SILPAKORN UNIVERSITY JOURNAL OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, HUMANITIES, AND ARTS, Vol 16, No 1 (2016)

RAILWAY AND FAMINES IN BRITISH INDIA

Hareet Kumar Meena




Abstract


In their expedition from trade to colonization, the British
government carved out various instruments to maintain their hegemony
in which colonial railways were the single largest and the most significant investment programme made in the history of the British Empire. Under the facade of laissez faire doctrine, the British rule released open support to encourage private investors for railway introduction and extension in India. Railway infrastructure was given priority at theory, policy and practice levels. However, the effectiveness of this largest investment program, in combating frequent terrible famines, is quite questionable. Colonial railways had a regressive impact on the land, environment and the people of India. Fundamentally, railway infrastructure accelerated the process of deindustrialization, poverty and frequent famines. Railway and famines went hand in gloves, as maximum food grains were transported to Europe and Indians were forced to face terrible famines. Therefore, famines in British India can be interpreted as problems of distribution, rather than food production. It was an obnoxious nexus of magical wheels with empty stomach.

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