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Did Indian Communists Align with The British During The Bengal Famine?

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Bengal famine
Bengal famine of 1942. Wikimedia
  • The British Government made arrangements and a pact was created in order to release the CPI members
  • Dr. Mookerjee was sincerely involved in service for famine- relief and at the same time, he also attempted to enhance the anti-government sentiment in the minds of the public
  • At one point of time, Subhash Chandra Bose was hit with severe criticism, jeering remarks, and taunting comments

August 13, 2017: A website with pro-Marxist agenda launched an attack on the founder and director of ‘Bharatiya Jana Sangh’, Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee. The attack went viral on 4th July 2016, that is, just two days before the 150th birth anniversary of Dr. Mookerjee who directed the political party that is the predecessor of today’s BJP party.

The comment was made in the context of the infamous Bengal Famine in the year 1943. The website is quoted as commenting that Chittaprosad, the artist toured in Bengal during the famine and his articles- complete with all the illustrations and sketches, was published in the newspaper of the Communist Party of India, of that time.

The website left out the information that the artist himself had the card of CPI and most possibly worked on the political propaganda during that time. His sketches invoke heart-rending emotions for sure, but being involved in a propaganda, one that especially focused on Dr. Mookerjee for skillfully extracting the British from the scene using complex logic is utterly unjust. British are also said to have seized the sketches which not only have a historic impact but also were used to further the political propaganda that is fueling the present day activities of such modern-day propagandists.

ALSO READ: Rash Behari Bose: The Unsung Hero of India’s Freedom Movement

The British Government made arrangements and a pact was created in order to release the CPI members, which legalized the party and gave them the power to voluntarily practice control over the trade unions. Gradually, they got supplies for publishing various papers and journals in which, ‘People’s War’. It has also been observed that ‘People’s War’ was fundamentally a propaganda publication that was sponsored by and run on behalf of the British. Therefore, Chittaprosad working as an artist for the magazine clearly makes him one of the British propagandist, mentioned Swarajyamag report.

Apart from focusing on the artist’s part of the story, it is to be noted that the communists of India of that time, attempted to orchestrate in Bengal, what Stalin had succeeded to engineer in Ukraine and earned his fame as the “father of scientific famines”.

Honestly, the extra-territorial alliance was not the single cause for the ignorant approach of the Marxists of India towards the genocidal and skillfully engineered famine of Bengal, but the other reason was that any sort of protest on the part of their party would have angered the Government- stated famous historian D.N. Gupta in his book ‘Communism and Nationalism in Colonial India’; reports Swarajyamag in its opinionated piece.

Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee
Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee. Wikimedia

Eventually, Dr. Mookerjee was sincerely involved in service for famine- relief and at the same time, he also attempted to enhance the anti-government sentiment in the minds of the public. Hence, he became the focused target for the propaganda attack.

It was obvious that the foundation for the famine was gradually built with the ongoing war at that time. In midst of an already heated situation, in spite of giving up, Mookerjee toiled without pausing to raise an anti-British agenda and further his activities with that. In 1942, a couple of letters were exchanged between him and the governor and the viceroy; and with a series of consequent events, the conflict kept rising. In the meanwhile, the communists were never reluctant to communalize the famine-crisis, but the willfully distorted and fabricated articles in ‘People’s War’ were applauded by the government; the Swarajyamag has observed.

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In 1943, Dr. Mookerjee delivered a moving speech in the legislative assembly of Bengal, but to no worthy result, as the government stayed not only unperturbed but also passed comments mocking him with ridicule, mentioned the Swarajyamag report. Mookerjee did get back at the party with befitting intellect and quick-wit but the behavior of the Marxists was unbelievable in most of the cases. Even Subhash Chandra Bose was hit with severe criticism, jeering remarks, and taunting comments. ‘People’s War’ utilized every single opportunity to defame him in the eyes of the public. The signature in the corner of a page containing a sketch that ridiculed Bose, the name ‘Chittaprosad’ says enough of the unjustified acts of the communists and bears testimony to their actions in the famine-affected, war-torn, corruption-ruled Bengal during that period.

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

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Tribalism in Guyana Politics and How Indo-Guyanese Remain Politically Divided

Dr. Jagan was forced to accept constitutional changes on the basis of which elections were held in December 1964

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Colonial power
Indentured Labour. Wikimedia
  • In December 1964 the PPP won 45.8 per cent of the total vote, the PNC 40 per cent and the United Force 12.4 per cent
  • Dr. Jagan was removed as Premier on December 14, 1964
  • The United Force’s 12.4 per cent vote came substantially from Indo-Guyanese further disputing the claim by Freddie Kissoon of their undiluted tribalism.

– by Trevor Sudama

Guyana, August 25, 2017: The sustained collaborative foreign and local bombardment of the PPP Government succeeded and Dr. Jagan was forced to accept constitutional changes on the basis of which elections were held in early December 1964 resulting in the PPP winning 45.8 per cent of the total vote, the PNC 40 per cent and the United Force 12.4 per cent.

By Order in Council of the British Government, Dr. Jagan was removed as Premier on December 14, 1964, and shortly thereafter a coalition Government of the Afro-Guyanese dominated PNC and the United Force was installed in office. The United Force’s 12.4 per cent vote came substantially from Indo-Guyanese further disputing the claim by Freddie Kissoon of their undiluted tribalism.

ALSO READThe Solution to Racial Politics in Guyana and Trinidad

Given the British Government’s haste to shed its colonies, the country was being propelled to independence and ethnic conflict would continue unabated in anticipation of this event. The colonial power would play a critical but not neutral role in the outcome.

Ann Marie Bissessar and John Gaffar La Guerre in their book mentioned in the previous column would note that:-“Both in Trinidad and in Guyana, the run-up to independence was characterized by increasing rivalry between the ethnic groupings and a dominant role for the colonial power was in settling these conflicts. What it meant, however, was that one ethnic group became the loser and the other the victor.” (p 91). It was clearly apparent that in 1964 the Indo-Guyanese ended up the loser and the Afro- Guyanese the winner resulting in the consolidation of Afro-Guyanese racial sentiment and solidarity. Guyana was granted independence from Britain in May 1966.

The Burnham regime through the PNC dominated the socio-economic and political life of Guyana for almost three decades from 1964-1992 initially under Forbes Burnham and later under Desmond Hoyte. The Burnham regime was generally regarded as a dictatorship- brutal, oppressive, manipulative and electorally fraudulent. It openly utilized the coercive power of the State to suppress dissent and hound its opponents and employed State resources for naked patronage in defiance of rights, laws, rules, and conventions. It seems apparent that the sustainable support for the regime came primarily from the ethnic consciousness of its Afro-Guyanese base.

Yet, significant numbers of Indo- Guyanese lent their support to the Burnham regime. It is immaterial that they did so to protect religious or business interests or from threats and intimidation. The fact is that Indo-Guyanese sentiment and solidarity was fractured and did not reflect absolute tribal support for the Indo-Guyanese dominated PPP. It is therefore difficult to place credibility on Freddie Kissoon’s jaundiced conclusion that “….they (Indo-Guyanese) are racial from top to bottom.” On the present day situation, Raffique Shah quotes Freddie Kissoon’s lament that “In Guyana… if he met ten Indians and asked their views on the incumbent Afro-dominated APNU Government, they would be unanimously against it remaining in power. But if he spoke with ten Afro-Guyanese, five would be for and five against.” It is difficult to envisage that ethnic based support for the political parties would have changed substantially from what they were in the National Elections of 2015.

Given the ethnic demographics of the country, the Afro-Guyanese led a coalition of parties could not have obtained their one- seat majority in the National Assembly nor could David Grainger have become President without the support of a sizeable percentage of Indo-Guyanese.

Pollster Vishnu Bisram, in his assessment of ethnic cross voting in the 2015 Elections, estimates that at least 12 per cent of Indo-Guyanese voted for the Afro-Guyanese dominated coalition and its leader. He also stated that in his interviews during that campaign, some Indo-Guyanese expressed support for the Afro-dominated coalition of parties but he found no Afro-Guyanese in support of the Indo-Guyanese dominated PPP/Civic.

I, therefore, wonder how Freddie Kissoon chose his random sample of Guyanese to elicit their views.

Trevor Sudama is a former Member of Parliament & past Director of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago

   

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British Government to launch a new one Pound Coin at the end of March and scrap the current one by October

The new 12-sided coin will be legal from March 28

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One pound coin. Wikimedia commons

London, Jan 3, 2017: The British government will launch a new one pound coin at the end of March and scrap the current one by October. An announcement from the British Treasury on Sunday said the new 12-sided one pound coin would become legal tender on March 28 and the new coin would be produced by the Royal Mint in Wales, Xinhua news agency reported.

A total of 1.5 billion coins will be issued in the first minting.

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The new coin has been introduced to deter sophisticated counterfeiters who can now replicate the current coin, which has been in circulation for 30 years.

The new one pound has a distinctive 12-sided shape, recognisable even by touch and it is made of two metals, the outer ring is gold-coloured (nickel-brass) and the inner ring is silver-coloured (nickel-plated alloy).

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And if the coin is tilted it shows a latent image, like a hologram, which changes from a pound sign to the number one.

It will also feature the fifth coinage portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, the world’s longest-serving monarch who began her reign in 1952. (IANS)

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Britain’s Foreign Office apologizes to Italian Resident for ‘Racist’ form

Italy has been a unified country since March 17, 1861, the Italian embassy pointed out to the British government

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Representational Image, Flickr

Rome, Oct 13, 2016: Britain’s Foreign Office has said it was sorry for an online form that asks Italian resident in the UK if they are “Italian, Neapolitan or Sicilian” – 155 years after the unification of Italy.

Italian ambassador to Britain Pasquale Terracciano said he was satisfied with the government’s apology for the form which parents of schoolchildren in parts of England and Wales were asked to complete.

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“It was an error due rather to ignorance and carelessness on the part of a few education authorities rather than a real wish to discriminate,” Terracciano stated.

The British government has said it was asking for the form to be changed, he said.

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“It is important to avoid misunderstandings that can arise in this delicate post-Brexit period,” said Terracciano, referring to Britain’s decision to leave the European Union in a referendum on 23 June.

Italy has been a unified country since March 17, 1861, the Italian embassy pointed out to the British government. (IANS)