Without Churchill, India’s Famine Would Have Been Worse

There’s been quite a bit of clamor going on the past week about Winston Churchill. First Marc Andreessen made a rather poorly received joke about Indian anti-colonialism on Twitter a few days ago. Then, in last night’s Democratic debate, Bernie Sanders referenced Churchill as a foreign leader to be emulated.

I’m an avid follower of Andreeson. He tossed out a flippant comment, probably without giving it much thought, and inadvertently got caught in the middle of a hornet’s nest. I’m certainly no fan of Bernie Sanders’ socialist proposals, but I do appreciate his point of view. He made a good point about Winston Churchill. It’s something unfortunately not shared by others in his party.

In response to these two events, the left wing camp has been working overtime to consign the legacy of Churchill to history’s dustbin, and one of their preferred vehicles has been the Bengal famine of 1943. The hipster-Jacobins at Vox.com have written a piece documenting Churchill’s supposed war crimes including his alleged complicity in the famine. They’re all based on rumor, heresay, quotes taken out of context, and statements by political and personal rivals. If you feel like diving into the pseudo-journalistic dumpster you can go search for it, but I’m not going to give it any more attention than it deserves, which is very little.

What I will provide is the Churchill Centre’s rebuttal.

When the War Cabinet became fully aware of the extent of the famine, on 24 September 1943, it agreed to send 200,000 tons of grain to India by the end of the year. Far from seeking to starve India, Churchill and his cabinet sought every way to alleviate the suffering without undermining the war effort. The war—not starving Indians or beating them into submission—remained the principal concern.

The greatest irony of all is that it was Churchill who appointed, in October 1943, the viceroy who would halt the famine in its tracks: General Archibald Wavell immediately commandeered the army to move rice and grain from areas where it was plentiful to where it was not, and begged Churchill to send what help he could. On 14 February 1944 Churchill called an emergency meeting of the War Cabinet to see if a way to send more aid could be found that would not wreck plans for the coming Normandy invasion. “I will certainly help you all I can,” Churchill telegraphed Wavell on the 14th, “but you must not ask the impossible.”

I would hope that faith and reason would lead us to see through the falsehoods of leftist revisionists. Sadly, most people now are being fed the biases of the “Explainer Journalism” view of the world, so the record needs to be set straight.

8 thoughts on “Without Churchill, India’s Famine Would Have Been Worse”

  1. Here’s what Ghandi once said about the caste system which enslaved segments of the population based on their heritage:

    I believe that caste has saved Hinduism from disintegration. But like every other institution it has suffered from excrescences. I consider the four divisions alone to be fundamental, natural and essential. The innumerable subcastes are sometimes a convenience, often a hindrance. The sooner there is fusion, the better….One of my correspondents suggests that we should abolish the caste [system] but adopt the class system of Europe – meaning thereby, I suppose, that the idea of heredity in caste should be rejected. I am inclined to think that the law of heredity is an eternal law and any attempt to alter that law must lead us, as it has before led [others], to utter confusion…. If Hindus believe, as they must believe, in reincarnation [and] transmigration, they must know that Nature will, without any possibility of mistake, adjust the balance by degrading a Brahmin, if he misbehaves himself, by reincarnating him in a lower division, and translating one who lives the life of a Brahmin in his present incarnation to Brahminhood in his next.

    We’ll never be completely sure what Churchill really said to Amery about Ghandi. We do know Avery supported Indian independence, and Churchill was opposed. They were long time rivals, so I’m skeptical about uncorroborated accounts.

    It’s far safer to stick to documented evidence, such as this excerpt from a mes­sage to Gandhi in 1935:

    I do not care whether you are more or less loyal to Great Britain. I do not mind about edu­ca­tion, but give the masses more butter. . . . Tell Mr. Gandhi to use the pow­ers that are offered and make the thing a success. . . . I am gen­uinely sym­pa­thetic towards India. I have got real fears about the future . . . but you have got the things now; make a suc­cess and if you do I will advo­cate your get­ting much more.

  2. I certainly agree that much of passes on TV and in cinema as history or biography is carefully crafted to: 1) Conform to a predetermined narrative. 2) Achieve a predetermined conclusion on the part of the viewer. 3) Enable power and social control for the left. In that sense, reality and history are malleable.

  3. Believe it or not, what got the ball rolling on this latest anti-Churchill/ anti-Western Civilization flare up was a plan by Facebook to provide India’s poorest citizens with free internet. Facebook and Zuckerberg launched a big PR campaign to get it through. It was rejected early in the week, partly on the nonsensical grounds that it was a ‘colonialism’. The next day Andreeson tweeted his sarcastic comment. He later deleted it, but it was something like,

    ‘Anti-colonialism has been so great for India, why stop now’

    or something like that. Never mind that he was right. India’s economy stagnated for decades after independence, until economic and political reforms in the 90s.

    I hope this wouldn’t be the case, but I wonder if colonialism is an excuse by some in order to hide the fact that they think the poorest Indians just don’t deserve help.

  4. Colonialism is used in the third world like racism is used in the first world. It’s a chip to guilt-bargain for money. It doesn’t have to have any relationship to reality.

  5. “India’s economy stagnated for decades after independence,”

    That’s because Nehru learned Socialism at Cambridge and sent India on the wrong path for 50 years. The British also created the problem of upper class Indians all wanting to be lawyers and bureaucrats and nobody could fix a car or make an engine run.

  6. “The British also created the problem of upper class Indians all wanting to be lawyers and bureaucrats”: yeah, as if their caste system had Brahmins dominating arts and crafts.

  7. ” as if their caste system had Brahmins dominating arts and crafts.”

    Brahmins, of course, were the priest class but even now, I understand that any class is not very concerned with mechanical things. Programming is fine but I don’t know about aviation mechanics.

  8. Also, many future Indian leaders were educated by the crypto-Marxist Fabian Society, who founded the Labour Party and the London School of Economics. Fabians weren’t just influential in India, but they paved the way for genocidal dictatorships in East Africa, were the inspiration for Baathists in the Middle East, and aided and abetted various other catastrophes in the dismantled empire.

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