Famines In India
Famine had been a recurrent feature of life in the Indian sub-continental countries of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and reached its numerically deadliest peak in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Historical and legendary evidence names some 90 famines in 2,500 years of history. There are 14 recorded famines in India between the 11th and 17th centuries. Famines in India resulted in more than 60 million deaths over the course of the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries. The last major famine was the Bengal famine of 1943. A famine occurred in the state of Bihar in December 1966 on a much smaller scale. The drought of Maharashtra in 1970–1973 is often cited as an example in which successful famine prevention processes were employed. Famines in British India were severe enough to have a substantial impact on the long term population growth of the country in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Indian agriculture is heavily dependent on the climate of India: a favorable southwest summer monsoon is critical in securing water for irrigating crops. Droughts, combined with policy failures, have periodically led to major Indian famines, including the Bengal famine of 1770, the Chalisa famine, the Doji bara famine, the Great Famine of 1876–78, and the Bengal famine of 1943. Some commentators have identified British government inaction as contributing factors to the severity of famines during the time India was under British rule. The 1883 Indian Famine Codes, transportation improvements, and changes following independence have been identified as furthering famine relief. In India, traditionally, agricultural laborers and rural artisans have been the primary victims of famines. In the worst famines, cultivators have also been also susceptible.
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