UPSC Previous Year Question Year Civil Services (MAIN) examination 2022
Why was there a sudden spurt in famines in colonial India since the mid-eighteenth century?
Answer in 150 words
The mid-eighteenth century saw a sudden increase in famines in colonial India for several reasons:
- Climate change: Droughts and floods became more frequent and intense, leading to crop failures and food shortages.
- Economic factors: The colonial government’s revenue extraction policies, including the Permanent Settlement in Bengal, resulted in a decline in agricultural productivity and increased rural poverty.
- Transportation: Poor transportation and communication infrastructure made it difficult to distribute food from surplus regions to areas affected by famine.
- Market forces: The growth of cash crops for export and the integration of Indian agriculture into the global market led to a rise in food prices and reduced access to food for the poor.
- Administrative failure: The colonial government’s inadequate response to famines, including its reluctance to import food or provide relief, contributed to the severity and spread of the famines.
All of these factors combined to create a perfect storm of conditions that led to the increase in famines in colonial India in the mid-eighteenth century.