FAMINES IN THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT, 1500 to 1767
|1755 (a) [poss. started 1754]: Kashmir|
|Documented causes: excess rain|
|Documented effects: official relief via long-term loans|
|Pandit Anand Koul, "Geography Of The Jammu And Kashmir State" (2nd ed., 1925)|
|p106: "Year: 1755 A.D. In whose time: Sukha Jewan. Extent of damages caused: The famine occurred owing to excessive rains which spoiled the crops. Khwaja Abul Hasan Bande, who was in charge of the Revenue Department, distributed the grains that were in store among the people in proportion to each family's requirements. One lakh kharwars of grains were distributed among the Zamindars as 'Taccavi advance' on condition that it would be recovered from them next year. The advance remained unrecovered, but one trak per kharwar or one anna per rupee was recovered yearly from the Zemindars by way of interest till 1833 A.D., and as in this way the advance had been recovered five times over it was totally remitted."|
|G.M.D. Sufi, "Kashir: Being a History of Kashmir …" (vol. 1, 1948)|
|p310: "A severe famine engaged Sukh Jiwan's attention for some time. Abu'l Hasan Bande proved himself very capable in alleviating the miseries of the famine-stricken people. He prevented many deaths from starvation by advancing loans of seed grains. These loans were only realized in full as late as 1250 A.H. (1834 A.C.). [Source: Ta'rikh-i-Hasan (i.e. apparently Hasan Shah-i-Khuyama, "Ta'rikh-i-Kashmir" commonly known as "Tarikh-i-Hasan", Persian ms.) folio 306.]|
|1755 (b) [to 1756]: southeast Tamil Nadu|
|Documented causes: drought + other causes|
|Documented effects: shortages developing to famine|
|Fort St. George, "Diary and Consultation Book (Public Department), 1755" (1942)|
|p1 (consultation of 6 Jan 1755): [letter from Fort. St. David, 1 Jan 1755] ... the Arrival of the Seapoys from Camp has caused such a Scarcity of Grain that the Settlement will be shortly distressed unless We send them timely Assistance ...|
p26 (consultation of 27 Jan 1755): [Madras annual accounts for 1754] ... The Decrease of Pagodas 2757-6-1 in the Custom on Grain proceeds from a less quantity imported from the Northward & Bengal than in the foregoing Year and that which came from Bengal sold at so low a Price that no Custom was due on it as it had paid 8 Pr. Cent, at Bengal …
p92 (consultation of 20 Mar 1755): [report from the Madras Export Warehousekeeper] ... In October an Order of Council, passed for selling out the Grain.
The Pags. 765-27-10 lost in the Sales has arose from the low rate Rice now bears in the Place in Comparison of the Price at which it was bought.
... I likewise present you with an Account Current of the Paddy ...
On the sale the Loss is Pags. 413-22-29.
p185 (consultation of 30 Jun 1755): [summary of letter from the chief of the recently acquired fort at Deve Cotah (at the mouth of the Kollidam river, which, many years later, swept it away), 23 Jun] ... the Scarcity of Grain and Provisions at that Place being so great as to distress the Garrison and Inhabitants, he had desired Ramanaigue to forbear drawing any Duty from the People by whom they are supplied till such necessaries grow cheaper, which he is informed has been practised on the like Occasions, whereon he desires our Direction ...
p201 (consultation of 16 Jul 1755): [summary of letter from Fort St. David, 7 Jul] ... acquainting us that there is a very great scarcity of Grain in the Bounds & no Probability of their being able to purchase any wherefore they desire we will send them as much Rice and Paddy as we can spare.
[summary of letter from DeveCotah, 8 Jul] ... a violent Fresh for some days having laid the Country under Water has occasioned so great a scarcity that Rice is at two fanams Madrass Measure and should it continue many days longer the Place will be reduced to very great Difficulties.
p255 (consultation of 20 Sep 1755): [summary of letter from Fort St. David, 8 Sep] ... Acquainting us that as Grain is likely to be extreamly scar[c]e they should be glad of a further Supply ...
p332 (consultation of 20 Dec 1755): [summary of letter from Fort St. David, 8 Dec] ... requesting a supply of Grain as soon as possible as there is a Famine in the Bounds and the people complain particularly the Regiment ...
|"Correspondance du Conseil supérieur de Pondichéry et de la Compagnie ... 1755-1759" (vol. 5, )|
|p48 (report, 16 Jan 1756): "Les pluyes ayant manqué cette année du coté du sud de même qu'icy, la récolte ne sera pas abondante et nous craignons fort la disette."|
|A.R. Pillai "The Diary of Ananda Ranga Pillai: Translated From the Tamil ..." (vol. 10, 1925)|
|p1 (entry for 1 Jan 1756- "European New Year's Day"): "Owing to the troubles, town and country have already lost their beauty; but now the rains have failed, and famine has fallen like a mill-stone falling on a sore finger. I have dwelt here these 33 years but never have I seen so bad a year. May God deliver the people from these evil days."|
|S. Manikandan, "Contest for Power and Legitimacy: Little Kingdoms of Southern Tamil Country during the Eighteenth Century" (PhD Thesis, Pondicherry University, 2013)|
|"There was a famine in 1756 in Southern Country" [Source: "The Annual letter for 1756 ... July 1757" i.e. Lettre Annuelle of the Madurai Jesuit mission]|
|1755 scarcity (a): Rajasthan|
|Documented causes: drought|
|Documented effects: besiegers almost as hungry as besieged|
|Sir Jadunath Sarkar, "Fall of the Mughal Empire" (vol. II, 1934)|
|pp187-8 (the sieges of Didwana and Nagor by the Marathas): "The year had been marked by drought, and even in the open Maratha camp grain was selling at five seers a Rupee, while fodder was so scarce that a Rupee’s worth of grass a day did not suffice for one horse. The water level in the wells had sunk to 225 feet below the surface. The situation within the blockaded city of Nagor was even worse. At last life there became well-nigh unbearable, and on 12th November Bijay Singh slipped out of Nagor with 300 foot and 100 horse, intending to join the Jaipur army at Didwana. But finding that place enveloped by large enemy forces, he quickly changed his route and fled in headlong haste to Bikanir, where he arrived after ten hours of ceaseless riding.|
But the situation was no better at Bikanir. Around that city all the wells had dried up for 24 miles round, and Bijay Singh’s attempts to raise a fresh army there failed. So, early in December he returned to Nagor, and reopened peace parleys with Dattaji."
|1755 scarcity (b): Malabar Coast|
|Documented causes: trade embargo|
|Documented effects: "comparative famine"|
|William Logan, "Malabar" (vol. 1, 1887, reprinted 1951)|
|pp214-5: "Malabar does not produce grain sufficient for the consumption of the home population, and this has been more especially the case since, by the introduction of European coffee cultivation into the Wynad taluk, the jungle tribes and other servile castes, who used to cultivate the rice-fields in that region have been attracted to the more profitable employments on coffee estates. Malabar pays for much of the grain consumed by the people out of the money obtained for its special products — coconuts, coir, coconut-oil, areca-nuts, coffee, pepper, ginger, cardamoms, timber, etc.|
An artificial famine is therefore always possible in Malabar, and, as matter of fact, such famines used to occur pretty frequently in former times when the supply of grain came from only one or two foreign ports. Thus in October 1755, the King of Bednur, to whom the rice-exporting port of Mangalore belonged, laid an embargo on grain, because of the ravages committed in his country by a buccaneering expedition under the Mappilla chief of Cannanore. This placed the French at Mahe, the English at Tellicherry, the Dutch at Cannaanore, and the Malabar Nayars and Mappillas — the whole community in fact — in a state of comparative famine."
[on p370, Logan tells of an earlier occasion when the King of Bednur attempted to coerce the European traders by imposing a rice embargo at Mangalore in 1737; also on p330 he mentions how the Portuguese were able to create artificial famines in the 16th century, having monopolised sea trade along the coast as part of their vicious campaign against the local Muslims: see for example 1582]
|1755 scarcity (c): Calcutta|
|Documented causes: trade embargo / blockade|
|Documented effects: "great scarcity"|
|J. Long, "Selections from unpublished records of government ... Bengal" (vol. 1, 1869)|
|p55 (Fort William consultation, 12 Feb 1755): [Rajabullub, diwan to the governor of Dacca, is insisting that the Company in Calcutta must make its regular protocol visit, or at least pay its 'present'- but this is contrary to accepted etiquette, because the French and Dutch Companies are supposed to make their visits first] "A letter from Dacca expressing apprehension of goods being stopt by orders from Rajabullub being read|
Agreed, we despatch Lieutenant John Harding of a command of soldiers 25 Buxaries in order to clear these boats if stopped in their way to this place, and take them under his protection. Our Rice merchants complain of several small boats loaded with Rice being stopped at Backergunge by an order from Dacca, which stoppage occasions a great scarcity and dearness of Grain in this place."