Talk:Bengal famine of 1943

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April 29, 2017 WikiProject A-class review Not approved
April 30, 2017 Featured article candidate Not promoted

A dynamic list of sources not currently present in the article for various tasks of comparison[edit]


Up until April 2017, the article gave the full range of estimates, from 1.5 million to 4 million. But now the article only mentions the lower end of estimates, 1.5 to 2.1 million, completely ignoring Sen's most widely cited ~3 million estimate. And the reasoning for favouring Maharatna's lesser known 2.1 million estimate is unsatisfactory, citing a single source claiming that's the consensus, despite plenty of other sources pointing to Sen's estimate as being the consensus. The article is giving undue weight to a particular POV, favouring the lower-end estimates and completely ignoring the higher-end estimates. Maestro2016 (talk) 10:33, 9 July 2017 (UTC)

  • I am on vacation and away from my source docs but newer estimates frankly supersede Sen's. If Sen ever argues against the newer figures, then his older ones can regain relevance. He should publish a squib or blog post on the topic. So should Greenough.  Lingzhi ♦ (talk) 12:29, 9 July 2017 (UTC)
    • @Maestro2016: I will return to editing the article this weekend, when my sources arrive from the US. I will then respond to your post. But basically Lingzhi is right about Maharatna's estimates, which as far as I know have not been disputed by Sen. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 03:52, 14 July 2017 (UTC)

Using a Single Estimate[edit]

Considering the multiple resources and citations involved in this article it is unfair to cite just one specific citation with a precise number. Tragedies of this magnitude are never precise, and most official claims have some level of merit. Even if one citation is considered more accurate to others it doesn't automatically make it a confirmation: none of these estimates are confirmations, that's what an estimate is. Pikazilla (talk) 13:36, 23 October 2017 (UTC)


Ummmmmm, yeah. Those are verified facts.  Lingzhi ♦ (talk) 00:10, 21 August 2017 (UTC)

Lingzhi, Best not to hover and taunt each edit I make. If I edit, you hover; if I don't edit—mainly reading the hard copies I have of the sources during travel—you accuse me of not editing. I have also already told you that the article has issues of source misrepresentation, extensive use of one primary source, the British-India Famine Enquiry Commission Report, whose sentences are supported with a changeable cast of secondary sources, and widespread sentence-synthesis (in which one sentence is attributed to six sources with many page numbers cited for each source, and no one source drawing the conclusion of the synthesis). The Famine Commission Report, moreover, even dissenting notes and description of witness evidence, have appeared in the article in monotone equalizing descriptive prose, giving the reader no clue as to which is a conclusion drawn by a secondary source, which a dissenting note, and which a witness statement. If I am having difficulties figuring out how to best to proceed, how do you think an average reader will fare? If you don't stop, I will be forced to write a detailed review of the article, that will sink the article, barring a major rewrite. This is not a threat, just an accurate assessment of the issues I am facing, none of which I had remotely imagined when I took on the responsibility of wading through this article. I know you have worked hard, but please be patient. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 00:50, 21 August 2017 (UTC)
  • You're continually stretching and exaggerating one or two errors and posing as if the article is very poor scholarship. You're really also continually setting yourself up as an expert, when there's little proof you aren't another Essjay. Worst of all you are laboring mightily and indeed very successfully to obtain full WP:OWN over the entire process. Your edits always and everywhere blur all yes all chains of cause and effect. Let's repeat that: after assuming complete and total control, you have edited in a way that always blurs all chains of cause and effect. You claim it is because I'm a poor scholar, and I claim it is because you are editing (and disparaging my editing) with an underlying goal. Still hoping for proof that I am wrong. Haven't seen any.  Lingzhi ♦ (talk) 02:07, 21 August 2017 (UTC)
Not one or two, not even ten or fifteen. Many many more. People who make such errors don't make only one or two. It is a trait of their editing style, in your case driven by only partial readings of the sources, usually limited by your own admission, to the output of the program you have written which finds the blurbs in the different sources for an input of keywords. I'm making a list. You claim that you have also read the sources more generally, but that does not seem to be the case from my reading. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 02:19, 21 August 2017 (UTC)
  • Are you making a list of actual verifiable fatal inaccuracies (errors) or of instances of my editing approach? The two lists would be meaningfully different in content and size. And you didn't respond about blurring chains of cause and effect. And yes I did read many many sources, some many times.   Lingzhi ♦ (talk) 02:48, 21 August 2017 (UTC)
    • There are errors of source representation and source synthesis whose effects are then used to posit a causal mechanism that is often not there in any one source. My point of expanding the sources, was simply to see under a magnifying glass the extent of your attempts to force a cause and effect reasoning in a non-linear multi-causal event, riddled with unresolved conditional probabilities, about which the best-known scholars of the field have reached no clear consensus. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 04:05, 21 August 2017 (UTC)
  • Hmmmm. I thought most of your edits served to protect the reputation of the British military. But anyhow, as for causes, we've been over this before. First, there are different layers of causation ("ultimate" and "contributing"). The issue of "ultimate cause" will never' be completely settled, because the evidence in favor of "natural causes" (specifically, the fungal infestation) just was not collected to any useful extent at the time. The records were not kept. There was one paper at the time (mentioned repeatedly above) that presents strong evidence, and those who wish to argue against man-made famine hang their hats very very firmly on that one paper. But it was a research paper that did not (could not) measure the actual impact on the fields. As for contributing causes bot before and during the famine, they are listed in the paper, and there really is a consensus. But you just deleted some of them... and I restored.  Lingzhi ♦ (talk) 04:36, 21 August 2017 (UTC)
You will see the evidence when I present it. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 04:54, 21 August 2017 (UTC)
  • You're acting as if you're gonna save everything up for one big blow. That an ANI tactic. Are you planning on ANI/ARB eventually? ... If you have points, make them as you go, so that they can be worked on. [Note that I showed everyone what I was doing in my sandbox for a whole year by posting multiple links to that page...] Meanwhile, don't delete things that are already there unless demonstrably false.   Lingzhi ♦ (talk) 09:32, 21 August 2017 (UTC)
Lingzhi. Let me be blunt with you. It is not just obvious to me, but to many people who have watched your antics from afar and warned you about them on your talk page, that you are not taking kindly to any sort of change. You are reverting every little sentence that hints at any change of interpretation, heaping abuse on me. And this is when I have not really made any changes of interpretation in the actual text, either discussing them here, or expanding the links in the causal chain without changing the conclusion. And please don't repeat that tired interpretation that I have a pro-British POV in matters Indian. Really, I do? And I would get away with writing the history, the geography, and biodiversity of the FA India? I just managed to fool everyone for 11 years. Someone such as I who has just spent 150 edits fine tuning the lead and first two sections of the article Raksha Bandhan, that you very likely don't know the first thing about, or just spent drawing three graphs with 62 links each in Cattle theft in India, is nevertheless riding the unbridled horse of a British POV, when it comes to a famine in Bengal. What I have stated before in the Milhist review, is that your article is the one that has a pro-British-POV. Again, your article. Not just I, others have interpreted me to say the same as well. See here and again here on your talk page no less. I am trying to help you out. It is me who is doing you a favor. I have a family, children, grandchildren, and I'm away from home, at the other end of the world. As you already know, I had to pester someone to carry a bag full of books for me on a long distant 17-hour flight so that I can work out the details of this article a little better. I don't need grief from someone who can't summarize sources accurately, leaving an enormous burden on me, and who has misinterpreted my own accusation of the article's pro-British POV so many times that it is beginning to border on deliberate. When was the last time I opened an ANI thread against anyone? If I did, it was at least ten years ago. My frank advice is to not waste my time. I'm doing what I can do under the circumstances. I will now go back to working on the article, and will not be responding to your persistent low-grade harassment. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 10:40, 21 August 2017 (UTC)
  • You said you won't respond, but please do read:
  • Pro-British POVs always and everywhere minimize the impact of WWII. They emphasize natural disaster and Britain's (perhaps, they admit, rather clumsy) powerlessness.
  • The impact of WWII and Britain's policies based on WWII goals was (in very roughly descending order of importance): devastating, harrowing inflation ... (perhaps primed by the shock of the loss of Burma, but fundamentally consisting of both cost-push driven by war spending and simultaneous demand-pull from shunting "[n]early the full productive output of India's cloth, wool, leather, and silk industries... directly to the military"); inflation unmatched by wage increases for peasants drove real wages of rural peasants decisively and very fatally off an insurmountable cliff; selective British distribution of life-saving Indian goods into the hands of those who helped the UK war effort and far away from those who contributed relatively less; British reliance on price controls rather than goods distribution; British "boat denial" policy that threw the market system into disarray; British repeated and long-term refusal to permit imports. Did I miss one somewhere? Maybe... At the very least those last few are either fatally stupid or disgustingly callous, take your pick. Did I omit or gloss over even a single one of those aspects in the article? Emphatically "No". Did the original version omit or gloss over any? Emphatically (super-emphatically) "yes"; it wholly omitted inflation (!) and glossed over other aspects. The only really radically "pro-British" thing I did was to completely (and reprehensibly, I confess) forget to mention that Linlithgow always had the power in his grasp to simply say "OK, given the current emergency, no more inter-provincial trade barriers, just because I says so", but he (fatally!) declined to use it.
  • Actively anti-British POVs always harp on how Satanic Churchill and (perhaps to a lesser degree) Linlithgow were. They also often dwell at length on the refusal of imports. Did I do any of those? Well, I wouldn't say I tilted things in that direction. And Churchill and Linlithgow escaped largely un-demonized.
  • As I have repeatedly stated, I personally think the article comes off with a mild but wholly unavoidable latent anti-British tilt. That really is unavoidable because the "anti-British" evidence (of inflation etc.) was fairly well and fully recorded and documented at the time, and the "pro-British" evidence (of fungal infestation) was emphatically NOT well collected or documented at the time. The evidence that exists points in one direction, because any evidence in the other direction was simply never collected. I tried to say that in the article itself.
  • You did find one... I'm not sure it was an "error" but rather an excessive (I do admit) attempt to cover every detail that others skipped over... in the connection between military/civilian Burma refugees and disease outbreak.. oh yes and in roughly the same passage I made one full-on error by misunderstanding the word "officers" to mean "military officers" rather than some sort of ranking civil servants, which did lead to an incorrect statement... but your descriptions of the extent of my errors are comically exaggerated.
  • If you are an honest person whose character is supported by a ramrod of integrity, you will read whatever books you need to read and conclude that the article I originally posted (minus your later immaterial additions) is roughly 98% correct in both detail and emphasis, given the facts that we have.  Lingzhi ♦ (talk) 22:56, 21 August 2017 (UTC)

Cited solely to Famine Commission Report; note if you find dubious[edit]

As a constructive response to Sitush's criticism (and F&F's as well, though he has employed the source), below is a numbered list of lines that include assertions cited solely to the Famine Commission Report. Many of these are inside quoted or directly attributed text; I'll highlight those... Note any you find dubious, I'll verify in an additional source. Some of these are long; I'll break them up as well over time. @Sitush:@Fowler&fowler:

  1. ) between 1901 and 1941, while India's population as a whole increased by 37% over the same period.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission | 1945a |pp=4 & 203}}
  2. Aside from a great concentration of war factories in industrialised areas in Greater Calcutta,{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=5}}
  3. enough to put it out of the reach of many and to bring large classes within the range of famine."{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission | 1945a |p=16}}
  4. security, with landholdings barely adequate to provide for the dietary needs of the owner's family.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=6}}
  5. less or land-poor agriculturalists in Bengal suffered from "serious undernourishment at all times",{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=184}} living ".
  6. of Bengal's economic system: nearly irreplaceable for both the production and distribution of rice{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|pp=4-10}} and [[j
  7. ive" branches of the railways were dismantled, with engines and rolling stock shipped overseas,{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=23}} and lines
  8. malaria, which was the biggest killer during the famine.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p= 1}}
  9. services was initially "not unsatisfactory" and "not disturbing", but became more alarming in 1941.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission | 1945a |pp=19-20}}
  10. cases (for example, Bihar) was the trade imbalances directly caused by provincial price controls.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=24}}
  11. throughout the east of India was slowly strangled, and by the spring of 1943 was dead."{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission | 1945a|pp=16-17}}
  12. reserve rice paddy stocks in the hands of cultivators, consumers, and dealers were destroyed.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|pp=32, 65, 66, 236}}
  13. Traders began to warn of an impending famine,{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=33}}
  14. trade machinery could not be relied upon to feed Calcutta. The [food security] crisis had begun."{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission | 1945a |p=34, 37}}
  15. amount of food relief, but not a deficit large enough to create widespread deaths by starvation.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=15}}
  16. drive covered areas previously untouched. Both food drives failed to find significant hoarding.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|pp=55-58}}
  17. Third, the government did provide various other types of relief efforts.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=98}}
  18. of the thousands who died along roadsides or other areas while migrating away from rural villages.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission | 1945a |pp=108-9}}
  19. , even though the relative shortfall in the rice crop was worst in the western districts of Bengal.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=87}}
  20. es of quinine (the most common malaria medication), delivered to rural areas under armed guard,{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=137-38}}
  21. =1945a|2p=136}}</nowiki> A similar smallpox vaccine campaign started later and was pursued less effectively;{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=136-37}}
  22. or to the famine, there was very little looting and no organised rioting when the famine took hold.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=68}}
  23. “ witness the skulls and bones which were to be seen there in the months following the famine."{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=109}}
  24. In addition to the tens of thousands of children who were orphaned,{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=166}} many were
  25. ead to widespread unsanitary conditions, catastrophic hygiene standards, and the spread of disease.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=118}}
  26. was spectacularly inept,{{sfnm|1a1=A. Sen |1y=1977|1p=50|2a1=S. Bose|2y=1990|2p=717}} overwhelmed{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=195}}
  27. starved ... corruption was widespread throughout the province and in many classes of society."{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=107}}
  28. The Government of India's Famine Commission Report{{nbsp}}(1945) described Bengal as "a land of rice growers and rice eaters".{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=5}} ... {{efn-ua|Some land [[Multiple cropping|produced more than one crop a year]], sometimes rice in one season and other crops in another, reducing rice's yearly proportion of total crops sown <nowiki>{{harv|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=10}}.}}</nowiki>
  29. Rice accounted for between 75 and 85% of daily food consumption.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=10}}
  30. The wheat-eating enclave in Calcutta were industrial workers who had come there from other provinces {{harv|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=31}}.}}</nowiki>
  31. The consumption of other foods was typically relatively small.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=10}}
  32. Tank and river water, moreover, are readily susceptible to contamination by cholera; tube wells are much safer in this respect.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=128}}{{efn-ua|The strong link between tube wells and arsenic poisoning was not established or suggested until the 1990s, see <nowiki>{{harvtxt|Argos |Kalra |Rathouz |Chen|2010|p=252}} and {{harvtxt |Chowdhury |Biswas |Chowdhury|Samanta|2000}}}}</nowiki> However, landlords were often reluctant to sink tube wells for economic reasons, even when credit was extended for this purpose,{{sfn|Bhaduri|1973|loc=p. 136 ''note<nowiki>{{nbsp}}1}}</nowiki> and as many as one-third of the existing wells in war-time Bengal were in disrepair due to government inefficiency and the high cost of materials.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=128}} The national government urged an initiative to repair these wells in November 1943, but actual work was not begun until after the cholera epidemic had subsided.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=136}}
  33. The outlook of the typical Bengali, particularly in the countryside, deteriorated into a general belief in the inevitability of famine and devastating inflation, a lack of faith in the government's ability to overcome the crises, and a mood of isolation and panic. In nearly every sector of the population, the overriding concerns were the lack of food and personal safety,{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission | 1945a|p=98}} though a small number secured record profits amidst the havoc.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=67}}
  34. In India, according to the Famine Commission's, Final Report, "the areas most affected were parts of the provinces of Bombay and Madras and the States of Cochin and Travancore."{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945b|p=3}}
  35. The imports from Burma normally met India's supply deficit in rice, which totaled 1,750,000 tons.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945b|pp=114-115}}
  36. In Bengal, the net import for which actual receipts and despatch documents existed,{{efn-ua|"The figures of imports and exports ... are not estimates. They are based on the actual registration of receipts and despatches made by Port and Railway authorities, and the statistics compiled by the Department of Commercial Intelligence and Services, are far more accurate than estimates of yield of crops."<nowiki>{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=207}}</nowiki> was on average 50,000 tons annually for 1932-1937,{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=208}} and 159,000 tons annually for 1938-42,{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=208}} the highest levels being recorded for the years 1934 and 1939 at 364,000 tons and 382,000 tons respectively.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=213}} But, according to the Final Report, there was also unrecorded import into Bengal "by country boat from Assam and from Arakan in Burma" the extent of which was not known accurately.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945b|p=8}} The Commission proposed that this import was of the order of 50,000 tons annually for 1932-1937 and 100,000 tons annually for 1938-1942.{{efn-ua|"This will probably suffice to remove the possibility of the true extent of the dependence of Bengal on external supply being underestimated.”<nowiki>{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=208}}}}</nowiki> Aggregate consumption was also computed, not by a direct approach using census-based population statistics whose margin of error was too high,{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|pp=203-205}} but by indirect estimation from a combination of the available values of annual supply, net import, carry-over stock at the year's beginning, and the same at the year's end.{{efn-ua|"if information is available as regards (i) the stock in hand in Bengal at the beginning of the year, (ii) the stock added to it during the course of the year as a result of production and the balance of imports and exports, and finally (iii) the stock carried forward at the end of the year, then (i) + (ii) - (iii) represents consumption and seed."<nowiki>{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=205}}}}</nowiki>{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=205}} However, as carry-over stock in any individual year could not be accurately estimated, averages were computed for a longer periods under the expectation that the carry-over stock at the beginning and the end of the periods were negligible compared to the total consumption during the periods.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=205}} The commission also made adjustments in annual supply, which had errors stemming from the assessment of cultivated acreage under the permanent settlement in Bengal.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=205}} In this way, average consumption for the 15-year period 1928 to 1942 was computed to be 8.14 million tons annually for unadjusted acreage,{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=214}} and 9.18 million tons for the adjusted.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=216}} Annual consumption was then estimated by assuming that it veered off the unadjusted average by increments, or decrements, of 0.10 million tons every year,{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=206}}{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=214}} and off the adjusted average by those of 0.12 million tons.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=214}} Using these data in the Famine Inquiry Commission report, the percentage of net imports "either recorded only, or both recorded and unrecorded, computed relative to a 15-year- or 5-year time period, and to consumption- or supply averages, which were either unadjusted or adjusted" were found by scholars to be 1.1% and 1.4% in one instance,{{efn-ua|"According to the calculations of the Famine Enquiry Commission, during the five years from 1927/28 exports exceeded imports, but net exports accounted for only 2.1 per cent of total output in the official series and 1.6 per cent in the revised series. During the next ten years (i.e. up to 1941/42) there was a net import of 1.1 million tons ... which amounted to only 1.4 per cent of the domestic supply in the official series and 1.1 per cent in the revised series."<nowiki>{{sfn|Islam|2007b|p=56}}}}</nowiki> and "less than 4%" in another.{{efn-ua|"The extent of the Bengalis' dependence upon Burma rice, or the date from which dependence became a fact, cannot be precisely stated. The famine commissioners thought that Bengal became a net importer of rice in the 1930s. The net quantity being imported between 1934 and 1942 was, on the average, less than 300,000 tons annually, which was less than 4 per cent of the average annual consumption of rice in Bengal of about 8.5 million tons. Famine Inquiry Commission, ''Report on Bengal'' (New Delhi: Manager of Publications, 1945), Appendix 2, Statement 1".<nowiki>{{sfn|Greenough|1980|p=209}}}}</nowiki> Using different data, P. C. Mahalanobis estimated the net imports to be on average 1% of aggregate supply for the period 1934-39, estimating their highest value for a single year at 5% for 1934, and noting that "the physical quantities of net imports was never large."{{sfn|Mahalanobis|1944|p=70}} While acknowledging that the influx of Burma rice was a factor in stabilizing prices, as it prevented hoarding or cornering the market, he concluded that there was "chronic but a growing shortage of rice in Bengal," which had not affected prices or imports because a large number of people, lacking the money to buy enough food, often made do with less than what was enough.{{sfn|Mahalanobis|1944|p=70}}
  37. Even before 1942, with uncertainty prevailing about the war, rice cultivators were proceeding with caution, and parting with their produce less readily.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=23}} Large-scale government investment in a war-related economy had created inflation.{{sfn|S. Bose|1982a|p=88}} The larger workforce, keen to secure its supplies, was buying more.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=23}} The price of rice in September 1941 was already 69% higher than in August 1939.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=23}} With the fall of Burma, there was increased demand on the rice producing regions from those regions which more critically relied on Burmese imports.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=28}} This, according to the Famine Commission, was occurring in a market in which the "progress of the war made sellers who could afford to wait reluctant to sell."{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=28}} The Japanese attack had not only provoked a scramble for rice across India,{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=23}} but had also caused a dramatic and unprecedented price inflation in Bengal,{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=29}} and in other rice producing regions of India.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=103}} In Bengal, the impact of the loss of Burma rice on price levels was vastly disproportionate to the size of the loss.{{sfn|S. Bose|1990|p=703 & 715}} Despite this, the export of Bengal rice to other regions of India increased during the first half of 1942.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=103}} In the first seven months of 1942, these exports totaled some 319,000 tons in contrast to 136,000 tons over the same period in 1941; the imports, however, had reduced by 300,000 tons in that same time.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=28}} Under pressure from the UK,{{sfn|Mansergh |1971| p= 544, Document no. 362}} Bengal continued to export rice to Ceylon{{efn-ua|Ceylon (now [[Sri Lanka]]) was a vital asset in the Allied war effort. It was "one of the very few sources of natural rubber still controlled by the Allies" <nowiki>{{harv|Axelrod|Kingston|2007|p=220}}. It was also a vital link in "British supply lines around the southern tip of Africa to the Middle East, India and Australia". {{harv|Lyons|2016|p=150}} Churchill noted Ceylon's importance in maintaining the flow of oil from the Middle East, and considered its port of Colombo "the only really good base" for the Eastern Fleet and the defense of India. {{harv|Churchill|1986|pp=152, 155 & 162}}}}</nowiki> for months afterward, even as the beginning of a food crisis began to become apparent.{{efn-ua| In late January 1943, for example, the [[Victor Hope, 2nd Marquess of Linlithgow|Viceroy Linlithgow]] wrote to the Secretary of State for India, [[Leo Amery]]: "Mindful of our difficulties about food I told [the Premier of Bengal, [[A. K. Fazlul Huq]]] that he simply ''must'' produce some more rice out of Bengal for Ceylon even if Bengal itself went short! He was by no means unsympathetic, and it is possible that I may in the result screw a little out of them. The Chief [Churchill] continues to press me most strongly about both rice and labour for Ceylon" <nowiki>{{harv|Mansergh|1971|p=544, Document no. 362}}. Quoted in many sources, for example {{harvtxt|A. Sen|1977|p=53}}, {{harvtxt|Ó Gráda|2008|pp=30-31}}, {{harvtxt| Mukerjee|2011|p=129}}, and {{harvtxt|J. Mukherjee |2015|p=93}}.}}</nowiki> The influx of refugees created more demand for food.{{sfnm|1a1=Famine Inquiry Commission|1y=1945a|1p=187|2a1=Maharatna|2y=1992|2p=206}} More clothing and medical aid were needed, further straining the resources of the province.{{citation needed|date=May 2017}} {{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|pp=23-24; 28-29; 103}} All this, together with transport problems that were to be created by the government's "boat denial" policy, were the direct causes of inter-provincial trade barriers on the movement of foodgrains,{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=24 }} and contributed to a series of failed government policies that further exacerbated the food crisis.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=29}}
  38. The cutoff of Burma rice was not the only reason that normal trade channels failed to supply affordable rice to Bengal.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=103}} There was also the proximity of Bengal to the war front, and the new status of Bengal as the base for war-related operations in India.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=103}}
  39. These, according to the Famine Commission, made the "material and psychological repercussions of war more pronounced" in Bengal than elsewhere in India.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=103}}
  40. According to the Famine Commission, overall, those evacuated from their homes and land numbered more than 30,000 families,{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|pp=27}}{{efn-ua|In the dissenting note of its member, Sir Manilal Nanavati, forced evacuation was thought to have affected 35,000 homesteads.<nowiki>{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|pp=27}}</nowiki>
  41. The Famine Commission thought that despite compensation being paid to the families, there was "little doubt" that many of their members became famine victims in 1943.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|pp=27}}
  42. ... this increased the perception of food insecurity and led the enclave of wheat-eaters in Greater Calcutta to increase their demand for rice precisely when an impending rice shortage was feared.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=32}}
  43. The Central Provinces prohibited the export of foodgrains outside the province two months later.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission | 1945a |pp= 23 & 193}}
  44. ... the Government of Bengal and the Bengal Chamber of Commerce devised a Foodstuffs Scheme that provided preferential distribution of a number of goods and services to workers in essential war industries, to prevent them from leaving their jobs, stating, "the maintenance of essential food supplies to the industrial area of Calcutta must be ranked on a very high priority among the government's wartime obligation."{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=30, citing an August 1942 letter from the Government of Bengal to the Bengal Chamber of Commerce}}
  45. Rice was directed away from the starving rural districts to workers in industries considered vital to the military effort - particularly in the area around Greater Calcutta.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=101}}
  46. The Famine Commission report of {{harvtxt|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=101}} stated that "about two-thirds of the supplies of rice reaching Calcutta under the control of Government, much of which was secured from outside the province, was consumed in Greater Calcutta".</nowiki> }}
  47. The steep inflation spread across the rest of Bengal, especially in May and June;{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=29}}
  48. prices soon rose five to six times higher than they had been before April.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=104}}
  49. In June, the Government of Bengal decided to establish price controls, but by the time the order took effect on 1 July, the fixed price was already considerably below market prices.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|pp=24 & 29}}
  50. The principal result of the fixed low price was to make sellers reluctant to sell{{snd}}stocks disappeared, either into the black market or into storage. In the face of this obvious policy failure, the government let it be known that the price control law would not be enforced except in the most egregious cases of war profiteering.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=29}} This created about four months of relative price stability.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=33}}
  51. In mid-October southwest Bengal was struck by a series of natural disasters that destabilised prices again.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=33}} The Famine Commission Report blamed the soaring inflation of that November and December on heavy speculative buying.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=33}} There was another rushed scramble in the rice market{{snd}}this time, to smuggle grain out of provinces with trade barriers to the black market in Calcutta.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission | 1945a |p=34}}
  52. On 11{{nbsp}}March 1943, the provincial government officially rescinded its order fixing price controls,{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission | 1945a |p=58}} permitting buyers to purchase rice at any price.{{sfn|A. Sen|1977|p=38}} The results were immediate and dramatic: very sharp rises in the price of rice, {{sfn|A. Sen|1977|p=38}} including a doubling within two weeks.{{sfn|J. Mukherjee|2015|p=103, citing <nowiki>{{harvtxt |Greenough |1982 |p=115, Table 8}}.}}</nowiki> The period of inflation between March and May 1943 was especially intense;{{sfn|A. Sen |1976 |p=1280}} May was the month of the first reports of death by starvation in Bengal.{{sfnm|1a1=Famine Inquiry Commission |1y=1945a|1p=112 |2a1=Aykroyd |2y=1975|2p=74|3a1=Iqbal|3y=2011|3p=282}} Several neighbouring provinces promised food aid in March, but all backed out, except for Orissa.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=48}} Between April and May 1943, the provincial government attempted a propaganda drive to boost public confidence that there was enough rice in Bengal to feed all its people; it repeatedly asserted that the crisis was being caused almost solely by speculation and hoarding.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|pp=55 & 98}} The propaganda, which has been described as particularly inept,{{sfn|A. Sen|1977|p=50}} failed to dispel the widespread belief that there was a shortage of rice.{{efn-ua|See especially <nowiki>{{harvtxt|Ó Gráda|2015}}.}}</nowiki>
  53. Price controls were reinstated in August.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission | 1945a |p=58}} Despite this, there were unofficial reports of rice being sold in late 1943 at roughly eight to ten times the prices of late 1942{{sfnm|1a1=A. Sen |1y=1977 |1p=36|2a1=S. Bose|2y=1990|2pp=716-17}}{{snd}}prices that had even then been many times higher than they were in 1941.{{efn-ua| [[Amartya Sen]] once again attributes most of this rise to heavy speculative buying (<nowiki>{{harvnb|A. Sen|1976|p= 1280 }}{{harvnb|A. Sen |1977|p= 50 }}, {{harvnb|A. Sen|1981a|p=76}}). However, {{harvtxt|Bowbrick|1985}} disagrees at length.}}</nowiki> Purchasing agents were sent out by the government to obtain rice, but their attempts largely failed. Prices remained high, and the black market was not brought under control.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=58}}
  54. The Government of India dated the beginning of a food crisis to the consequences of the air raids on Calcutta in December 1942,{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission | 1945a |p=34, 37}} and the beginning of full-scale famine to May 1943 as the consequence of price decontrol two months earlier.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|pp=40-41}}
  55. Some then felt the signs of incipient famine as early as December 1942, when reports from commissioners and district officers of various districts in Bengal began to cite a "sudden and alarming" inflation, nearly doubling the price of rice; this was followed in January by reports of distress over serious food supply problems.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=Appendix VI, Extracts of Reports from Commissioners and District Officers, pp. 225-27}}
  56. Although no demographic or geographic group was completely immune to increased rates of death by disease, only the rural poor died of starvation.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=2}}
  57. The famine saw two waves of excess mortality.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission | 1945a|p=116}}
  58. Disease began its sharp upward turn around October 1943 and overtook starvation as the most common cause of death around December.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p=118}} The two trends overlapped briefly in the closing months of the year. Disease-related mortality then continued to take its toll through early-to-mid 1944.{{sfn|Maharatna |1992|p=210}}
  59. Malaria was the biggest killer.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p= 1}} From July 1943 through June 1944, the monthly death toll from malaria stood at an average of 125% over rates from the previous five years; in December 1943, the excess mortality was 203% over average.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission|1945a|p= 1}}
  60. Moreover, since its symptoms often resemble those of other fatal fevers (such as kala-azar){{sfn|Ghedin |Zhang|Charest|Sundar|1997|p=530}} and since only a small proportion of victims received medical care and were examined, statistics for malaria deaths are almost certainly underestimated.{{sfn|Famine Inquiry Commission | 1945a |p= 119}}

Burma military/civil service refugees spread disease to general population[edit]

  • Transport was delayed and crowded as refugees fleeing from Burma traveled around the countryside and spread diseases, and in general people were highly uncertain and anxious.52 Government spending on military construction only mildly mitigated this crisis. [Tauger 2009]
  • the road itself was washed away in places and the refugees had to make their way on their knees through mud and along perilous precipices. The Government of India sent no help. They had now conceded Burma, and the fate of the British Indian citizens stranded in that country was not a priority. Those who survived the journey, according to a British Army Brigadier who witnessed their arrival in Bengal, were in a sate of "complete exhaustion, physical and mental, with disease superimposed...all social sense lost...they suffer from bad nightmares and their delirium is a babble of rivers and crossings, of mud and corpses...emaciation and loss of weight are universal." 174 But even [Mukherjee_hungry_2015]
  • A continuous stream of refugees was arriving from Burma. They were finding their way through Assam, after an initial influx into Chittagong, and were moving into the country. They were arriving diseased, bringing in a virulent type of malaria FIC
  • The Directors of Public Health send, in their weekly telegrams, only the total figures for their respective provinces for each of the diseases cholera, smallpox and plague; but, in view of the continuous flow of evacuees from Burma, the Directors of Public Health in Bengal and Assam are supplying, at our request, figures for districts in order to enable usto keep a watch on the progress of the epidemics. '21 [Bhattacharya 2002b]  Lingzhi ♦ (talk) 00:05, 1 September 2017 (UTC)

Peer review around the beginning of November. Then FAC[edit]

@Nick-D:@Fowler&fowler:@RegentsPark:@Ms Sarah Welch:@Ceoil:@Ian Rose:@Graham Beards:

  • It has now been four months since the failed FAC. I will wait two more months, then I will put this article into WP:PR. After a healthy period residing in that forum (how long I leave it depends on how much activity it gathers, but I would say the reasonable minimum time would be 3 weeks to 1 month... If the discussion is active, then more time is warranted]. After that, I am putting it into FAC.
  • If anyone has constructive criticism, this leaves at least three more months until FAC.   Lingzhi ♦ (talk) 02:43, 2 September 2017 (UTC)
    • @Fowler&fowler:@RegentsPark:@Ms Sarah Welch:@Ceoil:@Worldbruce:Editing in preparation for Peer review: there are a number of points listed above ("things I forgot to add" in a section above) that need to be added to the article. There are a few points currently within the article that are more or less peripheral. I will begin slowly adding the former and deleting the latter sometime soon-ish, within a week or so, in the slow run-up to the first week of November, when this goes into PR.  Lingzhi ♦ (talk) 23:08, 14 September 2017 (UTC)

Relevance of Iqbal 2010 page 68?[edit]

With respect to the sentences:

Over the decades at the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the early twentieth, the power and influence of the zamindars fell and that of the jotedars rose. The shift was caused by a rent crisis that was sparked by nineteenth century tenancy legislation,{{sfn|Das|2008|p=60}} and accelerated after the Great Depression.{{sfnm|1a1=Chatterjee|1y=1986|1p=200|2a1=Iqbal|2y=2010|2pp=68 & 172}}

Among the sources cited is Iqbal 2010 page 68. That page talks about zamindars and a worldwide depression, but one around 1830, not the Great Depression a hundred years later. I believe that page number should be removed because it is not relevant there. --Worldbruce (talk) 03:10, 11 September 2017 (UTC)

  • Thanks for checking the article! Your time and trouble are greatly appreciated. Please do drop me a line either on my talk, by email or here on this talk if you cannot get a source. I have the vast vast majority of the sources (but alas some I sent back to the library many months ago).
  • You are right; the 'page 68 from Iqbal needs to be dropped. But 172 seems relevant.
  • The also-cited Chatterjee text says:

In the end a process of rapid decline in the economic viability of zamindari property culminated, in the face of growing peasant resistance, in what was to be a terminal rent crisis in the 1930s. On the other hand, attempts by the colonial state to reorganize and extend the process of extraction from agriculture led to a gradual strengthening of the position of primary surplus-appropriating agents. A new class of rich peasants operated to their advantage the lease market in peasant holdings, and by suitably altering the mode of rent from cash to kind payments and by combining usurious and trading activities, acquired an increasing control over the surplus product of the immediate producers, extending in some cases to a share in the costs of cultivation and a partial control over the labour process.

  Lingzhi ♦ (talk) 05:44, 11 September 2017 (UTC)


The British government's handling of the famine has been called genocidal: (2A00:23C4:6384:FE00:5993:B0DC:3959:187B (talk) 20:37, 17 September 2017 (UTC))

  • One guy calls it genocide (he actually seems to tiptoe around calling the '43 famine genocide specifically, but let's just go ahead and say he calls it genocide)... This is very, very much a fringe view. Following his lead would violate WP:FRINGE. I would hesitate to even mention this fringe view, because Dr Gideon Polya teaches biochemistry in some minor college in Australia, but has a little side-industry of publishing activist papers. I have quite literally hundreds of sources about the famine of 1943 here on my computer. If I do a text-search through them, the name "Polya" is not cited even once. He has an article on Wikipedia (Gideon Polya), but for my perspective that's just proof that our standards for inclusion are way way way way too low.  Lingzhi ♦ (talk) 21:33, 17 September 2017 (UTC)

Title should be changed[edit]

The famine continued well into 1944, so it should be called the Bengal Famine of 1943-44. (2A00:23C4:6384:FE00:5993:B0DC:3959:187B (talk) 20:41, 17 September 2017 (UTC))

  • That wold be against Wikipedia's rules concerning Original Research. The relevant research papers/books always refer to it as the Bengal Famine of '34, but then they all go on to explain that it lasted through at least '44 as well. But if the research calls it the famine of '43, then we do too. We follow the research.  Lingzhi ♦ (talk) 21:16, 17 September 2017 (UTC)