Colonial history lessons
Winston Churchill (Photo: OFF/AFP via Getty Images).
Radhakrishna N S
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.”