Updated: Apr 7, 2019
Imagine your home is the talk of the neighborhood because of your extravagant spice cabinet filled with ginger, turmeric, cumin, cardamom, coriander, all the whole and grounded essentials.. Everyone wants a little sample, so they pay a sporadic visit to get some of those dope, valuable spices. A new neighbor pays a visit, views your spice cabinet, and decides to colonize your home to take control of all the samples you give your other neighbors.
That’s basically the tldr; of The British Empire being delusional imperialists that ruled India for a good 200 years. Winston Churchill was also racist--sorry to burst your ‘he was the best leader everrr’ bubble.
So a bunch of countries were thirsty for Indian spices, so they would sail their ships over to trade with India, which was under the control of Mughal rulers (Muslim and Afghans). A few of these ships were European. These European ships came at a perfect time because Hindu and Sikhs were fed up with the Mughals biased policies (since non-Muslims were being taxed an arm and a leg).
The British fell into India’s thirst trap of spices, but took it next level when they set up three trading posts of their self-created British East India Company, that was kept under watch by the Mughals. When the Mughals became more and more uninterested in the trade going on at shore, that’s when the British made their move.
East India Company grew and was regulated by the British Government and had an army of sepoys (Indian soldiers serving under British orders). During this time the Industrial Revolution was going on in Britain, so India, with all it’s awesome materials and large population, became the most valuable nation for Britain. Indians were all of the sudden not allowed to compete with the British market, and were forced to buy British goods, which resulted in many manufacturers put out of business.
Only 475 local newspapers owned by Indians existed with insane restrictions placed on editors, and British Victorians introduced a taboo against homosexuality in Indian culture when there was never one before.
India became the best possible source of cotton, tea, coffee, and opium (which Britain would sell to China in exchange for tea), and British held not just economic power, but political power over India by the late 1800’s where they ruled 250 million Indians. Villages suffered, there was a great famine in the late 1880’s, and traditional religion was slowly taken over as missionaries began promoting Christianity. These famines were sometimes considered the “British colonial holocaust”.
So there was this Hindu and Muslim divide, where some of the Hindu’s were totally against the Mughal rule and were actually in favor of the British ruling, which Britain saw as a weakness.
The result? A drained economy. Manufacture industries were ruined because Britain was busy promoting their own products, and food production was reduced, leading to the rise in poverty and famine. British colonialism did not benefit the colonized. The end.
Now let’s talk about Churchill!
So a lot of people in the west would consider Winston Churchill to be the greatest Prime Minister Britain has ever seen. He helped fight Nazism, led allied coalition victory in World War II, and was literally voted greatest Briton in history.
He also starved millions of Indians, the majority in Bengal.
In his exact words: “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion…Let the Viceroy sit on the back of a giant elephant and trample Gandhi into the dirt.”
And while millions died in famine due to starvation, Churchill claimed it was their own fault for “breeding like rabbits”.
His policies resulted in India’s worst famine in history, caused by exports of Indian foods for Britain’s consumption in war theaters, and Churchill actually turned down the excessive pleas to export food into India. As imports to India dropped, prices increased.
According to BBC: “Parents dumped their starving children into rivers and wells. Many took their lives by throwing themselves in front of trains. Starving people begged for the starchy water in which rice had been boiled. Children ate leaves and vines, yam stems and grass. People were too weak even to cremate their loved ones.”
I’ll end my essay in the words of Shashi Tharoor (Author of Inglorious Empire): “If you don’t know where you’ve come from, how will you appreciate where you’re going?”
History is not just meant to be learned, but remembered.