on time

Trafalgar jacket
we boast of that victory
dyed in indigo

n.b. The mind-expanding exhibition by the Singh Twins, (running until 20th February, 2023) at Norwich Castle, explains how many farmers in India were forced to grow indigo to colour uniforms blue for English and French forces, (greed and profit take no sides).

An example being this Royal Navy sailor’s jacket, dating from before 1805 and the Battle of Trafalgar that year.

The British imposition to grow the indigo plant on an industrial basis, meant that the small-scale farms, on which villagers were dependent for edible crops, were drawn into satisfying the demands of the military for blue dye at the expense of growing food, with dire consequences.

The 300 years between the arrival of the East India Company and independence from the UK with the installation of self-determined government, were centuries marked by a series of wide-ranging famines, many exacerbated by British colonial practises.

The last famine of colonial rule was in 1942/43. It became the ultimate stain on Winston Churchill’s reputation, when food resources were again compromised, on this occasion by his directive to meet military munitions needs in preference to mitigating a famine that ultimately killed an estimated 1.5 million civilians, with a further 2 million thought to have died of disease.


CLP 10/12/2022