Chapter

Introduction

Sanjay Sharma

in Famine, Philanthropy and the Colonial State

Published in print July 2001 | ISBN: 9780195653861
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199081653 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195653861.003.0001

Series: SOAS Studies on South Asia

Introduction

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The Introduction outlines how the subject of famines has attracted the attention of scholars ever since the early nationalists argued that India had become more famine prone under colonial rule. It points out that the focus of the book will be on the Ganaga-Jamuna interfluve known as the Doab, and discusses its hydrographical factors, the fertility of its soil, irrigation initiatives, and its crop sowing patterns. It also includes a discussion of how the decline of the Mughal Empire reduced trading opportunities which resulted in agricultural stagnation leading to the depression of the 1830s. It describes how the forthcoming chapters will approach the famine years as entry points to investigate the clash between indigenous and European notions of charity, and the impact of the classificatory categories of pauperism and destitution on the management of famine relief in the colonial context, and the origins of structured poverty, welfarism, and state responsibility for famine prevention.

Keywords: famine; colonial north India; kharif crop; rabi crop; the Doab; monsoon; agricultural stagnation; indigo

Chapter.  11005 words.  Illustrated.

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