“Famine or no famine, Indians will always breed like rabbits.” These were the infamous words of former UK PM Winston Churchill. A year old study released in April 2019 revealed that the Bengal famine of 1943 estimated to have killed up to three million people was not caused by drought but instead was a result of a “complete policy failure” of the then-British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
Apart from his role in causing the Bengal famine, other crimes of racist Churchill have been rekindled again when his statue at London’s Parliament Square was defaced with “Churchill” crossed out with black marker pen and the words “Was a Racist” was written underneath by protestors. The protests in London were a fallout of the US protests over killing of George Floyd by a white police officer.
Subsequently, a petition has been floated online to ‘Remove image of racist and white supremacist Winston Churchill from British banknotes’. “To fight racism we must stand in solidarity with the George Floyd movement, but more than that, we should fight racism where we are. And to do so, I would like to propose the removal of the racist and white supremacist British leader Winston Churchill from the Five pound note. A racist leader who has as much blood on his hands as Adolf Hitler, he should be removed from all popular iconography and the truth about him should be taught in British schools”, says the petition.
Racist and white supremacist Churchill
Apart from his anti-India policy which caused the Bengal famine, the petition lists the racist quotes of Winston Churchill which had shocked even his own ministers and officials. Some of them are:
> ‘I hate Indians’ he once remarked,’They are a beastly people with a beastly religion’.
> He called Palestinians ‘barbaric hordes who ate little but camel dung’.
> Contemplating restive populations in northwest Asia, he infamously lamented the “squeamishness” of his colleagues, who were not in “favor of using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes.”
> When quashing insurgents in Sudan in the earlier days of his imperial career, Churchill boasted of killing three “savages.”
> As a junior member of parliament, Churchill had cheered on Britain’s plan for more conquests, insisting that its “Aryan stock is bound to triumph.”
> When British officials wrote to him telling him he was causing needless loss of life in Bengal, he just scribbled on the report “Why hasn’t Gandhi died yet?” and later on was to go on to say that the famine was the fault of Indians for “breeding like rabbits”.
The petition says that the British society lives in denial of the massive institutional racism that exists precisely because it celebrates the legacy of racists and white supremacists like Churchill. “Let the removal of Churchill’s image from the banknotes be a first symbolic step towards dealing with the deep rooted racism in the British society”, concludes the petition.
Role in causing the Bengal famine
A 2019 study published in the Geophysical Research Letters journal, suggested that the Bengal Famine of 1943 which led to the death of more than 3 million people, was not caused just by drought but due to complete policy failure on part of then-British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The study also asserted that Bengal’s problems in that year were exacerbated by other factors related to World War II which affected the state’s economy.
Other studies also confirm his role in creating the famine Churchill diverted food rations from Bengal to Greece and other countries where British troops were fighting the war. Journalist Madhushree Mukherjee in her book, ‘Churchill’s Secret War’ writes that Churchill was secretly sending food shipments to war-stricken Britain and other European countries and denying access to Bengal.