The Bengal Famine

1632 Words 7 Pages
The 18th century marked the demolition of the Mughal sphere of influence and the rise of the British East India Company. By expanding its trade enterprise into the Indian subcontinent, The Company, hoped to both fund the administrative costs of its day-to-day operations and generate sizeable profits (John 21). After some initial difficulty, the Mughal emperor, Jahangir, allowed the Company to trade in 1612. Two decades after this agreement, the first trading port was established in Bengal. As the Mughal empire suffered through war, the depletion of resources, and declining health, the Company was able to gain an upper hand over local leadership; it did so by incurring the medical costs of the imperial family. Because of this goodwill, Britain …show more content…
The Bengal Famine of 1769 is a pivotal example. Due to drought and the lack of Company action, the Indian subcontinent paid the price of 10 million people. Under previous leadership, where rulers were quick to act on unforeseen circumstances, the Company did the opposite. In addition to the lack of response, the Company feared that they would lose their agricultural revenue because of the influx of farmer deaths. As a result, the British officials decided to raised taxes. Due to the Company’s outright negligence, nearly one-third of the population perished, plots of farmland were left deserted, and thus empty arable farmland turned into inhabitable wilderness (Lees). The Company’s explicit negligence and exploitation ran deep, feeding into the complete ruin of the local economy. After several years of leadership, the British officials realized that the soil was was suitable for the cultivation of indigo, which was highly desirable crop in Europe. As a result, officials bought out all the cheap land and loaned money to the farmers to compensate for the production costs required to grow the crop. However, this devastated the farmers’ financial circumstances because the outstanding debt would far exceed the profits generated from indigo

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