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FAMINES IN THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT, 1500 to 1767
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1754 (a): Kashmir1754 map
Documented causes: (see 1755)
Documented effects: (see 1755)

Hari Ram Gupta, "Studies In Later Mughal History Of The Punjab 1707 To 1793" (1944)
p193: "In 1754 there was a severe famine in Kashmir. Sukhjiwan Mai distributed quite free one lakh sacks (kharwars) of rice among the poor, and permitted the public to buy rice from the Government stores at the rate of one anna per seer." [Source: Narayan Kaul, "Tarikh-i-Kashmir" (in Persian, 1846) p185a] [It is possible that this famine began in 1754, the year Raja Sukh Jiwan eliminated the tyrannical governor appointed by the Afghans and took the post for himself, but most accounts assign it to 1755, where more details will be found]

1753-5: meanwhile, back in Madras

Fort St. George, "Diary and Consultation Book (Public Department), 1753" (1941)
p273 (consultation of 17 Sep 1753): The Company's Washers attending & being called in and Question'd in Regard to their Complaint of Fraud in their Conicoply's They persist in their Allegation, that no more than fifteen fanams have been paid them Pr. Corge since January last, altho' the Company allow thirty five fanams; The Conicoply's being thereupon call'd in and charged with the fraud, absolutely deny any Intention of Injuring the Complainants, but at the same time say there may probably be a Ballance due to them which they are ready to pay upon adjusting the Accounts.
The Board being of Opinion that the Fraud complain'd of is not clearly made out as the account is not closed, tho' tis not improbable but that there may have been such an Intention.
ORDER'D that the Washers be at Liberty to chuse their own Conicoply's in future; that those they complain of be obliged forthwith to settle their accounts and pay the Ballance (if any shall appear due) to the Washers or whomsoever they shall appoint.
Fort St. George, "Diary and Consultation Book (Public Department), 1754 [Jun-Dec]" (1941)
p37 (consultation of 25 Jun 1754): [this volume contains numerous documents relating to an epic dispute between the Paymaster, Charles Boddam, and the Engineer, John Brohier. One of the several arguments stemmed from Boddam's accusation about the way Brohier's workmen were paid, as Brohier explained in a letter dated 15 June:] As you were pleas'd to tell me last Sunday that Mr. Boddam had accused me of having caused the Workmen to be paid 1/2 in Rice for these twelve Months past, I must beg leave to represent to you that as this accusation may insinuate some disadvantageous Ideas of my Integrity in carrying on the Hon'ble Company's Work, I must therefore Justify myself of it and demonstrate to you Sir the rectitude of my conduct in this particular.
In January and February 1753 Rice being scarce and very dear, the Workmen and Cooleys surrounded me several times on the Works and in a Clamarous manner complain' d they were starving for want of Rice, that it was true they were paid regularly but that they could get no Rice for their Money, Whereupon I took the liberty to apply to you to order some Rice to be served out of the Company's Godowns to the people to which you were pleased to reply that there would be great losses to the Company by the Knavery of the Conicoplys and that it could not be conveniently done. Whereupon finding the Complaints encreased daily, I caus'd Rice to be bought out of the Compys Godowns and Banksall and to be served out to the People every other night at the Buzar price according to their Request, telling at the same time every person on the Works that they were at liberty to take either Rice or Money when they thought proper, but the scarcity of Grain made them prefer to take it rather than Money, to this must be added that being served Rice on the Works they went immediately home with it and dress'd it for use, whereas had they been paid Money, they must have gone to the Buzar near 1/2 or 2/3 of a Mile from the Works to have bought it, and then the lower sort of Cooleys being 2 or 4 to a double fanam, took up some time to divide it, and the number of people making it late before they could be all paid. The serving Rice on the Works was an ease and indulgence to them of which they were very sensible, and would have been glad to have been paid so, had not Mr. Boddams conicoply by his Masters Orders gone on the Works the 1st. Instant and Harangued the people, and desired they would not take any More Rice for their Hire, as they had done every other day this 15 month's past, to which no doubt the people through fear of so great and powerfull a Man as Mr. Boddam's Conicoply is readily consented, as Grain is cheap at present. ...

p60 (consultation of 8 Jul 1754): [from Boddam's response to the above, dated 30 Jun:] ... 'twas lately and by accident I came to the knowledge of it the Companys Conicoply complaining to me that the Cooleys had been long murmering at their being oblig'd to take Rice instead of Money, and that neither so good or at so cheap a rate as they could buy it elsewhere.
In January and February 1753 it seems Mr. Brohier began to have thoughts of setting Rice to the Cooleys, in consequence of their repeated supplication on that head and in March put it into Execution by purchasing out of the Company's Godowns and Banksalls as set forth, and serving it every other night from the latter place he might furnish himself, but as to the former tho' they were open from 16th. November 1752 till the end of January 1753 it dont appear by the Warehouse Diary Captain Brohier had any more than Pags. 53 1/8 in Rice ... and that for family use there was no more sold 'till 5th. December 1753 (9 Months after he had served) and continued 'till 23d. January 1754, in all which time, I dont find a Grain delivered him. so that his first purchase and distribution must have been either from the Banksalls, or out of 14 Garce 18 Mercalls he imported in February from the Northward as Pr. Sea Gate Grain Book and from whence was all the rest procured which cou'd be no small quantity for serving 1057 People 15 davs in a Month for 15 Months together, that from his own account on an average he did and that there has been paid his conicoplys by the Hon'ble Company's from March 1753 to Mav 1754 two hundred eighty one thousand two hundred and thirty six fanams fifty Cash or Pagodas 7812. 4. 50 ... however it's not material, where, when and from whom it was bought, I only have shewn it could not be out of the Company's Godowns, and here I think the weakness of his arguments appears, and the whole parade of relieving the Wants of the poor Labourers falls of coarse, for I would ask what is the Chief reason for purchasing and laying Rice in store by the Company, but in times of scarcity to supply the Inhabitants to relieve the necessities of the Indigent by their having recourse thereto, and to render it the more efficatious by it's not being engross'd, the Gov'r, out of a humane disposition has often told me not to suffer the conicoplies to sell more than a pagodas worth at a time to any of the Black People which was strictly adherr'd to. If then such a provision is made, where was the necessity of Mr. Brohiers supplying, but I will even suppose the extream scarcity he represents how long could it subsist, in January Grain was daily importing and plenty there was of it as well as a fine harvest at home to make it remarkably cheap, for generally speaking this want is only about a Month before the fresh Imporation, to wit in December, and if the intention of retailing Rice was from Bowells of Commisseration divested of any advantage, it must have soon dropp'd, as for serving the Company, it's too foreign to suppose it, they are such acts of supereogation as seldom to be met with and never expected, I shall now set forth the Incoherency there seems to be in his representing that my conicoply should go on the Works and harrangue the people concerning their taking Rice and through the fear of so power full a man readily consented to take money as Grain is cheap.
And first I beg to observe my private Conicoply has never interfered in any shape in that Business much less in paying the cooleys or disbursing of the Companys Money, I have no Conicoply but the Companys and the Truth of the Matter is this I told him that none of the Engineers People had any thing to do in paying of the Workmen, and reprimanded him for acting as he had done so many Months without my knowledge and consent, his Reply was that the Engineers conicoplys acquainted him, the Gov'r, approved their having Rice if they pleas'd every other day, but no ways crediting the relation, I ordered him to see every man paid himself agreeable to his Duty and that no money should be given into the Hands of other Conicoplys on any account whatever, this he terms harranguing the people and with the cheapness of Grain influenc'd them in favour of Money and tho' Mr. Brohier is pleas'd to pass the matter over in so favourable a light to himself, by saying it has been an ease and an Indulgence to them, yet it dont appear they were sensible thereof or satisfy'd with it, for I am credibly inform'd and if required shall be given upon Oath that when it was put to them for their choice of Money or Rice they answered if they were oblig'd to take any more of the latter they would desert the place, for they were not at all pleased and instead of option it was compulsion, that Grain had been very cheap and plenty many months, and the dread of flagettation alone prevented them from seeking Redress. If the case was otherwise of being that ease and Indulgence so much boasted of, would they not have renew'd their Intreaties for a continuance of his wanted Goodness, for I will not suppose with him the Company's Conicoply to be that tremenduous man.
[A sub-committee was appointed to investigate the dispute, and its report, presented at the consultation of 31 Oct (p218), was "ordered to lye on the Table to be further Considered".]
Fort St. George, "Diary and Consultation Book (Public Department), 1755" (1942)
p1 (consultation of 6 Jan 1755): [letter from Fort. St. David, 26 Dec 1754] ... in saluting on Christmass day a Spark by Accident flew into a Room under one of the Curtains [i.e. curtain walls] and blew up 250,000 Cartridges but did no other Damage than wounding six of the Military and Mr. James Broadbent who are all likely to do well ...

p66 (consultation of 3 Feb 1755): [the very lengthy report on 1754's war of accusations between Messrs. Boddam and Brohier; the investigating committee found (p75) that Brohier's payment of workers in rice on alternate days was unlikely to have harmed the Company (except to the extent that if actively involved it could have "reaped the Benefit that it is reasonable to imagine Captn. Brohier has now done"), and was probably neither compulsory nor greatly resented after the initial scarcity had declined, but that he should not have started the scheme without specific authorisation from the board. Boddam was found to have caused an actual loss to the Company, which he was ordered to repay, and there was also criticism of workers who had been sighted taking Company bricks away by the bullock-load towards their own homes, and of the local contractors in the positions of Head Bricklayer and Head Carpenter, who were suspected of introducing workers who had been employed on private building projects, into the pay queue for workers they had provided for the Company's projects (the "thorough repair" of a wealthy Armenian businessman's house being particularly conveniently timed).]

1754-5: governing Calcutta

"Bengal & Madras papers. Vol. II: 1688-1757" (1928)
(Instructions from the Company's court in London, 31 Jan 1755): 65 ... you must be extremely careful to prevent all abuses of the Dusticks [Company privilege exemptions from trading duties], that the Government may have no pretences to interrupt the trade on that account, which we are afraid they have sometime too much reason for.
66 We observe your proceedings on occasion of the prohibiting of the importation of rice from Bahergu [?= Bakarganj, Bangladesh] into Calcutta, and the stand you made against complying with the demand of three thousand rupees for a Pervannah to take of[f] the said prohibition, which for the reasons you give we approve of, and we shall depend upon your conduct to procure the free importation of grain in such a manner as according to circumstances you shall judge best to prevent the necessity and misery which must be the certain consequences of a scarcity in such a populous place as Calcutta.
...
73 Mr. Holwell [the Zemindar of the Company's estate at Calcutta] ... has evidently increased our revenues to a very considerable amount without imposing any new duties or oppressing the poor; but on the contrary several old ones have been abolished and the poor in many instances relieved ...
...
77 You are ... to point out to us what duty or fines appear to be particularly grievous upon the poorest sort of people, such as the duty on marriages which we think ought to be either totally abolished or levied with great regard to circumstances ...
...
79 And here we must recommend it to you to fix upon all the bazars and other the most public places in the town, in the different languages, exact accounts of all the duties, fees of office and all other allowed collections ... and you must take effectual care that the farmers' collectors and others do not exact a pice more than is allowed ...
80 It is our inclination and intention that the inhabitants be governed with mildness and equity, not oppressed by grievous duties, yet at the same time the increase of our revenues in general must be the constant object of your care ...
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