The World Today with Tariq Ali – Bengal Shadows
This documentary traces the war crime British prime minister Winston Churchill committed in 1943. In it, British historian and activist Tariq Ali introduces and narrates the 2017 documentary Bengal Shadows. His commentary includes priceless quotes from Churchill
. . . on learning of the Bengal famine:
I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion. The famine is their own fault for breeding like rabbits.
. . .on learning the famine had killed millions:
Then why isn’t Gandhi dead?
The Bengal famine was clearly man made. By early 1942, the Japanese military occupied all of China to the East Bengal border. Fearing they would invade India, British authorities seized and burned all of Bengal’s surplus rice stocks and all their boats, bicycles and bullock carts. They were following a typical scorched earth policy – aimed at preventing the invasion of India.
This meant there was no way to transport grains from inland Bengal, where harvests were good, when a tsunami destroyed the 1942 coastal harvest.
Churchill adamantly refused to provide starving Bengali with food relief. When Australia dispatched ships loaded with food grains, British authorities in Bengal turned them away. Ironically US ships loaded with Australian grain refueled in Bengal en route to troops in the Middle East.
Three million people died in the man made famine. Many of the farmers who planted the bumper 1943 rice crop weren’t alive to harvest it.
Many in India (and modern day Bangladesh) believe the British owe them reparations for the 1943 famine.