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Bengal Famine exhibition launched

Ansar Ahmed Ullah:


An exhibition of profound historical significance, titled ‘Hunger Burns: The Bengal Famine of 1943’, was inaugurated on 11 May at the Watney Market Idea Store.

The exhibition was based on Diya Gupta’s book India in the Second World War, which recovers a global history of the Second World War, revealing two-and-a-half million men from undivided India served the British during the Second World War, while the war-induced Bengal Famine killed 3 million civilians due to starvation and malnourishment, a reminder of colonial plunder. This history shines a spotlight on emotions as a way of unearthing these troubled and contested experiences. Diya Gupta drew upon photographs, letters, memoirs, novels, poetry and philosophical essays in both English and Bengali to weave a compelling tapestry of emotions felt by Indians in service and at home during the war.

This loss has been explored by visiting artist from Berlin Sujatro Ghosh through paintings and soundscapes on display in Watney Market Idea Store. Tower Hamlets poet Eshita Azad composed and performed her poetry around famine and food in English and Bengali.

Art historian and museum curator Sona Datta conducted the launch event with Dr Diya Gupta and other guests speaking.

The exhibition runs till August 2024. The exhibition event was put together by Dr Diya Gupta with the support of the City, University of London, and in collaboration with the Idea Store, the Swadhinata Trust and Oitijo-jo kitchen who, served Bengali snacks.