FAMINES IN THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT, 1500 to 1767
|1739 (a): Delhi area|
|Documented causes: war|
|Documented effects: trail of famine following army|
|C.E.R. Girdlestone, "Report on Past Famines in the North-Western Provinces" (1868)|
|p6: "The spring of 1739 was a time of acute suffering to the inhabitants of Delhi and its neighbourhood, for this was the year of Nadir Shah's invasion, who left famine in his train wherever he went. It needs only to recall to mind the outrages which he sanctioned, to justify the conjecture that for long after his departure the people did not recover from the effects of his barbarity and exactions. The pitiless massacre which he acquiesced in probably numbered amongst its victims many of the agricultural classes, whose labour in those disorderly days could ill have been spared; and, after the depredations which he made on the imperial and local treasuries, little could have remained for the purposes of cultivation. It must be borne in mind, however, that this was an exceptional catastrophe, due wholly to the inroads of an enemy, and not in any way dependant on climate."|
|Jonas Hanway, "The Revolutions Of Persia" (vol. 2, 1753)|
|p172 (aftermath of peace talks between the invader Nadir, Shah of Persia, and Muhammad Shah, the Mughal Emperor, February 1739): "The INDIAN camp had been in great distress almost from the very time they assembled in the plains of KARNAL. Representation being now made, that the sutlers [Footnote: "BANIANS, who are mostly trading people in INDIA. They are of a particular sect, who believe the transmigration of souls, whether of man or beast; from whence they are very harmless in their conduct, lest they should injure one of their own friends or relations, in the appearance of a bird or beast."] by their extortions had raised the price of bread to an exorbitant degree, MAHOMMED SHAH ordered their shops to be broke open. This answered no other purpose, than to waste and disperse the little provision that remained, so that a pound of wheat was not to be had for less than the value of four shillings. What had contributed to render the provisions so excessive dear, was the vigilance of the flying parties of the PERSIAN army, who within forty miles round the camp, had at different times cut off not less than fourteen thousand INDIAN marauders."|
p189 (preparations for the wedding of the second son of Nadir Shah to the niece of the defeated Mughal Emperor, March 1739): "During these transactions in DEHLIE, the PERSIANS marauded for thirty or forty miles round the capital, plundering the villages, laying waste the fields, and killing the inhabitants who resisted. Numbers of these were left without any provender for their cattle, which added greatly to their distress."
pp197-8 (summary of the damage done by the Persian invasion): "It is computed that the houses and goods destroyed by fire, and the fields which were laid waste, amounted to near twenty crores; [Footnote: "25,000,000 £."] we may therefore reckon upon the whole, that this PERSIAN ravager spoiled the INDIANS of above one hundred and twenty millions of pounds.
As to the number of souls who were plunged into eternity upon this unhappy occasion, they are not reckoned less than two hundred thousand; of whom fell between LAHOR and KARNAL, in the battle, and a few days afterwards, forty thousand; in the massacre [at Delhi, following an argument over the price of grain] one hundred and ten thousand; in the villages, and those who died by famine, fifty thousand."