Typing Test


The rampant anti-Semitism of the English elite already made Montagu, a practising Jew, a suspect figure, and his criticisms of Dyer did nothing to endear him to the General's supporters and the defenders of political authoritarianism. Conservatives charged the government with throwing Dyer to the wolves. For every person prepared to critique Dyer, two came forward to defend him. The Hunter Commission found him guilty only of an error in judgement, exercising excessive force, and having a somewhat mistaken conception of his duties. Dyer, nevertheless, could not be permitted to continue in his position, and he was dismissed, even as many senior officers demurred, on half-pay.It was enough to outrage the English public, for whom, the same Orwell had once remarked, liberty was like the very air they breathed. A hero had been unfairly maligned, and the Morning Post raised funds in support of 'The Man Who Saved India'. At its closing, the Fund amounted to over £26,000, a little over £1.1 million in today's currency. The 'Butcher of Amritsar' went into luxurious retirement, though arteriosclerosis cut his life short.There is by now a familiar narrative of the Indian reaction to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Tagore described the incident, in a moving letter to the Viceroy where he asked to be relieved of his knighthood, as "without parallel in the history of civilized governments, barring some conspicuous exceptions, recent and remote." More than 20 years later, Udham Singh, who was 20 at the time of the massacre, sneaked into Caxton Hall in London where O'Dwyer was attending a lecture and shot him dead with a revolver. The day of reckoning that O'Dwyer had spoken of had come, if unexpectedly. What most accounts occlude is a stunning little detail: when captured, and in subsequent police documents, Udham Singh gave his name as Ram Mohamed Singh Azad - to taunt the British whose entire Indian adventure had been tainted by their wilful determination to characterise India as a land of eternal communal tensions.And then there was Gandhi, who with his gift for neologisms, coined the word "Dyerism" to signify the repressive apparatus of a state that bears no responsibility to its subjects. It was the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and the atrocities in the Punjab that, as Gandhi would describe at his trial in 1922, turned him from a "staunch loyalist" and "co-operator" to an "uncompromising disaffectionist" who was convinced that British rule had made "India more helpless than she ever was before, politically and economically."Much has been made of the fact that during the debate in the House of Commons, Winston Churchill condemned the "slaughter" at the Jallianwala Bagh as an episode "without precedent or parallel in the modern history of the British Empire." Churchill, of course, had a way with words, and so he continued: "It is an extraordinary event, a monstrous event, an event which stands in singular and sinister isolation." But by what measure do we describe the incident as "singular"? As wartime Prime Minister two decades later, Churchill was not merely indifferent to the plight of millions in Bengal facing acute food shortages, but almost certainly precipitated with his callous policies a holocaust that led to the death of three million people. It barely suffices to say that if ever there was an incident of the pot calling the kettle black, this would be it: the monstrosity of it is that Churchill, a dedicated racist his entire life, appears as the guardian of English virtues in this debate.