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The demography of Indian famines: A historical perspective.

Maharatna, Arup (1992) The demography of Indian famines: A historical perspective. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

This is a study of demographic responses to Indian famines in a historical perspective. During the closing decades of the nineteenth and in the early twentieth centuries four major famines occurred in the Indian subcontinent. These famines - precipitated by droughts - involved large-scale excess mortality. After the early twentieth century India was relatively free of major famine until a severe famine, affecting mainly the eastern province of Bengal, occurred in 1943-44 largely because of the War. Since Independence in 1947 India, though it never experienced any major famine of comparable scale, has continued to be vulnerable to occasional droughts and food crises. This study exploits the fact that the wealth of historical materials available for India presents an opportunity for investigating famine demography from a historical perspective. A decline in the frequency and severity of famines since the 1870s can be observed. This appears to have corresponded with the evolution of relief policy towards greater effectiveness and liberality, although improved communications and diversification of the economy seem also to have played a part. The characteristic features of demographic responses to famine have been much the same throughout, however. Chapter 1 provides a survey of the major issues of famine demography; it also describes the setting for the present study, and includes a discussion of the usefulness of India's registration data. In Chapter 2 demographic responses to the major historical famines have been investigated at the province level. Chapter 3 examines the demography of some historical famines which involved relatively small numbers of deaths, while regional variation in the demographic impact during the major famines has been analyzed in Chapter 4. Chapters 5 and 6 are devoted to the demography of the Bengal famine of 1943-44. In Chapter 7 demographic consequences of the Bihar famine of 1966-67 and the Maharashtra drought of 1972-73 have been analyzed. Chapter 8 presents the conclusions of the study.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Geography, Sociology, Demography, South Asian Studies
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/1279

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