Chapter

Famine in the Colonial Agenda: The North Indian Experience: <i>c</i>. 1780–1837

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/9780195653861.003.0002

Series: SOAS Studies on South Asia

Famine in the Colonial Agenda: The North Indian Experience: c. 1780–1837

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This chapter discusses the relationship between famines and the colonial state in north India between 1780 and 1837. It begins with challenging British notions of post-Mughal ‘decline’ in the late 18th century north India as an ideological tool to legitimize the authority of the colonial state. While depopulation, migration, and the abandonment of cultivated land after the famine of 1783-4 had significant adverse effects on the economy of the Doab, it also helped the East India Company gaining experience in handling famines. The next famine of 1803-4 elicited several measures for the prevention of droughts, including the promotion of irrigation, leniency and flexibility in revenue collection, giving advances (taqvi) to cultivators, the prohibition of grain exports, the creation of grain storages, the setting up of free trade grain markets, the import of grains, anti-hoarding laws, and price controls.

Keywords: Indian famines; colonial state; the Doab; non-interventionist policies; grain markets; revenue collection; irrigation

Chapter.  22135 words. 

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