World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Theories of famines

Article Id: WHEBN0029182754
Reproduction Date:

Title: Theories of famines  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: List of famines, FAD (disambiguation)
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Theories of famines

The conventional explanation until 1981 for the cause of famines was the decline of food availability (abbreviated as FAD for food availability decline). The assumption was that the central cause of all famines was a decline in food availability.[1] However this does not explain why only a certain section of the population such as the agricultural laborer was affected by famines while others were insulated from famines.[2]

Failure of exchange entitlements

It has been suggested that the causal mechanism for precipitating starvation includes many variables other than just decline of food availability such as the inability of an agricultural laborer to exchange his primary entitlement, i.e., labor for rice when his employment became erratic or was completely eliminated.[2] Per the proposed theory, famines are caused due to a breakdown of the ability of a person to exchange his entitlements rather than due to food availability decline.[2] This theory is called the failure of exchange entitlements or FEE.

Lack of democracy

Amartya Sen advances the theory that lack of democracy and famines are inter-related citing the example of the Bengal famine of 1943, stating that it was made viable only because of the lack of democracy in India under British rule. He further argues that the situation was aggravated by the British government's suspension of trade in rice and grains between various Indian provinces.[3]

Olivier Rubin's review of the evidence disagrees with Sen; after examining the cases of post-Independence India, Niger, and Malawi, he finds that "democracy is no panacea against famine." Rubin's analysis questions whether democracy and a free press were sufficient to truly avert famine in 1967 and 1972 (the Maharashtra famine involved some 130,000 deaths), and notes that some dynamics of electoral democracy complicate rather than bring about famine relief efforts. Rubin does not address colonial period famines.[4]

On the other hand, Andrew Banik's study Starvation and India's democracy affirms Sen's thesis, but indicates that while democracy has been able to prevent famines in India, it has not been sufficient to avoid severe under-nutrition and starvation deaths, which Banik calls a 'silent emergency' in the country.[5]

See also



This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.