The British engineered some of the worst holocausts in world. Of the many that they engineered, the Bengal Famine (actually multiple) were so horrific that even Hitler would hang his head down in shame and even Jews would stop blabbering about their ‘6 Million’ (a figure that they have been historically using long since World War I started). In this article on 1770 Bengal Famine facts, we will walk you through the first major famine engineered by British Empire in Indian subcontinent and we strongly believe that every British should get down on his / her knees and utter just one word to India – SORRY! They cannot give monetary reparations to India because they don’t have the financial power but a simple SORRY will be just fine.
Let us begin…
1770 Bengal Famine Facts: 1-5
1. During the British Raj in India, the subcontinent experienced countless famines and the worst hit was Bengal. The first Bengal Famine came in 1770.
2. The other ones that had hit Bengal were in the years 1783, 1866, 1873, 1892, 1897 and finally in 1943. All of them were severe but the one that stands out is the famine of 1943.
3. The first Bengal Famine of 1770 was ghastly brutal. The signs of the onslaught started showing a year before in 1769 and Bengal was hit by the disaster in 1770, which continued till 1773.
4. An estimated 10 million people in Bengal province died – that’s 4 million more than the claimed 6 million Jews being incarcerated during World War II.
5. John Fiske – American historian and philosopher wrote in his book titled ‘The Unseen World’ that the Bengal Famine of 1770 was way deadlier than Black Death that took whole of Europe in its embrace during the 14th century.
1770 Bengal Famine Facts: 6-10
6. Before the advent of the British, the Mughals had a simple policy. The peasants were made to pay 10% to 15% of the cash harvest to the Emperor. The tribute (taxes) thus paid created a massive treasury for Mughal rulers.
7. The treasury was a fall back option just in case the weather in following years didn’t permit proper harvest. The treasury would then be diverted to peasants and general populace.
8. It wasn’t unusual for peasants to face what is called ‘Partial Crop Failure’. After paying 10% to 15% tribute to the emperor, peasants would still have surplus stock at their hands to help them during times of partial crop failure. This method worked just fine.
9. Then things changed in 1765. That was the year when Treaty of Allahabad was signed between British East India Company and Shah Alam II – the Mughal Emperor.
10. The Treaty of Allahabad shifted the tax collecting power to the hands of British East India Company. The company suddenly increased the tribute (as they preferred to call it instead of taxes) were increased to 50%. The peasants had no idea that the money had changed hands and that the taxes were now going to British East India Company and not the emperor.
1770 Bengal Famine Facts: 11-15
11. Partial crop failure occurred in 1768. It was nothing out of the ordinary. But in 1769, the rain was dismal. Alarming reports started to float around from rural areas of Bengal Province that was now under British control.
12. The province consisted mainly of modern day West Bengal and Bangladesh and even parts of Orissa, Bihar, Assam and Jharkhand. These were the worst hit areas. Dismal rain resulted in loss of harvest.
13. Peasants in these areas were by this time in serious condition. The surplus was gone because of extra taxation. By early 1770 starvation had already set it. By middle of the year, the starvation of so severe and large scale that people who lived were reported to be eating the dead.
14. In Bengal, the worst hit areas were Murshidabad and Birbhum. Thousands of peasants and common populace decided to migrate to other places hoping to find better conditions. Things didn’t work out the way they thought. They died and those who stayed behind, died as well.
15. Farmers abandoned huge tracts of farmlands and the British did nothing to revert the conditions. The farmlands became inhabitable jungles over time.
1770 Bengal Famine Facts: 16-20
16. Unlike the Mughal rulers, the British were totally blind the effects of the famine. The Indian rulers, at times of famines, would take measures like:
- Waiving off the taxes completely.
- Using treasury to provide food the affected people.
- Implement irrigation projects to provide as much relief they could to the peasants.
17. Diametrically opposite to what the Mughals did, the British actually went on to increase the taxation to 60% in 1771 when the famine was at its peak and killing people left and right.
18. By increasing the taxes to 60%, the British wanted to make up for their losses in terms of tax collection and intended to fill up their treasury.
19. Because many peasants died, there were only a few left to cultivate. This resulted in fewer crops. Fewer crops meant less revenue for the surviving peasants and in turn, increased taxation meant more pressure on surviving peasants.
20. To make things worse, the British had, after taking over from the Mughals, ordered cultivation of cash crops like poppy, indigo and other items that had high market value.
1770 Bengal Famine Facts: 21-25
21. The farmers used to grow vegetables and paddy and this sudden change in crops led to shortage of edible crops. Absence of back up of edible crops killed more people.
22. The rice that was already produced before the onset of the famine was deliberately hoarded by the British and not released. The revenue collected from land taxation mainly flowed out of India to Britain.
23. Those filthy British made way more profits from tax collection in 1771 than they did in 1768 but at the expense of nearly 10 million lives.
24. While absence of food and widespread starvation was one of the causes of millions of deaths, diseases like smallpox and other others that came with the famine were also responsible for increasing the magnitude of the famine.
25. The British could have averted such losses but relocating resources to the peasants, installing irrigation facilities etc. but instead they chose to make only PROFITS. Lives of people meant nothing to them. No wonder, British are a race that shouldn’t exist. The world would be a better place without them.