MN Roy

Hunger and Revolution in India II

Source: The Call, 25 September 1919, p.5
Transcription Ted Crawford
HTML Markup: Mike Bessler
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

A press correspondent of the "Globe," Toronto, Canada, writes the following:

"India is in the deadly grip of plague and famine. In the Central and Northern provinces, death stalks through the land, taking a toll that makes the great war casualty list sink into insignificance. To date, the estimated number of dead from plague and famine in the past year is over 32,000,000 people. The poor have eaten all their food and the physical condition of thousands upon thousands is such that they are too weak even to carry their water-jars. Some conception of the awful death-roll may be gathered from the following comparison: If coffins for the 30,000,000 British Indian subjects who have died during the last year through plague and famine were placed, head to feet, they would reach a distance equal to one and one-third times around the equator. Words fail to portray the ghastliness of this stupendous tragedy, and photographs are too gruesome to publish."

The "London Times" admits "India has been swept bare of food-stuffs to meet the exigencies of the war." According to Government statistics, exports of cereals in 1917-18 rose to 5,400,000 tons valued at £36,000,000. For the same year, wheat to the amount of 1,500,000 tons was exported. In 1919 "India's contribution of food-stuffs was maintained at an even higher level than in 1917-18." During this period the country was ravaged by famine and epidemics incident to famine.

In spite of the fact that many notices have found their way to the press of the United States, of famine conditions in. India, the people there up to the present moment have contributed very little to alleviate the terrible conditions brought on by enforced contribution to the "war of liberty." In the latter part of May a few Canadian newspapers issued an appeal for funds to succour the dying millions in India, but this appeal was immediately suppressed by order of the Government, which has since allowed no news to be printed about India.

India, the land of proverbial riches and opulence, fell under a curse when the voracious European exploiters came to her coasts in search of gain. Since the days of the East India Company down to the present moment, the Indian people have suffered from chronic famines, malnutrition and endemic diseases which are the inevitable results of such a condition. By nature, education and centuries of culture, the Indians as a race are peaceable and averse to shedding blood. English capitalists, taking advantage of this well-known characteristic, initiated a kind of exploitation, merciless, cruel and efficient, which is calculated to annihilate the entire Indian people. A system which succeeds in killing 32,000,000 human beings in a single year, speaks for itself without the need of additional damning facts. The people which rebels against further subjection to such a government should receive at least the moral support of the whole world.

English Imperialism is determined to suppress the just aspirations of the Indian people at whatever cost; without shame or compunction, it is employing all the weapons of modern warfare against a people completely disarmed for 50 years. To maintain the Indian people in their present condition of hopeless slavery is a vital necessity for the future existence of the English capitalistic system; what the capitalists lose in their struggle with the British workers, they will more than recover by their ruthless exploitation of the helpless and miserable Indian labourers. Consequently, notwithstanding the fact that the English proletarian may gain something as a result of the war, he will never be able to overthrow his capitalist oppressors so long as the workers of India are theirs to exploit at pleasure. Unfortunately, this manifest fact is little considered or recognised by the English Labour Party, which in regard to its own affairs is extremely liberal, but which as regards British Imperialism in India, never goes farther than to recommend a more generous policy in the administration of that country. Apparently, the English Labour Party cannot conceive the idea that England has no right whatever, either moral or political, to impose itself upon the Indian, however liberal its rule. Accepting Imperialism as right and necessary for the welfare and greatness of England, they prove themselves just as much imperialist as their masters. They, and the rest of the workers are still to learn that the struggle for Indian independence is not a local affair, having for its end and purpose the creation of another egoistic nationalism; the liberty of the Indian people is a factor in world politics, for India is the keystone of British Imperialism which constitutes the greatest and most powerful enemy of the Social and Economic Revolution that exists to-day. For such time as English capital retains in absolute possession all the immense natural resources of India, with unlimited right to exploit its manpower, just so long will it continue intrenched in its power too firmly to be overthrown by the English proletariat.

And English capital is more than mere English capital - it represents at once the epitome and bulwark of the capitalist system throughout the world. Seen in this light, it becomes self-evident that the liberation of India is more than a mere act of abstract justice, it signifies a long step towards the redemption of the world from the jaws of the capitalist system. It is for this reason that no nation, no people or group of people, can afford to remain indifferent to the fate of India, to its cause of liberty, or to the suffering and struggle of those millions of Indians who to-day plead for the moral and material support of humanity. — (From "Gale's Magazine.")


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