FAMINES IN THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT, 1500 to 1767
|1711 (a): Jaipur area, Rajasthan|
|Documented causes: unspecified|
|Documented effects: unspecified|
|O.P. Kachhawha "Famines In Rajasthan" (1985)|
|p26: "There was famine in Jaipur also in the years 1711-1716 A.D." [Source: "P.C. [Persian Correspondence?] Register Nos I and VIII, (Jodhpur Archives) Nos. 63 and 2608, 1711-1716 A.D." (Unless the second document refers to a duration since 1711, I suspect that these are two separate famines in 1711 and 1716, not one very long famine)]|
|1711 (b) [to 1712]: Coromandel Coast|
|Documented causes: drought|
|Documented effects: official relief efforts in Madras & Pondicherry|
|Fort St. George "Diary and Consultation Book, 1711" (1929)|
|p140 (consultation of 25 Oct 1711): "... ye merchants were sent for and ask'd what quantity of bales they cou'd undertake to bring us in, in fifty days to which they answer'd that cotton is so dear and hands so scarce in all the weaving villages of this country and paddy so dear for want of rain that it was impossible for them to go on with any further investment upon the old terms they having been very considerable loosers by the last goods they brought in. ...|
...after some disputes among themselves they freely undertook to bring in two hundred and fifty bales by the time limited and fifty more if possible to be procured w'ch they said was the utmost they cou'd undertake, considering the unusuall want of rain at this time of year that has allready raised the price of grain twenty five Pr. Cent and that the people of the country are under great apprehensions of a famine."
p185 (consultation of 20 Dec 1711): "The great want of rain in this latter Season of the year having destroy'd all the crop of grain in these parts and made the people in the Country round about us apprehensive of a very great scarcity, no paddy has been brought into Town these last three days, and those that have store by them in their godowns, are unwilling to sell at the present price of seventeen mercall to a pagoda, if we should raise the price when the boats come in from the Northward it would be a hard matter to bring it down again.
AGREED therefore to sell out all the Companys rice by the Averilla and what else we had before daily to the poor people at two and three fanams worth each, rice by the which will supply them for a few days till the boats may arrive and then there is no fear but the Merchants will bring the paddy in from the Country at the present price which is dear enough."
|Fort St. George "Diary and Consultation Book, 1712" (1929)|
|p9 (consultation of 17 Jan 1712): "The Company's Merch'ts. having desired further time than what mention'd in the last Consultation were now call'd in and warmly press'd to come to an agreement at five Pr. Cent abatemt. upon the last contract, and the substance of their answer is as follows|
That Rice is now at seven mercall for a pagoda the present crop being in great measure dried up and lost upon the ground so that there are no hopes of its being cheaper this season and great fears of a greivous famine if we have not large supplies from the sea before this monsoon is over.
That Cotton is now at twenty pagodas Pr. Candy which used to be at fifteen and sixteen when they made their former contracts, and that there is no likelyhood of its being cheaper before September.
That the troubles in the Country where the goods are made increase daily which thins the Inhabitants and will make it very difficult to send up mony and bring down goods with safety.
That they have lost six thousand pagodas by the last Contract which they are ready to prove by their accounts upon oath which loss was occasion'd by the dearness of Cotton the scarcity of hands thro' sickness in the country and by the sever'll goods which we have turn'd out and made abatement upon all w'ch. Circumstances they hop'd we would consider in the Contract for if they were sure to be no loosers they would be very well content w'th. only the common interest of their mony advanced. ..."
p11 (consultation of 18 Jan 1712): [petition from the Company's merchants inland, about increased prices:]
"These goods we know we can provide the Cotton & Cotton yarn are very dear by reason there is no rain up in the Country's wherefore we shall be considerable loosers therefore hope your Honr. will advance 15 Pr. Cent more lest hereby we be sufferers humbly entreating your Honr's Compliance to this our request.
[Fort St. George council's assessment:]
... their Assertion as to the dearness and scarcity of grain here and in all the countrey round about us is true and we are very happy if we escape a famine.
... Cotton is certainly as dear as they mention which appears plainly by the Dearness of quantity sent to Vizagapatam in August last and there sold for twenty four pagodas the Candy for the Compa. acco't & none has been sold here for sometime under twenty pag.
The troubles in the Country are undoubtedly very great & we are not likely to see better times [un]der the weak government of the present Mogull and it is to be consider'd that the merchants risque their own mony instead of the Compa. up into the severall country where the goods are made it must be allowed that they run a much greater hazard than ordinary both in sending up mony and in bringing down their goods thro' several petty governments wth. which they must keep a good correspondence which is not to be done without some expence these troublesome times the Poligars being in arms to struggle for their liberty."
p18 (consultation of 25 Jan 1712): [Fort St. David had, for over a year, been stuck in an increasingly stupid and shameful war with "Serope Sing" (Sarup Singh, rajah of Chingee)]
"... The great want of grain at Fort St. David was taken into consideration as well as our present Circumstances here in that particular and we find we cannot ship of any that is allready landed without occasioning such a Clamour as will cause many of our poor inhabitants to forsake [the] place not having enough in town for two months [nor] has any been brought in from the country these twenty days past wherefore we summon'd all the grain merchants who daily expect large quantity's from ye Northward as soon as the wind changes which has very unexpectedly continued at South East for ten days.
That the monsoon being near spent is the reason why we have not time to take the grain ashoar and reship'd it, That we wou'd put a Pilot and laskars aboard to take care of the Vessells and finding no other means to gain their Consent, rather than disoblige people without whose Assistance we are not able to subsist we have agreed upon this emergency to pay them their mony here and run the risque of the grain to Fort St. David or otherwise the people of that place must perish by famine their bounds being closely shut up by the enemy, and the neighbouring Sea Ports so farr from being able to help them, that they can scarcely subsist themselves."
p51 (consultation of 22 Mar 1712): [instructions to negotiator for ending the war around Fort St. David]
1. You are very well acquainted with what has pass'd at this Board relating to the unhappy warr at Fort St. David since your arrivall as also with what was done in the last Treaty, when we endeavourd all in our power to have made a peace upon any reasonable terms, but the demands of the enemy were so extravagant, and they fell so often from their words, when we thought we were near attaining our ends, that at last we were disappointed, and oblig'd to renew the warr in our own defence, you have likewise by your journey to Fort St. David had an opportunity to see the condition of the place, the circumstances our Masters affairs are in, the manner of carrying on the warr, and the misfortunes that attend it ...
9. The great prejudice this warr does to our Investment, the obstruction it is to Trade in Generall, the entire loss of our revenues, the scarcity and dearness of grain, the desertion of our Inhabitants, and the insupportable Expences we are at, to fortify and defend our great Extent of bounds, are the reasons that induce us to seek peace, to which we must add one more, the daily dread we are in, lest more of our soldiers should follow the ill Examples of those vile wretches that have already deserted to the Enemy ..."
|"Records of Fort St. George, vol. XIII: Letters to Fort St. George, 1712" (1932)|
|14 (24 Jan 1711/2): FORT ST. DAVID|
"The clamours of the Poor for Rice ... encrease upon Us, which we have made shift [to] moderate as yet out of our old stores, but they are so near being exhausted that unless in a very few days [we] receive Supplys, we shall undergo the hardships of famine, but as we have always found you very Generous in supplying our wants, and sending Us relieve when we wanted it, so we don't in the least doubt but you['ll] consider our Circumstances at this Juncture, unl[ess] you are in the same or worse yourselves, which ... God to avert."
29 (29 Jan 1711/2): FORT ST. DAVID
"We thank You for [your] generous Supply, which we Believe will be sufficient to last Us this Season, and desire you won't put yourselves to the trouble of sending Us any more, for as we have got no rice in our bounds, and quite dispair of any Supplys from You, a small quantity of fire will suffice to dress the provision we and all our inhabitants must be obliged to content ourselves with, who go away by two hundreds of a day and as we before have wrott You, we don't care to stop them, for fear we should have a pestilence added to ye two dismall Calamitys we at present labour under, Warr and famine."
68 (1 Mar 1711/2): FORT ST. WILLIAM
"I am sorry for a Likelyhood You apprehend of a famine [in] Madrass but do beleive the Presid't & Councill of this Place will use their utmost integrity in supplying You with what possible this Monsoon ..."
|Theodore Morison, "The economic transition in India" (1911)|
|p113: "1709-11. Scarcity about Fort St. George- 'The countreys about them to the Southward have had a famine of grain.' ("Coast and Bay Abstracts," vol. i. p. 224.) 'Inhabitants peaceable and quiet, though have suffered by dearness and scarcity of grain. Have run great risks to get it in by sea and lost several laden vessels, but don't repine because has saved many lives.' "|
|"Procès-verbaux des délibérations du Conseil souverain de la Compagnie des Indes" (Vol. 1, 1911)|
|p109: (meeting of 5 Mar 1712): [The Governor's son had bought 15 Garces (about 74 cubic metres) of rice in a boat at Madras] "... il l'avoit engagé de l'apporter à Pondichéry tant pour le service de la garnison que pour apporter l'abondance dans la ville où il en vient peu à cause que les pluyes ont manqué l'année dernière ..." [Unfortunately, on its way to Pondichéry the vessel was menaced by four Dutch ships, so it anchored at Godlour]|
p114: (meeting of 1 Oct 1712) revenue failures for the "fermes" (leases of monopolies within the lands held by the Compagnie)] "Les fermiers 'se plaignent tous qu'ils ont perdu considérablement parce qu'il n'est point venu de vaisseaux d'Europe ces deux dernières années et par la famine qui dure encore" [it was decided to reduce the ferme rents by 600 Pagodas]
|Fort St. George "Diary and Consultation Book, 1712" (1929)|
|p216 (consultation of 24 Nov 1712): [letter] "ffrom Mr. Philip Noden at Metchlepatlm. dated the 11th. inst. with advice that the rains have almost wash'd down the Factory.|
p217 (consultation of 28 Nov 1712): [letter] ffrom the Dep'y. Governr. and Council of Fort St. David dated the 22d. inst. advising that the violent rains had done great damage to their buildings in generall, and particularly wash'd down part of the Consultation room and Hospitall, and that they expect the remainder to fail if the rains continue with other great damages among the black inhabitants houses.
[Fort St. George council's response:]
Agreed that orders be given to Fort St. David to pull down such buildings as are in apparent danger of falling upon those peoples heads that lodge in them, and that they provide a quantity of bricks and chinam at the best hand as soon as the rains are over."
|1712 aftermath: preparing for next time|
|"The early annals of the English in Bengal, being the Bengal public consultations …" (vol. 2 pt. 1, 1900)|
|p44 (Item 545, consultation of 17 Mar 1712): The Death of Shaw Allam [the late Mughal Emperor, usually known as Bahadur Shah, who died 27 Feb 1712] being Confirmed in all Places, and Publickly owned among the Officers of the Government, And Considering the great Confusions and Troubles that may arise in Bengall during the Inter Regnum, Agreed that we Order all our Officers of this Garrison to be Constantly in a Readiness [details given] Also that the Buxie lay in good Store of all sorts of grain, and Provisions" …|
p379 (from annual Bengal report letter to the East India Company's Court of Directors, 10 Dec 1712): … "On Shaw Allum's death laid in 25000 maund of Rice & othr. Grain to prevent scarcity thro' war, it is now cheaper than half w'ch occation'd a Loss th'rin, shall lay in stores suffic't for Fort Wm. And St. George- last salt provisions sent thither prov'd good."
|p117: (Item 728: consultation of 9 May 1713) "There being a quantity of old Rice laid in for Stores upon the Death of Shaw Allum which is now beginning to decay, Ordered that the Buxey sell it as soon as he can."|
|J. Bertrand (comp.), "La Mission du Maduré" (vol. 4, 1854)|
|pp195-6: "LETTRE DU P. MARTIN, MISSIONAIRE DE LA COMPAGNIE DE JÉSUS, AU P. DE VILLETTE, DE LA MÊME COMPAGNIE. [report on four years' work- see also 1709. Some researchers, not noting the timespan, assign Martin's 1709 famine information to 1713.]|
On ne prend nulle part autant de précautions que dans le Marava, pour ne pas laisser échapper une goutte d’eau, et pour ramasser toute celle des ruisseaux et des torrents que forment les pluies. On y voit une assez grande rivière appelée Vaïarou. Après avoir traversé une partie du Maduré, elle entre dans le Marava, et quand elle remplit bien son lit, ce qui arrive d’ordinaire pendant un mois entier chaque année, elle est aussi grosse que la Seine. Cependant par le moyen des canaux creusés par nos Indiens, et qui vont aboutir fort loin à leurs étangs, ils saignent tellement cette rivière de tous les côtés, qu’elle s’y perd entièrement, et n’arrive à son embouchure, qu’après avoir mis plusieurs semaines à remplir les nombreux réservoirs vers lesquels on l’a détournée.
Les étangs les plus communs ont une demi-lieue de levée: il y en a d’autres qui ont une lieue et plus. J’en ai vu trois qui ont plus de trois lieues. Un seul de ces étangs fournit assez d’eau pour arroser les campagnes de plus de soixante peuplades. Comme le riz veut toujours avoir le pied dans l’eau jusqu’à ce qu’il ait acquis sa parfaite maturité, lorsqu’après la première récolte il reste encore de l’eau dans les étangs, on fume les terres, et on les ensemence de nouveau: car tout le temps de l’année est propre à faire croître le riz, pourvu que l’eau ne lui manque pas.
On récolte ici diverses espèces de riz; le meilleur est celui qu’on nomme samba et pijânam: le premier croît et murit dans l’espace de sept mois; il faut neuf mois au second. On en voit qui ne demeure sur pied que cinq mois, et d’autre à qui environ trois mois suffisent; mais il n’a ni le goût ni la force du samba et du pijânam. Du reste, il est surprenant de voir la quantité de poissons qui se trouvent chaque année dans ces étangs, lorsqu’ils tarissent. Il y en a dont la péche s’afferme jusqu’à deux mille écus. Cet argent s’emploie toujours à la réparation des levées, qu’on fortifie des terres mêmes qui se tirent de l’étang.
Les premières pluies, qui arrivèrent dans le mois d’août, donnèrent le moyen à quelques laboureurs d’ensemencer les terres de cette espèce de riz qui croît en trois mois de temps; mais après les pluies abondantes d’octobre et de novembre, toutes les campagnes furent semées, et elles promettaient une des plus riches récoltes, J’avais compassion de voir ces pauvres gens aller chaque jour recueillir quelques grains de riz à demi mûrs, les froisser dans leurs mains et les manger tout crus, la faim ne leur donnant pas la patience de les faire cuire.
Ceux qui avaient été plus diligents à ensemencer leurs terres prêtaient du riz aux autres qui avaient été plus lents à semer; mais c’était à des conditions bien dures: il fallait que, pour une mesure de riz commun, ils s’obligeassent à rendre huit, dix et même quinze mesures de riz samba, au temps de la récolte générale. Telle est l’usure qui s’exerce parmi les habitants du Marava. Vous jugez bien que ceux qui se convertissent doivent renoncer absolument à un gain si inique: c’est de quoi les infidèles mêmes sont instruits, et ils admirent les bornes que la loi chrétienne prescrit sur cet article: pour peu que quelque néophyte vienne à les passer, ils ne manquent pas de lui en faire des reproches, et même de m’en porter leurs plaintes ..."
|J.H. Nelson, "The Madura Country: A Manual …" (1868)|
|Part 3, pp242-3: [Commenting on Père Martin's condemnation of rice usury] "The condition was doubtless very hard. But it was perfectly fair, inasmuch as the borrowers were at liberty to go and buy in the markets at the ruling rates, and had they done so would have been compelled to pay still higher prices for what they required; and it is somewhat startling to find that Father Martin and his worthy colleagues peremptorily forbade the members of their flocks to traffic on these as they were pleased to call them un-Christian principles. By thus acting they must have contributed largely to the distress which everywhere prevailed."|