The Indian Famine Commission View Full Text


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Article Info

DATE

1880-10

ABSTRACT

THE recently issued Report of the Government Commission appointed some time ago to inquire into Indian Famines is of great practical value and full of suggestiveness as to the lines which further inquiry-should pursue. This first part of the Report relates to Famine Relief, and bears evidence that, the Commission have done their work with great thoroughness and breadth of view, and the results are recorded with clearness and method. On the question as to what measures of relief would be the most effectual to adopt, we need not touch here; no doubt they will receive attention in the proper quarter. The discussion of the various questions involved is prefaced by an excellent concise sketch of the geography, population, and climate of British India. Here also some important information is given as to the degree in which each part of the country is exposed to famine. This is followed by a statement of the measures which, in the opinion of the Commission, it would be advisable to adopt for famine relief, and a very complete and instructive review of past famines and the measures adopted to meet them. The immensity of the problem with which the Commission had to deal may be learned from the fact that the total area of British India is about one and a half million square miles with a population of 240 millions. Of this, 900,000 square miles, with a population of 190 millions, is under direct British rule, the remainder belonging to the native States. The great bulk of this population belongs to the classes on whom the dire effects of famine are sure to fall, so that the responsibility of our government in the matter cannot be magnified; they are bound to leave no means untried either to prevent the recurrence of famines or to meet them effectually if they do occur. The Commission, of course, could not but come to the conclusion that the devastating famines to which the provinces of India have from time to time been liable are in all cases to be traced to the occurrence of seasons of unusual drought, the failure of the customary rainfall leading to the failure of the food crops on which the subsistence of the population depends. The Commission have therefore justly conceived it to be an important part of their inquiry to ascertain what can be known as to the, periodicity of rainfall throughout the, year, and over periods of greater extent if possible. The yearly periodicity of rainfall in India and other tropical countries is well known. In India a strongly marked yearly periodicity is everywhere observed, the chief fall occurring, with few exceptions, in the summer months, between May and October, in the season commonly known as the south-west monsoon. On a part of the Madras coast, on this east of the peninsula, heavy rain falls after the cessation of these summer rains, in the months of November and December, at the beginning of what is termed the season of the north-east monsoon. In the more northern provinces, again, a well-marked season of winter rain occurs, commencing about Christmas and extending to February, but its effects hardly reach south of the tropic, and it has no sensible influence on the agriculture of Southern India. The main agricultural operations of the country correspond with these principal seasons of rain, and their relative importance is in a great degree dependent on. the local distribution of the rainfall at the various seasons of the year, as the period and amount of rain differ much in the several provinces of India. More... »

PAGES

553

Journal

TITLE

Nature

ISSUE

572

VOLUME

22

Identifiers

URI

http://scigraph.springernature.com/pub.10.1038/022553a0

DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/022553a0

DIMENSIONS

https://app.dimensions.ai/details/publication/pub.1037553480


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