The Bengal Famine: How the British engineered the worst genocide in human history for profit

I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion. The famine was their own fault for breeding like rabbits.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -Winston Churchill

The British had a ruthless economic agenda when it came to operating in India and that did not include empathy for native citizens. Under the British Raj, India suffered countless famines. But the worst hit was Bengal. The first of these was in 1770, followed by severe ones in 1783, 1866, 1873, 1892, 1897 and lastly 1943-44. Previously, when famines had hit the country, indigenous rulers were quick with useful responses to avert major disasters. After the advent of the British, most of the famines were a consequence of monsoonal delays along with the exploitation of the country’s natural resources by the British for their own financial gain. Yet they did little to acknowledge the havoc these actions wrought. If anything, they were irritated at the inconveniences in taxing the famines brought about.


The first of these famines was in 1770 and was ghastly brutal. The first signs indicating the coming of such a huge famine manifested in 1769 and the famine itself went on till 1773. It killed approximately 10 million people, millions more than the Jews incarcerated during the Second World War. It wiped out one third the population of Bengal. John Fiske, in his book “The Unseen World”, wrote that the famine of 1770 in Bengal was far deadlier than the Black Plague that terrorized Europe in the fourteenth century. Under the Mughal rule, peasants were required to pay a tribute of 10-15 per cent of their cash harvest. This ensured a comfortable treasury for the rulers and a wide net of safety for the peasants in case the weather did not hold for future harvests. In 1765 the Treaty of Allahabad was signed and East India Company took over the task of collecting the tributes from the then Mughal emperor Shah Alam II. Overnight the tributes, the British insisted on calling them tributes and not taxes for reasons of suppressing rebellion, increased to 50 percent. The peasants were not even aware that the money had changed hands. They paid, still believing that it went to the Emperor.

Partial failure of crop was quite a regular occurrence in the Indian peasant’s life. That is why the surplus stock, which remained after paying the tributes, was so important to their livelihood. But with the increased taxation, this surplus deteriorated rapidly. When partial failure of crops came in 1768, this safety net was no longer in place. The rains of 1769 were dismal and herein the first signs of the terrible draught began to appear. The famine occurred mainly in the modern states of West Bengal and Bihar but also hit Orissa, Jharkhand and Bangladesh. Bengal was, of course, the worst hit. Among the worst affected areas were Birbum and Murshidabad in Bengal. Thousands depopulated the area in hopes of finding sustenance elsewhere, only to die of starvation later on. Those who stayed on perished nonetheless. Huge acres of farmland were abandoned. Wilderness started to thrive here, resulting in deep and inhabitable jungle areas. Tirhut, Champaran and Bettiah in Bihar were similarly affected in Bihar.


Prior to this, whenever the possibility of a famine had emerged, the Indian rulers would waive their taxes and see compensatory measures, such as irrigation, instituted to provide as much relief as possible to the stricken farmers. The colonial rulers continued to ignore any warnings that came their way regarding the famine, although starvation had set in from early 1770. Then the deaths started in 1771. That year, the company raised the land tax to 60 per cent in order to recompense themselves for the lost lives of so many peasants. Fewer peasants resulted in less crops that in turn meant less revenue. Hence the ones who did not yet succumb to the famine had to pay double the tax so as to ensure that the British treasury did not suffer any losses during this travesty.

After taking over from the Mughal rulers, the British had issued widespread orders for cash crops to be cultivated. These were intended to be exported. Thus farmers who were used to growing paddy and vegetables were now being forced to cultivate indigo, poppy and other such items that yielded a high market value for them but could be of no relief to a population starved of food. There was no backup of edible crops in case of a famine. The natural causes that had contributed to the draught were commonplace. It was the single minded motive for profit that wrought about the devastating consequences. No relief measure was provided for those affected. Rather, as mentioned above, taxation was increased to make up for any shortfall in revenue. What is more ironic is that the East India Company generated a profited higher in 1771 than they did in 1768.


Although the starved populace of Bengal did not know it yet, this was just the first of the umpteen famines, caused solely by the motive for profit, that was to slash across the country side. Although all these massacres were deadly in their own right, the deadliest one to occur after 1771 was in 1943 when three million people died and others resorted to eating grass and human flesh in order to survive.


Winston Churchill, the hallowed British War prime minister who saved Europe from a monster like Hitler was disturbingly callous about the roaring famine that was swallowing Bengal’s population. He casually diverted the supplies of medical aid and food that was being dispatched to the starving victims to the already well supplied soldiers of Europe. When entreated upon he said, “Famine or no famine, Indians will breed like rabbits.” The Delhi Government sent a telegram painting to him a picture of the horrible devastation and the number of people who had died. His only response was, “Then why hasn’t Gandhi died yet?”


(August 20, 2014 12:31 pm)




31. 07. 2015., editor Biljana Dikovic


  • Churchill saved Europe from Hitler? The Premier of a country whose army fled leaving their arms and ammunition in the battle of Dunkirk? Won’t the hoses laugh to hear this? It was the Red Army of the workers and peasants that defeated the Nazis. The whole Western Bloc came afterwards to divide Germany and collect their booty.

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  • I’ve seen depictions of the murder of Indians in feature length movies, and was shocked to see and learn about callous murder of Indians. The murder of 60 million plus Indians is a story that should be taught in schools, so the truth comes out about this heinous behavior. More souls were lost at the hands of the British than at the hands of Hitler and Stalin. This truth is hard to accept.


  • The British Empire should therefore under international law be made accountable and stripped off its royal priveleges then isn’t it? Seems fair enough? They can still see each other unlike me and my grand parents.


    • Thanks. The British Govt should take the blame. They were interested in looting another country and deprived of natives problems. No accountability – shame.


  • The British were far worst than the Mughals and Hitler.One day the whole country shall pay for it’s sins. Indians, no doubts were idiots, to allow outsiders like Mughals and British India for long periods of time. Churchill must be suffering in hell for another 100 years.


  • This is so utterly biased, it verges on racism. You make it sound that Bengal was the perfect state, a paradise of sorts, ruined by British colonials. Of course it wasn’t. India has always faced famine and endless internal conflicts and dealt with them in a variety of ways, some less successful than others.Churchill was fighting a terrible war that threatened India among others. He had limited resources, and of course some people suffered. And he certainly didn’t want valuable food supplies to fall into the hands of the Japanese, who came perilously close to invading and subjugating India.Be fairer and more realistic in your analysis, please.


    • The True human

      You are the racist here, who is conveniently ignoring the heinous devilish crimes of a devil because he seems to belong to your own race.
      Not a single line in above article is false, actually what they have written is quite modest, if you want to know the truth read some proper history books, not those written by Churchil’s nanny from Britain, then you will know what a Devil Churchill was, and His whole lot……
      Shame on your ignorance to call India a land of famines and internal conflicts……. This all happened only and solely after it fell into not at all “The Great” Britain’s clutches.


      • Patricia berry

        My father was there in 1943/45 he was disgusted with what was happening to the citizens off india. One of his jobs wss to go round the streets daily and pick up the bodies. He never forgot this and until the day he died he cursed churchill. He hated him with a passion , he also would never give to oxfam he told us they withheld food from the starving people while sitting eating lavish food for themselves.

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    • Safeguarding the British colonials, only in relation to femines and reliefs sent, won’t justify the genera massacre they created in India. They have infected the country with the virus of partition on the basis of religion. Each country has its problems as each family has. Indians weren’t rich but our forefathers had acres of land to themselves, our mines had coal, oil or diamonds, our forests had wood, our jungles had tigers. We are still suffering from the aftereffects of being colonised, being treated as dogs. And when there’s a crisis at economy during emergency, obviously no one feeds innumerable dogs they once made good use of. Because of these rabbits, in Bengal, the British could cultivate indigo in the very fields that were once used for growing rice. I’m not a historian. I’ve learnt it as an ancestral knowledge of the suffering my forefathers went through.


  • Strikes me as a Cautionary tale. Folks need to start planting their Victory Gardens, so when the government-subsidized unicrops fail, they’ll have food! If you think government will come to the rescue, you only have to look to the failure of fanny mae/freddy mac crisis of 2008. Did gov’t redistribute wealth to all the taxpayers to stimulate the economy so the banks wouldn’t fail? NO! They subsidized major corporations, so the CEOs who were responsible for the debacle could stuff their own pockets full of bonuses, while working-class folks began to declare bankruptcy at record rates, a phenomenon continuing to this day.


  • Starvation is caused by people who breed more children than they can feed. Its as simple as that.


    • Sorry starvation in this case was caused by bigoted, zealot, scavenging rascals who forcefully occupied and terrorised nearly half of the world , the bloody mongrels and thieves who still rejoice with their kingdom with stolen kohinoor diamond as its crown. Watch out as u r paying for ur deeds slowly, remember karma is a bitch.


  • I shared this on my fb and was readily suspended for 3 days


  • Sharing on fb got me suspended for 3 days


    • It looks that “Genocidal British State” is unforgiving… Same with US- they are the biggest financial & logistical supporters of International Crime Tribunal in Hague- when comes to prosecution of others (particularly their ideological opponents) , but they don’t recognize its jurisdiction over American war crimes and crimes against humanity (even resorting to the open threats to this institution).
      We live today in the two faced world and the world of double standards, where prevail “the rule of the strongest”, not justice. The so called “biggest (western) democracies” are “the biggest barbarians” of modern times…


  • There will never be reparation, justice or an apology from the British for their atrocities against Indians for the simple reason many in the Indian middle classes are quite content White worshiping like the US and Britain to this day.

    Until and unless we adopt the mentality of the Jews and pursue these people and their government till they beg us to stop, they will continue to ignore these events because we ourselves ignore it and focus instead on Hillary Clinton’s “feminism” and our IT prospects in the US.


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