Why was there a sudden spurt in famines in colonial India since the mid-eighteenth century? Give reasons.

Sample Answer


Over dependence on monsoon coupled with British policy failures has caused many famines since the middle of 18th century e.g., Bengal Famines (1770), the great famine (1876)


Reasons behind sudden spurt in famines:

  • Commercialisation of agriculture with Dual government model in Bengal. Farmers were forced to grow fibre crops, indigo. During famines farmers were left with no food to eat.
  • Land revenue policies such as Zamindari (excessive exploitation) or Ryotwari (Highest form of tax rates) enabled the British revenue system to wipe off profits of farmers.
  • Poor investment on government side on the canal system to support the drought situation.
  • Unwanted scarcity through the export of surplus food to other nations (open trade) denying the food security of millions of Indians.
  • Farmers were not allowed to store the surplus produce on the doubt of tax evasion.6. No Disaster management: no relief on either famines or the tax payments. Also no policy on food storage.


Such policies weakened the self-sufficiency of rural India, gave rise of extreme poverty and hunger and weakened the Indian economy.

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