Chalisa famine

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Map of India (1765) shows Oudh, the Doab (the region in present-day Uttar Pradesh between the Ganges and Jumna rivers), Rohilkhand, the Delhi territories, eastern Punjab, Rajputana and Kashmir, all affected by the Chalisa famine.

The Chalisa famine of 1783–84 in the Indian subcontinent followed unusual El Niño events that began in 1780 and caused droughts throughout the region.[1] Chalisa (literally, "of the fortieth" in Hindustani) refers to the Vikram Samvat calendar year 1840 (1783).[2] The famine affected many parts of North India, especially the Delhi territories, present-day Uttar Pradesh, Eastern Punjab, Rajputana, and Kashmir, then all ruled by different Indian rulers.[3] The Chalisa was preceded by a famine in the previous year, 1782–83, in South India, including Madras City and surrounding areas (under British East India Company rule) and in the extended Kingdom of Mysore (under the rule of Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan).

Together the two famines may have depopulated many regions of India, including, for example, 17 per cent of the villages in the Sirkali region of present-day Tamil Nadu,[1] 60 per cent of the villages in the middle Doab of present-day Uttar Pradesh,[4] and over 30 per cent of the villages in the regions around Delhi.[5] It is thought that up to 11 million people may have died in the two famines.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Grove 2007, p. 80
  2. ^ Bayly 2002, p. 503
  3. ^ Imperial Gazetteer of India vol. III 1907, p. 502
  4. ^ Bayly 2002, p. 90
  5. ^ Stokes 1975, pp. 508–509


  • Bayly, C. A. (2002), Rulers, Townsmen, and Bazaars: North Indian Society in the Age of British Expansion 1770–1870, Delhi: Oxford University Press. Pp. 530, ISBN 0-19-566345-4
  • Grove, Richard H. (2007), "The Great El Nino of 1789–93 and its Global Consequences: Reconstructing an Extreme Climate Event in World Environmental History", The Medieval History Journal, 10 (1&2): 75–98, doi:10.1177/097194580701000203
  • Imperial Gazetteer of India vol. III (1907), The Indian Empire, Economic (Chapter X: Famine, pp. 475–502, Published under the authority of His Majesty's Secretary of State for India in Council, Oxford at the Clarendon Press. Pp. xxx, 1 map, 552.
  • Stokes, Eric (1975), "Agrarian Society and the Pax Britannica in Northern India in the Early Nineteenth Century", Modern Asian Studies, 9 (4): 505–528, doi:10.1017/s0026749x00012877, JSTOR 312079

Further reading[edit]

  • Arnold, David; Moore, R. I. (1991), Famine: Social Crisis and Historical Change (New Perspectives on the Past), Wiley-Blackwell. Pp. 164, ISBN 0-631-15119-2
  • Dutt, Romesh Chunder (2005) [1900], Open Letters to Lord Curzon on Famines and Land Assessments in India, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co. Ltd (reprinted by Adamant Media Corporation), ISBN 1-4021-5115-2
  • Dyson, Time (ed.) (1989), India's Historical Demography: Studies in Famine, Disease and Society, Riverdale MD: The Riverdale Company. Pp. ix, 296CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  • Famine Commission (1880), Report of the Indian Famine Commission, Part I, Calcutta
  • Ghose, Ajit Kumar (1982), "Food Supply and Starvation: A Study of Famines with Reference to the Indian Subcontinent", Oxford Economic Papers, New Series, 34 (2): 368–389
  • Government of India (1867), Report of the Commissioners Appointed to Enquire into the Famine in Bengal and Orissa in 1866, Volumes I, II, Calcutta