Jambudveep's Blog

December 12, 2010

Appendix I: Breakup of the Famine death Total, with a list of Good books on the subject

Filed under: British Misrule — Yogeshwar Shastri @ 8:53 pm
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1. Breakup of the Total  Deaths:

Name of Famine Time Span of  the Famine Areas Affected by the Famine

Maximum Estimate of Deaths

Intermediate Estimate of Deaths

Minimum Estimate of Deaths

Most likely Estimate of Deaths

Bengal Famine of 1770 1769-1772 

 

Bengal (east and west),Bihar,parts of Orissa and Jharkhand 

 

10 million[i] 10 million
Madras Famine of 1782 & Chalisa Famine 

 

1782-1783,
1783-1784 

 

Madras Famine affected areas surrounding Chennai and parts of Karnataka. Chalisa affected Uttar Pradesh,parts of Rajasthan,Delhi and Kashmir 

 

11 million[ii] 11 million
Doji Bara (Skull Famine) 

 

1791-1792 

 

Tamil Nadu, 

Maharashtra,

Andhra Pradesh,

Gujarat,Rajasthan

 

11 million[iii] 

 

11 million 

 

Famine in Bombay Presidency 

 

1802-1803 

 

Maharashtra 

 

High mortality but number of deaths not known[iv] 

 

High mortality but number of deaths not known 

 

Famine in Rajputana 

 

1803-1804 

 

Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan 

 

Low mortality but number of deaths not known[v] 

 

Low mortality but number of deaths not known 

 

Famine in Madras Presidency 

 

1805-1807 

 

Tamil Nadu? 

 

High mortality but number of deaths[vi] not known 

 

High mortality but number of deaths not known 

 

Famine in Rajputana 

 

1812-1813 

 

Rajasthan 

 

2 million[vii] 

 

1.5 million[viii] 

 

2 million
Famine in Bombay Presidency of 1813 

 

1813-1814 

 

Maharashtra, Gujarat(not sure?) 

 

High mortality but number of deaths not known[ix] 

 

High mortality but number of deaths not known 

 

 

Famine in Madras Presidency

 

 

1823

 

 

Tamil Nadu?

 

 

High mortality but number of deaths not known[x]

 

 

 

 

High mortality but number of deaths not known

 

Guntur Famine/Famine in Madras Presidency 

 

1833-1834 

 

Modern day Guntur and related districts of Andhra Pradesh which formed the Northern part of Madras Presidency during British Rule 

 

High mortality but number of deaths not known 

 

2 lakhs (this estimate is only for Guntur,many deaths in Nellore, Masalipatnam & Chennai not accounted for)[xi] 

 

2 lakhs (this estimate is only for Guntur,many deaths in Nellore, 

Masalipatnam & Chennai not accounted for)

 

Agra Famine of 1837-38 

 

1837-1838 

 

Uttar Pradesh,parts of Rajasthan,Delhi, 

parts of Madhya Pradesh,parts of Haryana

 

1 million[xii] 

 

8 lakhs 

 

1 million
Famine in Madras Presidency 

 

1854 

 

Tamil Nadu? 

 

High mortality but number of deaths not known[xiii] 

 

High mortality but number of deaths not known 

 

Famine in Northern India 

 

1860-1861 

 

Uttar Pradesh,Punjab 

 

2 million[xiv] 

 

2 million 

 

Orissa Famine of 1866 

 

1865-1868 

 

Orissa,Parts of coastline of 

Tamil Nadu,

Andhra Pradesh,

parts of Bihar and Bengal

 

1.8 million[xv] 

 

1.8 million 

 

Rajputana famine of 1869 

 

1868-1870 

 

Rajasthan? 2.7 million[xvi] 

 

1.2 million[xvii] 2.7 million
Bihar Famine of 1873-74 

 

1873-1874 Bengal, Bihar ,Uttar Pradesh 

 

no recorded deaths[xviii] 

 

no recorded deaths 

 

Great Indian Famine of 1876-78 

 

1876-1879 

 

Tamil Nadu, 

Maharashtra,

Andhra Pradesh,

Rajasthan,

Uttar Pradesh,

Karnataka,

Haryana,

Madhya Pradesh

 

10.3 million[xix] 

 

8.2 million[xx] 

 

6.1 million[xxi] 

 

10.3 million
Famine of 1880 

 

1880 

 

Maharashtra, 

Andhra Pradesh (old Hyderabad state),Madhya Pradesh,Chattisgarh,

Uttar Pradesh

 

Famine was severe but number of deaths not known[xxii] 

 

Famine was severe but number of deaths not known 

 

 

Famine of 1884-1885

 

 

1884-1885

 

 

Punjab,Bengal,Bihar

,Jharkhand, parts of Karnataka

 

 

7.5 lakhs[xxiii]

 

 

 

 

7.5 lakhs

 

Madras Famine of 1888-1889 

 

1888-1889 

 

Orissa,parts of Bihar 

 

1.5 million[xxiv] 

 

1.5 million 

 

Famine of 1892 

 

1891-1892 

 

Old Madras presidency (not sure if coastal Andhra which used to be part of Madras presidency and parts of Karnataka were affected),Maharashtra,Rajasthan,Bengal, 

Upper Burma

 

1.62 million[xxv] 

 

1.62 million 

 

Famine of 1896-1897 

&

Famine of 1899-1902

 

1896- 1897   & 

1899-    1902

 

Uttar Pradesh,Tamil Nadu(?Old Madras Presidency),Bengal, 

Madhya Pradesh,

Chattisgarh,

Maharashtra,
Punjab,Gujarat,

Rajasthan,parts of Orissa,Sindh,

Karnataka

 

19 million[xxvi] 

 

8.4 million[xxvii] 

 

6.1million[xxviii] 

 

19 million
Famine of 1907-1908 

 

1907-1908 Uttar Pradesh,Uttarakhand 

 

3.2 million[xxix] 

 

2.1 million[xxx] 

 

3.2 million 

 

Bengal Famine of 1943 

 

1942-1944 

 

Bengal 

 

7 million[xxxi] 

 

3.5 million[xxxii] 

 

1.5 million[xxxiii] 

 

7 million 

 

Total Deaths 85 million (approx.)

Essential Reading:

Before we go any further, I would like to recommend a few books which are essential reading for every Indian, irrespective of whether you like history or not.

1.      Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World, Mike Davis, Verso Books.

The book has excellent research drawing on a variety of sources, both Indian and foreign to show the true nature of British rule in India. Gives detail explanations of the deliberate policy of maximising revenue while millions of Indians perished in the famines. Also explodes some myths of “progress” due to the British such as railways, telegraph etc. Get your hands on one and read from beginning till the end.

2.      “Famines and Land Assessments in India”, Romesh Chunder Dutt. Available for free download from : http://www.archive.org/stream/faminesandlanda00duttgoog

R C Dutt was a brilliant Bengali economic historian who had served for as a civil servant in the British government in India. His books lay bare the British policy of funnelling wealth and food out of India at the expense of millions of Indian lives.

3.      The Economic History of India Under Early British Rule. From the Rise of the British Power in 1757 to the Accession of Queen Victoria in 1837. Vol. I, Romesh Chunder Dutt.

The Economic History of India in the Victorian Age. From the Accession of Queen Victoria in 1837 to the Commencement of the Twentieth Century, Vol. II, Romesh Chunder Dutt.

The above two books are specifically focused on the economic loot of India from the time of East India Company (1757 CE onwards) till 1901-1902 CE.A must read to get an idea of the resources and wealth looted from India by the British.

4. Churchill’s Secret War: The British Empire and the Forgotten Indian Famine of World War II, Madhusree Mukherjee, 2010.

The above books   is about the terrible Bengal Famine of 1943 and presents evidence of British deliberately starving nearly 7 million Bengalis to death.

I believe the book is available at a very reasonable rate in India. We need to buy such books to encourage Indian authors to research and write the true version of our history.


References for Figures Listed in Table 1:

[i] Dutt, Romesh Chunder (1908). The economic history of India under early British rule, Pg 52

[ii] Grove, Richard H. (2007), “The Great El Nino of 1789–93 and its Global Consequences: Reconstructing an Extreme Climate Event in World Environmental History”, The Medieval History Journal 10 (1&2): 75–98

[iii] ibid

[iv] Reference 1: Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.127.
Reference 2 : Dutt,RC.Famines and Land Assessments in India,Pg.3

[v] Reference 1: Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.127.
Reference 2 : Dutt,RC.Famines and Land Assessments in India,Pg.4

[vi] Reference 1: Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.127.
Reference 2 :  Dutt,RC.Famines and Land Assessments in India,Pg.4

[vii] Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.127

[viii] RC Dutt.Famines and Land Assessments in India,Pg.4

[ix] Reference 1: Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.127.
Reference 2 : Dutt,RC.Famines and Land Assessments in India,Pg.5

[x] Reference 1: Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.127.
Reference 2 : Dutt,RC.Famines and Land Assessments in India,Pg.5

[xi] Reference 1: Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.127.
Reference 2 : Dutt,RC.Famines and Land Assessments in India,Pg.6

[xii] Reference 1: Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.127.
Reference 2 : Dutt,RC.Famines and Land Assessments in India,Pg.6-7

[xiii] Reference 1: Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.127.
Reference 2 : Dutt,RC.Famines and Land Assessments in India,Pg.7

[xiv] Fieldhouse, David (1996), “For Richer, for Poorer?”, in Marshall, P. J., The Cambridge Illustrated History of the British Empire, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pp. 400, pp. 132

[xv] Reference 1: Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.127.
Reference 2 :  Dutt,RC.Famines and Land Assessments in India,Pg.9

[xvi] Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.128.

[xvii] Dutt,RC.Famines and Land Assessments in India,Pg.9

[xviii] Reference 1: Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.128.
Reference 2 : Dutt,RC.Famines and Land Assessments in India,Pg.9

[xix] Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.128

[xx] A Maharatna, The Demography of Famine. quoted by Mike Davis,Late Victorian Holocausts,El Nino Famines and Making of the Third World,pg 7,table P1.

[xxi] R Seavoy,Famine in Peasant Societies,New York 1986,quoted by Mike Davis,Late Victorian Holocausts,El Nino Famines and Making of the Third World,pg 7,table P1.

[xxii] Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.128

[xxiii] Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.128

[xxiv] Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.129

[xxv] Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.129

[xxvi] The Lancet 16 may 1901, quoted in Mike Davis.Late Victorian Holocausts,El Nino Famines and Making of the Third World,pg 7,table P1

[xxvii] A Maharatna, The Demography of Famine. quoted by Mike Davis,Late Victorian Holocausts,El Nino Famines and Making of the Third World,pg 7,table P1.

[xxviii] Cambridge Economic History of India,Cambridge 1983;quoted by by Mike Davis,Late Victorian Holocausts,El Nino Famines and Making of the Third World,pg 7,table P1.

[xxix] Maharatna quoted by Mike Davis,.Late Victorian Holocausts,El Nino Famines and Making of the Third World,pg 174

[xxx] Ibid

[xxxi] Bengal Tiger and British Lion: An Account of the Bengal Famine of 1943,Richard Stevenson,Pg.139

[xxxii] Famines in Bengal:1770-1943,K C Ghosh,pg.111

[xxxiii] Famine Inquiry Commision Report,1943.Pg.110

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6 Comments »

  1. jambudvipji.. awesome data collection.. as usual, few doubts..

    why are figures prior to 1818 from maratha territories included in tally? these include maharashtra, karnataka, gujarat, mp, odisa, rajputana.. shouldn’t all the famines occurring in these places in this time responsibility of marathas?

    everything in bengal after 1757 is responsibility of british. everything in rest of India after 1818 is responsibility of british.. everything in punjab after 1849 is responsibility of british.. these three dates – 1757, 1818, 1849 should be used as filters while summing up the deaths..

    Comment by kalchiron — December 15, 2010 @ 2:34 am | Reply

  2. Kalchironji,
    You have raised a very valid point. I will offer my rationale behind putting these in.I might need to correct the geographical spread of these famines (for e.g. If it said Bombay presidency, I usually put in Maharashtra) Please feel free to pick holes, as I want the count to be as genuine as possible and not just sling mud for the sake of it. The picture regarding the earlier famines (pre 1818) is a bit hazy .I will post the extracts from R C Dutts book (Famines and land assessments in India) on the basis of which i have put these in:

    1. Famines of 1782-84: RC Dutt page 2-3.Overall the picture is of devastation in the provinces controlled by the Company. Of course Kashmir was not part of the company’s domains at that time. But the majority toll seems to have been in the Doab.

    Famine in Madras of 1783: There was a famine
    in Madras in 1783, mainly due to the wars of Warren’^
    Hastings with Mysore.

    Famine in Northern India in 1784.—There was a very wide-spread and intense famine in Upper India in 1784, directly due to failure of rains, but aggravated in some places by blunders and maladministration.Upper India was not then under British rule, but
    British officers had been sent to Oudh to command the Nawab’s troops, and, following the mischievous practice of the times, they had farmed the revenues of the country
    for their private gain. Large numbers of the people were driven to rebellion and were put down with cruel severity. Captain Edwards visited Oudh in 1774 and 1783. In the former year he had found the country flourishing in manufacture, cultivation, and commerce;
    in the latter year he found it to a great extent ” forlorn and desolate.”

    2. Doji Bara (Skull famine),1792: This is a difficult one. It had a pan Indian spread well beyond company domains. But both the existing Madras and Bombay presidencies were affected. I guess we will need to look for sources which definitively point one way or the other. Also the Third Anglo Mysore war concluded around this time, need to have a look how this affected food supply.
    I will read the materials i have. if it turns out that the company was only partially responsible for this, we will need to have a think about what could be the number of deaths in Madras/Bombay?

    3. Famine in Bombay Presidency (1803): Direct consequence of the British aggression.
    RC Dutt pg 3, “Bombay Famine of 1803.—The wars of Lord Wellesley with the Mahrattas, which prevented much land being sown, and the ravages caused by the army of Holkar and the Pindarees, were the principal causes of this famine.

    4. Famine in Rajputana (1803-1804): I will rename this as “Famine in Northern India” as present day Uttar Pradesh seems to have been affected.
    RC DUTT ,pg3-4 , “ The wars of Lord Wellesley, the ravages caused by the army of Holkar, and also the early mistakes made by the East India Company’s servants in land revenue administration,seem to have aggravated the effects of this wide-spread famine. A part of the dominions of the Nawab of Oudh had been ceded to the British Government in 1801, and blunders were made by the new rulers in the collection of the land revenues. Mr Dumbleton, one of the early collectors of revenue, said in a letter to the Board of Revenue, that the Settlement of 1802 ” pressed beyond a fair demand,” and that the severe rates of the Nawab’s Government were stereotyped,”without the same elasticity in realising.”

    5. Famine in Rajputana(1812-1813): William Digby in his book lays the blame on the shoulders of the Company. (Prosperous India,pg 135,has a detailed listing of all famines plus mortalities)

    6. Bombay Famine of 1813 (1813-1814): Mostly areas of British ruled Bombay presidency.

    RC Dutt, “Similar causes led to a similar calamity in Bombay six years later. The Government refused to prohibit export or to import grain on this occasion, and recorded in a separate minute its adherence to the principles of political economy as expounded in Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations.”

    Comment by Yogeshwar Shastri — December 15, 2010 @ 10:11 am | Reply

  3. Bravo!

    Do you have any figures for the massacre of Hindus during the entire Islamic period?

    Comment by seadog4227 — December 17, 2010 @ 4:23 pm | Reply

  4. Brilliant work friend. Keep up the good work.

    Comment by mitrin — March 1, 2012 @ 6:38 am | Reply

  5. […] British imported opium, to the British Raj where colonial misrule and greed caused the deaths of 85 million people in various famines- there are many many reasons why the British should hang ‘our’ heads in […]

    Pingback by The Queen and ‘Our’ Glorious Empire | Black Feminists — June 4, 2012 @ 7:33 am | Reply


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