Colonial history lessons


In The Sunday Times, the distinguished military historian and former Dai­ly Telegraph editor, Max Hastings, was given a full page to argue that “Churchill was a racist, but he still deserves respect” (Photo: OFF/AFP via Getty Images).
In The Sunday Times, the distinguished military historian and former Dai­ly Telegraph editor, Max Hastings, was given a full page to argue that “Churchill was a racist, but he still deserves respect” (Photo: OFF/AFP via Getty Images).

By Amit Roy

NO PUN is intended, but since the statue of 17th century slave trader Ed­ward Colston was pulled down in Bristol, the Brit­ish have had a crash course in their colonial history – which is not touched in schools.

An otherwise well-in­formed presenter on LBC expressed surprise that Winston Churchill (right) had something to do with “the Bengali famine”.

In The Sunday Times, the distinguished military historian and former Dai­ly Telegraph editor, Max Hastings, was given a full page to argue that “Churchill was a racist, but he still deserves respect”.

Hastings, who has nev­er followed the Tory party political line, points out that during the Bengal Famine of 1943, “the cab­inet met only 25 per cent of Delhi’s requested food deliveries. This was a travesty when British ra­tions remained incompa­rably generous. Indians were dying on the streets of Calcutta, while in its British clubs, members had access to unlimited bacon and eggs.”

Hastings, who once gave a glowing review to historian Madhusree Mukerjee’s book Church­ill’s Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India during World War II, concludes: “When a remarkable number of Churchill’s Indian con­temporaries, prime min­ister Jawaharlal Nehru among them, proved able to forgive his faults, it ill behoves a 21st-century generation to decline to do so.”