Winston Churchill and India
Why was Winston Churchill so vindictive towards India and Indians?
Winston Churchill was closely connected with India from 1896, when he landed in Bombay with his regiment, the Fourth Hussars, until 1947, when India finally achieved independence. No other British statesman had such a long association with the sub-continent or sought to influence its politics in such a sustained and harmful manner.
Churchill consistently sought to sabotage moves towards any degree of independence, and for five years led opposition to the Government of India Act, crippling the legislation before its passage in 1935. In 1939, he congratulated himself that he had created a three-legged stool on which Britain could sit indefinitely. As Prime Minister during the Second World War, Churchill worked behind the scenes to frustrate the freedom struggle, delaying independence by a decade. To this day he is regarded as the archetypical imperialist villain, held personally responsible for the Bengal Famine.
This book reveals Churchill at his worst: malign, cruel, obstructive and selfish. But the same man was outstandingly liberal at the Colonial Office, generous to the Boers and the Irish, to the detriment of his career. He later rushed colonies in the Middle East towards independence. So why was he so strangely hostile towards India?
Walter Reid is an historian educated at the Universities of Oxford and Edinburgh, a fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and the author of several acclaimed books on British politics and history, including Neville Chamberlain: The Passionate Radical. He raises sheep and cattle in Scotland and grows olives in France.