Friday, July 31, 2009

Bangladesh,Famine (cont-2)

The fault of the famine was ascribed to the British East India Company. But Simon Schama said in his book " A history of Britain" thatthe famine was not a direct fault of the British regime. A close analysis revealed that it was due to the fact that, 1. the company tried to maximise its profits even at the time of famine. With the help of the taxation rights they tried to obtain land tax as well as trade tariffs. Moreover, the land tax was raised fivefold what it had been -from 10% to upto 50% of the vaslue of the agricultural produce.In the first year it was doubled and most of these revenues flowed out of the countryduring the time of famine. As the famine approached its height in April 1770, the company announced that the land tax for the following year was to be increased by a further 10%., 2. The food availability was reduced by poppy cultivation for export which also contributed to the famine, 3. the company also forbade "hoarding" of ricewhich prevented traders and dealers from laying in reserves that in other times would have tided the populationover lean periods, as well as ordering the farmers to plant indigo instead of rice., 4. By the time of famine monopoly of grain trading had been concentrated the company and their agents. 5. The first Governer General Warren Hastings collected tax violently in 1771 than in 1768. The profit of the company increased from 15 million rupees in 1765 to 30 million in 1777.,
6.The excessive rainfall in 1770 did not relieve the people from the sufferings of drought of the year before ; on the contrary, it caused overflowing of rivers and damaged the standing crops.
Not only in 1770, but during 1783- 1886, famines visited British India several times.
The famine of 1886 was seen in part of Bengal along with Orissa. Real wages of agricultural workers were declined. An enquiry commission was announced to investigate the reasons.
The famine of 1896-1898 affected Bengal along with other provinces.A famine commission headed by Sri J.B.Lyall, was formed. The commission observed that the wages of agricultural labourers had not increased for the last twenty years in proportion to the rise in prices of the daily necessities.