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Famine, Philanthropy and the Colonial State: North India in the Early Nineteenth Century

Sanjay Sharma (Author)
Synopsis Famine, Philanthropy and the Colonial State examines some of the lesser-known aspects of the colonial state and the indigenous society through the lens of numerous scarcities and famines which affected north India in the early decades of the nineteenth century. It situates famine in the process of colonization and argues that political, ideological and economic shifts in the early nineteenth century rendered north Indian society more vulnerable to droughts and famines. As a consequence, north India experienced the most severe famine of the colonial period in 1837-8, which this study analyses at length. The book argues that the experience of famine was intertwined with the quest for the legitimacy of rule by the colonial state. Although the state progressively advocated laissez faire, its humanitarian and pragmatic concerns resulted in a series of interventionist policies. The famine situations contributed to the expansion and consolidation of the ideological underpinnings and physical infrastructure of the colonial state. By claiming to be the desirable and most effective source of philanthropy, the colonial state sought to transform rival indigenous notions of charity. The rhetoric of benevolence and patronage implied new responsibilities for the state which was increasingly called upon and obliged to act for the welfare of its subjects. However, the limits of colonial welfarism and ‘modernity’ were apparent as the state neglected its responsibilities towards the amelioration of the growing structural poverty. Aspects of these have persisted in independent India. This rich social history draws on primary materials to address the hitherto neglected period of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century and the problem of famines. It covers a range of issues including colonial policy, Indian social conditions, political economy, crime, philanthropy, health, disease, and environmental questions.
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About the author

Sanjay Sharma

Dr. Sanjay Sharma is a faculty memeber in MPAE Dept. at NSIT, New Delhi. He is a recipient of India Quality Award-2002. Quality Culture Award is also conferred by the World Institution Building Programme. He has published papers in varioius journals such as Industrial Engineering. Computers and Industrial Engineering. Journal of the Operational Research Society, Journal of the Institution of Engineering (India) etc.

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Bibliographic information

Title Famine, Philanthropy and the Colonial State: North India in the Early Nineteenth Century
Author Sanjay Sharma
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.2001
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 0195653866
length xvii+256p., 23cm.