Sunday, June 12, 2022

India’s Contribution to Britain’s First World War

India paid 240 million pounds to finance Britain’s military effort in the First World War. India also contributed about 1.5 million soldiers—75,000 were killed in this war. In the 1915 Gallipoli campaign, a project hatched by the British supremacist leader Winston Churchill, around 16,000 Indian soldiers were deployed. These badly trained and poorly armed Indian soldiers were deployed in the frontline—a large number of them were killed. 

In his report in the House of Lords (July 8th, 1917), Charles Hardinge, Viceroy and Governor-General of India from 1910 to 1916, bragged that his government had bled India “absolutely white" to support the Imperial Government with troops, war materials, and finances. Hardinge was right—his government had bled India so thoroughly that millions in India were dying from starvation. In the 1910s, Britain was the world’s richest country, and India was among the poorest, thanks to the British policy of bleeding India dry for funding their endless wars.

After 1757, when the British won in the Battle of Plassey and became the rulers of Bengal, famines in which millions would die became a regular feature of Indian society. Wherever in India, the British expanded their rule, they commandeered local wealth, grains, and other resources, and created famines. Between 30 to 50 million are thought to have perished in the 12 major famines of the period when the British were ruling India.

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