British Colonials Starved to Death 60 million-plus Indians, But, Why?

December 9, 2017

British Colonials Starved to Death 60 million-plus Indians, But, Why?

by Ramtanu Maitra July 3, 2015 EIR

The chronic want of food and water, the lack of sanitation and medical help, the neglect of means of communication, the poverty of educational provision, the all-pervading spirit of depression that I have myself seen to prevail in our villages after over a hundred years of British rule make me despair of its beneficence. — Rabindranath Tagore

If the history of British rule in India were to be condensed to a single fact, it is this: there was no increase in India’s per-capita income from 1757 to 1947.[1]

Churchill, explaining why he defended the stockpiling of food within Britain, while millions died of starvation in Bengal, told his private secretary that “the Hindus were a foul race, protected by their mere pullulation from the doom that is their due.”[2]

June 27— During its 190 years of looting and pillaging, the Indian Subcontininent as a whole underwent at least two dozen major famines, which collectively killed millions of Indians throughout the length and breadth of the land. How many millions succumbed to the famines cannot be fully ascertained. However, colonial rulers’ official numbers indicate it could be 60 million deaths. In reality, it could be significantly higher.

British colonial analysts cited droughts as the cause of fallen agricultural production that led to these famines, but that is a lie. British rulers, fighting wars in Europe and elsewhere, and colonizing parts of Africa, were exporting grains from India to keep up their colonial conquests—while famines were raging. People in the famineaffected areas, resembling skeletons covered by skin only, were wandering around, huddling in corners and dying by the millions. The Satanic nature of these British rulers cannot be overstated.

A Systematic Depopulation Policy

Although no accurate census figure is available, in the year 1750 India’s population was close to 155 million. At the time British colonial rule ended in 1947, undivided India’s population reached close to 390 million. In other words, during these 190 years of colonial looting and organized famines, India’s population rose by 240 million. Since 1947, during the next 68-year period, Indian Subcontininent’s population, including those of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, has grown to close to 1.6 billion. Thus, despite poverty and economic depravity in the post-independent Indian Subcontininent, during those 68 years population has grown by almost 1.2 billion.

Records show that during the post-independence period, the Subcontininent has undergone drought conditions in parts of the land from time to time, but there was no famine, although thousands still die in the Subcontininent annually due to the lack of adequate amount of food, a poor food distribution system, and lack of sufficient nourishment. It is also to be noted that before the British colonials’ jackboots got firmly planted in India, famines had occurred but with much less frequency—maybe once in a century.

There was indeed no reason for these famines to occur They occurred only because The Empire engineered them, intending to strengthen the Empire by ruthless looting and adoption of an unstated policy to depopulate India. This, they believed would bring down the Empire’s cost of sustaining India.

Take, for instance, the case of Bengal, which is in the eastern part of the Subcontininent where the British East India Company (HEIC, Honorable East India Company, according to Elizabeth I’s charter) had first planted its jackboots in 1757. The rapacious looters, under the leadership of Robert Clive—a degenerate and opium addict, who blew his brains out in 1774 in the London Berkley Square residence he had procured with the benefits of his looting—got control of what is now West Bengal, Bangladesh, Bihar, and Odisha (earlier, Orissa), in 1765. At the time, historical records indicate India represented close to 25% of the world’s GDP, second only to China, while Britain had a paltry 2%. Bengal was the richest of the Indian provinces.

Following his securing control of Bengal by ousting the Nawab in a devious battle at Plassey (Palashi), Clive placed a puppet on the throne, paid him off, and negotiated an agreement with him for the HEIC to become the sole tax collector, while leaving the nominal responsibility for government to his puppet. That arrangement lasted for a century, as more and more Indian states were bankrupted to facilitate future famines. The tax money went into British coffers, while millions were starved to death in Bengal and Bihar.

Clive, who was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1768 and whose statue stands near the British Empire’s evil center, Whitehall, near the Cabinet War Room, had this to say in his defense when the British Parliament, playing “fair,” accused him of looting and other abuses in India:

Consider the situation which the Victory of Plassey had placed on me. A great Prince was dependent upon my pleasure; an opulent city lay at my mercy; its richest bankers bid against each other for my smiles; I walked through vaults which were thrown open to me alone, piled on either hand with gold and jewels! By God, Mr. Chairman, at this moment I stand astonished at my own moderation.

However, Clive was not the only murderous British colonial ruler. The British Empire had sent one butcher after another to India, all of whom engineered looting and its consequent depopulation.

By 1770, when the first great famine occurred in Bengal, the province had been looted to the core. What followed was sheer horror. Here is how John Fiske in his American Philosopher in the Unseen World depicted the Bengal famine:

All through the stifling summer of 1770 the people went on dying. The husbandmen sold their cattle; they sold their implements of agriculture; they devoured their seed-grain; they sold their sons and daughters, till at length no buyer of children could be found; they ate the leaves of trees and the grass of the field. . . . The streets were blocked up with promiscuous heaps of the dying and dead. Interment could not do its work quick enough; even the dogs and jackals, the public scavengers of the East, became unable to accomplish their revolting work, and the multitude of mangled and festering corpses at length threatened the existence of the citizens…. [3]

Was there any reason for the famine to occur? Not if the British had not wanted it. Bengal, then, as now, harvested three crops a year. It is located in the delta of the Gangetic plain where water is more than plentiful. Even if drought occurs, it does not destroy all three crops. Moreover, as was prevalent during the Moghul days, and in earlier time, the surplus grain was stored to tide the population over if there were one or two bad crops.

But the looting of grains carried out by Clive, and his gang of bandits and killers, drained grain from Bengal and resulted in 10 million deaths in the great famine, eliminating one-third of Bengal’s population.

It should be noted that Britain’s much-touted industrial revolution began in 1770, the very same year people were dying all over Bengal. The Boston Tea Party that triggered the American Revolution had taken place in 1773. The Boston Tea Party made the Empire realize that its days in America were numbered, and led Britain to concentrate even more on organizing the looting of India.

Why Famines Became So Prevalent During the British Raj Days

The prime reason why these devastating famines took place at a regular intervals, and were allowed to continue for years, was the British Empire’s policy of depopulating its colonies. If these famines had not occurred, India’s population would have reached a billion people long before the Twentieth Century arrived. That, the British Empire saw as a disaster.

To begin with, a larger Indian population would mean larger consumption by the locals, and deprive the British Raj to a greater amount of loot. The logical way to deal with the problem was to develop India’s agricultural infrastructure. But that would not only force Britain to spend more money to run its colonial and bestial empire; it would also develop a healthy population which could rise up to get rid of the abomination called the British Raj. These massive famines also succeeded in weakening the social structure and backbone of the Indians, making rebellions against the colonial forces less likely. In order to perpetuate famines, and thus depopulate the “heathen” and “dark” Indians, the British imperialists launched a systematic propaganda campaign. They propped up the fraudster Parson Thomas Malthus and promoted his non-scientific gobbledygook, “The Essay on Population.” There he claimed:

This natural inequality of the two powers of population and of production in the earth, and that great law of our nature which must constantly keep their effects equal, form the great difficulty that to me appears insurmountable in the way to the perfectibility of society. All other arguments are of slight and subordinate consideration in comparison of this. I see no way by which man can escape from the weight of this law which pervades all animated nature.

Although Malthus was ordained in the Anglican Church, British Empire made him a paid “economist” of the British East India Company, which, with the charter from Queen Elizabeth I under its belt, monopolized trade in Asia, colonizing vast tracts of the continent using its well-armed militia fighting under the English flag of St. George.

Malthus was picked up at the Haileybury and Imperial Service College, which was also the recruiting ground of some of the worst colonial criminals. This college was where the makers of British Empire’s murderous policies in India were trained. Some prominent alumni of Haileybury include Sir John Lawrence (Viceroy of India from 1864-68) and Sir Richard Temple (Lt. Governor of Bengal and later, Governor of Bombay presidency).

While Parson Malthus was putting forward his sinister “scientific theory” to justify depopulation as a natural and necessary process, The British Empire collected a whole bunch of other “economists” who wrote about the necessity of free trade. Free trade played a major role in pushing through the Empire’s genocidal depopulation of India, through the British Raj’s efforts. In fact, free trade is the other side of the Malthus’ population-control coin.

By the time the great famine of 1876 arrived, Britain had already built some railroads in India. The railroads, which were touted as institutional safeguards against famines, were instead used by merchants to ship grain inventories from outlying drought-stricken districts to central depots for hoarding. In addition, free traders’ opposition to price control ushered in a frenzy of grain speculation. As a result, capital was raised to import grains from drought-stricken areas, and further the calamity. The rise of price of grain was spectacularly rapid, and grain was taken from where it was most needed, to be stored in warehouses until the prices rose even higher.

The British Raj knew or should have known. Even if the British rulers did not openly encourage this process, they were fully aware of it, and they were perfectly comfortable in promoting free trade at the expense of millions of lives. This is how Mike Davis described what happened:

The rise [of prices] was so extraordinary, and the available supply, as compared with well-known requirements, so scanty that merchants and dealers, hopeful of enormous future gains, appeared determined to hold their stocks for some indefinite time and not to part with the article which was becoming of such unwonted value. It was apparent to the Government that facilities for moving grain by the rail were rapidly raising prices everywhere, and that the activity of apparent importation and railway transit, did not indicate any addition to the food stocks of the Presidency . …retail trade up-country was almost at a standstill. Either prices were asked which were beyond the means of the multitude to pay, or shops remained entirely closed.

At the time, Lord Lytton, a favorite poet of Queen Victoria who is known as a “butcher” to many Indians, was the Viceroy. He wholeheartedly opposed all efforts to stockpile grain to feed the famine-stricken population because that would interfere with market forces. In the autumn of 1876, while the monsoon crop was withering in the fields of southern India, Lytton was absorbed in organizing the immense Imperial Assemblage in Delhi to proclaim Victoria Empress of India.

How did Lytton justify this? He was an avowed admirer and follower of Adam Smith. Author Mike Davis writes that Smith

a century earlier in The Wealth of Nations had asserted (vis-à-vis the terrible Bengal drought and famine of 1770) that famine has never arisen from any other cause but the violence of government attempting, by improper means, to remedy the inconvenience of dearth, Lytton was implementing what Smith had taught him and other believers of free trade. Smith’s injunction against state attempts to regulate the price of grain during the 1770 famine had been taught for years in the East India Company’s famous college at Haileybury.[4]

Lytton issued strict orders that “there is to be no interference of any kind on the part of Government with the object of reducing the price of food,” and “in his letters home to the India Office and to politicians of both parties, he denounced ‘humanitarian hysterics’.” By official diktat, India, like Ireland before it, had become a Utilitarian laboratory where millions of lives were gambled, pursuant to dogmatic faith in omnipotent markets overcoming the “inconvenience of dearth.”[5]

The Great Famines

Depicting the two dozen famines that killed more than 60 million Indians would require a lot of space, so I limit myself here to those that killed more than one million:

The Bengal Famine of 1770: This catastrophicfamine occurred between 1769 and 1773, and affected the lower Gangetic plain of India. The territory, then ruled by the British East India Company, included modern West Bengal, Bangladesh, and parts of Assam, Orissa, Bihar, and Jharkhand. The famine is supposed to have caused the deaths of an estimated 10 million people, approximately one-third of the population at the time.

The Chalisa Famine of 1783-84: The Chalisa famine affected many parts of North India, especially the Delhi territories, present-day Uttar Pradesh, Eastern Punjab, Rajputana (now named, Rajasthan), and Kashmir, then all ruled by different Indian rulers. The Chalisa was preceded by a famine in the previous year, 1782-83, in South India, including Madras City (now named Chennai) and surrounding areas (under British East India Company rule), and in the extended Kingdom of Mysore. Together, these two famines had taken at least 11 million lives, reports indicate.

The Doji Bara Famine (or Skull Famine) of 1791- 92: This famine caused widespread mortality in Hyderabad, Southern Maratha Kingdom, Deccan, Gujarat, and Marwar (also called Jodhpur region in Rajasthan). The British policy of diverting food to Europe, of pricing the remaining grain out of reach of native Indians, and adopting agriculture policy that destroyed food production, was responsible for this one. The British had surplus supplies of grain, which was not distributed to the very people that had grown it. As a result, about 11 million died between 1789-92 of starvation and accompanying epidemics that followed.

The Upper Doab Famine of 1860-61: The 1860-61 famine occurred in the British-controlled Ganga-Yamuna Doab (two waters, or two rivers) area engulfing large parts of Rohilkhand and Ayodhya, and the Delhi and Hissar divisions of the then-Punjab. Eastern part of the princely state of Rajputana. According to “official” British reports, about two million people were killed by this famine.

The Orissa Famine of 1866: Although it affected Orissa the most, this famine affected India’s east coast along the Bay of Bengal stretching down south to Madras, covering a vast area. One million died, according to the British “official” version.

The Rajputana famine of 1869: The Rajputana famine of 1869 affected an area of close to 300,000 square miles which belonged mostly to the princely states and the British territory of Ajmer. This famine, according to “official” British claim, killed 1.5 million.

The Great Famine of 1876-78: This famine killed untold numbers of Indians in the southern part and raged for about four years. It affected Madras, Mysore, Hyderabad and Bombay (now called, Mumbai). The famine also subsequently visited Central Province (now called, Madhya Pradesh) and parts of undivided Punjab. The death toll from this famine was in the range of 5.5 million people. Some other figures indicate the number of deaths could be as high as 11 million.

Indian famine of 1896-97 and 1899-1900: This one affected Madras, Bombay, Deccan, Bengal, United Provinces (now called, Uttar Pradesh), Central Provinces, Northern and eastern Rajputana, parts of Central India, and Hyderabad: six million reportedly died in British territory during these two famines. The number of deaths occurred in the princely states is not known.


The Bengal Famine of 1943-44: This Churchill-orchestrated famine in Bengal in 1943-1944 killed an estimated 3.5 to 5 million people.


Relief Camps, or Concentration camps

There were several policy-arrows which Adolf Hitler might have borrowed from the British quiver to kill millions, but one that he borrowed for certain in setting up his death camps, was how the British ran the camps to provide “relief” to the starving millions. Anyone who entered these relief camps, did not exit alive.

Take the actions of Viceroy Lytton’s deputy, Richard Temple, another Haileybury product imbued with the doctrine of depopulation as the necessary means to keep the Empire strong and vigorous. Temple was under orders from Lytton to make sure there was no “unnecessary” expenditure on relief works.

According to some analysts, Temple’s camps were not very different from Nazi concentration camps. People already half-dead from starvation had to walk hundreds of miles to reach these relief camps. Additionally, he instituted a food ration for starving people working in the camps, which was less than that was given to the inmates of Nazi concentration camps.

The British refused to provide adequate relief for famine victims on the grounds that this would encourage indolence. Sir Richard Temple, who was selected to organize famine relief efforts in 1877, set the food allotment for starving Indians at 16 ounces of rice per day—less than the diet for inmates at the Buchenwald concentration camp for the Jews in Hitler’s Germany. British disinclination to respond with urgency and vigor to food deficits resulted in a succession of about two dozen appalling famines during the British occupation of India. These swept away tens of millions of people. The frequency of famine showed a disconcerting increase in the nineteenth century.[6]

It was deliberate then, and it’s deliberate now.

______________ 1. Davis, Mike. Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nino Famines and the Making of the Third World, London, Verso Books, 2001.

  1. Madhusree Mukerjee, Churchill’s Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India during World War II, New York: Basic Books.
  2. Davis, op. cit.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid
  5. Bhatia, B.M., Famines in India, A Study in Some Aspects of the Economic History of India, 1860-1945, Asia Publishing House, Bombay, 1963.

Dr Ramtanu Maitra A specialist on South Asian Affairs who operates out of Washington D.C. Ramtanu Maitra specialises on strategic and infrastructural developmental studies with the focus on South Asia. He holds a Masters Degree in Structural Engineering and was working as a Senior Project Engineer with the Nuclear Power Services, Secaucus, NJ. Ramtanu Maitra participated in developing a document, India: An agro-industrial superpower by 2020, in 1981. He established and published a quarterly journal, Fusion Asia, on science, technology, energy and economics from New Delhi for more than 10 years (1984-1994). He wrote and published the first feature report on India’s high-energy physics program based in PRL, Ahmedabad. Prepared and published a detailed report on Ganges River Valley Development that was presented at an international conference inaugurated by the late president of India, Shri K.R. Narayanan, then Minister for Planning. He participated on behalf of Fusion Asia on a feasibility study that also involved the Mitsubishi Research Institute (Tokyo) and the Thai Citizen Forum. Presented papers at a number of international conferences on strategic infrastructures in Bogota, Colombia, Tokyo, Japan, Kolkata, Indore, Madurai, Indore, New Delhi, among other Indian cities. In 1994, Shri Maitra established New Delhi bureau for Asia Times, a Bangkok-based news daily published simultaneously from Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and New York. Presently, he conducts research, analysis, writing on international economic and strategic developments for publications internationally, including: Foresight (Japan); Aakrosh, Agni, Indian Defense and Technology (India); Asia Times Online (Hong Kong); and Executive Intelligence Review (USA).

Ramtanu Maitra is a regular columnist with the Executive Intelligence Review (EIR), a news weekly published from Washington DC. He writes columns for Asia Times of Hong Kong, Frontier Post of Peshawar and some other newspapers in Asia on South Asian political economy and Asian security. He has written on terrorism in a number of publications in the United States and India. 





November 25, 2017



BOOK: MOHANDAS K. GANDHI, Thoughts, Words, Deeds and His Inspiration – Bhagavad-Gita by Ramnarine Sahadeo

BOOK REVIEW by Leonard Dabydeen (June 7, 2012) – Edited.

Published by Reprographic and Printing Services, 13/2, Rasoolpura, Secunderabad 500 003, AP,India, ISBN 978-0-9868393-1-3

(2012): Second Edition.


This second edition of author Ramnarine (Ramji) Sahadeo’s philosophical book: Mohandas K. Gandhi, Thoughts, Words, Deeds and His Inspiration: Bhagavad-Gita is a long overdue, guiding clarinet call to people of every religious belief, race, creed, sexual orientation, or political interests to follow the non-violent principles of the indomitable Mahatma (Great One) Gandhi, in an attempt to seek peace, prosperity and happiness in our troubled world.

The book is a studied embellishment from the debut first edition, which was launched to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11 – the unforgettable atrocities of the bombing of the twin towers of the World Trade Centre and the loss of thousands of lives of people of all walks of life. It is an attempt to point all of us to look at other 9/11s in history where visionary leaders have pleaded with human beings to live in peace, unity and harmony. Particular emphasis is highlighted in the speeches of Swami Vivekananda on September 11, 1893 to the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago, U.S.A. And more in grace to the guidance of famous world leaders, in the likeness of Martin Luther King (Jr.) and  Nelson Mandela is the speech by Mohandas K. Gandhi, The Moment of Truth, on September 11, 1906 in Johannesburg, South Africa at the Empire Theater. Gandhi , who is acclaimed the Father of Indian Independence (1947), displayed an impeccable stand for the principle of non-violence in the remarkable practice of Satyagraha “soul force”; “truth force”; “insistence on truth”.

What was essentially Gandhi’s inspiration ? It is this pertinent question that stirred Ramji to dwell in the body of the book on the Bhagavad-Gita. This is the scriptural poem that influenced and inspired Gandhi all through his life. In the end we come to appreciate the Mahatma (Great One) as one of the greatest souls that set foot on this earth. Readers will no doubt shuffle the pages of this book in its various sections and headings to look for answers to bring peace and harmony in their own lives. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi:

When disappointment stares me in the face and when I am all alone and I do not see even one ray of light, I go back to the Bhagavad Gita.”

The author, Ramnarine Sahadeo, is a Guyanese-born Canadian Lawyer in the Greater Toronto Area since 1980 [Retired]. It is his fervent hope that this book will promote the change which people wish to see in their homes, their social environment and the world at large. In the back cover he writes:

“Justice systems would need fewer resources if residents can just avoid lust, anger, and greed, for these vices clog the courts with expensive, unpredictable, and unnecessary litigation. Health and social systems experience lower demands from those who exercise, perform yoga, meditate or follow a vegetarian diet, practices followed by Gandhi and recommended by the Gita.”

The book is set in three parts: Part I greets the reader with an overview of how the Gita reaches the West, with a distinction of Nine Elevens apart from September 11, 2001; Part II brings the reader to the core verses of the spiritual poem of the Bhagavad-Gita; and Part III offers power-point comments on the Gita by Gandhi, along with influences of the Bhagavad-Gita that shaped the destiny of this great soul. In the end there is a glorifying explanation of the universal greeting of Namaste for all of us.

For copies of this book, either for yourself or for distribution to friends and family as gifts or for social gatherings, you may contact the author, Ramnarine Sahadeo: By phone: 905-671-9233.

Author Ramnarine Sahadeo is also currently involved in the initiatives of establishing a Mahatma Gandhi Scholarship for students at the McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.


Leonard Dabydeen is the author of: Watching You, A Collection of Tetractys Poems, Xlibris Publications, ISBN 978-1-4691-4802-1(2012). He is also listed in the World Poetry Movement’s BEST POETS & POEMS 2011 ISBN 978-1-61936-038-9 (2012); Hardcover.


November 25, 2017

BOOK: India and the Shaping of the Indo-Guyanese Imagination by Clem Seecharan

BOOK REVIEW: Frank Birbalsingh


Author(s) Clem Seecharan

ClassificationCultural Studies, History
SettingIndia, Guyana
Date published1 Dec 1993


When Indian indentured labourers first arrived in Guyana (or British Guiana as it then was) in 1838, most of the population consisted of descendants of Africans who had already worked on the colony’s Dutch and British-owned plantations for two and a half centuries. By the 1920s, as more Indians continued to come, a well-known Indian leader (Ayube Edun) could speak of Indo-Guyanese as forming 42 percent of the colony’s population, and therefore of being in a position – in the near future – to ‘dominate the political situation.’ This represented an astonishing, as it turned out – frightening – transformation in people who, on their arrival in Guyana, found themselves in an environment alien to them in every way including landscape, language, custom and ethnic composition.

In these circumstances it was perhaps natural that Indo-Guyanese should react strongly and intimately to India – their motherland. But not all their reactions were based on historical reality: some reactions were based on myths of religious significance, and yet others on the idea of a motherland that was, ambivalently, both an object of sentimental longing, and a convenient counterweight to be wielded defensively against encroaching social, cultural and political obligations in Guyana.
In the short space of 98 pages, 34 of which are Appendices, Clem Seecharan’s India provides an account both of the socio-intellectual background out of which these mixed reactions evolved, and of their impact on the Indo-Guyanese imagination.

Dr. Seecharan’s research is meticulous and his analysis penetrating. This is why, despite its specific Indian focus and slender look, India offers much insight into the broader history of Guyanese society as a whole. In the first place, by the early 1900s, after a century and a half as a British colony, India herself was going through a period of cultural re-discovery and renewal inspired partly by Indian reformers such as Ram Mohun Roy, and by European scholars like Max Mueller, who drew attention to a common Aryan ancestry that was shared by Indians and Europeans.

To impoverished Indo-Guyanese living in humiliating circumstances as mere plantation labourers or coolies, re-discovery of an illustrious Indo-Aryan past was enthusiastically embraced as a welcome source of newfound racial dignity and cultural pride.

The Ruhomon brothers – Joseph and Peter – played an important role in articulating this new, uplifting sense of Indianness which was also fostered by social and cultural activities, and by visits from prominent Indians, for example, Pillai and Tivary, Kunwar Maharaj Singh, and Rev. C.F. Andrews (an Englishman, but a close associate of Gandhi), all of whom came to Guyana in the 1920s.
In this climate of rekindled Indianness, an East Indian Cricket Club was founded in 1915, and an East Indian Young Men’s Association in 1919. In 1916, J.A. Luckhoo became the first Indo-Guyanese to enter the legislature. In 1922 the Hindu Society was formed, while a new Hindu temple was built in 1923, and a dharma sala (home for the poor) established in 1929. It is possible too that the formation in 1927 of an East Indian Ladies Guild with a woman president owed something to the example of Mrs. Sarojini Naidu being elected as president of the Indian National Congress. In fact, the whole Indian movement towards swaraj (home rule) and the nationalist agitation of Gandhi and the Indian National Congress helped to transform traditional Indo-Guyanese attitudes of loyalty to the British Empire and infuse them with a measure of political militancy.

Through analysis of such facts and events, and evidence of numerous statistics and quotations, Dr. Seecharan conclusively proves that Indo-Guyanese opinions and attitudes were profoundly influenced by social, cultural and religious ideas, and political events and personalities emerging out of India from the 1890s to the 1920s. Evidence of this shaping effect on the Indo-Guyanese imagination is also provided in extensive Appendices and Notes packed with rich details, anecdotes and observations drawn from an impressive variety of sources, including books, periodicals, official documents and rare publications like Joseph Ruhomon’s India: The Progress of her People at Home and Abroad,and How Those in British Guiana May Improve Themselves. (Georgetown, C.K. Jardine, 1894).

All this only confirms the exhaustive research that went into India. The scholarly penetration of the book is best illustrated by its last chapter ‘In the Shadow of Mother India: The Limitations of Indo-Guyanese Politics,’ where the author states that Indo-Guyanese identification with Mother India prolonged a sense of ambivalence towards the colony even among creolised, Christian Indians. It delayed the emergence of a comprehensive, unmediated loyalty to British Guiana. Above all it encouraged the Indo-Guyanese leadership to ignore the feeling of the Afro-Guyanese, and the political, economic, and cultural space this group was also demanding. Since Afro-Guyanese formed a majority in the colon when Indians first arrived, it is not difficult to imagine their feelings of apprehension, resentment and sheer fright when Indians came to surpass them in numbers, and looked like moving ahead in wealth, agriculture, commerce and the professions. In the Angel Gabriel riots of 1856 and the Cent Bread riot of 1885, Afro-Guyanese had already shown themselves frightened by the Portuguese who, like Indians, began to arrive in Guyana as indentured labourers in the 1830s.

This insight into the potential for ethnic conflict in Guyana is perhaps the most signal achievement of India, for this potential was later exploited by an unholy trinity of conspirators – L.F.S. Burnham, J.P. Lachmansingh and Jainarinesingh – who, in 1955, engineered a split in the People’s Progressive Party, while it was still a glorious movement of national solidarity led by Dr. Cheddi Jagan. This split inflicted grievous damage on Guyanese national and political development.
And when, in 1964, the same potential for ethnic conflict was again exploited, this time more cynically, by L.F.S. Burnham and a new conspirator – Peter D’Aguiar – to form another unholy political union, it precipitated Guyana into a dark age of domination by the People’s National Congress, lasting for 28 years and subjecting Guyana to even more grievous and perhaps irreparable damage.
India does not comment on these later events because they fall outside of its time period of the 1890s to the 1920s. But nothing illustrates the merit of this deceptively slender volume more than its ability to illuminate crucial events in Guyanese history that fall well outside its declared scope.



Author: Clem Seecharan

Professor Clem Seecharan, BA, MA, PhD is a writer and historian of the Indo-Caribbean experience, as well as a historian of West Indies cricket. He was born at Palmyra, East Canje, Berbice, Guyana, in 1950. He attended the Sheet Anchor Anglican School, Berbice Educational Institute and Queen’s College. He studied at McMaster University in Canada; and taught Caribbean Studies at the University of Guyana before completing his doctorate in History at the University of Warwick in 1990. He joined the University of North London (now London Metropolitan University) in 1993 and was the Head of Caribbean Studies there for nearly 20 years. In 2002 Clem was awarded a Professorship in History at the London Metropolitan University where he is now Emeritus Professor of History. He is the only person to have taught courses, in the UK, on the Intellectual History of the Caribbean, the History of Indians in the Caribbean and the History of West Indies Cricket. In 2003 he was awarded a Certificate of Distinction by the Guyana High Commission (London) ‘in recognition of his achievement in his profession in the United Kingdom’.

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Indian Arrival

November 21, 2017

Indian Arrival in British Guiana May 5 1838 JPEG.jpg(Arrival of Indians in Guyana [British Guiana], May 5, 1838)


bring you

shapes of fire

colour of skin

indentureship wakes from very bad dreams.




We Are All At Fault

November 21, 2017

We Are All At Fault

We are all at fault

you and I

and others too

in the canon of our trajectory

catapulting peace over perjury

harmony over angst

no one cooks rice

without sifting it

always some desirables

within complex webs

of our minds

where our karma revolts

or echoes involuntarily

in matrix of peace and sanctity

as we grapple with sinews

and seek bhakti

embellishing dharma

being this change we wish

for you and me

immersing melodic stotras

within gems of Bhagavad Gita.


Leonard Dabydeen: Author,  Watching You, A Collection of Tetractys Poems, Xlibris Publications (2012); Searching For You, A Collection of Tetractys and Fibonacci Poems, Xlibris Publications (2015).











BOOK : A poem that painted the sky by Author Indira Babbellapati (2017)

November 7, 2017

NEW BOOK BY INDIRA B 2017 JPEGBook Review by Leonard Dabydeen

Author: Indira Babbellapati (India)

Book: A poem that painted the sky

Paperback: 73 pages       ₹ 1,022.73

Publisher: (7 June, 2017)

Language: English

ISBN: -10:9385944598X

ISBN: -13:978-9385945984


Cover Design and Illustrations: by Tabitha

Out of the esoteric palette of life, of the elements that nurture our colourful dreams and imaginings, comes a poem that painted the sky.


In this book, A poem that painted the sky, illustrious author Indira Babbellapati has captured a scintillating roller coaster olio of 60 poems, within a heart-throbbing 73 pages wrapped like a bouquet in a beautiful cover design. Most poems are imaginatively inked with illustrations by Tabitha. It was Rumi, the luminary 13th century Persian Sunni Muslim poet, scholar, theologian and Sufi mystic that said, “Only from the heart can you touch the sky.”                         (

Author Indira is absolute in this respect!

Moreover, author Indira brings to the fore in this book, A poem that painted the sky, her life exuberances in a wealthy symbiosis of atmospherics of nature and her ambivalences and coherences of everyday life. She has contingently immersed the elements of nature – especially in Ayurveda – of bhūmi (earth), jala (water), agni ) fire, vayu or pavan (air or wind) and vyom or shunya (space or zero) or akash (aether or void) with life experiences. Then she expansively opens her mind’s imaginings in a palette of life to create poems as an artist. In the Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts (SIU, Viman Nagar, Pune, India), the course outline reads:

One of the best ways of understanding the wealth in thoughts, ideas and culture of people and places is to study poetry. In many ways poetry is the purest form of expression – it gives an insight into a mind that constantly quests for reaching beyond simple thoughts and expresses what is beneath the façade.”


Once again, author Indira is absolute in this respect!

So also in a historic overture in this book, The Poetics of Symbiosis Reading by Shingeru Ozawa, the writer says of Seamus Heaney that he “holds his pen just as they (his ancestors) held their digging implements.”


Ref: The Poetics of Symbiosis: Reading Seamus Heaney’s Major Works

 Author Indira has magnificently utilized her pen to make brushstrokes (in poetry), painting the sky.

Author Indira also brings a thoughtful life experience in this book, A poem that painted the sky, with nuances reflective of Van Gogh’s painting of the Starry Night in 1889. According to Van Gogh’s gallery sources,

One of the biggest points of interest about this painting is that it came entirely from Van Gogh’s imagination. None of the scenery matches the area surrounding Saint-Paul or the view from his window. As a man who religiously paints what he sees, it’s a remarkable break from Van Gogh’s normal work.”


But unlike Van Gogh, author Indira’s mind-set imaginings are more conducive to her everyday experiences. Her brushstrokes are veiled often in real life situations. Many of these poems have also been crested in social media a few years hence, noticeably in under her pristine postings.


Let me take you through a random selection of poems in this book, A poem that painted the sky. In poem #1. Aditya Hridayam (p 7), author Indira is delighted in harnessing the glory of the Sun God against a back-splash of winter, spreading sun all over “earth to begin/yet another game of maya.” So illusive and magical,

On that early winter morning

the sun and I wiggled our way

cutting through the placenta

to touch the earth to begin

yet another game of maya.


In that hazy darkness

the thoughts of a life lived

rushed through the by-lanes

of unfathomable memory


Where were you?

Where are you?

I try in vain resurrecting

The faded memory.


How it eludes me on this earth…!


In my tears of joy and sorrow

I offer the sun born with me

on that early winter

a holy bath ever since.


The title of the poem, Aditya Hridayam, reflects on the empowerment of the stotra emerging as one of the key mantras based on the 107th chapter of the great epic war – Yudha Kanda – between the army of Lord Rama and the army of Ravana, as told in the Holy Ramayana. The stotra was elicited by Sage Agasthya to Sri Ram in harnessing the sun for greatest strength to defeat all enemies. (


In poem #2. Daughter of Dust (p.8), author Indira echoes a Tagore-like tone in a philosophic and emotional sarangi. Take a read of the second stanza,


Life left me to dream, though

it left a heart untouched:

a heart that can still sing

a melody of immense depth;

a melody that allays

my fears

my guilt

my shame

my tears,

mingling, them all

in the dust

under my seasoned feet.


And poem #12. Obsequies to a tear (p. 21, stanza 2) brings tear-drops to a burst,


Come, pay your respects

before the pyre is lit

before another tear is shed

and placed on the pyre.


In another poem #14. Of peace and strength (p.23), author Indira reflects a breath of Gandhian ahimsa principle,


That which allows one

to stay put amidst chaos –


That’s peace.


That which makes one stand

and walk straight in pain –


That’s strength!


Where there’s peace

There lies strength!


By general overlay and with meticulous ambulation, author Indira has netted her life experiences with rich imagery and emotional sensitivity in this beautiful bouquet of poems. Some of the poems, including #30. A wholesome mother (p.40), # 32. On a lonely monsoon night (p.43), Unfolding towards revelation (p.52), #41. A poem expecting rain (p.54), #43. A poem sliding down the glass-pane (56), #46. A poem on unexpected rain (p.59), #47. A poem that painted the sky (p.60), #51. A surreal moment (p. 64), #53. Call of desire (p.66), and # 56. Between birth and death (p. 69) have well-acclaimed postings among her 747 poems on the online blog. From her biographical exposé, she says “…to me writing poetry is strictly a business of the heart beyond the existential concerns of the here and now…”

This book’s title, A poem that painted the sky (# 47 on p.60) demonstrates the author’s “business of the heart” with her amazing life experiences,

Under a sky

that never touch

the earth…


In that virtual space

where none others

ever breathed…


There I hear

the unique raga

my breath resonates.


Between two breaths

lurks and exclusive dream

that I dream of you, for you.


This evening,

the dream morphed

into a bird…


The colorful wings

in multitudes flapped to flight

to paint the sky.


Back cover of this book, A poem that painted the sky, offers the reader with a vivid profile canvas of author, Indira Babbellapati. She is “a faculty in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences [Andhra Univ. Visakhapatnam, India]…is a widely published poet and translator. Her original poetry anthologies include affaire de Coeur, Vignettes of the Sea, echo, From the Biography of an Unknown Woman and Nomadic Nights. She translated all genres of literature except drama. Night of Nectar for the Sahitya Akademi, Asampoorna, the Incomplete, Into a Crowded Aloneness, in Telugu by Raama Chandramouli are some of the translated poetry anthologies. Her Own Way, a book of Akademi award winning short stories translated into English is under publication with the Sahitya Akademi. Gender Games and Other Stories, The Dusk, a novel in translation besides a few short stories have been published by the Translation Bureau of Dravidian University, Kuppam. Indira also coauthored English text books for Engineering Undergraduates. Indira’s poems are also anthologized in Roots and Wings, Suvarnarekha, Persona, Heaven 2014 and I am a Poet.

Prof Indira Babbellapati’s English poetry has been translated into Hindi, Bangla, Spanish and French. She made her presence felt at many national and international meets like Asia-Pacific Writers and Translators, SAARC Literature Festival to name a few.”

The collage of poetics and high literary acclaim resonates with excitement to rush any reader of poetry to get their hands on this book, A poem that painted the sky. Enjoy the read.


































October 19, 2017


October 17, 2017

In Manhattan

Looking with deep brown eyes

at Manhattan’s concrete jungle

eyes blurred at the macro-scope

of environmental curse

of cement and sand

rush of traffic

unaware of trees and plants

how fresh this American air

you sniff and sneeze

rich in strife and cynicism of life

in the distant horizon

there is no Mahatmaji

standing, staring

only one thoughtful soul

in a world of Ramji.


POEM: Body and Mind Recluse

October 9, 2017

Poem: Body and Mind Recluse by Leonard Dabydeen (Published in The Society):

“A man’s as old as he’s feeling …” ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“If the body frees the mind in its quest
For youthful dreams to be forever young
Let not Time play such games like cricket test*
To stay batting because the gloves are hung.
If I should sit alone in dark of night
Will I hear angels singing of a new King?
Or should I let my mind wander for light
Until sunlight herald flowers of Spring?
Never too old,” I think in solitude,
Murmuring to myself, “Am I too late?”
But the Mind regales with much gratitude
That I am so far from St. Peter’s Gate.
When youthful feelings prod the mind to soar
Sweet dreams go far beyond ocean’s shore.


*Cricket test or test cricket is an international sport. Test matches are played between competing countries (England vs Australia …) When a test player “stays batting,” this means he is not available to play in international matches. He hangs up his gloves.

Leonard Dabydeen is author of Watching You, A Collection of Tetractys Poems , Xlibris Publication(2012); Searching for You, A Collection of Tetractys and Fibonacci Poems, Xlibris Publication (2015)



October 8, 2017



Living Gandhi Today 2017 PDF




How Poems Jogging in the Mind

October 4, 2017

When I Write


When I write

I write with passion

I let wings of flame fly

with graceful heat

wafting with intensity

raging stampede excitement

I crust peaks, plateaus

horizontal platitudes

I engulf the mind with love

I trace contours of flesh

mounds, valleys and Venuses

knolls knotty brushes

I walk with refugees

wading mud and sand

breathless for freedom

eyes ink pen for Parker

Dell in key-board of life

tear drop after tear drop

I let the passion flow.






hurricane-harvey-houston-street-ap-ps-170828_4x3_992 JPEG.jpgHurricane-harvey-houston-street-ap-ps-170828-photo


Now that this storm abates in slow motion
Flood waters recede in all direction;
Harvey murmurs at toll it is counting
Human lives lost in the massive flooding.
Houstonians abandon homes and all
In fright and fear no matter wherewithal;
Huddled in shelters without a divide
Many families gather without pride.
Rescuers continue to scout the homes
So abandoned as the flood water roams;
Some are unable to find kith or kin
Trepidation about which camp within.

Survival is what seems to be foremost:
Texans are all together coast to coast.




If You Should Ask Of Me


If you should ask of me what I fear most

My heart would lie so much without a boast;

Not because I babble of middle-age

As I scuttle over stones in courage.


After all trekking this journey of life

Is coloured magical dreams spotted rife;

Sometimes there has been a dark inlet flow

Where my reluctant heart brokered to go.


Then I took that pathway like a shadow

With travesty of roads I did not know;

Many nights were silent, dark and gloomy

But often times I stood my ground firmly.


And many were the days I cherished most,

If you should ask of me try not to boast.







Wm F.E. Morley JPEG

Bill Morley 1920 –



For Bill at 97

(Celebrating his Birthday)


This rejoice overwhelming, surely mine

As I think of him like sparkle sunshine

Always looking forward with a wry smile

Enjoying another day for a while.


Sometimes he would appear to be busy,

To look at him smiling, makes you happy;

What is he looking for is a secret

His mind furtively holds with certain wit.


Those who look at him will often ponder

What is he thinking of, and then wonder-

At his age there is little surprise left

To show this world with much bereft.


So glad to see him without much ado

About our world we know to be so true.