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Environment and History

Famine in a Forest Tract: Ecological Change and the Causes of the 1897 Famine in Chotanagpur, Northern India

Vinita Damodaran

Environment and History 1(1995): 129-158

This paper addresses one of the most under-researched areas of resource use and management in rural India, that of 'wild resources', and explores the links between ecological change, famine and poverty. It is argued that once deforestation started to take place (in the context of the exploitation of the indigenous people by an outsider landlord class, aided by the colonial state), and the forest department denied people access to traditional famine foods, the Chotanagpur region found itself for the first time subject to the kind of vulnerability to famine that had affected lowland populations for a much longer period.

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