MN Roy

Hunger and Revolution in India

Source: The Call, 18 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.

The absolute control of the means of communication by the Governments of the victorious Powers has prevented the general public from knowing anything which might prove disagreeable for those powerful nations which hold undisputed sway over the earth and the millions of human beings that inhabit it.

Because England has captured every route by which news could filter out of India, the world knows only what England wishes of the present condition of the Indian people. As a result of this policy, in force even before the war, there was a prevalent belief among the people of the western hemisphere that the benevolent (?) administration of India by the English had resulted in all the benefits of peace and prosperity for that remote nation. Imperialist propagandists have been telling the general public for the past fifty years that before the advent of the British the Indian people had never enjoyed these blessings, and that under their amiable protection 350 million Indians live in contentment and happiness. But the time has come in which world events move so swiftly that even the stifled voice of India's starving millions reaches to the remotest corners of the earth. The barbarous crimes committed by the English in India for more than a century and a half have reached their climax, and even the all-powerful hand of "perfidious Albion" finds itself unable to keep the world any longer in ignorance of the shocking reality.

At the present moment, India is stricken by famine such as was never known before, even in her long, and tragic history of famines under British rule. The causes of this terrible epidemic are the economic exhaustion of the people and the exportation of all foodstuffs to feed the Allied armies during the four years of the war.

To the mingled cries of the dying masses, the British Government has responded with bombs and bayonet, and the passage of even stricter and more repressive laws to prevent the voice of an oppressed people reaching the outer world in its appeal for help. The few notices published in the American and Canadian Press testify that conditions in India have acquired alarmingly critical proportions. The whole country is in a state of rebellion, and the British Government is using all of its powers to suppress the uprising of a people that has been crushed beneath a tyranny without precedent in the annals of the civilised world. Early in April, the revolution burst forth simultaneously in the four greatest provinces of the Indian Empire; in Bengal, Bombay, the Punjab, and the United Provinces, which together form almost two-thirds of the country. Hundreds of lives have been lost on both sides, that of the Government as well as that of the revolutionists. The ancient city of Amritsar was one of the centres where the fighting first began; it was besieged by English troops, which bombarded the entire population from airplanes, killing hundreds of innocent people, and partially destroying the great Temple of Gold, sacred to the Sikhs and a marvellous architectural monument.

In all parts of the country English banks were sacked by the revolutionists. The northern part of Calcutta, the greatest metropolis of India, was in their control for four days. The principal industrial and commercial cities such as Bombay, Ahamedabad, Lahore, Delhi, the seat of the Viceroy, Allahabad; Gujranwala, etc., were converted into battle-grounds between the totally disarmed people and on the other the military forces of the Government, completely equipped with machine guns, armoured cars, and aeroplanes from which bombs were hurled upon the masses of helpless men, women, and children.

All the different elements which form the Indian nation, the Hindus, Sikhs, Mohammedans, and other great communities, have united themselves in determined opposition to the British tyranny which has subjected the entire people to a veritable reign of terror with its recent repressive legislation and merciless enforcement of martial law. The repressive measures, known as the Rowlatt Acts, were passed three months ago in face of the unanimous opposition of the Indian people. By these Acts, liberty of press, of speech, and of platform and meeting are absolutely destroyed. The purpose of the Rowlatt Acts, frankly admitted, is to kill the revolutionary spirit awake in the people. According to the very confession of the British Government, the Indian people are striving for liberty, and the only thing which makes them submit to foreign yoke is the brute force of their oppressors.

For four years India has agonised through one of the worst famines known in history. Now that the war is over, and everyone seeks to improve the condition of the devastated countries of Europe conditions in India have become worse. Even the Christian missionaries who constitute the most sworn and vociferous defenders of British Imperialism in India have united in demanding that the poor infidels must be given food before they can be saved for Christ. (Concluded next week.)


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