Hungry Bengal: War, Famine and the End of Empire
The years leading up to the independence and accompanying partition of India mark a tumultuous period in the history of Bengal. Representing both a major front in the Indian struggle against colonial rule, as well as a crucial Allied outpost in the British/American war against Japan, Bengal stood at the crossroads of complex and contentious structural forces - both domestic and international - which, taken together, defined an era of political uncertainty, social turmoil and collective violence. While for the British the overarching priority was to save the empire from imminent collapse at any cost, for the majority of the Indian population the 1940s were years of acute scarcity, violent dislocation and enduring calamity. In particular there are three major crises that shaped the social, economic and political context of pre-partition Bengal: the Second World War, the Bengal famine of 1943, and the Calcutta riots of 1946. Hungry Bengal examines these intricately interconnected events, foregrounding the political economy of war and famine in order to analyse the complex nexus of hunger, war and civil violence in colonial Bengal at the twilight of British rule.
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administrative air raid Air Raid Precaution attack August Bengal Famine boats bodies bombs Bose British Cabinet Calcutta riots Casey Casey’s Diary CDCE central chief minister Churchill city’s Civil Supplies colonial Commissioner communal Congress corpses countryside death December defense Delhi denial districts docks economic Famine Enquiry Commission famine in Bengal Fazlul Huq food grains food situation Gandhi Government of Bengal Government of India governmental Governor Herbert Hindu Hindu Mahasabha Home Confidential Howrah Huq’s Ibid increasingly industrial Japanese jute khalasis Kidderpore Kolkata laborers large numbers League’s Leo Amery Linlithgow to Amery London looted lorries Marwari Meanwhile Metiabruz Midnapore military million mills Ministry Muslim League Nanavati Papers Nazimuddin official organized Pinnell police population province rationing relief Report on Bengal Sarkar Secretary shops starvation starving Statesman streets of Calcutta Suhrawardy Sumit Sarkar T.O.P. Volume Testimony troops viceroy Viceroy’s villages violence War Cabinet Wavell to Amery WBSA workers