In Spartacus’s excellent perspective providing end speech he said 3 of the big 4 (England, US, China and USSR) had deliberately starved their own people. Which is the 1? Although I’m fuzzy on specific examples for 2 of them I thought each can be accused of that.
China. The US would be its campaigns against indigenous peoples, UK has the Bengal Famine and USSR has the Holodomor.
The UK didn’t starve it’s own people especially related to the Bengal famine.
There are a myriad of issues that led to the famine:
- War time inflation : After the japanese were on India’s doorstep, the Indian government resorted to cranking up the printing press. This led to a sharp rise in prices, as result many people couldn’t buy stuff. To quote from Partition by Barney White-spunner
The price of grain starrted to rise. Throughout 1942 the price of rice doubled from about 6 rupees per maund (a measurement of weight equal to 82 pounds or 37 kilograms), a six fold increase in eighteen months. Actual stocks remained fragile but were not significantly reduced. Food stocks in 1943 were in fact 11 per cent higher than they had been in 1941 and, even allowing for the wartime influx of refugees and the army, the population had not increased by more than 9 per cent. By the rural poor could not afford to buy rice and the governments in Delhi and Bengal appeared incapable of introducing a system of price control or rationing (they did introduce it later on but by then it was too late) that would allowed them to do so or given them the minimum to survive. Chapter January, Pg 41.
And it is just not Bengal that starved but the entirety of the Indian subcontinent. To name a few, Bombay, Madras, The United Provinces, Punjab, Tranvancore etc.
To quote from India’s war by Srinath Raghuvan
A survey of middle-class families in Bombay - those with pre-war incomes between Rs. 50 and 300 - found that their aggregate income had increased by 45 per cent, but this was insufficient to compensate for the rise in the cost of living. … Aggregate expenditure on food rose to 51 per cent of income, as opposed to 37 per cent before the war. (Chapter : War economy Page 349)
- The lack of trains : The 41,000 mile rail network was made of four gauges : The broad gauge, the meter gauge and 2 narrow gauges. The most economically important parts of India were connected by the broad gauge, about 48% of the network. Bengal was part of the BAR (Bengal and Assam Railways) having the meter gauge. So…Between July 1942 and September 1943, India placed orders in Britian, Canada and the USA for 595 broad-gauge locomotives and 25,649 wagons and 605 metre-gauge locomotives as well as 29,480 wagons… The Indian government only received by the end of 1943, 4 broad-gauge locomotives and 5 meter-gauge locomotives.
Now these trains carry coal for war production, the military equipment, passengers and food. To quote from the same book again
The decline in coal production, on the other hand imposed constrains on the railways - the principal mode of transporting food grains in India. In fact, there was no aggregate problem of decline in food production during the war. The production of all cereals - rice, wheat, millet, barely - went from 46.5 million tons in 1938-1939 to 55.3 million tons in 1943-44 and dropped slightly to 52.3 million tons in 1944-45. Military procurement of food, for troops as well as workers, never exceeded more than 1.1 per cent of total production in any year. Food exports as a proportion of production were also negligible.
So… due to logistical issues, it was hard for the government to shuffle food stocks around.
Denial policy : Basically any stocks of rice were burnt to prevent the Japanese from getting food and boats that might be useful to the japanese were destroyed… which only harmed the the livelihoods of the fishing communities and further exacerbated the crisis.
Bad governance : I have already told how the Indian government and the bengal government did not respond quickly to the crisis. So how did the politicians react? Well… the bengal government was a coalition. Khwaja Nizamuddin, the premier and Huseyn Suhrawardy, the Minister for Supply were blamed by the British governor Sir Jack Herbert for not doing enough as they were responsible for the food supplies but the Governor could take over control in case of an emergency under the 1935 Act… which he did not do.
Herbert then went on to blame Delhi saying that an inadequate quota under Delhi’s Revised Basic plan for food redistribution was given and he has no responsibilities.
Linthgow then blamed Herbert saying that he has no real control and no idea what is he is doing and nobody did anything.
- What good is a shipment of barley gonna do? : Well… nothing. The main problem was the price of food. So… Churchil’s refusal to release shipping is a red herring.
Also here is a question that should come up naturally. Why would the British starve Indians when the Political uncertainty is extremely high in the country, which might deter Indians from joining the Indian Army and spring up resistance movements in 1942, when the British Empire is struggling? Does it make sense? No!
So Spartcus Olson’s claims that the British starved Indians is absolute bullshit. There are more rubbish things he has said, for eg : Gandhi is part of the Hindu independence movement which is nonsense as he was part of the Indian National Congress which claimed to represent all Indians.
There has been no effort for Independence which is kinda true. The 1935 Act, basically gave autonomy to the Governments of the directly ruled 11 provinces to choose their own and rule as they see fit. This was seen by the British as a step towards Dominion Status. But the progress towards was extremely slow and hampered by some Indians.
*And many many more. Here is to name a few, wrong numbers about the number of people who joined the indian legion, the Indian National Army, Missing details about Indian troops firing on their own people during the Quit India Movement, the absence of the mention of the wildcard CPI (Communist party of India) in which they betrayed the congress (kinda) and their non-support and support for the British.
This leads me to believe that Sparty is either incompetent or has an agenda or a mix of both.
How is China starving its own people? Aren’t large areas of agricultural rich lands under japanese occupation and the Chinese have nothing but barren land?
I also have a question regarding the implication of the United States starving its own people deliberately, especially at this point in time. Even the Japanese-American internees weren’t deliberately starved while having their civil liberties squashed and to suggest a comparison to the German camps is downright asinine. Even regarding the Indians, there wasn’t so.
We’ve had some problems of course, but not to that extent, as far as I am aware. Unless you want to use Howard Zinn as a source, in which case I understand why you might think that.
I believe Sparty as the UK repeated its behaviour ftom the Irish Potato Famine.
Thanks for the answers. I was thinking it might be China, although I believe there was a lot of nastiness going on there by Chiang Kai-shek. With my American education I don’t think there is a word for the bad treatment of the native peoples by the Americans/Europeans, or if there is one I don’t know it. It would be useful to have for such discussions.
Nitpicking aside Spartacus does make an excellent point that the proposed 4 (or 5) policemen have spotty records at best. Certainly preferred to the Axis but there is room for improvement.
I was talking about this to my wife and I thought would anyone in a Nazi camp not choose to go to an American camp if they could? The American camps weren’t a good thing but no where near as bad as Nazi camps. And the American camps were in response to an attack, they didn’t just start them because they didn’t like the Japanese.
I believe @bjwight was answering the original question, which one didn’t starve it’s own people. I don’t think Sparty’s original comment confined itself to the war, actions before the war were also considered.
Aah. You are right. My bad. I should probably get glasses.
How exactly did the UK repeat it’s behaviour from the Irish Potato Famine?
Isn’t he impying the US here though? Sure, there was a lot of racism and discrimination going around, but I don’t know of any widespread famine in the US during the 20th century.
As for the natural causes arguments regarding the Bengal famine. Sure, natural causes may have initiated the famine, much like the Holodomor started from a naturally bad harvest. It were the policies, fueled by ignorance, disregard and racism of the administrators that made these famines a lot worse than what they would have been. Also note the UK-USSR invasion and administration of Iran caused famine there.
As for China, I’m not that educated on the topic, but I know Mao starved his people a little later. I would not be surprised that all the infighting and personal interests would have made all the famines going around a lot worse.
Racism where? Can you give me an example?
Well, the British didn’t exactly think much of the Indians or did they?
Yes and no. You have people like Claude Auchinleck who was friendly to the Indian troops, King George V, the current viceroy of India Wavell, Atlee who in general supportive of the Indian cause of Dominion status etc who were well good to the Indians and then you have the other side, such as Churchil, Dyer etc etc. Point being there were “good” british and “bad” british on both sides.
If you are talking about Dominion status, that is a very complicated issue. The chamber of princes supported the british because they knew supporting the british would keep their independence and if India became a dominion they would lose that. There are also reasons why the progress towards dominion status was extremely slow. For starters, the british were aware of the ethnically complicated, marginalised groups and how it would nearly impossible to placate them all.So… they went back to the policy of do nothing.