It ignores Bengal famine that killed 6 million people
Dr. Gideon Polya
The movie “Gandhi” begins and ends with the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by a Hindu fanatic on 30 January 1948 and covers major bases in depicting some key events in the life of the wonderful Mohandas Gandhi:
A Gujarati, London-educated lawyer, Gandhi was thrown off a train in South Africa in 1893 for being a non-European in a Whites-only first-class carriage;
Gandhi suffered violence and imprisonment in his organization of a non-violent campaign by Indians against the racist South African pass laws;
In a notable scene, Gandhi orders his wife, a high caste Hindu, to clean the latrines (a powerful statement of his commitment to the untouchables or
In 1915 Gandhi and his good friend the Reverend Charles Freer Andrews returned to India, but Reverend Andrews was thence sent to the British Pacific island colony of Fiji (no mention is made in the film that the use of Indian and other indentured labor in Fiji, South Africa and elsewhere was effective and variously deadly “5-year slavery” that prompted Winston Churchill to famously opine in relation to Chinese indentured
Gandhi was appalled by the suffering of the Indian peasantry and using non-violent protest in 1917 Gandhi, now wearing peasant garb, successfully supported the Bihari indigo farmers against their rapacious British landowners;
in 1919 Gandhi suffered imprisonment for organizing a non-violent protest and non-cooperation movement against draconian British rule, and in
Gandhi became a major Indian National Congress political figure, arguing for Indian Independence together with other major political figures such as Jinnah and Nehru;
In 1930 Gandhi led non-violent protests via the Salt March against the British-imposed salt tax and famously made salt himself in defiance of the British (the movie shows protestors peacefully advancing 3 at a time to be beaten down by the British);
In 1931 Gandhi attended the first unsuccessful Round Table Conference in London (and is portrayed in the movie visiting British textile workers aware of his Indian spinning wheel campaign);
In 1932 Gandhi suffered more imprisonment for opposing British actions over untouchables and engaged in a fast-unto-death protest that forced a British
In WW2 Gandhi famously made a “Quit India” speech and was imprisoned together with 100,000 other Indian “Quit India” activists, but was released in 1944 because of his poor health and the British fear that he might die in prison;
In 1947 India and Pakistan gained independence but concomitant Partition was accompanied by huge massacres of up to 1 million people and generation of 18 million refugees – Gandhi again adopted a fast-unto-death protest to stop communal violence in Calcutta;
In January 1948, Gandhi was assassinated and was given a massively attended state funeral.
Richard Attenborough‘s movie “Gandhi” was released in late 1982. “Gandhi” was written by John Briley and produced and directed by Richard Attenborough. Ben Kingsley starred as Mahatma Gandhi. “Gandhi” was nominated for Academy Awards in eleven categories and won 8 including Best Picture and Best Director for Richard Attenborough, Best Actor for Ben Kingsley, and Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen for John Briley.
And yes, “Gandhi” is a terrific movie that no doubt has had a positive effect on hundreds of millions of people throughout the world by superbly presenting the Gandhian message of insistence on truth (Satyagraha), non-racism, peace, justice, love of fellow humanity and non-violence.
Ambiguities in Gandhi’s life
Of course there were ambiguities in Gandhi’s life that could have been covered (e.g. Gandhi helped British recruitment for the Boer War and WW1 while opposing the British war effort in WW2), and of course there were all kinds of other things deleted from this long but finite movie describing an immensely important life (e.g. Gandhi’s advocated and
However the key criticism that must be made about this otherwise fine and impactful movie is that while it graphically portrays British colonial officials as unfeeling, racist, brutal and repressive (e.g. the South Africa incidents, the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, the brutal beating of the Salt Marchers and other protestors , harsh imprisonment of activists) it does not reveal the immensity of the British mass murder crime in India that must be described as a 2-century Indian Holocaust and Indian Genocide.
Indeed “History is written by the victors” and several generations of English-speaking historians have largely deleted this appalling atrocity from history and general public perception. You can do the experiment for yourself: go to your local community or university library and see if you can find any histories of Britain, England, Churchill or WW2 that actually make any mention of the WW2 Bengal Holocaust, the WW2 Bengal Famine or indeed of any Bengali or Indian famines (in the 1769-1770 Bengal Famine, British rapacity killed 10 million Bengalis, 1 in 3 of the Bengali population). One notes that genocide ignoring and holocaust ignoring
“Poverty is the worst form of violence”
The closest the movie comes to this is in portraying Gandhi seeing the circumstances of a dying indigo farmer and quoting Gandhi’s powerful assertion that “Poverty is the worst form of violence”.
Specifically, there is no mention in Richard Attenborough’s movie “Gandhi” of the WW2 Bengal Famine (WW2 Bengali Holocaust, WW2 Indian Holocaust) in which the British with Australian complicity deliberately starved 6-7 million Indians to death for strategic reasons. In the 1942-1945 Bengali Holocaust (Bengal Famine) the British deliberately starved 6-7 million Indians to death in
Calcutta was a major industrial
Thus in 2002 leading UK historian Simon Schama wrote about the 18th century Great Bengal Famine and
One of Australia’s most famous historians, Professor Geoffrey Blainey, must be praised for being extremely rare among Australian or indeed
No mention of Bengal Holocaust in BBC TV series
There was no mention of the WWII Bengali Holocaust in the BBC TV series and book of the same name by Michael Wood called “The Story of India” that re-wrote Indian history by almost completely eliminating mention of 2 centuries of recurrent, massive famines under British occupation (indeed the only allusion to “famine” in the TV series was the image of a hand taking volume entitled “Famine” from a bookshelf). This series was also shown by the ABC (Australia’s equivalent of the UK BBC) and it must be stated that both the Australian ABC and the UK’s BBC have an appalling record of “fake news through lying by omission” [see Gideon Polya, “Australian ABC and UK BBC fake news through lying by omission”, Countercurrents, 2 May 2017: https //countercurrents.org /2017/05/02/
Just imagine the outcry in the West – and indeed around the World – if the BBC produced a lavish TV series entitled “The Story of Germany” and failed to mention its millennial history of massacring Jews culminating in the WW2 Jewish Holocaust (5-6 million dead, 1 in 6 dying from deprivation) and the WW2 Holocaust in general (30 million Slav, Jewish
‘Churchill’s Blind Spot: India’
Jewish British Zionist historian, the late Professor Sir Martin Gilbert, must be praised as one of very few Anglo historians to have mentioned the Bengal Famine in his writing but he greatly under-estimated the death toll and in major biographies of
Before the late 1982 release of Richard Attenborough’s movie “Gandhi”, a number of books detailing the horrors of the WWII Bengal Holocaust had been published from 1944 onwards, of which the most detailed was Paul Greenough’s “Prosperity and Misery in Modern Bengal: the Famine of 1943-1944” published by Oxford University Press in 1982. The makers of Richard Attenborough’s movie “Gandhi” could argue that their omission could be explained by the overwhelming
Satyajit Ray “Ashoni Sanket”
Further, the makers of “Gandhi” in 1982 must surely have been aware of the brilliant work of outstanding Bengali film-maker Satyajit Ray who in 1973 released an immensely moving film, “Ashoni Sanket” (Distant Thunder), that describes the Bengal Famine from the perspective of an educated man, a pandit, and his wife in a rural village environment.
The husband provided medical, educational and religious services to the
Egregious lies of omission
The ignoring of the WW2 Bengali Holocaust in Richard Attenborough‘s 1982 UK movie “Gandhi” is a further example
Buried in his recent book “Inglorious Empire. What the British did to India”, Indian MP Shashi Tharoor alludes to the horrendously deadly cost of British imperialism in a key sentence: “The British left a society with 16
Two-century British Auschwitz
Implicit in “a life expectancy of 27” for Indians under the British is a horrendous Avoidable Mortality Holocaust in which 1,800 million Indians died avoidably from imposed deprivation under a 2-century British Raj that made India a 2-century British Auschwitz. Using Indian census data 1870-1950, assuming an Indian population of about 200 million in the period 1760-1870, and estimating by interpolation from available data of an Indian avoidable death rate in (deaths per 1,000 of population) of 37 (1757-1920), 35 (1920-1930), 30 (1930-1940) and 24 (1940-1950), one can estimate Indian excess deaths of 592 million (1757-1837), 497 million (1837-1901) and 418 million (1901-1947), roughly 1.5 billion in total or 1.8 billion if one includes the Native States.
There has been massive white-washing of this Indian Holocaust in part or in whole by generations of mendacious mainstream journalists, writers, politicians,