The cruelty of the British had killed 1.8 billion Indians… the situation was such that the population did not increase for many years.

The British committed the most horrific massacres in India in the history of mankind. Frequent famines were a violent variant of this systematic genocide. The brutal manner in which the British bleed farmers and small artisans by imposing unimaginable taxes on their produce was another form of systematic destruction. There are many examples of British brutality against the natives in the nearly 200 years of British rule.

The merciless use of Indians as fodder by these colonists in the two world wars was yet another example of their inhumanity. Innumerable innocent Indians were killed by police and army brutality, especially in Jallianwala Bagh.

1.8 billion people died

Renowned economist and professor Utsa Patnaik (Jawaharlal Nehru University) has estimated that Britain plundered $45 trillion from India between 1765 and 1938. His book “A Theory of Imperialism” (2016), written with Prabhat Patnaik, estimated that 1.8 billion Indians died under the British Raj (1757–1947).

Violent exploitation began after the defeat of Siraj-ud-Daula, the Nawab of Bengal at the Battle of Plassey in 1757. The British took huge concessions from the defeated Bengalis. The Bengalis were defeated by the British at the Battle of Buxar in 1764 and in 1765 the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam was “forced” to give taxation (diwani) power in Bengal to the British East India Company. The British imposed heavy revenue burden on the Bengalis.

great famine of bengal

As a result, one crore Bengalis died in the Bengal famine of 1769-1770. The East India Company used about a third of its revenue to buy Indian goods and Bengalis had to pay exorbitant taxes on their goods.

By the 1840s the East India Company had dominated much of present-day India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and the British government was adopting an increasingly exploitative policy. Along with ruthless taxation, large-scale industrialization was being abolished in India. Whereas before the arrival of the British, India was the world’s leading country in the production of textiles, agricultural products and metals. But after the arrival of the British, it became an exporter of raw materials and an importer of goods manufactured in Britain.

  1. the hit of imposed poverty
  2. Poverty and death dominated India during the British rule.
  3. In the Bengal famine of 1769-1770, 1 crore Bengalis starved to death due to high taxes.
  4. Crores of Indians died due to man-made famines in 1769–1770 and 1942–1945 (WW2).
  5. Historian Amresh Mishra has estimated that 10 million Indians were massacred as retaliation for 2,000 British deaths in the decade following the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
  6. Despite the very high birth rate, India’s population did not increase between 1860 (292 million) and 1934 (292 million).
  7. In 1942, Winston Churchill deliberately forced Indians to starve to death in Bengal, Orissa, Bihar and Assam. 6-7 million Indians were killed in about four years, as the British exported grain from India and reduced the import of grain.
  8. According to Professor Utsa Patnaik, the per capita annual food consumption of Indians in 1900 was 200 kg, but it decreased to 137 kg during World War II and in 1946.
  9. Shashi Tharoor writes in “Inglourious Empire”, “The British left a 16 per cent literacy society. Life expectancy at that time was 27. There was no domestic industry and more than 90 per cent of the people were living below the poverty line.

famine exodus increased

The British policies of deliberately starving Indians had further consequences. Due to the famine, many laborers from India had to move to the tropical British colonies like Mauritius, Fiji, Trinidad, Tobago, Suriname.

attack on local languages

The British also deliberately did the work of hollowing out their human dignity by destroying the language of Indians. Lord Macaulay, secretary of the Board of Control, in his “Minute on Education” in 1835 urged the Governor-General to teach English to a minority of Indians. He argued that “we should create a class that acts as an interpreter for us.”

divide and rule policy

The British Empire during its colonization of India adopted the age-old political strategy of divide and rule. He used the tactics of pitting the local people against each other to rule the region.

After torturing India for 200 years and plundering India’s wealth and filling its coffers, Britain broke it to pieces just before leaving the Indian subcontinent. The partition of 1947 with the independence of India resulted in the death of nearly one million people and displaced 13 million. India still grapples with the harmful legacy of the communal divide that the British left behind.

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