Policy failure of the then British government, and not a serious drought, was the major cause of the Bengal famine of 1943, which claimed more than 3 million Indian lives, says a new study.
According to the study by researchers in India and the United States, which used weather data to gauge the amount of moisture in the soil during six major famines in the subcontinent between 1870 and 1943, the rainfall levels in the 1943 famine were above average.
The other five major famines (1873–74, 1876, 1877, 1896–97, and 1899) that occurred during 1870–2016 were linked to soil moisture drought, caused by poor rainfall and lack of irrigation.
The Winston Churchill government that was in power in the UK had diverted vital supplies to the military and stopped rice imports to the country. This led to the severe food shortage, leading to millions of perishing from lack of food.
Compared to this, the 1873-74 famine had witnessed an almost negligible number of deaths, due to right government policies initiated by Richard Temple, then Bengal lieutenant governor. He imported food from Burma and provided relief money to people.
The study was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.