1866 Famine of Orissa: Tragedies within a tragedy

The worst victims of the famine had to seek refuge in feeding centres, where they were barely kept alive by the colonial administration or charitable institutions. Some of them became outcastes because they had shared food there with people of other castes. Jean Dreze reviews Bidyut Mohanty’s ‘A Haunting Tragedy’

It is a sobering thought that, not so long ago, famines occurred in India that killed up to one third of the local population. The famine of 1866 in Orissa is one terrifying example – a “haunting tragedy” as the evocative title of Bidyut Mohanty’s book puts it.

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