British atrocities: The Blood Never Dried
The British government, through their actions have caused the deaths of more than a million civilians, during the "Irish Potato Famine", and other atrocities as well. Similar actions were taken in other countries throughout the world.
British empire was built on corpses of millions of Asians, Africans and native Americans. Praising British empire is as bad as praising Japanese empire or Nazi Germany.
I was shocked to read that the greatest genocide of the 20th century was not Auschwitz, but the Bengal famine in India as late as 1943, caused due to English atrocities. Mass stockpile of food grain harvested in the state of Bengal,were taken away and horded by the English in anticipation of Japanese attack. Very seldom has this genocide been mentioned in historical records.More than 3 million lives perished. Never has England acknowledged this fact, and never will they include this in their historical records. It is an absolute shame. This aspect places England not much better than some of the merciless regimes of the modern era that have absolutely no remorse for the crimes they have committed . I hope that a renowned historical writer can be found who can clearly document these dark facts. The world deserves to know the truth.
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Empire in 'a fit of absentmindedness'
It is also unfortunately true that it ran its empire in much the same way leading to a lot of atrocities by neglect that could have been fixed had the government wished to do something about it. This is not to excuse all atrocities as being simply bad management rather than evil (some like concentration camps were pretty barbaric) however many were simply mistakes that the government had little interest in rectifying.
This was in part due to a combination of a philosophy where by everything was up to the individual rather than government (why should government hand out food if the people are suffering from a natural drought?) and in some cases racism as was the case in all the European empires the natives mattered rather less than the colonists.
Judging the British empire based upon today's standards is wrong. The empire fell as those standards changed after the end of the second world war in part because of the way it was becoming obvious that empire could no longer be justified as 'civilising/civilizing'.
"This was in part due to a combination of a philosophy where by everything was up to the individual rather than government (why should government hand out food if the people are suffering from a natural drought?)" - this philosophy is new, "And son my fellow Americans;ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country"-JFK.
Governments gathered tax revenue from their people just as they do now. They were fully aware of their responsibility.
Thomas Mathus's population theory that there was an uper limit for population at which famine occured was widely accepted in Europe, Frenchman abbe Dubois said "I am persuaded that as the population increases, so in proportion do want and misery" India hit something of a Malthusian limit in the 1860's. British officials argued that Famine War and Disease had held the population in check, british riule did away with the second and softened the third. The result they perceved was that famine was now an inevitable and necessary check on population growth. Sir James Caird, a member of the Indian Famine Commission of 1880 said "The produce of the country on an avarage of years is barely sufficient to maintain the present population" [[Ambirjan p.6-8]]
The result was the view that if not actually desirable Famine was not a terrible thing. If the government was to intervene in a famine and save people, then that in itself would cause the next famine. famine releif needed taxes, these would fall upon the self supporting and likely drive them to penury to support those who were not self supporting, simultaniously escalating the problem and undermining the tax base. [[Ambirjan p.9]]
The bengal famine of 1943 has been mentioned, by this time the wheels were comming off the British laissez-faire waggon. Systematic famine releif existed. A Famine Manual had been published in 1941 just for this very situation. They were however still free market based, sell off stocks bring down prices, and import more for the same effect. The Famine was also no worse in total shortages than another the British had handled in 1936, very successfully with little loss of life.
In funding the War with Germany by use of pretty wellevery availible method, taxes and the printing of money the British government inflicted the indian labourer with a considerably smaller take home pay. [[Lance Brennan, 'Government Famine Releif in Bengal 1943' The Journal for Asian Studies Vol.47, No.3, (Aug., 1988) p.542]]
A combination of factors then came into play. A cyclone devastated Midnapore in Oct. 1942 resulting in government efforts there to the exclusion of already apparent warning signs. More damning was the british were purchacing grain and rice along the probable Japanese line of advance in order to deny the Japanese. [[Brennan p.543]] Nonetheless as early as March the government began selling its stocks to bring prices down. But in attempting only to manipulate prices the poor were relieved but at the expense of not giving hand outs for the really destitute [[Brennan p.545-6]] Belated shifts in emphasis (august) to gurel kitchens only made matters worse as to provide for the destitue the government requisitioned from the better off [[Brennan p.547]]
There was not a terrible lack of food there was a distribution problem. The government destroyed boats in case the Japanese could use them, but of course in sprawling river systems the locals needed them more than the distant Japanese. The result was very few died in Calcutta where government effort was based and centered. [[Amartya Sen, Ingredients of Famine Analysis: Availibility and Entitlements. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 96, No.3 (Aug., 1981) p.445-6]]
The government made systematic errors in not providing enough food cheaply through existant cheap grain (ie subsidised) shops and concentrated principly on flooding the market, principly because they were essentially already subsidising imports, selling it below market rates would be second subsidies. The result being that the cheap grain shops for the destitute ran out very fast. The government basically erred by failing to channel resources to those in most risk, rather than supporting those with a modicum of purchasing power by cheapening the general supplies. [[Brennan p560-1]]
In total there was probably no great shortage, but when the free market is left in these situations those with money, the middle class Indians automatically horde to tide themselves over, the result is a crisis that is to some extent artificial.
The Famine releif on 1936 relied heavily on three factors. An availible surplus in Burma, cheap grain prices, and the ease of transportation by rail or boat. In 1943 none of these applied and only in the last case had the lack anything to do with British errors. Burma was a partially occupied warzone. This in itself and the war in general raised food prices and war traffic clogged the communications. [[Brennan p.542]]
What is Genocide?
(Government, Politics & Diplomacy) the policy of deliberately killing a nationality or ethnic group
[from geno-, from Greek genos race + -cide]
genocidal adj [[Collins English Dictionary]]
The UN definition in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide article 2 states "In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group" [[http://www.hrweb.org/legal/genocide.html]]
Both of these stress intent: Neglegence in the face of a natural disaster of famine cannot count as intentional and thus not genocidal.
America has been responsible for atrocities too and they as well had colonies. Other countries too like france or japan had been responsible for atrocities. Yes absent mindness was up in the air back then but that didnt just apply to the british only, it applied to everybody else. Including today with the usa and the war in iraq and afghanistan, nobody really knows who the real enemy is and the situation hasn't really improved dramatically.
The british empire has probably done more good to india than bad as they did manage to keep law & order between rival religions. And india was full of religious groups believing in all kinds of gods. We must remember that it was britain that formed the country pakistan in order to seperate the muslims from the hindu's. We should also remember that not all the states in india were administered by the british but rather administered through suzerains and princes who probably didnt know how to sort the problem out as soon as famine hits.
it is wrong or potently illogical to consider the atrocities that the british had done during the 19th century by today standards, as you can see now with the war in iraq and afghanistan the USA is stepping into the same boots that britain had worn once before. And again the absent mindness cycle is re acurring again.
Now it was interesting to read that British empire did more good to india than bad!!!! Well i completely agree if somehow anybody can make me understand how the killings of hundreds of innocents at Jalliwalan Bagh can be justified.
For a european, to understand and accept that socio-cultural fabric of india was tolerant, much prior to the advent of East India Co is impossible to say the least.It is evident from the fact that religions(both Hinduism & Islam) not only coexisted but prospered under the reign of great kings and emperrors such as Akbar The Great.
It was only after the British came with their hideous plans and policies such as "Divide And Rule", the cracks started showing up.Not only did they rob and exploit India for more than two centuries, the damage they did to the social and cultural heritage is evident in day to day life as of today.
And they say that nazi rule was bad, how about enslaving whole villages to send them off as bonded labours to work in colonies in Africa and West Indies.I am pretty sure at this point british must have felt pity on filthy indians, so they decided to absolve them of their misery, how magnificient?????
What do you think?