By Janam Mukherjee
The years prime as much as the independence and accompanying partition of India mark a tumultuous interval within the historical past of Bengal. Representing either a huge entrance within the Indian fight opposed to colonial rule, in addition to a very important Allied outpost within the British/American conflict opposed to Japan, Bengal stood on the crossroads of complicated and contentious structural forces - either household and foreign - which, taken jointly, outlined an period of political uncertainty, social turmoil and collective violence.
While for the British the overarching precedence was once to save lots of the empire from impending cave in at any price, for almost all of the Indian inhabitants the Forties have been years of acute shortage, violent dislocation and enduring calamity. particularly there are 3 significant crises that formed the social, fiscal and political context of pre-partition Bengal: the second one international conflict, the Bengal famine of 1943, and the Calcutta riots of 1946.
Hungry Bengal examines those intricately interconnected occasions, foregrounding the political economic system of warfare and famine so that it will examine the complicated nexus of starvation, struggle and civil violence in colonial Bengal on the twilight of British rule.
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Extra info for Hungry Bengal: War, Famine and the End of Empire
Very little of anything that has been written on the topic, moreover, gives any plausible explanation of the extent and ferocity of the cataclysmic violence that devastated the city in August 1946. Participation was extremely widespread and defies the simple logic of political instigation, which is the most commonly attributed cause. The sheer scale of the violence committed is also not easily explained by political provocation. What were the larger socio-political factors at work? What was at stake for participants?
He was also engrossed in the world around him. In preparation for the trip to Bahadupur he manufactured a “radio” so that he might be able to follow the news from Calcutta in the village. From a magazine that he had come by, he painstakingly cut from cardboard the exact designs for all the components that were pictured in an illustration of a crystal radio. With equal precision, he handpainted every component so that it looked identical to the illustration. The reproduction was so effective, in fact, that he was not the only one surprised when he turned the switch and no sound came.
To make ends meet in the absence of credit, cultivators entered into cynically usufructary mortgages and lost their lands, or managed to hang on by selling off family ornaments, brass-wear and other moveable possessions. The poor of Bengal had been through a devastating decade, and even in the late 30s many were already starving. 39 Hungry Bengal With the declaration of war in 1939 and dislocations in commodity markets related to the same, the price of rice rose 33 per cent in a single year94—a shock that the rural population could ill afford.
Hungry Bengal: War, Famine and the End of Empire by Janam Mukherjee