My childhood was littered with stories that came down from my grandparents — of the poor who went around the then-ghastly Calcutta streets begging to eat the starch that housewives threw away once their rice was cooked. They lay dying in thousands on the city pavements, as Churchill forced Australian ships carrying food grains to bypass Bengal. My grand uncle and grand aunt, were making their way back from Burma to their native town of Noakhali (now in Bangladesh) mostly on foot, walking through these sites battling thirst and starvation. When they finally reached home, my grand uncle succumbed to the exhaustion and trauma. Another friend grew up eating till the last grain of rice from her plate was gone; her grandmother had survived the famine but could never shake away the fear of waking up the next day and finding no food to eat. She was 17 when the famine struck its peak and 70 when my friend was growing up. News of the death toll reached Churchill who said the famine was the price Indians had to pay for “breeding like rabbits”. The British-founded clubs in Calcutta flourished and newer restaurants cropped up in the city centre of Chowringhee, while rural women took to prostituting themselves, parents sold their daughters and surviving family members were left with no money or strength to complete the last rites of the dead. My aunt tells me stories of mothers prostituting themselves to feed her children and then of the father who killed his children, unable to stomach the guilt of not being able to feed his children. While piles of dead bodies were being eaten by foxes and dogs, news of the death toll reached Churchill who said the famine was the price Indians had to pay for “breeding like rabbits”. His reply was, “Why isn’t Gandhi dead yet?” This when he himself was eating off India and presiding over armies full of Indian soldiers. This when Churchill was fighting Hitler, championing anti-Hitlerian virtues, while himself engineering a famine and celebrating it because it was “merrily” culling India’s population. This man was our Hitler and yet, where is the hatred? Instead, there are six Oscar nominations. Last year, we had Dunkirk (eight Oscar nominations) — complete with a whitewashed all-White army of the Allied Forces. Similarly, the writer of “Darkest Hour” takes the liberty to write out a whole scene, completely and conveniently fictional, where Churchill takes a ride in the London tube, speaks to the passengers who stand in awe of him, asks them of their opinion on the war, listens to them reject the idea of peace talks and goes on to recite lines from Lays of Ancient Rome, which are then completed by a black man who he later high-fives. If Wright set the film a few years later, he’d probably have Churchill cooking in a soup kitchen for Bengal’s benefit. Churchill was a famous racist. In the Darwinian power pyramid in his head, White Protestants occupied the top spot with Jews and Indians at the very bottom, right above Africans.

Bedatri Datta Choudhury in By Glorifying Churchill, Britain Is Committing New Crimes Against India (Buzzfeed)



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