‘Irrigating the Lands, Irrigating the Minds’: Panacea for a Parched North India

Sanjay Sharma

in Famine, Philanthropy and the Colonial State

Published in print July 2001 | ISBN: 9780195653861
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199081653 | DOI:

Series: SOAS Studies on South Asia

‘Irrigating the Lands, Irrigating the Minds’: Panacea for a Parched North India

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The concluding chapter of the book begins by discussing the long term consequences of the 1837-8 famine. While official accounts argued that north Indian society quickly bounced back from the downturn following the famine, actual facts point to the setting in of a deeper malaise. The chapter also describes the response of the colonial state which began focus on deforestation as one of the causes of the drought, to encourage missionary recue projects, and to use its growing technical knowhow in the creation of large scale canal irrigation works such as the 900 mile long Ganga Canal, opened in 1954. The concluding pages describe how the people began to look to the colonial state for famine relief (which became more and more bureaucratized and standardized) even as its guiding philosophy continued to be the prevention of mass mortality and not the removal of the conditions of poverty.

Keywords: colonial responsibility; the Ganga Canal; famine foods; famine relief; colonial state; nineteenth century deforestation; canal irrigation

Chapter.  17758 words. 

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