Famine and Dearth

Narrative Abstracts of General Letters to and from Court of Directors, Revenue Dept, Vol. 8

1.

1.1.

[Page ]

8 March 1795: Proceedings on Granaries [19 Dec 1794; 2 Jan, 13 Feb 1795] contains weekly reports of purchases made at cheap rates expected. Once purchases are completed we will take into consideration the details of the plan for future superintendence and management of the granaries

1.2.

[Page 38]

1.3.

[Page 42]

31 Dec 1795: “notwithstanding the heavy fall of rain at the change of the monsoon, the harvests in general promised to be abundant. We are happy to acquaint you that our expectations in this respect have not been disappointed, and there is every prospect of the revenue being realised with the usual facility.”

1.4.

[Page 168r-v]

31 July 1801: “From the proceedings of the Gov Gen in Council of the annexed dates [7 Aug 1800, 15 Nov 1800, 15 Jan 1801] your honourable court will perceive that he has prosecuted to conclusion the enquiry respecting the loss sustained on the resale of a quantity of Rice and wheat, etc which had been provided by the late Collector of Tirhoot for the purpose of being stored in the Fort of Illahabad.” Loss = Rs 19421.15.9. “but as from the circumstances stated by the Board of Revenue Mr Tweedland’s want of experience with regard to the provision of grain appeared to be the principal cause of his failure in the execution of the orders transmitted to him, His Excellency in Council did not deem it equitable to render Mr Tweedland responsible for the loss and the account has been accordingly charged to the Public Account.”

1.5.

[Page 172r]

36. 19th March and 16th July are recorded the Proceedings of the Governor General in Council regarding the establishment of Public Granaries.

37. Various circumstances has arisen which had attracted the particular attention of the Governor General in Council to that establishment and his orders on the subject were founded on the following facts and informations.

That many instance had occurred in which the quantity of Grain supposed to have been collected in the Public Warehouses had proved deficient, and that more numerous instances had occurred which the Grain provided had proved defective in quality.

That it had been suggested that the officers and agents employed in the purchase of grains possessed the means of making those purchases of committing great abuses in the country.

That it was understood that the regular dealers in Grain complained, that both the purchase and sales made by Government operated with an unjust and prejudicial influence on the market.

That it had been found extremely difficult to preserve the Grain from the destructive ravages of the wavil and other insects and the effectual on [...] had not been discovered for preventing this evil.

That considerable difficulty had attended the preservation of the Granaries from accidents by [...] as well as from the effects of the weather, inundated.

[Page 172v]

That the ordinary wastage independent of accidents, had been attended with a heavy charge.

That it had appeared that the Grain could not generally be preserved for a period of years, that it was necessary to renew the stock frequently at a considerable loss, and that it was apprehended that in the event of any calamity of season occurring during this operation the beneficial influence of the Establishment would be very limited.

That independently of the loss incurred by Wastage and on the resale of the Grains, the charge incurred on account of Establishments in erecting Golahs, in transporting Grain and on other accounts was considerable.

That opinion were entertained that the Establishment was unnecessary in the present very improved states of the cultivation of the Country.

That it had been stated that in consequence of the great extension of agriculture, the .... of the Country, or its stock in Grain, was increased to a degree which removed all apprehensions from a partial financial failure of the crops, that in consequence of the permanency of the tenure under which the Lands were held, the Landholders and their undertenants found a general and permanent interest in the contribution and maintenance of useful works for promoting the cultivation.

The great attention being bestowed by Government on the Public Embankments, the danger of a failure of the crops was proportionately diminished [Page 173r] and that the stock of grain proposed to be maintained by Government(taken according to the target Estimate of the quantity) could never provide against the fatal effects of a general failure; a calamity however which there was no reason to apprehend while the Country was in a general and increasing state of cultivation.

That it is an undisputed fact, that the produce of Grain in the four Provinces of Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Beneras exceeds the annual consumption of the Inhabitants, and that the surplus is necessarily retained in the Country whether it be purchased by Government or not. That the purchases of Government were not supposed to prevent any exportation of Grain, which would otherwise have taken place or the Wastage or the extravagant consumption of Grain and that the purchases of Government not in any manner tend to present the diminution of the stock.

That it was generally admitted that the surplus produce of Grain, could be hoarded with more skill and altogether with better effect, by Individuals than by Government.

That admitting the possibility of a general scarcity, the quantity of Grain preserved in the public stores, could not be distributed so equally among the people by Government, as the same quantity would be distributed if dispersed generally over the Country in the hands of the individuals.

That no means which Government could adopt would be likely to provide effectually for the observance [Page 173v] of economy and good management in the expenditure of the stock, or to furnish a satisfactory assurance that the bounty of Government would be applied to the proper objects.

Previously to forming any divided opinion on the several points above stated that the Governor General in Council deemed it to be advisable to refer the subject for the particular consideration of the Board of Revenue, and to require their sentiments respecting it.

The Board of Revenue were directed to deliver their opinion on the following questions into which the subject naturally branched

1st Whether any public Establishment was necessary in the present stat of the Country in order to prevent or to mitigate the fatal effects to be apprehended from a scarcity of Grain?

2dly Whether on a presumption of such necessity the Establishment then existed could be considered adequate to the object proposed or if insufficient, whether it was susceptible of any modified which would render it adequate to that object?

3dly Whether on a presumption that the plan was defective, any other arrangement could be adopted exempt from similar objections, and afforded a satisfactory assurance that Government in making a considerable pecuniary sacrifice for the benefit of the public, would not be disappointed either with regard to the extent of the relief proposed to be secured to the Community or with respect to the general effect of the institution?

[Page 176r]

[Page 176v] of the Resident in Council has not been furnished with the final report of the Board of Revenue upon the adjustment of the accounts of the Granaries but he trusts that he shall shortly be able to acquaint your Honorable Court that all [...] [...] on account of this expensive establishment have ceased.

This is a selection from the original text

Keywords

abundance, cheap, grain, granary, harvest, rain, store, waste

Source text

Title: Narrative Abstracts of General Letters to and from Court of Directors, Revenue Dept, Vol. 8, Narrative Abstracts of General Letters to and from Court of Directors

Subtitle: 8th March 1795-30th September 1802

Original date(s) covered: 1795-1802

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from manuscripts at the West Bengal State Archives. Original date(s) covered: 1795-1802 West Bengal State Archive

Digital edition

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) pages 38 to 40
  • 2 ) page 42
  • 3 ) page 45
  • 4 ) pages 54 to 55
  • 5 ) pages 114 to 116
  • 6 ) pages 121 to 123
  • 7 ) pages 156 to 158
  • 8 ) page 168

Responsibility:

Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

Texts encoded by: Bonisha Bhattacharya, Shreya Bose, Lucy Corley, Kinshuk Das, Bedbyas Datta, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Sarbajit Mitra, Josh Monk, Reesoom Pal

Encoding checking by: Hannah Petrie, Gary Stringer, Charlotte Tupman

Genre: India > official correspondence > state archives > West Bengal

For more information about the project, contact Dr Ayesha Mukherjee at the University of Exeter.

Acknowledgements