A holocaust the world ignored

no picture Nikhila Chandrashekhar
Member since February 26, 2011
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Nearly 6 million Jews were murdered during the world war 2. The people responsible were accordingly punished. The country responsible paid heavily. Voices from all over the world stood up for the victims of the gas chambers. Justice was got to a certain extent.

But there was another very much man-made holocaust the world has chosen to ignore. The men responsible, mainly the British who ruled India, did not take responsibility. This was the Bengal famine of 1943. An estimated 5 million people died; the famine was caused by the British. With the entry of Japan into World War 2 and its conquest of South East Asia, including Burma, the British authorities took strategic steps that affected the availability of food in Bengal. Food was required for soldiers, workers in industrial cities such as Calcutta and for export to other parts of the Empire. The grain import requirement of nearly 2 million tons to make up for deficiencies in Indian production was progressively cut back to a disastrous degree.

Loss of rice from Burma and ineffective government controls on hoarding and profiteering led inevitably to enormous price rises. Bengalis having to purchase food (e.g landless labourers) suffered immensely - thus it is estimated that about 30% of one particular labourer class died in the famine.

The effects of the famine were exacerbated by a strategic policy of "denial" of potential resources from the Japanese. A major feature of this famine was the inability of the authorities to keep rice prices down to affordable levels and hence make food available to the suffering millions. For a variety of reasons the rice market "froze" with dealers and millions of producers retaining supplies. Lack of supplies from other Indian provinces due to self-regulating food control powers given to the provinces in 1941 (enacted a week before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour) compounded the problem for Bengal. Heavy handed government intervention, a massive overall Indian food deficit, the determination of the authorities to adequately feed Calcutta and the military and the consequent fear and uncertainty of producers led to an appalling disaster for rural Bengal Churchill repeatedly opposed food for India and specifically intervened to block provision of 10,000 tons of grain offered by Canada. The U.S. declined to provide food aid in deference to the British Government. The British Government rejected Lord Wavell's request for 1 million tons of grain in 1944 and also rejected his request that the U.S. and the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) be approached for assistance.

The distressing testimonies of famine victims attest to the famine-enforced sexual exploitation of women. There was a major military presence in Bengal and the Military Labour Corps was an avenue of survival for starving women, the price of survival being sexual submission and abuse and venereal disease.

Testimonies of victims and observers describe horrendous realities: dogs and vultures devouring the nearly dead, bones and bodies littering roadsides, desperate attempts to find sustenance, starvation-enforced prostitution, sale of children and even infanticide by despairing, deserted or widowed, starving mothers and tortured deaths in a lush countryside or in well-provisioned Calcutta.

No mention of the Bengal famine has been done in any text that deals with British colonial history. [http://globalavoidablemortality.blogspot.com/2005/07/forgotten-holocaust-194344-bengal.html]

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