MISSED HISTORY: contact vinlandmap.info

FAMINES IN THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT, 1500 to 1767
To home page


1731 (a): Coromandel Coast to Orissa / Odisha1731 map
Documented causes: unclear; partly war
Documented effects: depopulation and migration

"Records of Fort St. George, vol. XX: Letters to Fort St. George, 1731" (1931)
45 (7 May 1731): VIZAGAPATAM
...
"We are ... credibly inform'd that Ram Rause is since dead, but that the rest of the Relations and his Head Man are now fighting with the M[oors] so that we shall as yet be able to do but little to the Southward, and Hadji Hassan while he stays in those Parts puts the Country in as much confusion as the Other; it is still talk'd that he designs this way, and if it should prove so, We shall certainly have a troublesome neighbour of him, and he will be of no small Hindrance to our Investment to the Northward: but let what will happen We shall be sure to make that our chiefest care, and use all imaginable means to make it as large as possible; though the dearness of cotton at Ganjam, the Famine and Troubles now there, We are fearful Will be a Total Disappointment to our expectations that Way this Year. ..."
Theodore Morison, "The economic transition in India" (1911)
p115: "1731-32. Fort St. George.- "Are under apprehensions of a grievous famine. ... the country round about burnt for want of rain.' ("Coast and Bay Abstracts," vol. iii. p. 162.)"
Fort St. George "Diary and Consultation Book, 1731" (1930)
p96 (consultation of 16 Aug 1731): [report on cloth production centres along the whole Coromandel coast]
TINVANEM VIERAVANDE
We sent four People here to Purchase Cloth, they wrote us that by the Famine and Great Price of Cotton thread great part of the Inhabitants were Dead and many left the Place, that those that remain were very poor and not to be trusted with money, they sent our money Back.
We formerly have purchased here two thousand pagodas worth of Sallampores in a month and there is not now One hundred to be Gott.

ACHERAVACUM AND MUDARANDARUM
There was formerly Six hundred weavers here now but two hundred ...

TRECALEECOONAM AND CALE COLLUM
... found the Country in a very miserable Condition by the late Famine and not above twenty Weavers were formerly was hundred, those that Remain Said the[y] could not get thread for Long cloth but they would weave Sallampores and seventy of them are advanced money but no Cloth is Yet arrived occationd by the great Want of thread and the French having offerd two pagodas Pr. Ps. for nine caull Cloth w'ch. last Year they bought at one pagoda three Quarters.

MAUNAM PADDI CHUMPAUOUM
In this Place was formerly four hundred Weavers now but one hundred, they used in a Months time to make two thousand pagodas worth of Long Cloth. We sent our People here but they will not make any thing but Coarse Sallampores ...

CAULEA PETTAH
In this Place was formerly two hundred Weavers now but sixty only thirty of w'ch. would Receive money w'ch. has been advanced them two months ...

CONJEVARAM
We sent our People here with money and orders to advance the price as at other Places for ordinary and Midling Long Cloth and Sallampores but the Weavers refused to agree because thread was very Dear ...

ANCAVOOR TREVATOOR
We sent our People here but Could not persuade the Weavers to Receive any money for they said they Could not gett any thread to make the Midling Long Cloth, which is the sort they are used to ...

POONAPAUC
We sent Our People here but the Weavers would not come to any agreement because thread was not to be Gott ...

PUDAPU CONATOOR
We sent our People here with money and offerd the Weavers 3/8th. pag's more in a ps. of fine Long Cloth than the price of Last Year; they answerd that by the French Long Cloths of 15 and 18 Caull they were able to gett their Cooley but by the English sort at the present price of thread they could not gett that ...
...

PURANGALOOR PLACATTEE
... A great number of the Weavers of this place are dead or Gone away ...
...

GREAT SHAULUM
We advanced money here last year, for w'ch. if the Goods are but just now Returnd and those very bad ...

1731 (b) [to 1732]: Ahmedabad area, Gujarat
Documented causes: at least partly war
Documented effects: voluntary slavery; heavy mortality; depopulation; epidemic

Ali Muhammad Khan (trans. M.F. Lokhandwala), "Mirat-i-Ahmadi: A Persian History of Gujarat" (1965)
p494 (Chap. 207): [events of about 1144 AH (c1731 CE), apparently in Ahmedabad] "In this year, there was a severe famine. The atmosphere became poisonous. Many persons died. Besides, the Marwaris committed abominable deeds of rascality. Scale of dearness of food stuff went up from day to day. Thousands of persons, both high and low, suffered from fever for two, three days which resulted in jaundice before the seventh day and succumbed to death. There was no time for shrouding and carrying the dead to the grave. Servants of death were out of control. Every day, a large number of heirless and poor persons were dragged through lanes and bazars to the sands of Sabarmati and thrown there where they became food for crows and dogs. The author personally saw two dead bodies being carried in one coffin by two persons. Complaints and lamentations of the common folk reached dome of the sky. Persons from round-about villages and towns starving with hunger began to roam about from their houses and came to the city with a bowl of begging in hand to sell their sons and daughters and grandchildren.

Verses

Stomachs fell on dry and fresh things
Like a bag of beggary from door to door
Hungry stomach stitched eyes (fixed eyes ) on felt
For a neighbour was flesh and wool (to him )

Roads and bazars were thronged with persons to sell their children for one, two rupees. In this heavenly calamity, the Marwaris enslaved many Muslim women and their children belonging to noble and ignoble families by giving a bread. They purified them by forcing them to eat cow dung and burning a few barley-grains over their heads in accordance with their faith. Having made them heretics, they sent them in hordes to Marwar. Rejoicing at their misfortune, they used to say, that many captives from Jodhpur were made Muslims in the regime of His Majesty Khuld Makan (with his abode in paradise). It is in retaliation for that."
Krishnalal Mohanlal Jhaveri, "Milestones In Gujarati Literature" (2nd ed., 1938)
pp204-5 (18th century Gujarati poet Vallabh Bhatt- son of Premanand Bhatt- and the 1731 famine): "He describes the scarcity and famine of Samvat years 1787 and 1788 (A.D. 1731). 'Grain had become very dear, and irreligion had increased beyond all bounds. How was one to judge of the actions of others when each man exceeded his neighbour in committing excesses. Those who were brought forth from their loins and womb, and who shared of the element of both (parents), had to be abandoned for the sake of the stomach, and children had to be sold away.' 'Send us, O mother! therefore (all) the rains we want, so that we may not lack bounteous crops. Pour only a drop of your nectar, on us, your children, on the cattle and on our village.' "
Vallabh Bhatt famine poem
Pandit Bisheshwar Nath Reu, "Glories Of Marwar and the Glorious Rathors" (1943)
p162: "When Maharaja Abhayasingh, the newly appointed Governor, took charge of Gujrat in 1730 A.D. the condition of the province was deteriorating. The Maharatta officers were ravaging the country without any opposition and the Imperial revenue also was left to the mercy of these marauders. Consequently the whole province was threatened with severe famine"
G.R. Parihar, "Marwar and the Marathas (1724-1843 A.D.)" (1968)
p47 (the Maharaja's situation two years later): "Owing to the approach of the rainy season the Maharaja was obliged to withdraw from Dabhoi and having given the defence of Baroda to Sherkhan Babi, its foujdar, he returned to Ahmadabad. Soon a severe famine stalked in and the Mughal governor failed to redress its pangs on the army. [Source: "A letter from Abhay Singh to Amar Singh Bhandari dated 1st day of the dark-half of Bhadrapada vs. 1789 / 27th July 1732 ...
The wheat was sold at the rate of less than a seer for a rupee; the grass was not available; the soldiers and the horses ate the leaves of mango trees resulting in the death of fine breed horses."]
The soldiers clamoured for the payment of the arrears also. [Source: "Ibid.
The arrears totalled to rupees 30 lacs. The Maharaja arranged the defence of Baroda by pacifying the army of Sher Khan Babi with the payment of rupees one lac. taken on loan."]
The Marathas, availing themselves of the conditions of the Mughal governor, made themselves the masters of Gujrat again. ..."
"London Evening Post", 12-15 Aug 1732 (newspaper)
"The Walpole, Capt. Boddam, put into Cochin the 13th of last February, bound from Bengall to Judda and Mocha. There was a Famine at Surat."
Col. J.W. Watson "History Of Gujarat A.D. 1297 1760" (1886)
p91: "This year, A.D. 1732, was a year of great famine in Gujarat "

1731 (c): Kashmir
Documented causes: heavy rain
Documented effects: unspecified

Pandit Anand Koul, "Geography Of The Jammu And Kashmir State" (2nd ed., 1925)
p105: "Year: 1731 A.D. In whose time: Ihtiram Khan. Extent of damages caused: The autumn crops could not ripen on account of rains and it resulted in famine."
To home page