The recent Black Lives Matter movement which began following the death of George Floyd in the US not only reminded us that racism is still strongly prevalent, but it also broke our superficial idea of living in an egalitarian world.
This movement is exceptionally spectacular because the youth are not only asking for reformation in the system but also questioning the thousand-years-old legacy which espoused racism in the first place.
That is why we are witnessing protesters around the world tearing down memorials of the so-called "revered leaders".
In Britain, protesters broke down the statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston, who made a fortune by transporting 80,000 people from Africa to America.
In Belgium, people have burned down and painted red the statue of King Leopold II – their most respected and longest reigning ruler, and an inseparable figure from Belgian history.
Even former British Prime Minister and WW II here Winston Churchill's statue, situated at the Parliament Square in Westminster, has been vandalised with anti-racial remarks.
Given the role of Churchill and many 'revered' British leaders role in oppressing the people South Asia, and very specifically the people of Bengal of the time, it is good time to hark back to the past and remember the damage by colonial rulers to our people and the inherent racism their actions were laced with.
British rule in India
Racism does not just revolve around black people, it has been occurring against different minority groups in different contexts for time immemorial.
But one factor that has been common in all racist oppression is – white supremacy.
Be it the aboriginal people of Australia, the tribal people of Mesopotamia or the Mau Mau group of Kenya – they all have been persecuted by imperialist British rule.
Atrocities in the Indian subcontinent are prominent examples of the viciousness of the British.
These rulers, meanwhile, most often avoided any punishment and on the contrary, have been lauded for their "bravery".
The British Raj not only crippled the economy of the subcontinent but also led to the killing of millions of people in India.
Despite being a small enterprise comprising of 30 employees at best, the East India Company managed to invade an entire subcontinent within less than 50 years in the sixteenth century.
The reason Britain had been so ruthless to all its colonial regions is because they literally ruled with the conviction of being the "best above all".
Some of these oppressors left their marks with such brutality that others failed to match them.
Lord Clive and the Great Bengal Famine of 1770
Clive took control over Bengal as the first appointed Governor by defeating Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah in the Battle of Plassey.
Already devastated by the war, the poverty stricken province was struggling to barely feed its people.
But Clive was not done with just looting their wealth; the East India Company continued to increase tax on estates and goods.
A senior official of the old Mughal regime in Bengal wrote in his diaries, "Indians were tortured to disclose their treasure; cities, towns and villages ransacked; jaghires and provinces purloined: these were the 'delights' and 'religions' of the directors and their servants."
This shortage of food led to the Great Bengal Famine of 1770 which stayed for over four years taking almost 10,000,000 lives in Bengal.
The Bengal Famine of 1943 and Winston Churchill's hatred for Indians
Churchill's hatred for Indians was particularly acute and it became evident when his adamancy caused the death of 3,000,000 people and thus generated the Bengal Famine of 1943.
Popular author and constant critic of British colonialism, Shashi Tharoor accused Churchill of having as much blood on his hands as Hitler does.
He wrote in his book Inglorious Empire on Churchill's conduct during the WW II, "Churchill persistently exported grain from Bengal to Europe to enhance buffer stocks in the event of a likely future invasion in Greece and Yugoslavia."
"As Australian ships were docking at the port of Calcutta laden with wheat, Churchill and his odious aide, paymaster general Lord Cherwell decided not to allow those ships to disembark their cargoes but to keep sailing onto Europe."
Churchill ostensibly blamed Indians for the scarcity stating "they were breeding like rabbits". In an official memo sent by the Bengal authority for relief, he wrote, "If the shortages are so bad, why has Gandhi not died yet?"
Churchill on record said, "Indians are a beastly people with a beastly religion."
General Reginald Dyer and the Jallianwala Bagh massacre
On April 13, 1919, thousands of people gathered at the Jallianwala Garden in Amritsar, Punjab to peacefully demonstrate against the controversial Rowlatt Act.
But under the command of Acting Brigadier Reginald Dyer , British troops were ordered to keep firing at the protestors until they ran out of ammunition.
In those ten minutes of incessant firing, over 379 protesters were killed and more than 1,000 were injured. At least 120 people died from jumping into a well on the compound.
After this massacre, the British parliament established an inquiry named the Hunter Commission.
General Dyer reiterated in his testimony, "I could have dispersed the crowd without firing, but chose not to do so because they would have come back and laughed,"
"I would have used machine guns to kill even more if I could have. I did not see any reason to help the wounded," he added without any remorse.
John Nicholson and the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857
John Nicholson is regarded as one of the most crooked personalities among all the British military officials.
His notoriety reached such an extent that locals of the northwest frontier of India actually worshipped him as the fearful God "Nikal Seyn".
Stuart Flinders described Nicholson in his book Cult of a Dark Hero, as "a violent bully, contemptuous of Indian life and dignity. The personification of the worst aspects of colonialism."
Nicholson has been accused of personally overseeing the hanging of regimental cooks for allegedly poisoning soups for the British soldiers during the Sepoy Mutiny.
He lost his life in the same battle while fighting for the British.
Even Sir John Lawrence, Viceroy of India from 1864-69, found it difficult to work with Nicholson.
He was allegedly accused of being fond of "flogging" as a punishment for Indians on almost any ground.
These were just few examples of the massive racial prejudice and policies of imperial British.
Their 190 years of colonial rule is reproached for having numerous leaders like the ones mentioned above who gained fame in the UK for plundering and persecuting people of India.
Maybe it is time for Britons to review their past and put history in perspective.