East India company, famine and ecological conditions in eighteenth century Bengal

Damodaran, Vinita (2015) East India company, famine and ecological conditions in eighteenth century Bengal. In: Damodaran, Vinita, Winterbottom, Anna and Lester, Alan (eds.) East India Company and the natural world. Palgrave Studies in World Environmental History . Palgrave, London, pp. 80-101. ISBN 9781349491094

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Abstract

It is a well-known fact that British India was devastated by a rash of famines. According to the report of the Famine Commission, in a period of 90 years from 1765 when the British East India Company took over the Diwani of Bengal to 1858, Bengal experienced 12 famines and four severe scarcities. Famine research has gained ground in both Asia and Africa in recent times and it is well known that British India experienced a series of subsistence crises particularly in the latter half of the nineteenth century. However, analyses of these famines by historians have rarely included a study of environmental changes. This is unfortunate, as it is becoming increasingly clear that knowledge of the ecological basis of different peasant economies is crucial to an understanding of the capacity of certain communities to withstand drought and other famine-related hazards. From the late eighteenth century many Indian communities were disturbed by the interventions of the East India Company and their revenue and agricultural regimes which increased taxation, encouraged sedentarisation and attempted to restrict raids, hunting and nomadism. The new rulers further introduced new regimes of property and pushed the conversion of the jungle into arable land, seeing jungles as harbouring disorder and marauding tribes.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: The article looks at the development of famine conditions in India in the eighteenth century and compares famine in the highland regions of Chotangpur with that in the plains.
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Research Centres and Groups: Centre for World Environmental History
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Depositing User: Vinita Damodaran
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2018 10:46
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2018 10:52
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/78888
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