Talk:Famine in India

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Some questions on the Scholars Opinions Sections[edit]

I was reading the various comments here about POV in the article and this section struck me as one needing some improvement. I have some points I would like to make:

1) Would Florence Nightingale really count as a 'scholar'? I think most people when seeing the section heading had in mind modern day scholars, rather than contemporary observors. Perhaps the section could make clear that we are also discussing contemporary opinions, that way we could include Indian Nationalist opinions of the famines (such as R.C. Dutt) and the critique of their writings by British writers (such as C.W. McMinn's 'Famine Truths, Untruths and Half Truths').
2) The way the quote by Amartya Sen is presented is slightly POV. The quote simply says (more or less) that famines are easy to relieve. This has the same implications for pre-British authorities as it does the British Raj.
3)The source for the lack of a postive legacy in India left by the British. In fact it impliedly hints at some in its final sentence. What it says is that some Indians harbour resentment over these issues.

Regards, Andrew

Andrew, welcome to Wikipedia. Please consider signing up/becoming a regular editor here. Nightingale has numerous publications directly relevant to this area hence she would qualify as a scholar but we can move her observations to a different section if it can be established that her work was not scholarly. Getting in to the claims and counter claims of the likes of Indian nationalists like Romesh Chunder Dutt and McMinn would be WP:UNDUE here unless it was part of mainstream discourse. The earlier famines in ancient India have not caused as much loss of life as did the famines in British India and Amartya Sen's quote makes sense in that regard. I'm not sure what you mean in your third point. Zuggernaut (talk) 01:34, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

Zuggernaut, thank you for your response and kind words. I will accept that Nightingale would count as a scholar is she published scholarly works on the famines at the time. I was not aware that she did so I am will to accept this one. I am not sure that mentioning R.C. Dutt, William Digby or C.W. McMinn would be undue weight as, in the 19th century, they were mainstream discourse. Certainly if Nightingale counts as mainstream discourse then they would as well, no? I also do not agree with you on the pre-British famines. This article shows that several famines were quite bad, as bad as some under the British (the one in the 1630's killed four million people). And what period is Sen talking about? Is he talking about the 1940's, when famines were easier to relieve, or the 1870's, or 1830's, or 1770's? Given that he does not make clear, I think the best thing to do would be to assume that Amartya Sen's comment is applicable to all famines regardless of the regime. Incidentally, Michelle Burge McAlpin, in her book 'Subject to Famine: Food Crises and Economic Change in Western India, 1860-1920' (Princeton: 1983) devotes several pages analysing whether or not famines were actually worse in the pre-British period before concluding that it is likely they were just as bad. Finally, what I mean by my third point is that the source doesn't support what it is attributed to it. At no point does it state that the Bengal famine of 1770 is one of the reasons why Britain doesn't have a positive legacy. In fact, the final sentence, by stating that by remaining silent on colonialism, Cameron might be able to reap some of its benefits, implies that there is a positive legacy.

Regards, Andrew —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:06, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

Pre-British famines Certainly the famines in pre-British period were just as bad. However appropriate measures were taken (such as importing food and banning of exports. Sometimes the punishment towards traders found to be exporting food in times of famine was very severe) to ensure that the citizenry did not die of starvation. As an example, take a look the the Peshwa Sawai Madhavrao's response to the Deccan famine.
Opposed to this, there was practically no relief under the EIC and even under the Crown, food continued to be exported to Britain in times of famines. In order to understand why this happened we need to grasp that the Indian economy was setup to be a "colonial economy", i.e, it's main purpose was to provide capital, raw material and other resources to Britain. Australian and Canadian economies were setup in a similar fashion but the revenue generated from India was more than the combined revenue from the white colonies.
Sources (Dutt, McMinn) We need to exercise caution regarding sources from that era because the British would suppress and imprison any Indian who criticized the British government under specially enacted sedition laws. Pretty much all prominent Indian leaders and politicians have done time for speaking out against the government. Romesh Chunder Dutt may be a reliable source but I'm not sure about McMinn - he has one minor 140 page book on famines and seems like an alternative author than a mainstream one.
Will Heaven - legacy I agree that you may have a point about the relation between the Bengal famine of 1770 and legacy so feel free to edit the article to remove that content. However I do not agree with your reading of the article in that Heaven suggests that there is a positive legacy. Zuggernaut (talk) 03:09, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

I'm glad you have agreed with me about Will Heaven's article so I shall remove that content and not worry about our dispute over that article itself. Moving onto sources, as far as I am aware (and all I am going on is the wikipedia article) is that R.C. Dutt was never imprisoned in his life. Consequently I fail to see your point about the need for caution over the use of contemporary sources: R.C. Dutt speak out against government policies, quite publicly, and as far as I know he was never imprisoned. But even if, so what? He still made the arguments he did. I agree that now, McMinn is not as well known as R.C. Dutt is, although given that his book was written as a direct response to R.C. Dutt I think its fair to mention him (he is not completely forgotten either, there are several modern works that cite him). Finally, I think the debates about pre-British famines are getting us away from the issue of the A.K. Sen quote; you are reading into it that he damns the British administration whilst letting the Mughal's off. This is based not on what A.K. Sen actually says in the quote, but what has been argued by other authors (and disputed by others; this article already cites several authors a little less optimistic about famine relief in the pre-British era and a little less pessimistic about the Indian economy in the 19th century). I think that is wrong, and the way it is Sen's statements apply equally to Mughal and British famines.

Perhaps other people on here can weigh in?



As far as I am aware, McMinn has only one publication which reads like an alternative, non-mainstream book, not to dissimilar from the ones in the arena of the Aryan Invasion Theory which try to re-write Indian history. Muslim and Mughal rulers like Akbar, Allaudin Khilji and others imported food in times of famine which was not the case under the British. The role of railways in famine is unclear. Numerous academicians claim that the railways actually worsened famines, others claim the opposite and some say it didn't have any impact. Due to this, I'm rectifying your recent edit to reflect this. Let us discuss the role of railways further before making an addition. Zuggernaut (talk) 17:12, 25 January 2011 (UTC)
What makes you think that McMinn is not mainstream just because it is an 'alternative' view? I think that te edits I made about Tirthankar Roy were perfectly legitimate. Some academics claim they worsened them, some state they had no impact, others say they improved the situation. My edits did not present this as fact, but presented it as one scholar's opinion. Also, as other wikipedia articles show, food was imported into areas during the famines under British rule. But that is not the point. Amartya Sen says famines are easy to relieve, and the fact that there were terrible famines under Mughal rule suggests that Sen's critique applies to Mughal rulers as well. Regards, Andrew —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:48, 25 January 2011 (UTC)
Railway edit - Given that there is no consensus in academia about this, the proper way to include this in the article is to have consensus on which view is the majority view and which is the minority view and then include both of those in the article per Jimbo's e-mail from 2003 as shown in the NPOV policy.
Amartya Sen and relief - From whatever documentation is available, famines in pre-British India have had a much better relief response than in the British era (this includes Muslim and Mughal rulers).
Roy edit - I have undone the remaining part of your Roy edit because this is factually incorrect. The Bengal famine of 1943 was the one which was the last one. So if you have objections to my removal of that addition, we can discuss that here per WP:BRD and add the content back later once we reach a consensus.
It looks like we are handling too many different issues at the same time. Let us take them up one at a time, reach consensus, make edits to the article then tackle the next one. I am creating a separate section below to discuss the McMinn source. Zuggernaut (talk) 04:53, 27 January 2011 (UTC)
'Railway edit'-Agreed. The issue is whether or not there is a minority view or a majority view, or whether or not the issue is split roughly evenly.
'Amartya Sen and Relief'-Your comment is irrelevant for two reasons. a) it ignores the evidence presented in this article about the problems with Mughal relief and more importantly b) the quote suggests any famine deaths are unneccessary as they are easy to prevent. Ipso facto, the fact that famines under Mughal rule could and did kill millions, suggests that he is
'Roy Edit'-The 1900 famine was the last all India famine. The Bengal famine of 1943 was regional famine brought about by the circumstances of World War Two. In my opinion there isn't much to discuss. A scholar has given his opinion, and you have simply removed it because you disagree with him.

Andrew —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:05, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

If you examine the context more carefully, you will see that Roy is talking about "weather induced" famines. In fact in the very same paragraph he mentions the Bengal famine of 1943 which is considered man-made in literature. As long as we include the context and the fact that Bengal famine of 1943 was an artificial one, we can certainly include your addition. Zuggernaut (talk) 05:32, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
That is indeed correct. Roy argues that changes under colonial rule alleviated weather induced famines in the long run. And he does right that state's interventions in the grain market could still have a devastating impact. Although the Bengal famine was still a local famine and not of the same scope or scale as the earlier famines in the 1890;s or 1870's. I shall make these changes to reflect these points of view. You did not mention the Amartya Sen quote in your latest comment? We seem to be going round in circles somewhat with it so I was considering asking other members who have commented or been involved on this page for their take on it.Led225 (talk) 15:00, 28 January 2011 (UTC)

McMinn as a reliable source?[edit]

A few reasons why McMinn may not be a reliable source:
1. Other than Wikipedia articles, I could not find any other academician citing McMinn's work.
2. Can you cite accomplished authors, scholars supporting and speaking favorably of his work?
3. His works seem to be emotive with outbursts supporting the British rule in India.

4. He states the following in the preface and then bases his work on that

In other words the three hundred millions of India (sic) are are informed that they have only to revert to the rule and customs of their ancestors, getting rid somehow of the British incubus, then they will find peace, plenty, and bliss of every kind.

5. Then on pages 106-107 he discredits the work of successive Famine Commissions which where the cornerstone of the Indian Famine Codes.

Yet in the twenty-three folios of reports and appendices there is comparatively little of any value to the student; what there is is overloaded with detail, and is buried in masses of figured statement and comment which could only be of use once, as a check in the account department.

6. On page 129 he states that

The Rajas, the Independent Chiefs of India know that the British rescued them long ago from the most cruel bondage to Maratha or Moghul Empire, they agreed to pay half their revenues to the British...

7. On page 130, he concludes

To conclude, I see nothing but prosperity before India, the lookout is far better than when I came here in 1862; all will be well if the people will only labor and learn, listening to no false prophets, if also Government continues to introduce reform, steadily progressing towards the satisfaction of just national aspirations.

All of these are non-mainstream views, some of which if true would mean that the Indian Independence Movement was a freak accident and would/should not have happened. Zuggernaut (talk) 04:53, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

Other Academics''-Do a search on google books. He is cited as an example of contemporary opinion on the famine in several studies. In fact he was prominent enough to be used as a source in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, but that isn't the point. The point was that it was a notable point of view at the time, in the same way R.C. Dutt's view was.
'Emotive and Polemic'-So was R.C. Dutt and William Digby's work. All three wrote for political purposes but their works were undeniably mainstream circa 1900 and scholarly.

Regards Andrew —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:10, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

Google books works in different way at different times and in different places and I could not find much. Can you provide a list of sources you have access to? Also, how can we call an author mainstream when he makes a claim as shown in item 4 above. We know very well that Indian freedom fighters did not want to go back to the days of their ancestors. WE have sufficient evidence to the contrary in legislation like abolishment of Sati, child marriage which the Indian social reformers worked hard for. The same goes for item 5 (I've fixed a typo there) when we know that the Famine Commissions were the critical component in the development of the Indian Famine Codes. The statement he makes in item 6 is laughable and the conclusion he draws in item 7 is juvenile given that it was written about a decade and a half before the events of the Jalianwala Bagh Massacre. There are other strange statements he makes about Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Gandhi's guru but let us deal with these first. Zuggernaut (talk) 05:32, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
The point is not that he 'is' mainstream per se, but that he 'was' mainstream. He was involved in a scholarly debate around the turn of the century with prominent Indian nationalist writers. Your statements about what followed afterwards have no bearing on C.W. McMinn's book. He could not have predicted any of them. A list of books he is cited as an example of contemporary scholarly opinions of the famine include The Famine of 1896-1897: Availability or Entitlement Crisis by Malabika Chakrabarti; Communalism in Bengal : from Famine to Noakhali, 1943-47 by Rakesh Batabyal; Imperial Sceptics: British Critics of Empire by Gregory Claeys. But the point about McMinn wasn't to base whole chunks of the article around him. It was only that, if Florence Nightingale is allowed as a scholar, then surely other contemporaries should be mentioned as well. McMinn was only one exampleLed225 (talk) 15:10, 28 January 2011 (UTC)
Given the gaffes he's made above (see items 4, 5 and 6) he wasn't mainstream back then and he's archaic and obsolete now. He's published one small work on famines entirely dedicated to an agenda. Of the list of books in which he is cited, Chakrabarti actually gives reasons for why he isn't mainstream. The other two cite him in a minor footnote or two. As for Nightingale, she is of an entirely different stature and reputation; moreover she has hundreds of very well received editions, many of which deal with famines. Zuggernaut (talk) 06:00, 29 January 2011 (UTC)

Madras Famine 1952[edit]

The article does not appear to mention the famine in Madras in 1952. MilborneOne (talk) 18:47, 30 January 2011 (UTC)

I will look for sources and add content on causes, number of deaths, duration of the famine, etc. In the mean time, if you have any good sources, please feel free to share with us. Zuggernaut (talk) 18:57, 30 January 2011 (UTC)
I dont think what happened in 52 was a famine - it was the run of the mill rice shortage. There was a sharp rise in rice prices (due to rainfall shortage and reduced yield the previous year). The communist led opposition seized the issue and demanded an increase in the ration allocations. The newly sworn in Congress govt of Rajaji was then leaning toward abolishing rationing and had to backtrack. There is no mention of famine in the legislative records for that year [1]. I have the biography of Rajaji and the autobiography of C. Subramaniam (the chief minister and the food minister respectively of that period) and they dont mention anything about famine. (rice shortage and the rationing issue yes, but nothing about famine).--Sodabottle (talk) 19:12, 30 January 2011 (UTC)
OK understood it was certainly refered to as a famine at the time The Hindu [2] has a quote from India's Food Minister, Mr. K.M. Munshi, returning to Madras after a tour of famine-affected districts in Madras State told a press conference that conditions in these districts called for immediate action and steps to prevent further deterioration.. The London Times 29 March 1952 has an article "Famine in Madras Province - 10 Million Sufferers", it talks about the governor of madras making an appeal for funds at a sheriff's meeting. It mentions the cause was the failure of the rains in four consecutive years. 30,000 homeless in the Markapur-Taluq-Kurnool district. On the 12 May 1952 the Times mentions six new districts threatened. No mention of any deaths just widespread disruption "The Government has taken measures to provide work for unemployed and to feed aged people and children. London Times 9 October 1952 mentions that Mr Nehru said that the famine code would not solve the problem of food scarcity in the Rayalaseem area. It may well be a widespread disruption but it looks like the measures taken may have worked as I cant find any mention of deaths, although they must have been some. Some issues that the central government could not deploy wheat in to what is a rice eating area and that an international rice shortage wasnt helped by the failure of the crop in Rayalaseema. The state government dont appear to have been that helpful as has been mentioned removing some controls on food and it was the central government that was deploying free food. Perhaps it should be mentioned as a one of the threatend famines that was resolved by government actions. MilborneOne (talk) 19:22, 30 January 2011 (UTC)
Nehru refers to it in his own writings. (I hope others can see this Google Books ref - it's from Volume 21, covering the first quarter of 1953) [3] Nehru says lack of rain has caused what he terms "near-famine conditions". Jamesinderbyshire (talk) 19:37, 30 January 2011 (UTC)
Yes this should be added to the "near misses", if the Hindu of that time is mentioning it as a "famine", then this certainly was considered serious. The Rajaji Story by Rajmohan Gandhi also claims rainfall resumed in May 1952 and rice prices were deregulated. "within days grain started to flow and the queues disappeared". But thats in contradiction with London Times report from October. I will try to find some non-biographical references to this incident.--Sodabottle (talk) 19:39, 30 January 2011 (UTC)
In order to call it a famine, we need to find out how many deaths the famine caused. Other parameters listed in the template:infobox famine will also help understand the scale and cause of the famine. Zuggernaut (talk) 04:30, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
OK, it looks like some sources are calling it famine and some drought. The Andhra Pradesh district gazetteers: Volume 8 Andhra Pradesh (India), Bh Sivasankaranarayana - 1977 says this:
"The drought which hit the district from 1951 to 1953 was, however, the most severe. A sum of Rs. 8.97 lakhs was altogether spent on relief. The army was called to help the civilian operations in the deepening of wells."
I will keep looking for more sources over the week. Zuggernaut (talk) 05:44, 31 January 2011 (UTC)

It looks like this was a drought, probably not worthy of mention in the article but I am open to mention it in the post-independence section if the majority feel so. Zuggernaut (talk) 02:19, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for looking at it Zuggernaut, I think it is worth a mention as a near miss as it may the sort of thing that a reader looks up and says why is this not mentioned and it can be explained that measures were taken to prevent a famine, although happy to go with a majority decision on inclusion. MilborneOne (talk) 11:26, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

Fails quite a few GA criteria[edit]

As the author of a large number of pages on famines in India (Chalisa famine, Doji bara famine, Agra famine of 1837–38, Orissa famine of 1866, Rajputana famine of 1869, Bihar famine of 1873–74, Great Famine of 1876–78, Indian famine of 1896–97, Indian famine of 1899–1900, William Robert Cornish, Timeline of major famines in India during British rule (1765 to 1947)) I am very troubled by this page.

  • No attempt has been made to coordinate information in the Famine in India page with these pages; indeed often the individual famines are not even Wikilinked.
  • The references chosen are highly selective, with great preference given to polemical left-wing writers such as Mike Davis (who is the author of a trade paperback, but has no history of writing any scholarly papers on Indian famines).
  • The article is poorly written. Here are a handful of examples. (I will add the rest when I do the GA review.)
  • In the lead itself, Dorji Bara and Chalisa had nothing to do with policy failures; the Bengal famine of 1943 had little to do with a drought.
  • In the Ancient India section, the text says, "Yet other measures included construction of public works, canals, and embankments, and sinking wells." What canals and embankments? There were just a handful of (rudimentary) canals in India (almost all silted up), that is, until the British built proper ones according to modern civil engineering principles and in the process founded the first engineering college in India (Thomason College of Civil Engineering, Roorkee; now IIT Roorkee).
  • In the British rule section, it is not mentioned that in 1770, the Company only had the rights to the Diwani (ie. revenue collection), but not the Nizaamat (criminal prosecution and law and order) in Bengal. The latter still lay with the Nawab of Bengal. Furthermore, this was long before the Permanent settlement and the Company farmed out the revenue collection to the previous collectors under the Nawab using the previous Mughal-based system.
  • In the scholarly opinion section, Michelle McAlpin is mentioned at the very end, even though her work predates that of Sen or Swaminathan. Moreover, other views such as that of economic historians such as: Jeff Williamson, Stephen Broadberry, Bishnupriya Gupta, B. R. Tomlinson, Very Anstey, are not included. Tirthanker Roy is mentioned without any understanding of his work.
  • In the causes section, most of the text has nothing to do with causes.
  • In the famine code section, where is the more detailed discussion of the famine commissions? There were four commissions: Sir George Campbell’s Commission of Inquiry after the Orissa famine of 1866; Sir Richard Strachey’s Famine Commission of 1878–1880; Sir James Lyall’s Famine Commission of 1898, and the Famine Commission of 1901. Where is the discussion of the reports of these commissions? The commissions largely anticipated the entitlements approach to famine.
  • The Bengal famine of 1943 section offers a one-sided view of the famine. O Grada and Sen, themselves, say that the primary cause was the hoarding, profiteering, and speculation by Indian merchants, grain traders, and farmers. Nothing is said in the section about the circumstances of World War II, when thousands of refugees from Burma and Assam suddenly began to arrive in Bengal. Nothing is said about the thousands of soldiers from the US and Britain who began to arrive in boats, thus taking up all available water transportation. Nothing is said about the stresses created by the Quit India Uprising of 1942. Nothing is said about the Indian provisional government at was in place in Bengal and that was reluctant to prosecute the traders and farmers. Please see the references in the subpage: User:Fowler&fowler/Profiteering and hoarding in the Bengal famine of 1943.
  • In the British response section, where is the discussion of British relief efforts, in each of the famines starting in the Agra famine of 1837–38.

I'm traveling and short of time right now, but I will write a more detailed GA review in the next day or two. I should add that in skimming the article, I find that it fails many of the GA criteria. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 14:04, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

Good work Fowler, this is a great opportunity for improving the article, we will wait for the full review. Zuggernaut (talk) 00:34, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Policy failure - The block quotes you've been adding to Doji bara famine themselves indicate there was policy failure in this famine.
  • Wikilinking - All the famines mentioned by Fowler have already been linked. You just need to look carefully at the tables on the right. Linking them again in the text would be WP:OVERLINKING.
  • Canals - The source says there were canals and embankments. They may not have been of the industrial age since the industrial revolution did not happen in India. There is no need to measure everything against Western standards. Any reader, however uninitiated, knows that industrialization came to Europe before India and is capable of co-relating the facts about canals with the industrial revolution. I see no reason why this point is being brought up in a GA review unless the intention is to highlight and emphasize the fact that the Indians were unable to industrialize on their own.
  • Diwani - Details of the Mughal system of governance, revenue collection, the gradual annexation of India by the British is WP:UNDUE here. Details can be listed in the Bengal famine of 1770.
  • Indian Famine Codes - There is a separate article on the Indian famine codes. I would love a detailed study of the four commissions (especially their reports) but I it would be WP:UNDUE here again.
  • Bengal famine of 1943 - Bengal was under British occupation in 1943 and, again, separating out people by ethnicity (Indian and British) is not necessary. The final responsibility lies at the top - with the British government.

Zuggernaut (talk) 16:13, 20 February 2011 (UTC)

Famine relief by Peshwa or lack thereof?[edit]

The Ancient India section claims all kinds of stalwart efforts on the behalf of the Peshwa. Desregarding the fact that this particular Peshwa lived in 1790, which was long after India was Ancient, other available evidence (both Bombay Gazetteers) points to exactly the opposite view, i.e. the Peshwa didn't do diddly-squat. See the subsection: Doji_bara_famine#Maratha_kingdom. I would like to see the full quotation from the Bombay Gazetteer, Volume 16, which has been cited for this claim. Thanks. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 03:30, 22 February 2011 (UTC)

I found the quote. It is:

But the oldest famine of which any details have been traced is that of 1791-92. This is the severest famine of which any local record remains. Liberal revenue remissions were granted by the Peshwa, the exportation of grain was forbidden, and its price was regulated. Rice was brought in large quantities from Bengal by private traders. In October, rain fell abundantly, and the late crop which throve well helped to cheapen grain and relieve distress.

You have paraphrased this as:

The oldest famine in pre-colonial Deccan with well-preserved local documentation is the famine of 1791–92. Relief was provided by the ruler, the Peshwa Sawai Madhavrao II, in the form of imposing restrictions on export of grain and importing rice in large quantities from Bengal via private trading, ...

I'm afraid that's not a very faithful paraphrase. For one the text didn't say anything about well-preserved local records. For another it didn't say that the Peshwa imported rice through private traders ... Pleased correct. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 16:50, 22 February 2011 (UTC)

The trading was private and we do mention that. The private traders were ruled by the Peshwa and were infact encouraged by the Peshwa to import grain from Bengal. It is a normal practice to attribute such famine relief to the local administration. Were it trading taken up directly by the Maratha administration, we would have said "public trading". If details of the records were preserved, then they are well preserved though I am open to rephrasing if it leads to improvement. Zuggernaut (talk) 03:39, 23 February 2011 (UTC)
The source you have uses says nowhere that private traders had anything to do with the Peshwa, we can't use extraneous explanations to infer things here. Also, there is no mention of well-preserved local records; indeed the source only mentions "any records;" they could have been in tatters, for all we know, and required a lot of filling in the blanks. Finally, there are two other sources, both Gazetteers of the Bombay Presidency, quoted in Doji bara famine, which state clearly that the Peshwa did very little and that there were no records. In the interests of citing, "all majority and significant minority views that have appeared," and indeed theirs is the majority view since there are two of them, this contrary viewpoint needs to be mentioned as well. It could be that the picture varied from district to district within (what would later become) the Bombay presidency, and therefore its depictions in the Gazetteers, published almost a hundred years later, are different. But then this needs to be made explicit. You, for example, don't mention what district your Gazetteer volume is about. (The two volumes cited in Doji bara famine are the Dharwar and Belgaum district Bombay Gazetteers.) Fowler&fowler«Talk» 04:59, 23 February 2011 (UTC)
PS OK, I just checked. Volume 16 is Nasik District. That needs to be mentioned. Also, the gazetteer was not published in "Pune," which in any case in 1883 would have been called "Poona," but in Bombay. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 05:04, 23 February 2011 (UTC)
PPS Have corrected the citation. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 05:08, 23 February 2011 (UTC)
I've added an additional citation/source that states that the Peshwa encouraged import of food grain from Bengal. I am afraid I can say only this much in the praise of the later Peshwas :-) The earlier source clearly says "But the oldest famine of which any details have been traced" so I am OK if the wording is changed from well-preserved to 'detailed' or something like that. Zuggernaut (talk) 07:27, 23 February 2011 (UTC)
So, it could be that the Peshwa tried to help out in regions closer to his home base (such as Poona itself and Nasik, as your gazetteers state), but couldn't do much in places farther away such as Dharwar, Belgaum, and Bijapur (as the three gazetteers from those districts state in Doji bara famine). Fowler&fowler«Talk» 14:45, 23 February 2011 (UTC)
I am not sure of the geography from that era but these are border areas today. The Marathas and the British were engaged in the Third Anglo-Mysore War fighting side-by-side against Tipu (having signed a treaty to do so at the conclusion of the First Anglo-Maratha War). I doubt the Peshwa had any incentive in providing relief to those areas if they were with the enemy or even bordering areas. Zuggernaut (talk) 02:24, 24 February 2011 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Famine in India/GA3. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Jezhotwells (talk) 19:21, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

I shall be reviewing this article against the Good Article criteria, following its nomination for Good Article status.

Disambiguations: one found and fixed.[4] Jezhotwells (talk) 19:30, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

Linkrot: three found and tagged.[5] Jezhotwells (talk) 19:35, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

Checking against GA criteria[edit]

GA review (see here for criteria)
  1. It is reasonably well written.
    a (prose): b (MoS for lead, layout, word choice, fiction, and lists):
    Organization: Poor, with several sections such as Bengal famine of 1943 seemingly out of place.
    Famine has been a recurrent feature of life in the Indian sub-continental countries of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and reached its numerically deadliest peak in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries
    British famine policy in India was influenced by the arguments of Adam Smith, as seen by the non-interference of the government with the grain market even in times of famines
    East India Company's raising of taxes disastrously coincided with this famine[85] and exacerbated it, even if the famine was not caused by the British regime.
    Since the Bengal famine of 1943, there has been a declining number of famines which have had limited effects and have been of short durations.
    Large scale employment to the deprived sections of Maharashtrian society which attracted considerable amounts of food to Maharashtra.
    Very poor prose throughout. Article needs thorough copy-editing by someone with a a good command of written English. It should never have been nominated in this shoddy state. GAN reviews are not the place to start addressing the WP:GACR criteria. They are where compliance is checked.
    has used instead of "have" in several places.
    List in Ancient, medieval and pre-colonial India needs turning into prose
    Infobox for the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development is unnecessary and out of place.
    According to them, the flowering is followed by a large quantity of bamboo seeds on the forest floor which causes a spike in the population of the Rattus and Mus genus of rats who feed of these seeds. With the changing weather and onset of rains, the seeds germinate and force the mice to migrate to land farms in search of food. On the land farms, the mice feed on crops and grains stored in granaries which causes a decline in food availability better to use rodents as having introduced "rattus" the succeeding sentences focus on "mice".
  2. It is factually accurate and verifiable.
    a (references): b (citations to reliable sources): c (OR):
    Un-addressed citation formatting tag.
    Un-addressed full citation tag
    three dead links have been tagged
    Potentially dated statement tags from 2002 & 2010
    Availbe sources appear RS
  3. It is broad in its coverage.
    a (major aspects): b (focused):
    Hard to assess as article is poorly organized.
  4. It follows the neutral point of view policy.
    Fair representation without bias:
    Hard to judge with the present poor prose.
  5. It is stable.
    No edit wars, etc.:
  6. It is illustrated by images, where possible and appropriate.
    a (images are tagged and non-free images have fair use rationales): b (appropriate use with suitable captions):
    File:Rattus norvegicus 1.jpg illustrates a brown rat, yet talks about Mus as well which is a mouse genus.
  7. Overall:
    This article is some way from GA class, perhaps C is a more accurate rating at the moment. Get it copy-edited properly and take to peer review before renominating. Jezhotwells (talk) 20:10, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

Timeline Graphic[edit]

The graphic at the top right of this page seems to both have little informational value and to attempt to convey a POV. The POV communicated is that a) the 'colonial era' was a distinct period in India's history of famines, with b) the implication that colonial (i.e. British) rule was responsible for the, according to the graphic, comparatively high number of famines and the high severity of the famines in this period. This claim does have considerable support in some scholarly circles but it is by no means uncontested despite being conveyed by the graphic in an absolutist manner (graphics simply don't have the ability to frame arguments and counter-arguments, of course).

There are a few other significant problems with the graphic that are distinct from its POV nature but, I suspect, related to it. Firstly, it is deeply questionable whether this tripartite time-frame is appropriate for providing formal 'eras' for the history of famine in India. Much of India was not under colonial rule during some points of the 'colonial era' and at least two of the early famines in this period occurred primarily in areas that were not ruled by the British (a similar problem arises when clicking the 'colonial era' link which leads to a page titled 'Timeline of Major Famines in India during British Rule' but which includes a number of famines that took place outside the areas ruled by Britain). Using titles such as the 'colonial era' or 'British Rule' for periods may be fine in general but is dangerous when used in a context that also argues for the effect of actual colonial or British rule, given the the temporal periods so designated do not, in fact, coincide perfectly with the political realities. If there must be a chronology based on a before, during, and after of British Rule then if the 'during' period is to have any force it can only, surely, correspond with a period when Britain's political control extended across the whole of India (or at least all parts of India affected by famines within the time-frame) or the name for the era will be both arbitrary and also carry the danger of being very misleading (see, e.g. '... Under British Rule' on the linked page for a particularly strong version). Whilst I understand the desire to argue that British rule had a significant negative effect on the outcomes of famines, I think that this point is best confined to the text, where both side can be argued, rather than in a graphical form where a single-stranded time-line is unable to do justice to the complexities of the political divisions in India at the time.

Secondly, I have to question the value of the tripartite comparison as it currently stands. The post 1947 world is technologically very different from the period 1765-1947, so it is hard to see what value a straightforward comparison between these two periods might have. In particular, any inferences drawn on the basis of a simplistic time-line such as this will be victims of the common logical fallacy 'after that therefore because of that' (post hoc ergo propter hoc). It may well be the case that people do place weight on such a comparison but, again, that is something that I think must be expressed in text as the simplicity of the comparison cannot be nuanced in the form of a time-line. Equally, the value of comparing a list from during the colonial erea to a list from before that era seems minimal given the different quantity and quality of historical documents from the periods being compared. Again, I can't really see any reason for incorporating this comparative division into the time-line other than to convey a particular POV. The same actual information can be provided in a simple linear form without the contentious period divisions.

Thirdly, as things stand the sense that the comparisons are there for POV reasons is strengthened by the huge inbalance in research done on each period. This may well relate to the state of wikipedia's current knowledge-base for the different period with more work having been done on the colonial era but this doesn't really matter. As it stands, the pre-colonial period is pretty much absent any footnotes or figures for deaths and nor is there are reason to believe it is exhaustive, especially given the 1500 year gap between the first two listed famines. A comparative timeline is not only pointless but completely misrepresentative if only one of the elements being compared is adequately researched. Once again, I think this provides good reasons for changing from a tripartite time-line to a simple, undivided timeline.

I haven't attempted to edit this out as a) I would like to hear what others think first and b) I'm not entirely sure how :-).


Paul — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:31, 11 October 2011 (UTC)