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The Bengal Famine: How the British engineered the worst genocide in human history for profit

“I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion. The famine was their own fault for breeding like rabbits.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -Winston Churchill

The British had a ruthless economic agenda when it came to operating in India and that did not include empathy for native citizens. Under the British Raj, India suffered countless famines. But the worst hit was Bengal. The first of these was in 1770, followed by severe ones in 1783, 1866, 1873, 1892, 1897 and lastly 1943-44. Previously, when famines had hit the country, indigenous rulers were quick with useful responses to avert major disasters. After the advent of the British, most of the famines were a consequence of monsoonal delays along with the exploitation of the country’s natural resources by the British for their own financial gain. Yet they did little to acknowledge the havoc these actions wrought. If anything, they were irritated at the inconveniences in taxing the famines brought about.

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The first of these famines was in 1770 and was ghastly brutal. The first signs indicating the coming of such a huge famine manifested in 1769 and the famine itself went on till 1773. It killed approximately 10 million people, millions more than the Jews incarcerated during the Second World War. It wiped out one third the population of Bengal. John Fiske, in his book “The Unseen World”, wrote that the famine of 1770 in Bengal was far deadlier than the Black Plague that terrorized Europe in the fourteenth century. Under the Mughal rule, peasants were required to pay a tribute of 10-15 per cent of their cash harvest. This ensured a comfortable treasury for the rulers and a wide net of safety for the peasants in case the weather did not hold for future harvests. In 1765 the Treaty of Allahabad was signed and East India Company took over the task of collecting the tributes from the then Mughal emperor Shah Alam II. Overnight the tributes, the British insisted on calling them tributes and not taxes for reasons of suppressing rebellion, increased to 50 percent. The peasants were not even aware that the money had changed hands. They paid, still believing that it went to the Emperor.

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Partial failure of crop was quite a regular occurrence in the Indian peasant’s life. That is why the surplus stock, which remained after paying the tributes, was so important to their livelihood. But with the increased taxation, this surplus deteriorated rapidly. When partial failure of crops came in 1768, this safety net was no longer in place. The rains of 1769 were dismal and herein the first signs of the terrible draught began to appear. The famine occurred mainly in the modern states of West Bengal and Bihar but also hit Orissa, Jharkhand and Bangladesh. Bengal was, of course, the worst hit. Among the worst affected areas were Birbum and Murshidabad in Bengal. Thousands depopulated the area in hopes of finding sustenance elsewhere, only to die of starvation later on. Those who stayed on perished nonetheless. Huge acres of farmland were abandoned. Wilderness started to thrive here, resulting in deep and inhabitable jungle areas. Tirhut, Champaran and Bettiah in Bihar were similarly affected in Bihar.

Prior to this, whenever the possibility of a famine had emerged, the Indian rulers would waive their taxes and see compensatory measures, such as irrigation, instituted to provide as much relief as possible to the stricken farmers. The colonial rulers continued to ignore any warnings that came their way regarding the famine, although starvation had set in from early 1770. Then the deaths started in 1771. That year, the company raised the land tax to 60 per cent in order to recompense themselves for the lost lives of so many peasants. Fewer peasants resulted in less crops that in turn meant less revenue. Hence the ones who did not yet succumb to the famine had to pay double the tax so as to ensure that the British treasury did not suffer any losses during this travesty.

After taking over from the Mughal rulers, the British had issued widespread orders for cash crops to be cultivated. These were intended to be exported. Thus farmers who were used to growing paddy and vegetables were now being forced to cultivate indigo, poppy and other such items that yielded a high market value for them but could be of no relief to a population starved of food. There was no backup of edible crops in case of a famine. The natural causes that had contributed to the draught were commonplace. It was the single minded motive for profit that wrought about the devastating consequences. No relief measure was provided for those affected. Rather, as mentioned above, taxation was increased to make up for any shortfall in revenue. What is more ironic is that the East India Company generated a profited higher in 1771 than they did in 1768.

 

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Although the starved populace of Bengal did not know it yet, this was just the first of the umpteen famines, caused solely by the motive for profit, that was to slash across the country side. Although all these massacres were deadly in their own right, the deadliest one to occur after 1771 was in 1943 when three million people died and others resorted to eating grass and human flesh in order to survive.

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Winston Churchill, the hallowed British War prime minister who saved Europe from a monster like Hitler was disturbingly callous about the roaring famine that was swallowing Bengal’s population. He casually diverted the supplies of medical aid and food that was being dispatched to the starving victims to the already well supplied soldiers of Europe. When entreated upon he said, “Famine or no famine, Indians will breed like rabbits.” The Delhi Government sent a telegram painting to him a picture of the horrible devastation and the number of people who had died. His only response was, “Then why hasn’t Gandhi died yet?”

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Winston Churchill: Image Source

 

 

 

 

 

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This Independence Day it is worthwhile to remember that the riches of the west were built on the graves of the East. While we honour the brave freedom fighters (as we should), it is victims like these, the ones sacrificed without a moment’s thought, who paid the ultimate price. Shed a tear in their memory and strive to make the most of this hard won independence that we take for granted today. Pledge to stand up those whose voice the world refuses to hear because they are too lowly to matter. To be free is a great privilege. But as a great superhero once said, “With great freedom comes great responsibility.”

 source:YourStory
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Fingal’s Cave

Queen Victoria, Matthew Barney, Jules Verne, and Pink Floyd are not names you usually hear in the same sentence, but then the place that they all share is itself quite uncommon. Known as Fingal’s Cave, it bears a history and geology unlike any other cave in the world.

At 72 feet tall and 270 feet deep, what makes this sea cave so visually astoundingly is the hexagonal columns of basalt, shaped in neat six-sided pillars, that make up its interior walls.

The cave was a well-known wonder of the ancient Irish and Scottish Celtic people and was an important site in the legends. Known to the Celts as Uamh-Binn or “The Cave of Melody,” one Irish legend in particular explained the existence of the cave as well as that of the similar Giant’s Causeway in Ireland. As both are made of the same neat basalt columns, the legend holds that they were the end pieces of a bridge built by the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (a.k.a. Finn McCool), so he could make it to Scotland where he was to fight Benandonner, his gigantic rival.

The legend, which connects the two structures, is in effect geologically correct. Both the Giant’s Causeway and Fingal’s Cave were indeed created by the same ancient lava flow, which may have, at one time formed a “bridge” between the two sites. Of course, this happened some 60 million years ago, long before people would have been around to see it. Nonetheless, the deductive reasoning of the ancient peoples formed the connection and base of the legend that the two places must be related.

full story at : Atlas Obscura

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lost Civilization Found: Archaeologists Discover 1500-Year-Old Giant Spherical Stone in Bosnia [Photos]

April 15th, 2016 | by Amando Flavio
Lost Civilization Found: Archaeologists Discover 1500-Year-Old Giant Spherical Stone in Bosnia [Photos]

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A team of archaeologists have discovered a giant spherical stone in a forest called Podubravlje, near the Bosnian town of Zavidovici, after spending years digging in the area.

The discovered stone is said to have a radius between four to five feet, as well as an extremely high iron content. It is said the area where the stone was discovered used to be a home of such spherical stone into the 20th century, but many of them were destroyed in the 1970s, due to mythological rumors that there was gold hidden in the middle of them.

Bosnia’s famous archaeologist, Dr Semir Osmanagic said the giant round stone could be the oldest stone sphere made by human hands. Dr Osmanagic is the leader of the team that discovered the giant stone.

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He told local media outlets that the sphere proved the existence of an advanced lost civilization, which could date back more than 1,500 years ago.

However, some European archaeologists have dismissed Dr Osmanagic’s claim that the stone was man-made. Critics believed the stone was formed naturally by the precipitation of natural mineral cement within the spaces between sediment grains.

Mandy Edwards, a lecturer at the School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences in the University of Manchester, told MailOnline that the spherical stone may be an example of concretion.

But Dr Osmanagic is still holding on to his claim, saying that access to the rock is granted to researchers who would like to verify that it was made by humans in the past.

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Dr Osmanagic is not new to criticisms. In 2005, he made the headlines in the media in Europe for his work on the supposed existence of ancient pyramids in the Visoko Valley, which he said then, that the pyramids are hidden in plain sight as a cluster of hills.

He said then that once his research is completed at the Visoko valley, it will be taller than the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. He was widely criticized and ridiculed by his fellow academicians for his claims on the pyramids.

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But regardless of the criticisms, the Bosnian government has given him financial backing, enabling excavations to be carried out in the region. The United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization has also given the excavation its backing.

Dr Osmanagic is known as Bosnian Indiana Jones. He now lives in Austin in Texas, United States, and travels around the world to investigate ancient sites.

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According to Osmanagic, the phenomenon of this new stone discovered could be linked with ancient civilizations around the world, especially the stone spheres of Costa Rica.

The stone spheres of Costa Rica numbering around 300 and weighing up to 15 tonnes, are believed to have been created by the now extinct Diquis culture in the pre-Columbian indigenous culture of Costa Rica. The stones are also believed to be about 1500 years old.

It is unclear how those stones were created, but it is believed they were first sculpted from a local stone before being hammered and polished with sand.

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If what Dr Osmanagic and his team have found is proven by an independent body to be man-made, it will be the largest man-made stone ball ever found, twice as heavy as the Costa Rican ones.

Osmanagic is said to have been researching stone balls for the past 15 years. He has said in the past, that the ancient civilization used the stone balls in the belief that it attracted positive energy, and was able to offer healing benefits.

On his new discovery, Osmanagic was quoted as saying “It is once again further proof that there was an advanced civilization here with a high level of technology about which we know very little.”


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10 Forgotten Movie Starlets Of Nazi Germany

SHANNON QUINN APRIL 15, 2016

After rising to power, Adolf Hitler assigned Joseph Goebbels as the Reich’s new “minister of propaganda.” Goebbels controlled the German public bycreating films that either numbed the population with comedy and musical numbers, or brainwashed people into believing in Nazi ideals.

Beginning in 1939, American films were banned from the country. Instead, there was now a huge demand for films produced by the Universum Film-Aktien Gesellschaft (UFA), the main studio controlled by the Nazi Party.

All these changes made things a bit tricky for German starlets. Actresses who refused to join the Nazi Party were blacklisted from the German film industry. Many other actresses fled the country, expanding their careers to other parts of Europe. Some even made it to Hollywood.

However, for a few women, the promise of money and fame was enough to set aside their moral judgments, and in some cases, they embraced the Nazis with open arms.

Photo credit: Alexander Binder

10Lida Baarova

Lida Baarova 3

Photo credit: Yanna1982 via YouTube

Lida Baarova was an established actress from Prague, and she signed a contract with the UFA for her first German film, Barcarole, in 1935. She was offered Hollywood roles, but she declined in order to stay in Germany. Lida was engaged to Gustav Frohlich, a famous actor who’d divorced his Jewish wife in order to continue his acting career. The couple fully embraced the Nazis to benefit their own careers.

Goebbels was absolutely obsessed with Lida Baarova. They began having an affair that lasted for two years, and obviously, this did wonders for Lida’s career. She was cast in all the choice roles, and she became very wealthy and successful.

Naturally, their relationship caused turmoil for both Gustav and Magda Goebbels, Joseph’s wife. Hitler himself eventually stepped in, deciding that in order to stop this domestic dispute, Lida Baarova would be deported back to Prague immediately.

In 2016, a German movie titled Devil’s Mistress dramatized the relationship between Baarova and Goebbels. Their story was also explored in a documentary titled Zkaza krasou.

9Brigitte Horney

Brigitte Horney

Photo credit: keepturning78 via YouTube

While many actresses eagerly signed with the UFA, Brigitte Horney turned down the money and fame. She wanted to continue working with whichever actors and directors she wanted. Specifically, she wanted to keep working with her friend and former co-star, Joachim Gottschalk.

Gottschalk’s wife and children were Jewish, which caused him to be blacklisted from UFA films. In 1941, Gottschalk learned Gestapo agents were on their way to his house. They were planning on taking his family to the concentration camps. In order to avoid such a horrible fate, the Gottschalks committed group suicide so they could all die together.

Losing her friend shook Brigitte Horney, and it made the power of the Nazis all too real. Most likely fearing for her own life, she agreed to work on a propaganda film called Am Ende der Welt (The End of the World) in 1944. However, the movie wasn’t released until after World War II because Joseph Goebbels wasn’t satisfied with the film.

The fear soon became too much to handle, so Horney escaped to Switzerland, leaving her husband behind in Germany. After the war, she eventually became a US citizen and married Hanns Swarzenski, a Jewish art historian.

full story at :Listverse

That Time Soviet School Children Bugged the US Ambassador’s Office By

who by the way has the coolest blog 🙂

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Did you hear the one about the Soviet school children who presented a US Ambassador with a wooden plaque of the Seal of the United States as a gesture of friendship in 1945? It hung in his Moscow office for 7 years before discovering it contained a listening device. True story.

Man, that’s cold! Get it? Anyway, after discovering the bug, they called it “The Thing”, because it was the kind of technology which was borderline sci-fi for its time. One of the first covert listening devices to use remote technology to transmit an audio signal, the device didn’t have a battery and was both activated and powered from a remote source outside the embassy. Allegedly holes were drilled under the beak of the eagle to allow sound waves to reach the membrane.

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It was discovered accidentally by a radio operator at the British embassy who began overhearing American conversations on an open radio channel as the Russians were beaming radio waves at the embassy of their World War II ally.

State Department employees were sent to Moscow in 1951 to investigate and conducted sweeps of the American, as well as the British and Canadian embassies, also suspected of being bugged. During this sweep, they found the Great Seal Bug, a.k.a The Thing. 

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The Great Seal bug before its detection, visible to the left on the office wall beyond the Ambassador’s desk.

The CIA then hired a British scientist to run an investigation on the bug, which had an extremely thin membrane, and had actually been damaged during handling by the Americans, who were bewildered by the device. The British scientist’s examination of “The Thing” would later lead to the development of a similar British listening system used throughout the 1950s by the British, Americans, Canadians and Australians.

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In 1960, at the United Nations Security Council, the Soviet Union confronted the United States about a spy plane which had entered Russian territory and been shot down (you might remember it being heavily referenced in the recent Tom Hanks filmBridge of Spies). In response to the accusation, the U.S. ambassador essentially proceeded to give a show & tell of the bugging device they had found in the Great Seal gifted to them by the Young Pioneer organization of the Soviet Union. The ambassador successfully pointed out, that it takes two to tango.

You can see the ambassador giving a live demonstration of the listening device in the seal in this archive news reel below…

t’s quite the story, right? And yet it’s only half of an even more intriguing tale– that of the inventor behind the bug which managed to go undetected for seven years in the US embassy. But hang on a minute. Shouldn’t the US Ambassador’s office have been regularly swept for bugs even back in 1945?

The Thing was very difficult to detect. Like I mentioned, the technology was borderline sci-fi for its time; extremely small with no power supply, unlimited operational life and no radiated signals. It was made by a somewhat tragic Russian genius, Léon Theremin, who as a high schooler had built a million-volt Tesla coil and by the 1920s was working on wireless television, demonstrating moving images by 1927.

He was most famous for a pretty cool invention, the self-titled theremin, one of the first electronic musical instruments. The first to be mass-produced, it’s a very strange but beautiful instrument which involves using a magnetic field to control the pitch in one hand and the volume with the other.

You can see him in action with his theremin below, which even today, seems like something in between sci-fi and hocus pocus.

full story and video at MessyNessy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taq Kasra: The Archway of Ctesiphon

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The ancient city of Ctesiphon, on the banks of Tigris, is located about 35 km southeast of modern Baghdad. Established in the late 120s BC, it was one of the great cities of late ancient Mesopotamia and the largest city in the world from 570 AD, until its fall in 637 AD, during the Muslim conquest. The only surviving structure of Ctesiphon today is the majestic vaulted hall of Taq Kasra, which served as the palace of the Sasanian king Khosrow I, in the late 6th century. The archway is one of the largest single-span vault of unreinforced brickwork in the world.

Ctesiphon was founded by Mithradates I, the king of the Parthian Empire, as a place of royal residence, after he annexed Babylonia by defeating the Greeks. Under the Parthian rule, Ctesiphon became the political and commercial center of the region, and by 58 BC, it had become the Empire’s capital. Gradually, the city was merged with the old Hellenistic capital of Seleucia and other nearby settlements to form a cosmopolitan metropolis.

full article and stunning pictures  AmusingPlanet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PEOPLE ARE POLYANDROUS, AND NOT JUST POLYGYNOUS

Illustration of Draupadi, a princess and queen in the Indian epic “Mahabharata”, with her five husbands (Wikipedia)

David P. Barash is an evolutionary biologist and professor of psychology at the University of Washington; his most recent book is Out of Eden: surprising consequences of polygamy (2016, Oxford University Press). A version of this post recently appeared in Psychology Today.

Human history did not begin with historians, or with the events recorded and interpreted by them. It is as old as our species … actually, older yet, but for my purposes, it’s enough to inquire into those aspects of our past that gave rise to our behavioral inclinations. Among these aspects, sex is prominent (albeit not uniquely formative). I wrote earlier about polygyny, which is dramatically evident in our bodies no less than our behavior. But polyandry, the mirror image of polygyny, is also “us”; ironically, we are both. Part of human nature inclines us to male-oriented harems, but also – although more subtly – to their female-oriented equivalent.

When biologists such as myself began doing DNA fingerprinting on animals, many of us were shocked, shocked, to find that the social partner of even some of the most seemingly monogamous bird species was not necessarily the biological father. And people aren’t altogether different, although for understandable reasons, the sexual adventuring of women has long been more obscured. Polyandry –unlike polygyny – has only rarely been institutionalized in human societies, and yet women, like men, are also prone to having multiple sexual partners. (This may seem – even be – obvious, but for decades biologists had assumed that female fidelity was generally the mirror-image opposite of predictable male randomness.

Male-male competition and male-based harem keeping (polygyny) is overt, readily apparent, and carries with it a degree of male-male sexual intolerance which also applies to polyandry, whereby “unfaithful” women along with their paramours are liable to be severely punished if discovered. This intolerance is easy enough to understand, since the evolutionary success (the “fitness”) of a male is greatly threatened by any extra-curricular sexual activity by “his” mate. If she were inseminated by someone else, the result is a payoff for the lover and a fitness decrement for the cuckolded male. As a result, selection has not only favored a male tendency to accumulate as many females as possible (polygyny), but also an especially high level of sexual jealousy on the part of males generally and of men in particular. This, in turn, pressures polyandry into a degree of secrecy not characteristic of polygyny. Another way of looking at it: patriarchy pushes polyandry underground, but does not eliminate it.

full story:HNNhistorynewsnetwork

 

 

 

 

 

c. 1905-191Mata HariDancer, courtesan, scapegoat, spy?

by Alex Q. Arbuckle

c. 1905

IMAGE: HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES

A courtesan, I admit it. A spy, never! I have always lived for love and pleasure.
MATA HARI

Born in 1876 in the Netherlands, Margaretha Geertruida Zelle married an affluent Dutch Colonial Army captain at the age of 18. In 1897, she moved with him to the island of Java, where they had two children.

Her husband was an abusive and resentful alcoholic. To distract herself from the unhappiness of her marriage, Zelle buried herself in the study of Indonesian culture and traditions, including dance.

The marriage slowly deteriorated, and after returning to the Netherlands, the couple separated in 1902. Zelle moved to Paris, where she found work as a circus equestrian, artist’s model and exotic dancer.

Capitalizing on the growing fad for “Oriental” performances, Zelle adopted the stage name Mata Hari — Malay for “eye of the day” or “sun” — and concocted an elaborate fictional persona. She claimed to be an Indonesian princess trained in exotic rituals and Hindu dances.

She combined her appropriated aesthetic with her own bawdy sense of confidence and promiscuity, performing elaborate striptease dances which made her an instant sensation.

1906

IMAGE: WALERY/HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES

1906

IMAGE: WALERY/HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES

1906

IMAGE: WALERY/HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES

1906

IMAGE: WALERY/HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES

c. 1905

IMAGE: KEYSTONE-FRANCE/GETTY IMAGES

1907

IMAGE: COLLECTION BOURGERON/RDA/HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES

c. 1905

IMAGE: KEYSTONE-FRANCE/GETTY IMAGES

c. 1905

IMAGE: MONDADORI PORTFOLIO/GETTY IMAGES

FULL STORY AND MORE PICTURES AT Retromout

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