By Roger Harvey, Eric Sévigny
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Extra resources for Caillou and the Rain
Vaughan Nash, the Manchester Guardian’s India correspondent, wrote on May 4, 1900, of “skeleton mothers . . ”7 More than one million square kilometers of central, western, and southern India were affected. 7 million lived not in native states but under British rule. A critical fodder famine killed millions of head of cattle, especially in Gujerat, where more than 70 percent perished. By March of the following year, the viceroy of India reported that the farmlands of the Deccan plains in the South were fast becoming a wilderness of “dismal, sun-cracked, desertcharred earth .
The colonial authorities were content to collect taxes and exercise administrative control while investing little in village development. Over many decades, late-nineteenth-century administrators favored a cautious policy of preventing famine rather than mitigating it. To this end, they diverted considerable resources to the building of railroads (which also helped boost India’s food exports) and to the improvement of irrigation works, on the grounds that onetime capital expenditures would pay long-term dividends and could also produce revenue from tickets, freight charges, and taxes, as well as stimulate exports.
M. ”5 Even in his old age, my grandfather remembered the tense weeks of waiting, the crushing heat, the shrill cries of cuckoos, the massing clouds on the far horizon. Like the village farmers in the countryside, he watched for the coming of the monsoon and waited—for abundance or hunger. He administered the lives of thousands of villagers, but he could not control or predict the natural engine of their existence. The word monsoon comes from the Arabic word mausem (season). The monsoon is a season of rains borne on the dark nimbus clouds of summer that blow in from the southwest.
Caillou and the Rain by Roger Harvey, Eric Sévigny