FAMINES IN THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT, 1500 to 1767
|1746 (a) [+ see 1747]: Gujarat & Kutch|
|Documented causes: drought|
|Documented effects: [see 1747] heavy mortality; official relief efforts|
|Lieut. Col. A.T. Etheridge, "Report on Past Famines in the Bombay Presidency" (1868) [Reports collected by local officials in all districts]|
|p26 [Kutch, by Metta Madhowjee Sheoram, "one of the Durbar's late Karbharees"]: "In Sumvut 1803, A.D. 1746, a great famine occurred. Maha Rao Shree Desuljee was then alive, but the affairs of the State were conducted by Rao Lukhputjee, who, with a view to relieve the poor from their sufferings, caused food to be cooked in large quantities near the Bid (grain market) gate, and allowed every one who came there to satisfy his hunger, and to take home sufficient food for one other person. This continued till the rain fell. The building erected on the cooking spot is still called 'Tota Wallee Wurundee.' "|
p53 [Rewa Kanta, by the Political Agent, Capt. Barton]: "The first famine of which I can gain any information occurred in the year A.D. 1746-47. Hardly any rain fell in this year, and the crops did not ripen. Many people died, but the wild inhabitants kept themselves and their cattle alive by eating forest roots and locusts, which abounded at the time."
p58 [Surat, by First Assistant Spry]: "The first famine of which there is any records appears to have taken place in Sumvut 1803, A.D. 1746, over 120 years ago. There is, however, but little or nothing reliable known of it beyond the fact; and indeed mention is made of it by only one Mumladar out of four, whose reports I now have before me."
p60 [Bardolee, Surat, by the Deputy Collector]: "During the former regime this district had to encounter severe attacks from famine in the years Sumvut 1803 and 1847, A.D. 1746-47 and 1790-91. There was no rain then, and the result was a failure of crops and destruction of the lives of many men and cattle. The land tax was wholly remitted to the cultivators, and advances were made to them as the source whereby to procure the necessaries of life, which were then at an exceedingly high price."
p64 [Hoozoor, by the Hoozoor Deputy Collector, from the "Miratey Ahmedee"]: "Hijree 1161, Sumvut 1803-4, A.D. 1746-47. This famine is called 'Talotra,' or 'Tankia Kal.' In this year grass did not grow at all for want of rain. The Soobedar Jawan Murda Khan went into the jungle with his followers and offered prayers, but without success. Grain was sold 3 or 4 seers for a Rupee. People supported themselves with the roots of trees and plants. Dead cattle, birds and men, were used for food. Wells, tanks and rivers, were without water. Many persons went to Malwa and returned when every thing was right; others lost their lives. Several villages were deserted; next year was blessed with rain."
|Ali Muhammad Khan (trans. M.F. Lokhandwala), "Mirat-i-Ahmadi: A Persian History of Gujarat" (1965)|
|pp697-8 (Chap. 267): "One of the admonitory events of this year was the drought of rain which was due to misdeeds and sins of men. A severe famine took place which was popularly known in Gujerat as Tarlotra, that is of the Samvat year of Vikramajit 1803 [=1746-7 CE]. It came to be known as Tankiyah Kan, that it, grass famine. Such a scarcity of water did not take place either in the past or present years. Not a drop of water fell from the sky. A blade of grass did not raise its head from the ground. What to speak of the fields. Besides, there were other hardships and calamities. ...|
However much the glance of expectancy was fixed at four directions of the sky, not a patch of cloud was observed ... Every day a scale of high prices of corn and a pan of price of cereals [sic] rose high. Three sers and four sers were weighed in a balance of search [also sic]. A strange condition and wonderful wildness took place. Villagers extinguished fire of starvation by eating grass roots. Batches after batches of men travelled to the valley of non-existence. Dumb animals suffered because of sinful deeds of human beings. They pined for want of grass and hastened in herds to the grazing-ground of non-existence. Eating of corpses became allowed and lawful. Ponds and reservoirs remained dry and empty like bowls of beggars and indigent men. Scarcity of water increased dearness of corn stuff. The river Sabarmati was no more than a fringe. Ablutions for washing hands of life were performed with earth. ... Common folk of paraganahs and villages, particularly, from the district of Pattan, were restless like fish without water due to want of water and exiled themselves by severing relation with their ancestral residence and began to wander in a desert of disappointment. They went out in shape of caravans towards Malwa and various other parts. There was no reckoning and calculation of travellers from the ephemeral world. Villages which remained desolate and lampless from that time had not been populated till the present. None returned to his native plate. This state continued till the time of descent of mercy the next year, until the Most Merciful of the merciful ordered His beneficence to encompass the condition of the remainder in accordance with the truth of 'And God sent water from the sky, then it gave life to the earth after its death.' He trickled water of life through throats of thirsty ones and dying ones of the valley of despair and liberated them from that calamity."
|1746 (b) [from 1744 scarcity; + see 1747]: Coromandel Coast to Circars|
|Documented causes: drought + Maratha raids + European war|
|Documented effects: business crisis|
|Fort St. George "Diary and Consultation Book, 1746" (1931)|
|p77 (consultation of 16 Apr 1746): [report on business at the Company's agency at Maddepollam] ... in the present Scarcity & Dearness of Grain in and about Maddepollam, it may be of considerable service to send Mr. Banks a Supply of Paddy; it's agreed to send him ten Garce on the Narsimoloo, a Country Vessel bound there.|
[In September 1746, during the War of the Austrian Succession, Madras was beseiged by the French. Following their success on 21 September, the city, and Fort St. George, remained in their hands (contrary to their initial promise to hand it over to the Nawab of the Carnatic, and in successful defiance of his consequent attempt to take the city by force) until they were notified of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (18 Oct 1748) which had effectively exchanged Madras for French territory in America captured by the British.]
|"Records of Fort St. George, vol. XXX: Letters to Fort St. George, 1745-46" (1932)|
|98 (28 Apr 1746): "VIZAGAPATAM|
"The Merchants who have been acquainted with what your Honour &c. has wrote us in regard to their lowering the price of Cloth say that were they to do it at this Juncture it would be impossible for them to keep the Weavers under their Command, first because Paddy is risen to so high a price that its but one Degree above a famine
In the next place the Weavers get no more than 43 or 44 Dubs in exchange for a Ruppee whereas the commonly used to be at 54 & 55, the Dutch have also advanced large Sums of mony and would not fail were we to insist upon an Abatement to make use of so favourable an Opportunity to engage the Weavers to change the Manufacture of Salampores into that of exceeding bad Long Cloth as the have already done at Bimlepatam."
|A.R. Pillai "Private diary of Ananda Ranga Pillai : dubash to Joseph François Dupleix ... 1736 to 1761" (vol. 3, trans., 1914)|
|p219 (entry for 31 Dec 1746, recounting the continuing negotations with Anwar Khan, whose forces are blockading Madras in an attempt to get it back for the British East India Company following its capture by the French in September): "The Governor ... sent for Anwar Khan's man Desani, explained the matter to him in very kind terms, and asked me to do so also. He pointed out to him, too, that what with famine and want of rain on one side, and war on the other, the country was being laid waste and the inhabitants were distressed. Further, as requested by Anwar Khan, I bought a clock from M. de Bausset, for a hundred pagodas, and forwarded it to him." ...|
|1746 scarcity [from 1744 scarcity]: southwest Bengal|
|Documented causes: drought + Maratha raids|
|Documented effects: business crisis|
|"Catalogue des manuscrits des anciennes archives de l'Inde française. Chandernagor et les loges du Bengale (1730-1815)" (1933) [summaries only]|
|2954- (from Cassimbazar to Chandernagor, 21 Jan 1746): ... "Les troubles causés par les Mahrattes continuaient, il y avait à craindre une grande disette. Le riz qui s'était vendu dans notre aldée, quatre jours auparavant, à 25 et à 30 serres à la roupie, se vendait maintenant à 18 serres. Le Nabab était en facheuse situation. Il devait considérablement à ses troupes. S'il ne succombait pas sous les coups des Mahrattes, il serait certainement relevé de ses fonctions par le Mogol. Les Mahrattes étaient à une petite lieue de l'autre côté du Gange."|
2310- (from Chandernagor to Patna, 28 Jan 1746): "Le Conseil Hollandais de Chinsura acceptait de renouveler le contrat pour des achats de salpêtre en commun, mais demandait que chacun des contractants participe aux pertes que cause souvent l'insolvabilité des marchands indiens. Le pays restait très troublé, la disette des vivres augmentait et l'opinion générale était que le Nabab succomberait cette fois s'il n'était secouru à temps."
2956- (from Cassimbazar to Chandernagor, 7 Feb 1746): ... "La disette augmentait. Le Nabab avait fait venir des troupes et on disait qu'il allait attaquer les Mahrattes." ...
|"Correspondance du Conseil supérieur de Pondichéry avec le Conseil de Chandernagor" (vol 2, 1916):|
|p404 (Pondichéry to Chandernagor, 18 Mar 1746): "La peinture que vous nous faites de la triste situation où se trouvait le Bengale lorsque vous avez passé le contrat avec vos marchands, nous a pénétrés jusques au vif, et les raisons qu'ils vous ont alléguées pour ne rien rabattre de leurs prétentions nous ont paru suffisantes pour acquiescer à leurs demandes. Heureusement que cette affreuse disette n'a pas continué, et que le riz est revenu à un prix raisonnable. "|