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UPSC Mains 2022

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

General Studies Paper - 1, Topic - Modern Indian History

Dec 28, 2022

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There were several factors that contributed to the sudden increase in famines in colonial India in the mid-eighteenth century. One of the main factors was the expansion of British economic policies, which prioritized the export of raw materials from India to Britain, rather than the well-being of the Indian population. This led to a shift in land use patterns, as farmers were encouraged to grow crops for export rather than for domestic consumption. This made the Indian economy more vulnerable to fluctuations in global demand, which could lead to shortages and higher food prices.


Another factor was the British government's failure to adequately invest in infrastructure, such as irrigation systems and transportation networks, which made it difficult to distribute food and other essential goods during times of crisis. Additionally, the British government's policy of non-interference, which aimed to minimize its involvement in India's internal affairs, meant that it often did not provide sufficient assistance during famines.


Overall, the combination of economic policies that prioritized exports over domestic needs, inadequate infrastructure, and a lack of government intervention contributed to the increase in famines in colonial India in the mid-eighteenth century.

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