Area: Bengal, Bharat (India)
Cause of Death: Starvation, Malaria, Other Diseases
Responsible: British Leadership, British Government, Provincial Government
Death Count: 4,000,000 +
Time Period: 1943
Dharmic Faiths: Hindus and Buddhists
In the Bengal Province in Western India there was a major famine in 1943 that is said to have took the lives of between 2 and 4 million people. What's worse is that the famine could have both been prevented and its effect not so severe had the British acted with integrity towards the people of India. A country that would later provide them with 2.5 million of its sons for the British war efforts as part of WW2.
During the famine the people took to eating leaves and grass just to survive, the dead were piled up on the streets as the living didn't even have the energy to cremate them and many turned to suicide as the only way out. Of those that did manage to work at pitiful wages, many women were turned to prostitution simply in order to survive. The people largely died from starvation, malaria and other diseases caused by poor sanitation, large population migrations, malnutrition and lack of sufficient health care. Even historians consider the famine to be 'man made' and put its cause firmly in the hands of Winston Churchill.
Emaciated, Starving Children - Victims of British Engineered Famines?
1942 - Japan Invades Burma, next door to the province of Bengal
1942 - British evict 180,000 Bengal Farmers for their war effort
1942 - British seize 125,000 acres of land for their military base
1942 - British seize all boats in Bengal and cut off vital shipping roots that bring in food via trade
1942 - British implement 'Scorched Earth' policy, burning rice fields, so that they 'don't end up in the hands of the Japanese
1942 - British still export 70,000 tonnes of rice from India, despite knowing about the forthcoming potential famine
1942 - British increase food stores in Britain, whilst depleting grain in Bengal
1942 - British actively discouraged inter-province trade, something which could have significantly reduced the death count
Survivors that looked like they belonged in concentration camps
It is well known that Winston Churchill had utter contempt for both India and Indians. He once called us: "A beastly people with a beastly religion", having such a man in charge of Britain really didn't help the situation. His nonchalant view toward Indians dying was clearly demonstrated when he said "Famine or no famine, Indians will breed like rabbits" and defended Indians being starved by stating that it was more important that the British feed the Greeks at the time.
During the famine, Sir Archibald Wavell and Leopold Amery (Secretary of State for India) made a request to the British Government for assistance but Winston Churchill refused. Viceroy Linlithgow then accused the Bengal traders of hoarding grain, a viewpoint then adopted by the British at the time. Churchill censored news and pictures in the British Press and banned a publication called 'Humanity Dehumanised', showing drawings of Bengal famine victims. Luckily a British paper 'The Statesman' disregarded the ban and sided with their good nature, once the public found out about the famine things started to change. Viceroy Linlithgow was then replaced with
Sir Archibald Wavell and Leopold Amery and the relief effort really began.
By the time the damage was already done Churchill requested 1 million tonnes of grain, but only delivered on 350,000 tonnes and a further 50,000 tonnes, requested from Eisenhower was never delivered. Luckily the harvest in Bengal in 1944 was enough to once again provide sustenance for it's people, but this entire event could have been avoided if the some of the British Leadership were not racist bigots.
Elderly Victim, clinging to life!
The British often claim that the famines were accidental, but can such bad governance which lead to 14 famines and the death of around 50 million Hindus be considered as accidental? Famines in India provided the British the resources they needed to support their colonial exploits at the hands of innocent Indians.
The Great Bengal Famine: 1769 - 1770
10 + Million Deaths
Madras City & Chalisa Famines: 1782 - 1783
11 + Million Deaths
Doji Bara Famines: 1791 - 1792
10 + Million Deaths
Agra Famine: 1837 - 1838
1 Million Deaths
Upper Doab Famine: 1860 -1861
2 Million Deaths
Orissa Famine: 1866
1 + Million Deaths
Rajputana Famine: 1868 - 1870
1.5 Million Deaths
Bihar Famine: 1873 - 1874
5.5 Million Deaths
Ganjam/Orissa/Bihar Famines: 1888 - 1889
100,000 + Deaths
Indian Famine: 1896 - 1897
Millions of Deaths
Indian Famine: 1899
1 + Million Deaths
Bombay Presidency Famine: 1906 - 1906
100,000 + Deaths
Bengal Famine: 1943-1944
4 + Million Deaths
Relief Works Or Hindu Concentration Camps?
Forced Labour camps in the guise of famine relief camps were set up in response to the government engineered famines. The people had nowhere else to go and were often corralled into these camps, where inhabitants would receive a smaller daily food ration than was handed out by Nazi's in concentration camps. A distance test was administered, to qualify for aid a starving famine victim must walk at least 10 miles, only to be met with forced hard labour and a 6% survival rate.
'British Relief Camps' had a Death Rate of 94%
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