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Efforts to Alleviate Poverty

Topics: British Empire, British Raj, Poverty, Amartya Sen, Famine / Pages: 4 (945 words) / Published: Dec 23rd, 2012
Efforts to alleviate poverty
Since the early 1950s, govt has initiated, sustained, and refined various planning schemes to help the poor attain self-sufficiency in food production. Probably the most important initiative has been the supply of basic commodities, particularly food at controlled prices, available throughout the country as poor spend about 80 percent of their income on food. The schemes have however not been very successful because the rate of poverty reduction lags behind the rapid population growth rate.[46]
[edit]Outlook for poverty alleviation
Eradication of poverty in India is generally only considered to be a long-term goal. Poverty alleviation is expected to make better progress in the next 50 years than in the past, as a trickle-down effect of the growing middle class. Increasing stress on education, reservation of seats in government jobs and the increasing empowerment of women and the economically weaker sections of society, are also expected to contribute to the alleviation of poverty. It is incorrect to say that all poverty reduction programmes have failed. The growth of the middle class (which was virtually non-existent when India became a free nation in August 1947) indicates that economic prosperity has indeed been very impressive in India, but the distribution of wealth is not at all even.
Famine in India
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Famine had 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 18th and 19th centuries. Historical and legendary evidence names some 90 famines in 2,500 years of history.[1] There are 14 recorded famines in India between the 11th and 17th centuries. Famines in India resulted in more than 60 million deaths over the course of the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries. The last major famine was the Bengal famine of 1943. A famine occurred in the state of Bihar in December 1966 on a much smaller scale.[2][3] The drought of Maharashtra in 1970–1973 is often cited as an example in which successful famine prevention processes were employed.[fn 1] Famines in British India were severe enough to have a substantial impact on the long term population growth of the country in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
British rule
The late 18th and 19th centuries saw the worst famines.[fn 3] These famines in British India were bad enough to have a remarkable impact on the long term population growth of the country, especially in the half century between 1871-1921.[22] The first, the Bengal famine of 1770, is estimated to have taken the lives of nearly one-third of the population of the region—about 10 million people.[23] The impact of the famine caused East India Company revenues from Bengal to decline to £174,300 in 1770–71. The stock price of the East India Company fell sharply as a result. The company was forced to obtain a loan of £1 million from the Bank of England to fund the annual military budget of between £60,000–1 million.[24] Attempts were later made to show that net revenue was unaffected by the famine, but this was possible only because the collection had been "violently kept up to its former standard".[25][fn 4] The 1901 Famine Commission found that twelve famines and four "severe scarcities" took place between 1765 and 1858.[27]
The famines were a product both of uneven rainfall and British economic and administrative policies.[50][51][52] Colonial polices implicated include rack-renting, levies for war, free trade policies, the expansion of export agriculture, and neglect of agricultural investment.[53][54] Indian exports of opium, rice, wheat, indigo, jute, and cotton were a key component of the economy of the British empire, generating vital foreign currency, primarily from China, and stabilizing low prices in the British grain market.[55][56] Export crops displaced millions of acres that could have been used for domestic subsistence, and increased the vulnerability of Indians to food crises.[55] Others dispute that exports were a major cause of the famine, pointing out that trade did have a stabilizing influence on India's food consumption, albeit a small one[57]
Bengal famine of 1943
Main article: Bengal famine of 1943
The Bengal famine of 1943 reached its peak between July and November of that year, and the worst of the famine was over by early 1945.[99] Famine fatality statistics were unreliable, and it is estimated up to two million died.[100] Although one of the causes of the famine was the cutting off of the supply of rice to Bengal during the fall of Rangoon to the Japanese, this was only a fraction of the food needed for the region.[101] According to the Irish economist and professor Cormac Ó Gráda, priority was given to military considerations, and the poor of Bengal were left unprovided for.[102] The Famine Commission of 1948 and economist Amartya Sen found that there was enough rice in Bengal to feed all of Bengal for most of 1943.[103] These studies, however, did not account for possible inaccuracies in estimates or the impact of fungal disease on the rice.[103] De Waal states that the British government did not enforce the Famine Codes during the Bengal famine of 1943 because they failed to detect a food shortage.[104] The Bengal famine of 1943 was the last catastrophic famine in India,[citation needed] and it holds a special place in the historiography of famine due to Sen's classic work of 1981 titled Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation.[105]

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