24 November, 2020

His Hour Of Infamy

Churchill’s hand fed the appallingly dire Bengal famine. He comes off here as the fevered colonial of a caricature.

His Hour Of Infamy

It is an interesting footnote that the death of Winston Churchill in January 1965 was solemnly commemorated throughout the lands that had till recently been part of the British empire. In Calcutta, a city that enjoyed a strange love-hate relationship with the British Raj, The Statesman covered his state funeral in London with a meticulous sensitivity that would have baffled Britons, not least the deceased. The bumptious principal of my school even had a portrait of Churchill put up at a discreet corner near the library.

This posthumous adulation of a man who had waged a determined campaign in the 1930s to prevent limited self-government for India and had once described Mahatma Gandhi as a “half-naked fakir” may seem inexplicable. Yet, it is important to remember that the nationalist mythology of an impoverished mass of Indians rising to boot out arrogant, exploitative colonials in a frenzy of anti-imperialism is a recent creation. The reality was an India that saw British rule in different shades of grey. The...



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