Paper: General Studies Paper-I
Section: History of Modern India
Topic: History of India since 1857
Critically analyze the role of British policy in creation of great famines of Bengal during last decade of 19th Century.
Famine has been considered as a frequent characteristic in the history of eastern India. However, due to several reasons, the magnitude of famine reached its highest point in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. More than thirty million famine related deaths occurred in British India between 1870 and 1910.
In British period droughts, combined with mal-administrative policies, have led to major Indian famines as the Central Indian famine (1868-70), the Great Famine of 1876- 78, severe starvation of 1896-97, etc. In Colonial rule agricultural labourers, cultivators and rural artisans remained primary victims of famines. Famines in British India were severe enough to have a substantial impact on the long-term population growth of the country. These famines were typically followed by various infectious diseases such as bubonic plague and influenza, which killed a large section of population already destabilized by starvation.
In pre British period under the Mughal and Maratha Empire, tax collection was flexible and kept in line with the circumstances of the day. In the British Raj there was no such umanitarian response to the life threatening crises faced by the Indian farmer. After the political subjection of India, the Colonial government carved the Permanent Settlement, Ryotwari Settlement and Mahalwari bandobast, in-order to collect land revenue. In order to extract more and more revenue, the Colonial government introduced several land revenue or taxation patterns. All such administrative innovations were aimed to squeeze out the last drop of blood and last penny from the cultivators of India. Under these mechanisms, the government collected more than 70-80% of gross agricultural production as land revenue.
But this tax was not the end of all misery. More to land revenue there were different
taxes for roads, schools, post offices, dispensary, water resources, etc. Taxes were levied heavily and the poor farmer had no protection against the brutal collection procedures.
All such policies, created unfavorable environment for agriculture and the production never grew despite increasing demand. Further, the commercialization of agriculture, didn’t even left bare minimum eatables with farmers which survived them in previous droughts.
“Swadeshi movement contributed to the rise of indigenous education in India”. Discuss
In 1905 Viceroy Curzon partitioned Bengal. At that time Bengal was the biggest province of British India and included Bihar and parts of Orissa. The British argued for dividing Bengal for reasons of administrative convenience. The partition of Bengal infuriated people all over India and Swadeshi movement against British government started.
The Swadeshi movement sought to oppose British rule and encourage the ideas of selfhelp, swadeshi enterprise, national education, and use of Indian languages. The concept of national education came into existence. Taking a cue from Tagore’s Shantiniketan, the Bengal National College was founded, with Aurobindo as the principal. Scores of national schools sprang up all over the country within a short period.
In August 1906, the National Council of Education was established. The Council, consisting of virtually all the distinguished persons of the country at the time, defined its objectives in this way to organize a system of Education Literary; Scientific and Technical – on National lines and under National control from the primary to the university level.
The chief medium of instruction was to be the vernacular to enable the widest possible reach. For technical education, the Bengal Technical institute was set and funds were raise to send students to Japan for advanced learning.