Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation

By Amartya Sen | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
Starvation and Famines

4.1 FAMINES

Famines imply starvation, but not vice versa. And starvation implies poverty, but not vice versa. The time has come for us to move from the general terrain of poverty to the disastrous phenomenon of famines.

Poverty, as was discussed in Chapter 2, can reflect relative deprivation as opposed to absolute dispossession. It is possible for poverty to exist, and be regarded as acute, even when no serious starvation occurs. Starvation, on the other hand, does imply poverty, since the absolute dispossession that characterizes starvation is more than sufficient to be diagnosed as poverty, no matter what story emerges from the view of relative deprivation.

Starvation is a normal feature in many parts of the world, but this phenomenon of 'regular' starvation has to be distinguished from violent outbursts of famines. It isn't just regular starvation that one sees in 436 BC, when thousands of starving Romans 'threw themselves into the Tiber'; or in Kashmir in AD 918, when 'one could scarcely see the water of Vitasta [ Jhelum] entirely covered as the river was with corpses'; or in 1333-7 in China, when -- we are told -- four million people died in one region only; or in 1770 in India, when the best estimates point to ten million deaths; or in 1845-51 in Ireland, when the potato famine killed about one-fifth of the total Irish population and led to the emigration of a comparable number.1 While there is quite a literature on how to 'define' famines,2 one can very often

____________________
1
For some absorbing accounts of the phenomenon of famines in different parts of the world and some comparative analysis, see Mallory ( 1926), Ghosh ( 1944), Woodham- Smith ( 1962), Masefield ( 1963), Stephens ( 1966), Bhatia ( 1967), Blix, Hofvander and Vahlquist ( 1971), Johnson ( 1973), Aykroyd ( 1974), Hussein ( 1976), Tudge ( 1977), and Alamgir ( 1978b, 1980), among a good many other studies. Early accounts of famines in the Indian subcontinent can be found in Kautilya (circa 320 BC) and Abul Fazl ( 1592), among other documents.
2
A few of the many definitions: 'On balance it seems clear that any satisfactory definition of famine must provide that the food shortage is either widespread or extreme if not both, and that the degree of extremity is best measured by human mortality from starvation' ( Masefield, 1963, pp. 3-4). 'An extreme and protracted shortage of food

-39-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 257

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.