November 6, 2023
India is beaming with pride after the success of the New Delhi G20 Summit, held on 9 and 10 September. No matter which part of the country one belongs to, the success of Summit feels personal. The vision of the government in setting out various aspects of the theme One Earth, One Family, One Future is commendable. Involving a wider section of the country in the Summit, through Jan Bagidhar part was the nucleus to bring the Summit close to the heart of the country. When the world is being torn apart between North, South, East, and West categorization, India sends a strong message that we should work towards the Vasudaiva Kutumbakam concept, which India proposed centuries ago.
Leaders of the 19 different countries enthusiastically participated in the Summit making it a grand success. Several foreign leaders' spouses wore traditional Indian costumes at the G20 dinner that was hosted by the Indian President Draupadi Murmu. Akshata Murthy, the first lady of the UK, donned a vivid, multicoloured gown. Yuko Kishida, the first lady of Japan, donned a green and pink saree with a golden Chinese border. Nearly all of the arrangements made were flawless.
All of these happy occasions and triumphs will become distant memories. But in the midst of all of this one cannot help but see, Rishi Sunak, the British Prime Minister’s enthusiastic participation in the G20 Summit. He made history by becoming the first prime minister of Indian descent to visit the nation. He has publicly stated, "I am hugely proud of my Indian roots." We Indians are proud to hear this coming from the prime minister of one of the most powerful nations in the world. One can never forget the fact that we were under British domination for many years and that one of their prime ministers, Winston Churchill, had declared that "Indians are the beastly people with the beastly religion." And in bringing the British prime minister, who is of Indian descent, to India, of which he is extremely proud, destiny has played a fascinating game. Churchill would have been ashamed of his own statement if he were still alive today. The present UK prime minister is somewhere an answer to all the humiliations that Indians faced after the invasions.
Churchill's character as a person has long been a topic of discussion. The English paint him as ‘the hero’. The Western world acknowledged his service to mankind by honouring him with the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature "for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values", in the year 1953. But for Indians, he will not be less than a Hitler. Adolf Hitler openly massacred the Jews, but Churchill knavishly wiped out the lives of 30 Lakh people in British India during the hardship of famines. Researchers from IIT-Gandhinagar, the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), and the Indian Meteorological Department conducted the study on famines in India, which was published in the journal ‘Geophysical Research Letters’. According to the study, over the past century and a half, India has experienced seven major drought periods: 1876-1882, 1895-1900, 1908-1924, 1937-1945, 1982-1990, 1997-2004, and 2011-2015. During these times, India experienced six major famines, in the years 1873-74, 1876, 1877, 1896-97, 1899, and 1943. The team analyzed the causes of these famines using historical weather and soil data. They found that the first five famines were accompanied by indicators of droughts, mainly low soil moisture. But to be noted they concluded that the 1943 famine was caused due to policy failures alone and not because of natural causes. According to the researchers, there was abundant rain during the 1943 famine. Churchill-era British catastrophic policies were the direct reasons that resulted in the Bengal Famine. Such policies included the large-scale export of rice and prioritizing vital supplies for soldiers engaged in the Second World War. Churchill and his government thought it was more important to feed the soldiers fighting the world war than feed the dying Indians in Bengal. Churchill said any aid sent to India would be insufficient because “Indians are breeding like rabbits”. The rich Britishers should (could) have managed to send the supplies to soldiers from any other part of the British empire except Bengal. It was possible to manage the situation in Bengal. But NO, innocent lives were abandoned to perish. This caused the death of 3 million Indians. The 3 million meaningless deaths of precious Indian lives because of the policies made by the British government under the guidance of Churchill will never allow us to comprehend the reason which earned him the Nobel prize. The wound caused by his derogatory remarks on India and Indian leaders will hardly be healed, and the deaths of the innocent Indians will never be forgotten, but a sigh of relief finally one could feel when Rishi Sunak, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, who has an Indian connection visited India. His praising of India’s scientific advantages, culture, and values, his positive outlook towards humanity, and his way of heading the Conservative party and the United Kingdom, have eased the pain of Indians being ridiculed by Churchill-like people.
In 1947 on the cusps of Indian independence, Winston Churchill supposedly said, “All Indian leaders will be of low calibre and men of straw." But now when a man of Indian origin is currently heading the United Kingdom and the Conservative party, we Indians beam pride and feel sorry for the small-mindedness of Churchill. Destiny has its own way of playing Karma. What you give will come back in the most unexpected way. India will shine and the world will witness!