Famine in Henan Province – Bengal famine is the benchmark of catastrophes in India after which Sir Winston Churchill was instrumental.
Recently, the film made on the life of Sir Winston Churchill called ‘The Darkest Hour’ attracted winds of dissent in India because it apparently have glorified Churchill even after him wresting India out of its crops and foodgrains to feed his army during World War 2 thereby causing the worst famine in Bengal which made people drop like flies in hunger and die in millions.
Food grains would be siphoned off the plates of the people of Bengal to feed the British troops.
Famine in Henan Province –
An equally earth-shattering famine has happened in the Henan province in China where nearly 3 million people have died of starvation for the famine has lasted until 1990. The descendants of the people who suffered the famine are still living to recollect memories of the woes.
Possibly, around 3 million people had starved in Henan which led to millions of deaths. In the year 1942, Japanese troops have occupied China because it was a weak country. The government too failed to provide disaster relief in the wake of this catastrophe because Henan was already ravaged by drought. Chinese leaders hence devised a plan to pass the responsibility of disaster relief to the Japanese invaders.
American journalist Theodore White of Time magazine, who travelled there with a fellow journalist Harrison Forman to cover the famine, witnessed dogs devouring corpses and men going cannibals. The then leader of the Chinese government, Chiang Kai-Shek came clean breast of the fact that whenever the government provided relief to the victims, it corrupt officials pilfered with the fund causing more people to die.
In the Autumn, 1920, harvest failure in more than 300 countries caused the starvation of large number of people there in China. The name Henan means south of the river, which was named with Yellow River or Huang He in mind. The major crop in there is Spring wheat alongside millet and maize. Shortfall of rain and the government extracting tax from even the meagre amount of grains that year made Henan a prey to the famine.
While in the other years Henan produced 40,000 pounds of crops, this year it only produced 350,000 pounds and the government took it all from the farmers. The farmer that could not pay the taxes had to surrender their Ox and Donkey to cover the difference. As a result, the government turned a year’s bad harvest into a complete disaster so one can say it was a man-made catastrophe.
Famine in Henan Province – The sufferings were unbearable and the Henan famine hence became one of the biggest famines of World’s history. China lost millions of people to starvation in the year 1940.