Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

1 - Reconsidering the Disasters of Western India in the 1870's from a Climate Perspective

Saturday, July 7
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Maple, Lower Ground Floor

The Deccan Plateau in Western India has a semi-arid climate in the north and a tropical one in the south. In its history, the scarcity of rainfall badly affected agriculture and peasants’ life there. The agrarian society in the Deccan Plateau under the British rule saw the two huge disasters in the 1870s. One was the Deccan riots in 1875, which covered the northern part of the Deccan plateau. In the riots, peasant revolted against their absentee landlords. They were the moneylenders such as Gujarati or Marwari merchants from whom the peasants had borrowed money to pay the land tax. The other was the Great Famine in 1876 and 1878, which hit the great part of Southern and Western India including the Deccan Plateau. The Deccan Riots Commission, which was set up for disasters’ relief, attributed the socio-economic unrest in the 1870s to the problem of the system of the land tenure, which created absentee landlordism in the Deccan. Many works, which were based on the reports by this commission, considered the Deccan Riots and the Great Famine mainly focusing on the system of the land tax and the financial situation in the agrarian society although the disasters could be closely connected to agriculture and weather conditions. This study reconsiders the two disasters from perspectives of agriculture and climate. It spatially analyzes the agricultural and climatic effects on the two disasters mapping out the statistics of agriculture and rainfall by use of GIS. 

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