He made fun of the Mahatma ( great soul ) many times, called him names, was not in the least bothered about Gandhi’s fast-unto-death protests and wanted to ensure that Gandhi died so that the trouble maker and the ‘personification of evil’ as he described Gandhi ,gets out of the scene. A leader of Churchill’s stature would call Gandhi such and would stoop to such a low level of public discourse and treacherous behavior speaks volumes of the much acclaimed British love for decency in public life. All these he did in the name of his ‘love of Britain’.

Millions of tons of rice and wheat were siphoned off to Egypt and Arabia where the British soldiers were fighting wars when thousands of Indians were starving for food. Churchill authorized these acts despite claiming that the small island was protecting the vast land scape that was India. He was ensuring the complete bankruptcy of India while ensuring that Indian soldiers were fighting for a cause that they were not going to derive any benefit from.

During the great depression, President F.D.Roosevelt banned selling of gold and silver from the US thus strengthening the dollar. But Britain took large quantities of gold and silver from India to the UK thus depleting the purchasing power for the nation expressly for fighting the war. Such callousness during such a time of economic depression  can only be the hallmark of economic exploitation. And Britain excelled in that.

Churchill is quoted as having said that the unity of hindus and muslims would be a deterrent to Britain’s holding on India. He was a strong proponent of the partition of the Indian continent into India and Pakistan on religious lines and all means at his disposal to instill distrust in the minds of the Muslims of India. He transacted in secrecy with Mohammad Ali Jinnah ( the creator of Pakistan ) and ensured that the latter stood fast in his stand for a separate nation for the Muslims. And the world has had enough problems from Pakistan since then.

I adore Churchill for the gift of the gab that he had but I also despise him for his acerbic tongue that he used with impunity to describe Indian leaders and ordinary people from India.

It is a matter of surprise as to why the Indian government, after all these years, has not made such books as part of essential history for the Indian students.

Madhushree Mukerjee has put in exemplary efforts to bring out the happenings of those times. And it shows in the volume of reference material that she quotes from to establish her lines of thought.

An essential read for Indians in particular and students of history in general on the atrocities that ‘democratic’ Britain willingly committed on its crown jewel of a colony – India.

Churchill's Secret War – a review

‘Churchills’ Secret War’ by Madhushree Mukerjee has been a great yet melancholic read. The book talks about the complete disdain that Winston Churchill had for India and its people, how he looked the other way when there was an artificial famine created in India during World War II so that the British soldiers got food elsewhere as a result of which many thousands of poor Indians starved to death.

When the world was besieged by fascism and nazism and democracy and equality were threatened by the Axis powers, Britain under Churchill was supposed to be the harbinger of freedom and democracy. Hence they fought against tyranny and in-humanity unleashed by the Axis powers Japan, Germany and Italy while indulging in tyranny themselves in India and other colonies. Britain and Churchill fought for democracy and freedom while denying India, its colony then, those egalitarian concepts.

Churchill was and is still regarded as the hero of World War II and is called as the savior of millions of freedom loving people all over the world, but what is not known is the complete travesty of these very same ideals by him on Britain’s colony, India. The ways he employed to quell the independence movement, the methods he adopted to kill the unity among the different religions in India so that they would remain un-united and thus ensure Britain’s domination of the Indian subcontinent- speak less respectfully of Churchill. His stature as a world statesman certainly takes a dent as one goes through reams and reams of evidence of Churchill’s’ rough handed treatment of the natives.

Churchill was utterly disrespectful of Gandhi’s peaceful movement. He made fun of the Mahatma ( great soul ) many times, called him names, was not in the least bothered about Gandhi’s fast-unto-death protests and wanted to ensure that Gandhi died so that the trouble maker and the ‘personification of evil’ as he described Gandhi ,gets out of the scene. A leader of Churchill’s stature would call Gandhi such and would stoop to such a low level of public discourse and treacherous behavior speaks volumes of the much acclaimed British love for decency in public life. All these he did in the name of his ‘love of Britain’.

Millions of tons of rice and wheat were siphoned off to Egypt and Arabia where the British soldiers were fighting wars when thousands of Indians were starving for food. Churchill authorized these acts despite claiming that the small island was protecting the vast land scape that was India. He was ensuring the complete bankruptcy of India while ensuring that Indian soldiers were fighting for a cause that they were not going to derive any benefit from.

During the great depression, President F.D.Roosevelt banned selling of gold and silver from the US thus strengthening the dollar. But Britain took large quantities of gold and silver from India to the UK thus depleting the purchasing power for the nation expressly for fighting the war. Such callousness during such a time of economic depression  can only be the hallmark of economic exploitation. And Britain excelled in that.

Churchill is quoted as having said that the unity of hindus and muslims would be a deterrent to Britain’s holding on India. He was a strong proponent of the partition of the Indian continent into India and Pakistan on religious lines and all means at his disposal to instill distrust in the minds of the Muslims of India. He transacted in secrecy with Mohammad Ali Jinnah ( the creator of Pakistan ) and ensured that the latter stood fast in his stand for a separate nation for the Muslims. And the world has had enough problems from Pakistan since then.

I adore Churchill for the gift of the gab that he had but I also despise him for his acerbic tongue that he used with impunity to describe Indian leaders and ordinary people from India.

It is a matter of surprise as to why the Indian government, after all these years, has not made such books as part of essential history for the Indian students.

Madhushree Mukerjee has put in exemplary efforts to bring out the happenings of those times. And it shows in the volume of reference material that she quotes from to establish her lines of thought.

An essential read for Indians in particular and students of history in general on the atrocities that ‘democratic’ Britain willingly committed on its crown jewel of a colony – India.

Churchill’s Secret War – initial notes

Madhushree Mukherjee’s ‘Churchill’s Secret War’ is a damning account of the British Raj’s handling of India in general and Churchill’s handling of the great famine of 1940-43 in particular. Churchill’s hatred for India and disdain for the hindus are well known. But his lack of concern for the thousands of hapless Indians that perished in Bengal and elsewhere as a result of the man-made famine caused as result of massive export of food grains to soldiers fighting for the British elsewhere has not been adequately recorded in India’s history books.
Madhushree’s well researched book provides un-deniable insights into the period when India was plundered for the final time by the British.
A sad read that makes one’s blood boil considering the opulence and wealth that Britain and the other western powers exhibited for a long time as a result of the loot from their erstwhile colonies.
Detailed review once I overcome the melancholic effects of the book.

Churchill's Secret War – initial notes

Madhushree Mukherjee’s ‘Churchill’s Secret War’ is a damning account of the British Raj’s handling of India in general and Churchill’s handling of the great famine of 1940-43 in particular. Churchill’s hatred for India and disdain for the hindus are well known. But his lack of concern for the thousands of hapless Indians that perished in Bengal and elsewhere as a result of the man-made famine caused as result of massive export of food grains to soldiers fighting for the British elsewhere has not been adequately recorded in India’s history books.
Madhushree’s well researched book provides un-deniable insights into the period when India was plundered for the final time by the British.
A sad read that makes one’s blood boil considering the opulence and wealth that Britain and the other western powers exhibited for a long time as a result of the loot from their erstwhile colonies.
Detailed review once I overcome the melancholic effects of the book.