Great Bengal famine of 1770

The Great Bengal Famine of 1770 (Bengali: ৭৬-এর মন্বন্তর, Chhiattōrer monnōntór; lit The Famine of '76) was a famine between 1769 and 1773 (1176 to 1180 in the Bengali calendar) that affected the lower Gangetic plain of India from Bihar to the Bengal region. The famine is estimated to have caused the deaths of up to 10 million people.[2] Warren Hastings's 1772 report estimated that a third of the population in the affected region starved to death.[3]

The famine is one of the many famines and famine-triggered epidemics that devastated the Indian subcontinent during the 18th and 19th century.[4][5][6] It is usually attributed to a combination of weather and the policies of the British East India Company. The start of the famine has been attributed to a failed monsoon in 1769 that caused widespread drought and two consecutive failed rice crops.[3] The poor infrastructure investments in pre-British period, devastation from war, and exploitative tax revenue maximization policies of the British East India Company after 1765 crippled the economic resources of the rural population.[3][7] Nobel prize winning Indian economist Amartya Sen describes it as a man-made famine, noting that no previous famine had occurred in Bengal that century.[8]

The Bengali name "Chhiattōrer monnōntór" is derived from Bengali calendar year 1176 and the word for famine ("Chhiattōr"- "76"; "monnōntór"- "famine" in Bengali).[9]

Great Bengal Famine of 1770
৭৬-এর মন্বন্তর (Chhiattōrer monnōntór)
CountryCompany Raj
LocationBengal
Period1769–1773
Total deaths10 million
ObservationsPolicy failure
ReliefNone provided
Impact on demographicsPopulation of Bengal declined by a third
ConsequencesThe revenues of British East India Company dropped to £174,300 due to the famine. Tax collection was carried out violently to make up for losses.[1]

Background

The famine occurred in the territory which was called Bengal, then ruled by the British East India Company. This territory included modern West Bengal, Bangladesh, and parts of Assam, Odisha, Bihar, and Jharkhand. It was earlier a province of the Mughal empire from the 16th century and was ruled by a nawab, or governor. In early 18th century, as the Mughal empire started collapsing, the nawab became effectively independent of the Mughal rule.

In the 17th century, the English East India Company had been given a grant of the town of Calcutta by the Mughal Prince Shah Shuja. At this time the Company was effectively another tributary power of the Mughal. During the following century, the company obtained sole trading rights for the province and went on to become the dominant power in Bengal. In 1757, at the Battle of Plassey, the British defeated the nawab Siraj Ud Daulah and plundered the Bengali treasury. In 1764 their military control was reaffirmed at Buxar. The subsequent treaty gained them the diwani, that is, taxation rights; the Company thereby became the de facto ruler of Bengal.

That time Nawab of Bengal were Najabat Ali Khan, Ashraf Ali Khan and Mubarak Ali Khan Nawab of Bengal.

The decade previous to the famine was noted for the looting raids conducted by the Maratha bargis (bargir) mostly from Nagpur. They looted whatever they could and laid waste what they couldn't. The looting were mainly in those areas which were later most hard-hit by the famine.

Famine

Scarcity in India RMG PZ4974 (cropped)
Print by Henry Singleton and Charles Knight entitled Scarcity in India, 1794, depicting a two sailors bargaining with an Indian woman, offering a mirror and watch in exchange for fruit

The regions in which the famine occurred affected the modern Indian states of Bihar and West Bengal in particular, but the famine also extended into Orissa and Jharkhand as well as modern Bangladesh. Among the worst affected areas were Birbhum and Murshidabad in Bengal, and Tirhut, Champaran and Bettiah in Bihar.

A partial shortfall in crops, considered nothing out of the ordinary, occurred in 1768 and was followed in late 1769 by much more severe conditions. By September 1769 after the failure of the annual South-East monsoon there was a severe drought, and alarming reports were coming in of rural distress. These were, however, largely ignored by company officers.

By early 1770 there was starvation, and by mid-1770 deaths from starvation were occurring on a large scale.

This morning the purser of the Lapwing Packet, (late) Capt. Gardner, came to the East India House, with the news of the above packet being safe arrived at Falmouth from Bengal. She brings an account of the terrible famine which has made dreadful ravages amongst the natives of Bengal; and that about two million people had died; so that there were not enough people left to bury the dead.[10]

In 1770, a great epidemic of small pox raged in Murshidabad and killing 63,000 of its inhabitants, one of them being Nawab Nazim Saif ud-Daulah Najabat Ali Khan Bahadur, himself. He died on 10 March 1770. He was succeeded by his brother Ashraf Ali Khan, who also died from small pox two weeks after his coronation.

Later in 1770 good rainfall resulted in a good harvest and the famine abated. However, other shortfalls occurred in the following years, raising the total death toll. Up to ten million people,[11][12] approximately one-third of the population of the affected area, are estimated to have died in the famine.

As a result of the famine, large areas were depopulated and returned to jungle for decades to come, as the survivors migrated in search of food. Many cultivated lands were abandoned—much of Birbhum, for instance, returned to jungle and was virtually impassable for decades afterwards. From 1772 onwards, bands of bandits and Thugs became an established feature of Bengal, and were only brought under control by punitive actions in the 1890s.

British East India Company responsibilities

As a trading body, the first remit of the company was to maximise its profits and with taxation rights, the profits to be obtained from Bengal came from land tax as well as trade tariffs. It has been suggested that the Company increased tax rates from 10 percent to up to 50 percent of the value of the agricultural produce, citing the pioneering work of R.C. Dutt, but in reality he makes no such claim.[12] In the first years of the rule of the British East India Company, the total land tax income was doubled and most of this revenue flowed out of the country.[13][fn 1] As the famine approached its height in April 1770, the Company announced that the land tax for the following year was to be increased by a further 10 percent.

The historian William Dalrymple has called Robert Clive an "unstable sociopath" due to these harmful policies and actions that resulted in famines and atrocities towards local native Indians and peasants. Changes caused by Clive to the revenue system and existing agricultural practices to maximize profits for the company partially led to the famine of 1770.[15]

Sushil Chaudhury writes that the destruction of food crops in Bengal to make way for opium poppy cultivation for export reduced food availability and contributed to the famine.[16] The company is also criticised for forbidding the "hoarding" of rice. This prevented traders and dealers from laying in reserves that in other times would have tided the population over lean periods.

By the time of the famine, monopolies in grain trading had been established by the company and its agents. The company had no plan for dealing with the grain shortage, and actions were only taken insofar as they affected the mercantile and trading classes. Land revenue decreased by 14% during the affected year, but recovered rapidly. According to McLane, the first governor-general of British India, Warren Hastings, acknowledged "violent" tax collecting after 1771: revenues earned by the Company were higher in 1771 than in 1768.[17] Hastings became Governor of Bengal at the end of April 1772, and in November reported to the Company the preliminary result of his investigations into the revenue:[18]

It was naturally to be expected that the diminution of the revenue should have kept an equal pace with the other consequences of so great a calamity; that it did not was owing to its being violently kept up to its former standard. To ascertain all the means by which this was effected will not be easy; it is difficult to trace the progress of the collections through all its intricate channels, or even to comprehend all the articles which compose the revenue in its first operations. One tax, however, we will endeavour to describe, as it may serve to account for the equality which has been preserved in the past collections, and to which it has principally contributed. It is called najay, and is an assessment upon the actual inhabitant of every inferior division of the lands to make up for the loss sustained in the rents of their neighbours who are either dead or have fled the country. This tax, though equally impolitic in its institution and oppressive in the mode of exacting it, was authorised by the antient and general usage of the country. It had not the sanction of Government, but took place as a matter of course. ... The tax not being levied by any fixed rate or standard fell heaviest upon the wretched survivors of those villages which had suffered the greatest depopulation, and were of course the most entitled to the lenity of Government. It had also this additional evil attending it in common with every other variation from the regular practice: that it afforded an opportunity to the farmers and shicdars, to levy other contributions on the people under color of it, and even to encrease this to whatever magnitude they pleased, since they were in course the judges of the loss sustained and of the proportion which the inhabitants were to pay to replace it.

Globally, the profit of the company increased from fifteen million rupees in 1765 to thirty million in 1777. Nevertheless, the company continued to suffer financially, and influenced Parliament to pass the Tea Act in 1773 to allow direct shipment of tea to the American colonies. This led to the Boston Tea Party in December 1773, and ultimately the American War of Independence..

Mike Davies argues that colonized territories, such as India and Ireland, were used as experiments to understand the impacts of free market economics . The results were famine and devastation for the people.[19]

Little is known about death tolls in the many earlier Indian famines, but the great Bengal famine of 1770 was the first of a series in India under British colonial rule.[20]

See also

References

  • Bowen, H.V (2002), Revenue and Reform: The Indian Problem in British Politics 1757–1773, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-89081-6
  • James, Lawrence (2000), Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India, Macmillan, ISBN 978-0-312-26382-9
  • Heaven, Will (28 July 2010). "The history of British India will serve David Cameron well – as long as he doesn't go on about it". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 15 October 2010.
  • Brooks Adams, The Laws of Civilizations and Decay. An Essays on History, New York, 1898
  • Kumkum Chatterjee, Merchants, Politics and Society in Early Modern India: Bihar: 1733–1820, Brill, 1996, ISBN 90-04-10303-1
  • Sushil Chaudhury, From Prosperity to Decline: Eighteenth Century Bengal, Manohar Publishers and Distributors, 1999, ISBN 978-81-7304-297-3
  • Romesh Chunder Dutt, The Economic History of India under early British Rule, Routledge, 2001, ISBN 0-415-24493-5
  • John R. McLane, Land and Local Kingship in 18th century Bengal, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-52654-X

Footnotes

  1. ^ The Company was widely regarded as a pack of bloodsuckers, the Whig leader Lord Rockingham, calling them guilty of "rapine and oppression" in Bengal.[14]

Notes

  1. ^ Bowen 2002, p. 104.
  2. ^ Amartya Sen (1981). Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation. Oxford University Press. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-19-828463-5.
  3. ^ a b c Fredrik Albritton Jonsson (18 June 2013). Enlightenment's Frontier: The Scottish Highlands and the Origins of Environmentalism. Yale University Press. pp. 167–170. ISBN 978-0-300-16374-2.
  4. ^ Mike Davis (2001). Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World. Verso. pp. 5–7. ISBN 978-1-85984-739-8.
  5. ^ Murton Brian (2001). Kenneth F. Kiple, ed. The Cambridge world history of food. 2. Cambridge University Press. pp. 1411–1427. ISBN 978-0-521-40215-6.
  6. ^ Amartya Sen (1981). Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation. Oxford University Press. pp. 195–212. ISBN 978-0-19-828463-5.
  7. ^ Dalrymple, William (4 March 2015). "The East India Company: The original corporate raiders". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 June 2015., Quote: "Before long the province, already devastated by war, was struck down by the famine of 1769, then further ruined by high taxation. Company tax collectors were guilty of what today would be described as human rights violations. A senior official of the old Mughal regime in Bengal [or in other sources, an anonymous contemporary pamphleteer] wrote in his diaries: "Indians were tortured to disclose their treasure; cities, towns and villages ransacked; jaghires and provinces purloined: these were the ‘delights’ and ‘religions’ of the directors and their servants."
  8. ^ https://newrepublic.com/article/61784/imperial-illusions
  9. ^ Mazumdar, Kedarnath, Moymonshingher Itihash O Moymonsingher Biboron, 2005, (in Bengali), pp. 46–53, Anandadhara, 34/8 Banglabazar, Dhaka.
  10. ^ "London March 22". Oxford Journal. British Newspaper Archive. 23 March 1771. Retrieved 29 August 2014. (Subscription required (help)).
  11. ^ Fiske, John (1942). The Unseen World and other essays. Kessinger Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-0-7661-0424-2.
  12. ^ a b Dutt, Romesh Chunder (1908). The economic history of India under early British rule. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.
  13. ^ Romesh Dutt The Economic History of India under early British Rule (1906)
  14. ^ James 2000, pp. 51.
  15. ^ Dalrymple, William (4 March 2015). "The East India Company: The original corporate raiders". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  16. ^ Chaudhury, Sushil (1999). From Prosperity to Decline: Eighteenth Century Bengal. Manohar Publishers and Distributors.
  17. ^ Rahman, Atiur (2012). "Famine". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  18. ^ East India Company (1960). Fort William -India House Correspondence (1770-1772). Government of India. p. 418.
  19. ^ Damodaran, Vinita (12 October 2016). "Famine in Bengal: A Comparison of the 1770 Famine in Bengal and the 1897 Famine in Chotanagpur". The Medieval History Journal. 10 (1–2): 143–181. doi:10.1177/097194580701000206.
  20. ^ Davies, Mike (2000). Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World (Second ed.). Verso.

External links

Akaler Shandhaney

Akaler Shandhaney (Bengali: আকালের সন্ধানে Akaler Shôndhane, lit. "In Search of Famine") is a 1982 Indian Bangla film directed by Mrinal Sen.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh (; Bengali: বাংলাদেশ Bangladesh [ˈbaŋladeʃ] (listen), lit. "The country of Bengal"), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh (গণপ্রজাতন্ত্রী বাংলাদেশ Gônoprojatontri Bangladesh), is a country in South Asia. It shares land borders with India and Myanmar (Burma). The country's maritime territory in the Bay of Bengal is roughly equal to the size of its land area. Bangladesh is the world's eighth most populous country as well as its most densely-populated, to the exclusion of small island nations and city-states. Dhaka is its capital and largest city, followed by Chittagong, which has the country's largest port. Bangladesh forms the largest and easternmost part of the Bengal region. Bangladeshis include people from a range of ethnic groups and religions. Bengalis, who speak the official Bengali language, make up 98% of the population. The politically dominant Bengali Muslims make the nation the world's third largest Muslim-majority country. Islam is the official religion of Bangladesh.Most of Bangladesh is covered by the Bengal Delta, the largest delta on Earth. The country has 700 rivers and 8,046 km (5,000 mi) of inland waterways. Highlands with evergreen forests are found in the northeastern and southeastern regions of the country. Bangladesh has many islands and a coral reef. The second longest unbroken sea beach of the world, Cox's Bazar Beach, is located in the southeast. It is home to the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world. The country's biodiversity includes a vast array of plant and wildlife, including endangered Bengal tigers, the national animal.

The Greeks and Romans identified the region as Gangaridai, a powerful kingdom of the historical Indian subcontinent, in the 3rd century BCE. Archaeological research has unearthed several ancient cities in Bangladesh, which enjoyed international trade links for millennia. The Bengal Sultanate and Mughal Bengal transformed the region into a cosmopolitan Islamic imperial power between the 14th and 18th centuries. The region was home to many principalities that made use of their inland naval prowess. It was also a notable center of the global muslin and silk trade. As part of British India, the region was influenced by the Bengali renaissance and played an important role in anti-colonial movements. The Partition of British India made East Bengal a part of the Dominion of Pakistan; and renamed it as East Pakistan. The region witnessed the Bengali Language Movement in 1952 and the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. After independence was achieved, a parliamentary republic was established. A presidential government was in place between 1975 and 1990, followed by a return to parliamentary democracy. The country continues to face challenges in the areas of poverty, education, healthcare, and corruption.

Bangladesh is a middle power and a developing nation. Listed as one of the Next Eleven, its economy ranks 43rd in terms of nominal gross domestic product and 29th in terms of purchasing power parity. It is one of the largest textile exporters in the world. Its major trading partners are the European Union, the United States, China, India, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. With its strategically vital location between South, East and Southeast Asia, Bangladesh is an important promoter of regional connectivity and cooperation. It is a founding member of SAARC, BIMSTEC, the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Forum for Regional Cooperation and the Bangladesh Bhutan India Nepal Initiative. It is also a member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Commonwealth of Nations, the Developing 8 Countries, the OIC, the Indian-Ocean Rim Association, the Non Aligned Movement, the Group of 77 and the World Trade Organization. Bangladesh is one of the largest contributors to United Nations peacekeeping forces.

Bengal

Bengal (; Bengali: বাংলা/বঙ্গ, translit. Bānglā/Bôngô Bengali pronunciation: [bɔŋgo]) is a geopolitical, cultural and historical region in South Asia, specifically in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Geographically, it is made up by the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta system, the largest such formation in the world; along with mountains in its north bordering the Himalayan states of Nepal and Bhutan and east bordering Burma.

Politically, Bengal is currently divided between Bangladesh (which covers two-thirds of the region) and the Indian territories of West Bengal, Tripura and Assam's Barak Valley (altogether cover the remaining one-third). In 2011, the population of Bengal was estimated to be 250 million, making it one of the most densely populated regions in the world. Among them, an estimated 160 million people live in Bangladesh and 91.3 million people live in West Bengal. The predominant ethnolinguistic group is the Bengali people, who speak the Indo-Aryan Bengali language. Bengali Muslims are the majority in Bangladesh and Bengali Hindus are the majority in West Bengal and Tripura, while Barak Valley contains almost equal proportions of Bengali Hindus and Bengali Muslims. Outside Bengal proper, the Indian territories of Jharkhand, Bihar and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are also home to significant communities of Bengalis.

Dense woodlands, including hilly rainforests, cover Bengal's northern and eastern areas; while an elevated forested plateau covers its central area. In the littoral southwest are the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest and home of the Bengal tiger. In the coastal southeast lies Cox's Bazar, the longest beach in the world at 125 km (78 mi). The region has a monsoon climate, which the Bengali calendar divides into six seasons.

At times an independent regional empire, the Bengal was a leading power in Southeast Asia and later the Islamic East, with extensive trade networks. In antiquity, its kingdoms were known as seafaring nations. Bengal was known to the Greeks as Gangaridai, notable for mighty military power. It was described by Greek historians that Alexander the Great withdrew from the South east Asia, anticipating a counterattack from an alliance of Gangaridai. Later writers noted merchant shipping links between Bengal and Roman Egypt.

The Bengali Pala Empire was the last major Buddhist imperial power in the subcontinent, founded in 750 and becoming the dominant power in the northern Indian subcontinent by the 9th century, before being replaced by the Hindu Sena dynasty in the 12th century. Islam was introduced during the Pala Empire, through trade with the Abbasid Caliphate. The Islamic Bengal Sultanate, founded in 1352, was absorbed into the Mughal Empire in 1576. The Mughal Bengal Subah province became a major global exporter, a center of worldwide industries such as cotton textiles, silk, and shipbuilding.Bengal was conquered by the British East India Company in 1757 by Battle of Plassey and became the Bengal Presidency of the British Raj, which experienced deindustrialization under British rule. The Company increased agriculture tax rates from 10 percent to up to 50 causing the Great Bengal famine of 1770 and the deaths of 10 Million Bengalis.

Bengal played a major role in the Indian independence movement, in which revolutionary groups were dominant. Armed attempts to overthrow the British Raj began with the rebellion of Titumir, and reached a climax when Subhas Chandra Bose led the Indian National Army allied with Japan to fight against the British. A large number of Bengalis died in the independence struggle and many were exiled in Cellular Jail, located in Andaman.

The United Kingdom Cabinet Mission of 1946, split the region into India and Pakistan Popularly known as partition of Bengal (1947) opposed by the Prime Minister of Bengal Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and nationalist leader Sarat Chandra Bose. They campaigned for a united and independent nation-state of Bengal. The initiative failed owing to British diplomacy and communal conflict between Muslims and Hindus. Later Pakistan ruled East Bengal becoming the independent nation of Bangladesh by Bangladesh War of Independence in 1971.

Bengali culture has been particularly influential in the fields of literature, music, shipbuilding, art, architecture, sports, currency, commerce, politics and cuisine.

Bengal Subah

The Bengal Subah was a subdivision of the Mughal Empire encompassing much of the Bengal region, which includes modern Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal between the 16th and 18th centuries. The state was established following the dissolution of the Bengal Sultanate, when the region was absorbed into one of the largest empires in the world. The Mughals played an important role in developing modern Bengali culture and society.

Bengal was the Mughal Empire's wealthiest province. It generated 50% of the empire's GDP and 12% of the world's GDP. According to economic historian Indrajit Ray, it was globally prominent in industries such as textile manufacturing and shipbuilding, with the capital Dhaka having a population exceeding a million people. It was an exporter of silk and cotton textiles, steel, saltpeter, and agricultural and industrial produce. By the 18th century, Mughal Bengal emerged as a quasi-independent state, under the Nawabs of Bengal, before being conquered by the British East India Company at the Battle of Plassey in 1757, which directly contributed to the Industrial Revolution in Britain (such as textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution), but led to deindustrialization in Bengal.

Bengal famine of 1943

The Bengal famine of 1943 (Bengali: pañcāśēra manvantara) was a major famine in the Bengal province in British India during World War II. An estimated 2.1–3 million, out of a population of 60.3 million, died of starvation, malaria and other diseases aggravated by malnutrition, population displacement, unsanitary conditions and lack of health care. Millions were impoverished as the crisis overwhelmed large segments of the economy and social fabric. Historians have frequently characterised the famine as "man-made", asserting that wartime colonial policies created and then exacerbated the crisis. A minority view holds that the famine arose from natural causes.Bengal's economy was predominantly agrarian. In the years before the famine, between half and three quarters of the rural poor were living in a "semi-starved condition". Stagnant agricultural productivity and a stable land base were inadequate for the soaring population levels, resulting in both a long-term decline in the per capita availability of rice and growing numbers of land-poor or landless laborers. A large percentage also laboured beneath a chronic and spiraling cycle of debt that ended in debt bondage and loss of landholdings due to land grabbing. More proximate causes of the crisis involved large-scale natural disasters in southwestern Bengal and consequences of the war. Military buildup and financing sparked war-time inflation, while land was appropriated from thousands of Bengalis. Following the Japanese occupation of Burma (modern Myanmar) rice imports were lost, then much of Bengal's market supplies and transport systems were disrupted by British "denial policies" for rice and boats (a "scorched earth" response to the occupation). The British government also pursued prioritised distribution of vital supplies to the military, civil servants and other "priority classes". These factors were compounded by restricted access to grain: domestic sources were constrained by emergency inter-provincial trade barriers, while access to international sources was largely denied by Churchill's War Cabinet, arguably due to a wartime shortage of shipping. The relative impact of each of these contributing factors to the death toll and economic devastation is an ongoing matter of controversy.

The provincial government's policy failures began with denial that a famine existed. Humanitarian aid was ineffective through the worst months of the food crisis, and the government never formally declared a state of famine. It first attempted to influence the price of rice paddy (unmilled rice) through price controls. These measures created a black market and encouraged sellers to withhold stocks. Hyperinflation resulted from speculation and hoarding after controls were abandoned. Aid increased significantly when the Indian Army took control of aid in October 1943, but effective relief arrived only after a record rice harvest that December. Deaths from starvation began to decline, but over half the famine-related deaths occurred in 1944, after the food security crisis had abated, as a result of disease.

Bengalis

Bengalis (বাঙালি [baŋgali]), also rendered as the Bengali people, Bangalis and Bangalees are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group native to the Bengal region in South Asia, specifically in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent, presently divided between Bangladesh and the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura, Assam's Barak Valley, who speak Bengali, a language from the Indo-Aryan language family. The term "Bangalee" is also used to denote people of Bangladesh as a nation.Bengalis are the third largest ethnic group in the world, after Han Chinese and Arabs. Apart from Bangladesh and the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura, Assam's Barak Valley, Bengali-majority populations also reside in India's union territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands as well as Bangladesh's Chittagong Hill Tracts (which was originally not a part of Bengal), with significant populations in Arunachal Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Uttarakhand. The global Bengali diaspora (Bangladeshi diaspora and Indian Bengalis) have well-established communities in Pakistan, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Middle East, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and Italy.

They have four major religious subgroups: Bengali Muslims, Bengali Hindus, Bengali Christians, and Bengali Buddhists.

Chittaprosad Bhattacharya

Chittaprosad Bhattacharya was a political artist of the mid-20th century. He preferred watercolor and printmaking, avoiding oil on canvas. Chittaprosad used prints to disseminate leftist ideas and propaganda.

Churchill's Secret War

Churchill's Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India during World War II is a book by Madhusree Mukerjee about the Bengal famine of 1943 during British rule in India. It was published in August 2010 by Basic Books of New York, and later that month by Tranquebar Press of Chennai. The book examines the role in the famine, and subsequent partition of India in 1947, played by the policies and racial worldview of Winston Churchill, British prime minister from 1940–1945, during World War II.Mukerjee writes that the famine killed 1.5 million people according to the official estimate and three million according to most others. The book explores how, apart from the United Kingdom itself, British India became "the largest contributor to the empire's war—providing goods and services worth more than £2 billion.”

East India Company

The East India Company (EIC), also known as the Honourable East India Company (HEIC) or the British East India Company and informally as John Company, Company Bahadur, or simply The Company, was an English and later British joint-stock company. It was formed to trade in the Indian Ocean region, initially with Mughal India and the East Indies (Maritime Southeast Asia), and later with Qing China. The company ended up seizing control over large parts of the Indian subcontinent, colonised parts of Southeast Asia, and colonised Hong Kong after a war with Qing China.

Originally chartered as the "Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading into the East Indies", the company rose to account for half of the world's trade, particularly in basic commodities including cotton, silk, indigo dye, salt, spices, saltpetre, tea, and opium. The company also ruled the beginnings of the British Empire in India. In his speech to the House of Commons in July 1833, Lord Macaulay explained that since the beginning, the East India company had always been involved in both trade and politics, just as its French and Dutch counterparts had been.The company received a Royal Charter from Queen Elizabeth I on 31 December 1600, coming relatively late to trade in the Indies. Before them the Portuguese Estado da Índia had traded there for much of the 16th century and the first of half a dozen Dutch Companies sailed to trade there from 1595. These Dutch companies amalgamated in March 1602 into the United East Indies Company (VOC), which introduced the first permanent joint stock from 1612 (meaning investment into shares did not need to be returned, but could be traded on a stock exchange). By contrast, wealthy merchants and aristocrats owned the EIC's shares. Initially the government owned no shares and had only indirect control until 1657 when permanent joint stock was established.During its first century of operation, the focus of the company was trade, not the building of an empire in India. Company interests turned from trade to territory during the 18th century as the Mughal Empire declined in power and the East India Company struggled with its French counterpart, the French East India Company (Compagnie française des Indes orientales) during the Carnatic Wars of the 1740s and 1750s. The battles of Plassey and Buxar, in which the British defeated the Bengali powers, left the company in control of Bengal and a major military and political power in India. In the following decades it gradually increased the extent of the territories under its control, controlling the majority of the Indian subcontinent either directly or indirectly via local puppet rulers under the threat of force by its Presidency armies, much of which were composed of native Indian sepoys.

By 1803, at the height of its rule in India, the British East India company had a private army of about 260,000—twice the size of the British Army, with Indian revenues of £13,464,561 (£1,359,675,850.80 as of 2018), and expenses of £14,017,473 (£1,415,509,909.85 as of 2018). The company eventually came to rule large areas of India with its private armies, exercising military power and assuming administrative functions. Company rule in India effectively began in 1757 and lasted until 1858, when, following the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the Government of India Act 1858 led to the British Crown's assuming direct control of the Indian subcontinent in the form of the new British Raj.

Despite frequent government intervention, the company had recurring problems with its finances. It was dissolved in 1874 as a result of the East India Stock Dividend Redemption Act passed one year earlier, as the Government of India Act had by then rendered it vestigial, powerless, and obsolete. The official government machinery of British India assumed the East India Company's governmental functions and absorbed its navy and its armies in 1858.

Ian Stephens (editor)

Ian Melville Stephens (1903 – 28 March 1984) was the editor of the Indian newspaper The Statesman (then British-owned) in Kolkata, West Bengal, from 1942 to 1951. He became known for his independent reporting during British rule in India, and in particular for his decision to publish graphic photographs, in August 1943, of the Bengal famine of 1943, which claimed between 1.5 and 3 million lives. The publication of the images, along with Stephens' editorials, helped to bring the famine to an end by persuading the British government to supply adequate relief to the victims.When Stephens died, Amartya Sen wrote in a letter to The Times: "In the subcontinent in which Ian Stephens spent a substantial part of his life, he is remembered not only as a great editor (with amiable, if somewhat eccentric, manners), but also as someone whose hard-fought campaign possibly saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people."

Kurigram District

Kurigram District (Bengali: কুড়িগ্রাম) is located in the Rangpur Division, in Northern Bangladesh. It is situated in the northern part of Bangladesh and under Rangpur Division. At first it was a mahakuma and then established as a district in 1984.

Lapwing (1769 EIC packet)

Lapwing was a packet ship that made two round-trips to India for the British East India Company (EAC). Currently, both her origin and her fate are obscure.

List of famines

This is a list of famines.

Madhusree Mukerjee

Madhusree Mukerjee (born 1961) is an American writer. She is the author of The Land of Naked People: Encounters with Stone Age Islanders (2003) and Churchill's Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India during World War II (2010). She is also a contributor to the People's Archive of Rural India and an editor with Scientific American.

Muslin trade in Bengal

Muslin, a cotton fabric of plain weave, was hand woven in the region around Dhaka, East Bengal (now Bangladesh), and exported to Europe, the Middle East, and other markets, for much of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Najabat Ali Khan

Sayyid Najabat Ali Khan Bahadur, born Mir Phulwari (Bengali: নজাবত আলী খান; 1750 – March 10, 1770), better known as Saif ud-Daulah succeeded his younger brother Nawab Nazim Najimuddin Ali Khan, after his death in 1766, as the Nawab Nazim of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.

He was the third son of Mir Jafar by Munny Begum. He was only seventeen when he was crowned as the Nawab. He reigned under the regency of his mother and died of smallpox on March 10, 1770 during the Great Bengal famine of 1770.

Robert Clive

Major-General Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive, (29 September 1725 – 22 November 1774), also known as Clive of India, Commander-in-Chief of British India, was a British officer and privateer who established the military and political supremacy of the East India Company in Bengal. He is credited with securing a large swath of South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Pakistan) and the wealth that followed, for the British East India Company. In the process, he also turned himself into a multi-millionaire. Together with Warren Hastings he was one of the key early figures setting in motion what would later become British India. Blocking impending French mastery of India, and eventual British expulsion from the continent, Clive improvised a military expedition that ultimately enabled the East India Company to adopt the French strategy of indirect rule via puppet government. Hired by the company to return a second time to India, Clive conspired to secure the Company's trade interests by overthrowing the locally unpopular heir to the throne of Bengal, the richest state in India, richer than Britain, at the time. Back in England, he sat as a Tory Member of Parliament in London.Clive was one of the most controversial figures in all British military history. His achievements included establishing control over much of India, and laying the foundation of the entire British Raj (though he worked only as an agent of the East India Company, not the British government). For his methods and his self-aggrandisement he was vilified by his contemporaries in Britain, and put on trial before Parliament. Of special concern was that he amassed a personal fortune in India. Modern historians have criticised him for atrocities, for high taxes, and for the forced cultivation of crops which exacerbated famines.

Timeline of major famines in India during British rule

This is a timeline of major famines on the Indian subcontinent during British rule from 1765 to 1947. The famines included here occurred both in the princely states (regions administered by Indian rulers), British India (regions administered either by the British East India Company from 1765 to 1857; or by the British Crown, in the British Raj, from 1858 to 1947) and Indian territories independent of British rule such as the Maratha Empire. At least 35 million people may have died in famines caused by droughts and the El Niño–Southern Oscillation phenomenon during the British rule.

The year 1765 is chosen as the start year because that year the British East India Company, after its victory in the Battle of Buxar, was granted the Diwani (rights to land revenue) in the region of Bengal (although it would not directly administer Bengal until 1784 when it was granted the Nizamat, or control of law and order.) The year 1947 is the year in which the British Raj was dissolved and the new successor states of Dominion of India and Dominion of Pakistan were established.

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