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Total Number of Deaths due to British Made Famines in India

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Breakup of the Total Famine Deaths in British ruled India:
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.



References for Figures Listed in the Table :

[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.110vick

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