A file photo of Sir Winston Churchill.
A file photo of Sir Winston Churchill.(Photo Courtesy: German Federal Archive)
  • 1. A White Man With a Burden
  • 2. Devastation Born of Negligence
  • 3. Not a Black and White Story
A Closer Look at Winston Churchill’s Life on His Birthday

A hero of the Second World War, the man who led Britain as it stood alone against the might of the Nazis, a great orator. But the myth of Winston Churchill has not stood untarnished in much of the West, particularly the United States and Great Britain.

In recent years, Churchill’s reputation and his legacy has been questioned by noted scholars like Christopher Hitchens. When it came to India too, Winston Churchill was far from sympathetic. He was a champion of colonialism and opposed to Indian independence, famously insulted Gandhi and by an act of wilful negligence, caused the deaths of millions in the Bengal famine.

  • 1. A White Man With a Burden

    A file photo of Sir Winston Churchill.
    Churchill waves to a crowd in London after he announced that Germany had been defeated in WWII. 
    (Photo: Public Domain Image)
    The princes, the Europeans, the Muslims, the depressed classes, the Anglo-Indians - none of them know what to do nor where to turn in the face of their apparent desertion by Great Britain. Can you wonder that they try in desperation to make what terms are possible with the triumphant Brahmin oligarchy?
    Winston Churchill at a Speech in Albert Hall, London, 1931

    Churchill’s views on India were fairly typical of British Conservatives at the time. He seemed to have bought into Rudyard Kipling’s idea of the ‘White Man’s Burden”. Lesser people, like us, were to be ushered into civilisation and modernity by colonial rule. Left to ourselves, we would likely descend to barbarity.

    Unsurprisingly, Churchill was also a staunch defender of the British Raj and thought it was a force for good in the world. His love for the empire made him a strong opponent of Gandhi.

    A file photo of Sir Winston Churchill.
    Gandhi with Sarojini Naidu in London.
    (Photo: Public Domain/expired copyright)
    It is alarming and also nauseating to see Mr Gandhi, a seditious Middle Temple lawyer of the type well-known in the East, now posing as a fakir, striding half naked up the steps of the Viceregal palace to parley on equal terms with the representative of the King-Emperor.
    Comment on Gandhi’s meeting with the Viceroy of India, Feb 23, 1931
    He ought to be lain bound hand and foot at the gates of Delhi, and then trampled on by an enormous elephant with the new Viceroy seated on its back.
    Churchill in a conversation with Edwin Montagu, Secretary of State for India, 1921.

    But perhaps Churchill’s greatest crime against India came during the Second World War, and it lead to millions of deaths.


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