Today, drought and searing heat waves are affecting millions, thanks to deeds and greeds of few thousand developed cronies raping the natural habitats, and luring millions of followers for similar sucking lust. This summer also marks the 150th anniversary of a far more terrible and catastrophic climatic event: the Orissa (Bengal) famine of 1866. Hardly anyone knows about these famines. It elicits little mention in even the densest tomes on Indian history of celebrities (horses, weapons, jewelery, greed, monuments, supremacy wars - what else?). There will be few, if any, solemn commemorations.
Yet the Orissa famine killed over a million people in eastern India. The Odisha famine also became an important turning point in India's political development, stimulating nationalist discussions on Indian poverty. Faint echoes of these debates still resonate today amid drought-relief efforts focusing 365 days election agenda via paid media newsroom tears. Are we all confident that modern disasters are not manufactured by state for self-promotion and other indirect gains?
Just like today's modern cronies doing worse in much sober ways, the East India Company helped kill off India's once-robust textile industries, pushing more and more people into agriculture. This, in turn, made the Indian economy much more dependent on the whims of seasonal monsoons. On a flying visit to Orissa in February 1866, the colonial governor of Bengal (which included Orissa), staked out a similar position. "Such visitations of providence as these no government can do much either to prevent or alleviate," he pronounced. Regulating the skyrocketing grain prices would risk tampering with the natural laws of economics - such champions of free market economy hypers, fooling and looting the hallucinated masses are many folds today.
You DO NOT need to be a nobel laureate or a smarty to understand basics of economics / finance - macro, micro or whatever! Unfortunately, economics is often viewed with confusion and boredom. Endless streams of financial jargon coupled with intimidating mathematics quickly deter people from attempts at understanding it. However, the fact is, the complexity associated with the financial system is a mere mask, designed to conceal one of the most socially paralyzing structures humanity has ever endured.
Famines recurred in 1869 and 1874. Between 1876 and 1878, during the Madras famine, anywhere from four to five million people perished after the viceroy. Bihar famine of 1873-74, bengal famine of 1943 thanks to World War II injected inflation to profit the sponsoring traders. For such reasons, it is all the more important to remember such famines today, instead of carried away with cronies sponsored rosy tales on development and modernity showcases. Humanitarian disasters for economical gain of a few, and the others that followed, galvanized into fighting against colonial rule. Fast climate change will lead to more wars, more greed, more famines and extreme weather - find out whom to blame / fight this time?
'Too late, too rotten'