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New Study Holds Winston Churchill's Policy Failures Responsible For 1943 Bengal Famine, Not Drought

Written By Aishwaria Sonavane | Mumbai | Published:

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  • In 1981, economist and noble prize winner Amartya Sen had put forth an argument saying that there should have been enough to feed the people in Bengal and eventually avoid¬†the calamity.¬†

In a fresh study published in the Geophysical Research Letters Journal, conducted by researchers divulges a significant development of colonial history, holding Winston Churchill's policies responsible for the famine that claimed 3 million Indian lives.

The 1943 famine of Bengal became the sole famine of contemporary history to not occur due to a crucial drought but exacerbated due to the policy failures of the wartime leader, says the study conducted by Indian and United States' researchers. 

According to the reports of CNN, researchers used weather data to measure the amount of moisture in the soil during the famine that occurred in India between 1870 and 1943, which revealed that the rain levels were above average during that time, chalking out the possibility of a natural calamity behind this tragedy. 

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Vimal Mishra, the lead researcher and an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar told CNN that there have not been any major famines since independence, hence they started researching if the famines were caused due to factors such as lack of irrigation.

Former Prime Minister of United Kingdom, Churchill, remembered as the prominent historic leader who led Britain through the Second World War became responsible for policy lapses like prioritising distribution of supplies to the military, putting an end to rice imports and refusing the declare the famine became few of the factors leading to the gravity of the calamity. 

During then, Bengal lieutenant governor, Richard Temple distributed relief money and food that was imported food from Burma, now known as Myanmar, for which Temple received heavy criticism from the British establishment for diverting the resources. 

In 1981, economist and noble prize winner Amartya Sen had put forth an argument saying that there should have been enough to feed the people in Bengal and eventually avoid the calamity. 

A book by Madhushree Mukherjee, Churchill’s Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India during World War II of 2011, argued that the tragedy was caused due to heavy exports of food from India and that 70,000 tonnes of rice were sent out from the country. The British establishment was resistant towards devoting time and resources to work on the Indian famine, instead were focused on nourishing their military operations and stocking resources in their homes.

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