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British Colonial Rule nd Famines in India SRIRAMs Historical



  Oct 28, 2023

SRIRAM's Historical Overview British Colonial Rule and Famines in India


During the British colonial rule in India, spanning from the mid-18th to mid-20th centuries, the nation witnessed several devastating famines. The relationship between British policies and these famines has been a subject of historical debate and scrutiny. Here's a brief overview:
 
1. Economic Policies: The British economic policies, such as heavy taxation, the promotion of cash crops over subsistence crops, and the transformation of India into a colonial market for British goods, made the Indian peasant class vulnerable. Reduced food production meant the locals were ill-equipped to handle poor harvests.
 
2. Railways and Infrastructure: While the British did introduce railways, which could have been used for quick transportation of food supplies during famines, they often served to export food out of famine-stricken areas rather than bring relief to them.
 
3. Laissez-Faire Economics: The British administration often resisted intervening in the grain market even during famines. They believed in free trade and were reluctant to sell grain at subsidized rates or halt grain exports.
 
4. Land Revenue Systems: Systems like the Permanent Settlement of Bengal squeezed peasants and made them more susceptible to the vagaries of nature. Often, even during famines, high land revenues were extracted, pushing peasants into deeper poverty.
 
5. Major Famines: Some of the most severe famines during British rule include the Bengal Famine of 1770, the Great Famine of 1876-78, and the Bengal Famine of 1943. Millions perished as a direct result of these famines.
 
6. Administrative Apathy: The British administration's response to famines was often characterized by apathy. Relief measures were either inadequate or mismanaged. In the case of the 1943 Bengal Famine, wartime priorities and administrative negligence further exacerbated the crisis.
 
7. Long-term Impact: The recurring famines under colonial rule had long-lasting impacts on India's socio-economic fabric. They led to large-scale migrations, indebtedness, and changes in landholding patterns.
 
In conclusion, while famines were not new to India, the frequency and severity of famines during British rule, combined with the administrative response to them, have led many historians to view these tragedies as not just natural disasters but also as consequences of colonial policies.
 
SRIRAM's Colonial Chronicles Understanding India's Past!


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