Churchill and India

Churchill and India

Manipulation or Betrayal?

By Kishan S Rana

ISBN 9781032354965
Published September 30, 2022 by Routledge India
214 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
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Book cover Churchill and India

Winston Churchill‘s 60-year public service career commenced with three years in India in 1896-99, as a subaltern in the 4th Hussars regiment. He used that time to forge his political strategy, engage in intense self-education, focusing on the classics, and gained war experience on the Afghan frontier. His foray in journalism produced his first book The Malakand Field Force. His conclusion: perpetuation of the Indian Empire – ‘the Jewel in the Crown’.

Churchill dealt directly with British India only as Prime Minister, in 1940-45. But he spoke constantly, from the 1920s on-wards, about safeguarding Britain’s imperial role. He was hostile to the Indian Independence Movement, attacking Gandhi and Hindus, with racist language considered extreme even in those times. Rising prejudice overtook his earlier expressions of humane feelings for Indians. During his premiership, Churchill exploited Hindu-Muslim divisions, collaborating with Muslim League leader Jinnah, and his demand for Pakistan. Most documents on a subterrain Churchill-Jinnah relationship have not survived, but this book collates the trace evidence, offering a hypothesis.

Misgovernance by the British Viceroy and his administration’s during the 1942-43 Bengal Famine was compounded by Churchill’s callous indifference, resulting in the death of 3 million. Remember, Gandhi, Nehru, and most leaders of the Indian national movement were jailed for nearly three years (Nehru: August 1942 to March 1945). Churchill failed to address post-World War II arrangements for the subcontinent. Those were wasted years.

This produced to a hasty Partition, with over a million deaths in inter-communal killings. That was the price for Churchill’s Empire obsession, lost in his Victorian fantasy.

15 August 2022

Winston Churchill‘s 60-year public service career commenced with three years in India in 1896-99, as a subaltern in the 4th Hussars regiment. He used that time to forge his political strategy, engage in intense self-education, focusing on the classics, and gained war experience on the Afghan frontier. His foray in journalism produced his first book The Malakand Field Force. His conclusion: perpetuation of the Indian Empire – ‘the Jewel in the Crown’.

Churchill dealt directly with British India only as Prime Minister, in 1940-45. But he spoke constantly, from the 1920s on-wards, about safeguarding Britain’s imperial role. He was hostile to the Indian Independence Movement, attacking Gandhi and Hindus, with racist language considered extreme even in those times. Rising prejudice overtook his earlier expressions of humane feelings for Indians. During his premiership, Churchill exploited Hindu-Muslim divisions, collaborating with Muslim League leader Jinnah, and his demand for Pakistan. Most documents on a subterrain Churchill-Jinnah relationship have not survived, but this book collates the trace evidence, offering a hypothesis.

Misgovernance by the British Viceroy and his administration’s during the 1942-43 Bengal Famine was compounded by Churchill’s callous indifference, resulting in the death of 3 million. Remember, Gandhi, Nehru, and most leaders of the Indian national movement were jailed for nearly three years (Nehru: August 1942 to March 1945). Churchill failed to address post-World War II arrangements for the subcontinent. Those were wasted years.

This produced to a hasty Partition, with over a million deaths in inter-communal killings. That was the price for Churchill’s Empire obsession, lost in his Victorian fantasy.

15 August 2022

Table of Contents

List of figures

Foreword

Preface

Acknowledgment

Abbreviations

Introduction

1 Agent of Empire, in pursuit of glory: (1896–1901): A rising politician: (1902–20)

2 A mixed bag: India obsession (1921–29); constitutional windmills (1929–35); preoccupation with Europe (1935–39)

3 World War II and India: 1939–45

4 Britain’s endgame in India: Independence and after (1945–64); Churchill: final phase

5 If and perhaps: A conclusion

Afterword: The Bengal Famine

Bibliography

Index

Reviews

“Ambassador Rana has delved deep into the archives to put a spotlight on Winston’ Churchill’s enduring contempt and denigration of India and its people. More than that, the multiple wounds he inflicted on this country through his years as one of Britain’s most influential political figures are exposed in all their searing hurt. More importantly, the author traces the often invisible lines of history that link many of our current adversities to the racist prejudices and bigotry of this acclaimed sentinel of the British Empire. This is historical scholarship at its best.”

Ambassador Shyam Saran, former Indian Foreign Secretary

“More has been written about Winston Churchill than almost any other modern historic figure, but comparatively little has focused on his controversial and lifelong relationship with India, and even less has come from the pens of Indian writers. Drawing on his own career in politics and diplomacy, Kishan Rana is well placed to offer a different, new and important perspective.”

Allen Packwood, Churchill Archives Centre

“This is the first comprehensive account and assessment of Churchill’s long engagement with India. Thoroughly researched, carefully presented and well-judged, the book challenges the received wisdom on offer from both the admirers and critics of Churchill.”

Srinath Raghavan, Eminent Historian and Author

“The partition of India on communal basis and the gruesome carnage that accompanied it still reverberate in contemporary South Asian politics and culture… Kishan Rana, has provided a new perspectiv… he has focused on the personal impact that Winston Churchill — soldier, journalist, academic, politician, and prime minister — had on Indian affairs. Rana’s study reveals a man deeply obsessed with India, with very clear and decided views about India’s place at the heart of the British imperial order, and with strong racist and communal attitudes towards the Indian leaders then leading the freedom struggle…Rana’s research shows Churchill’s deep animosity for Gandhi and Nehru and Hindus in general, as also a consistent pro-Muslim bias and support for Jinnah and the separatist politics of the Muslim League…(it) provides a new perspective on a relatively under-researched aspect of our modern history and explains why the national freedom struggle culminated in the paroxysm of hatred and violence that haunts us to this day.”

Talmiz Ahmad, former Indian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE, Ram Sathe Chair for International Studies, Symbiosis International University, author of West Asia at War: Repression, Resistance and Great Power Games

“The first account of Churchill’s views about India over the course of his career, Rana’s book reveals the complex background informing the ideas and decisions of a British statesman who played an important role in India’s modern history.”

Faisal Devji, Professor of Indian History, University of Oxford