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Semester and Year Offered: Winter Semester; first offered in WS 2015.
Course Coordinator and Team: Professor Sanjay Sharma
Email of course coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org
Aim: This is an elective course that should be of interest to post-graduate students of History, Sociology, Economics, Development Studies and Human Ecology. It explores the history of hunger, famine, epidemics and state intervention during the period of colonial rule in India, from the late 18th century till the middle of the 20th century. The focus of the course is on famines in the modern era and they are to be studied as events and structures in historical and comparative perspectives. Famines will be situated in the broader context of hunger and malnutrition as narrow definitions of famines tend to reduce them to specific causes and years. This will be illustrated with selected case studies from Africa, Europe, China and South Asia.
The course historicises relief and welfare measures undertaken by the colonial state in a comparative perspective. It will trace the evolution of famine relief policies in India with reference to key developments in Britain around themes like state-responsibility for preventing famine and starvation, debates on laissez faire, indolence, vagrancy and crime. Official claims of moral and material improvement of the colony and debates on charity and institutional philanthropy will be examined with reference to canal irrigation, railways and famine codes and how they contributed to the evolution of colonial governmentality. Situations of dearth and starvation often violated the moral economy of the subject population that found expression in food riots and other forms of popular protests. The course will analyse them in their culture-specific context along with other strategies of survival like migration and theft during colonial rule in India.
In recent years, a rich historiography has evolved around issues of disease, medicine and health that were closely linked with hunger, poverty and starvation. By focussing on some select epidemics, the social and cultural circumstances that produced them and the key ideas and institutions that influenced their cure, this course will relate them to notions of public welfare, traditional charity and institutional philanthropy. Questions of health, hygiene, sanitation and their relationship with climate, urban planning and governance continue to remain important in contemporary India where famines may no longer occur but hunger, malnutrition, structured poverty and food security remain major concerns.
Course Outcomes: On successful completion, the course will:
Brief description of modules/ Main modules:
Public Health and Welfare
Assessment Details with weights:
Date/period in which Assessment will take place
1st: Written Assignment/Literature review
2nd: Written assignment with group discussion
End April/Early May