Coding famine: famine relief and the British Raj in Rudyard Kipling's "William the Conqueror".
Certainly the Code must have saved many lives in the great droughts which occurred in the last quarter of the 19th century. The British were firmly in control and Pax Britannica reigned from Kashmir to Cape Cormarin. Strong, disciplined subordinate services, manned by Indians, were available to carry out the orders of the authorities. The people trusted the government to save them from starvation. (2)
It is now widely recognized that "Englishness" developed in the nineteenth century as a response to the shock of radical changes in culture brought about by industrialism and by growing engagements with colonial cultures and contexts. As Linda Colley puts it, "Englishness" was not a given but "was superimposed over an array of internal differences in response to contact with the Other, and in response to conflict with the Other." (3) The nineteenth-century project of constructing a cohesive national identity of "Englishness" thus depended on the consolidation of the colonial native as a figure whose absolute otherness would allow internal differences to be subsumed. (4) However, this project was threatened by the issue of hunger, which remained an intractable problem in Britain despite Poor Law reforms, and which took the devastating form of famines in various colonies (notably in Ireland and in India) notwithstanding systematic British rule. Linked in nineteenth-century ethnography and popular imagination with cannibalism, hunger marked the imagined boundary between civilization and wilderness, between the civilized human and the savage Other. Hunger at home and in the colonies (where famine buttressed support for a growing nationalist challenge to British rule) pointed to a failure of Victorian administration, and hence generated deep anxieties about British identity and destiny. (5)
As an Anglo-Indian writer deeply imbued with Victorian ideologies of empire and simultaneously deeply ambivalent about those ideologies, Rudyard Kipling attempts to allay these anxieties in "William the Conqueror" (1898), a short story centered on the experiences of two Anglo-Indian relief workers during a famine in British India. Kipling projects hunger and the bureaucratic social response to it as the pivotal element of the dynamic between the Victorian center and its colonial periphery. Although the story was ignored by literary critics, it was rescued from critical oblivion by Wallace Ruddell Aykroyd, who was one of the commissioners appointed by the British government to form the Board of Inquiry into the Bengal famine of 1943-45. Aykroyd was later attached to the United Nations, where he was affiliated with the Food and Agriculture Organization (a prime concern of which is the prevention of famine) and served as Director of the Nutrition Division. In a book on the history of famines and twentieth-century famine relief--optimistically entitled The Conquest of Famine (1974)--Aykroyd devotes an entire chapter to an analysis of Kipling's story. This chapter, sandwiched between a chapter on Indian famines from 300 AD to the 1940s and another chapter on the Bengal famine, stands as a literary inscription of the earlier history of the same administrative structure of which Aykroyd was himself a part at its penultimate moment. (6)
Aykroyd's use of Kipling's story as a historiographical resource not only conflates literature and history, but also carries forward into the post-Raj reality of the 1970s Kipling's own conflation of imperialist and humanitarian missions. British India for both Aykroyd and Kipling comes about as the conquest of hunger rather than as the acquisition of colonial lands and peoples. Yet, as the titles of both Aykroyd's book and Kipling's story--both emphasizing "conquest"--show, the attempted representation of an imperialist and colonialist agenda as a humanitarian one remains largely unsuccessful. Although the "William" in Kipling's story is a gentle conqueror bent on vanquishing hunger, rather than indigenous peoples, the title of the story inevitably invokes the Norman Conquest, a moment of originary violence when the project of transforming indigenous British ethnicities into a single national identity might be said to have been started. The invocation of William the Conqueror (in whatever guise) in nineteenth-century British India suggests the continuation of that ongoing project. Even as "Englishness" is formed through contact with the Other, the "Other" too must be brought into being as a cohesive entity. I thus locate in Kipling's story the cusp of two conjoint movements: the reconfiguration of Poor Law administration as the white man's colonial burden, and the consolidation of the identity of the Third World as the hungry Other of Western modernity. (7)
Kipling's "William the Conqueror" tells the story of the budding romance between Scott, an unassuming English civil engineer stationed in the province of Punjab in North India, and the tomboyish sister of his colleague, Jack Martyn. When famine is declared in large drought-stricken areas of South India (quite some distance from Punjab), Scott and Jack are called to duty as relief officers. Jack's sister, who prefers to be called "William" (the eponymous heroine), insists on accompanying the two men to the famine camp as a volunteer. Scott is given the responsibility of scouring the countryside for famine victims while William, back at the famine camp, helps to feed them. The relief work draws Scott and William together and provides the circumstances both characters need to overcome their reluctance and declare their love for each other. The story closes with the end of the famine and the formal declaration of their engagement just in time for Christmas. However, what stands out most in the story is not their romance, but the spectacle of the relief operations, which appears as a pageantry of modernity and the Victorian system set in motion against the enormous odds of a colonial wilderness.
The literary precedent for Kipling's story places hunger at the heart of the metropole in what is arguably one of the best-known scenes in Victorian literature depicting the social response to hunger. This is, of course, the scene from Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist (1837-38), in which Oliver asks for more of the pitiful gruel served to workhouse orphans. In the popular musical film adaptation, Oliver's request leads to the catchy song, "Food Glorious Food," followed by an exuberant sequence of choreography showing how Oliver's attempt to evade wrathful workhouse officials results in the overthrow of all discipline and regulation for a space of time. (8) Unlike the film version, the novel does not admit the possibility--even for a brief space of time--of the suspension or overthrow of the social machinery of the Poor Laws. In the novel, Oliver is immediately captured by the workhouse cook and delivered over to the corrupt and brutal functionary responsible for enforcing workhouse rules by mercilessly quashing any hint of insurgency: the bully and petty-tyrant Mr. Bumble, the beadle. Whatever the historical accuracy of Dickens's portrayal of the Poor Laws, he had successfully equated in the popular imagination poor relief with the workhouse and the beadle so that Mr. Bumble represented poor relief both as the guardian of its monstrous rules and as a potent symbol of its self-important, corrupt, and bureaucratic inhumanity.
The revised Poor Laws of 1834 (the target of Dickens's satire in Oliver Twist) both reformed and re-formed poor relief. The new shape of the Poor Laws had two main emphases: first, the administration of poor relief was centralized and made uniform and systematic; second, the conditions for receiving relief were governed by the so-called "principle of less eligibility" which dictated that the standard of life for anyone receiving assistance from the state should be lower than that attainable by the lowest-paid "independent" laborer. Accordingly, workhouses largely replaced older, less organized, and more haphazard methods of relief, and the terms of the relief offered within workhouses were made harsh in order to discourage all but the most desperate. Workhouse relief combined difficult and irritating labor (such as picking oakum or breaking stones) with a limited, monotonous diet that Dickens satirizes as "three meals of thin gruel a day, with an onion twice a week, and half a roll on Sundays." (9) These regulations imposed a discipline on the bodies of the poor that presumed each body to be identical to others (within certain broad categories of difference). This presumed identity implied that each body, once categorized, was capable of being sustained on the same quantity and kind of food as every other body in that category, and could be put to the same kind of labor. Thus, the reformed laws acknowledged the individual right to state assistance only at the expense of individual difference.
The regulations of the reformed Poor Laws combined humanitarian, moral, and utilitarian impulses. The condition of any assistance given to the destitute was to mold the character of the recipient according to the needs of industrial society. While discouraging the poor from regarding state relief as a security, the regulations of the workhouses attempted to transform through discipline the chaos of urban poverty (the bizarre, diverse skills and habits that fascinated and repelled social reformers such as Henry Mayhew) into a single, homogeneous body of an industrial workforce. For Dickens, the new system was a cruelly disingenuous articulation of the "liberty" that the industrial capitalist economy was supposed to afford and the homogeneity that it imposed on the laborer. He viewed the system as offering only a choice of deprivations: "So they established the rule, that all poor people should have the alternative (for they would compel nobody, not they) of being starved by a gradual process in the house or by a quick one out of it" (10). Yet even this ironic choice requires the price of submission to a system that badges, tickets, and places people into assigned slots, just as Oliver, at birth, is immediately "badged and ticketed" as a parish orphan (11). However, the poor are not the only ones whose individuality is sacrificed by the system in exchange for efficiency and uniformity. In the metropolitan center of Britain, the task of hunger management falls to the dreary purview of undifferentiated bureaucrats and beadles who conceptualize and administer the petty regulations of the workhouse. The system is structured so that individual judgment and action are neither necessary nor desirable from these functionaries.
When transported to the rural hinterlands of colonial India--the peripheries of civilization--the task of hunger management can become the stuff of heroism and high adventure. The colonial landscape (which comprises the terrain, nature, and peoples of the land) is imagined as innately hostile to the project of modernity, which, in this context, is the systematic imposition of order upon the chaos of a primitive society. Harsh terrain, violent nature, and superstitious peoples transform the administration of gruel (or its colonial equivalents of rice and millet) into a noble endeavor that is the best of (masculine) character-building experiences: the enactment of the "white man's burden" of saving ungrateful and uncomprehending natives from the savage environment and their own savage selves. Despite such incentives, the imaginative recasting of administrative labor as imperial adventure encounters a strong check in the bureaucratic structure of colonial governance, whereby the civilizing mission is frequently reduced to the filling out of obscure forms in triplicate. The routinized mechanisms of colonial administration thus counter the unpredictability of individual heroic acts. Hence, colonial governance can appear to function without relying on the agency of specific individuals, while individual administrators seem to become interchangeable parts of the structure. (10)
In "William the Conqueror," Kipling shows his understanding of this dynamic by depicting famine relief as simultaneously glorious adventure and bureaucratic drudgery. The system of famine relief in India--or the Famine Code, as it was called--appears in the story as a miracle that only modernity can make possible. There are two equally important elements of the miracle: an administrative system designed to respond efficiently to the crisis, and dedicated human agents prepared to carry out faithfully the requirements of the system. The sahib (an Anglo-Indian term for the Englishman in India) committed to the task of saving the lives of victims must also be prepared to sacrifice individual aspirations and find fulfillment in the service of the system. Once invoked, the operations of the Famine Code place sweeping powers in the hands of ordinary men. The actions of these men cannot be governed by the desire for personal glory, but must be governed instead by a strict sense of duty and loyalty. The immense powers conferred upon these men transform them into the self-sacrificing heroes of the Raj. Colonial administration requires self-sacrifice, both because it imposes on the sahib the moral burden of caring for the savage Other and because the bureaucratic machinery requires that each individual agent submit voluntarily to a set of routines and regulations regardless of personal desires or ideas.
The white man's burden is, therefore, both the perceived obligation to remake the Other in his image and the surrender of the self to a bureaucratic collective. According to Max Weber's analysis, bureaucracies achieve a self-perpetuating permanence by inculcating an idea of loyalty that "does not establish a relationship to a person" but rather "to impersonal and functional purposes." (11) Bureaucratic structures require the subsumption of the individual to the collective: "[the] individual bureaucrat cannot squirm out of the apparatus in which he is harnessed.... The official is entrusted with specialized tasks and normally the mechanism cannot be put into motion or arrested by him, but only from the very top" (75). However, since each person within the structure is "forced to the community of all the functionaries who are integrated into the mechanism," even high-level administrators with the authority to make individual decisions that may produce substantial change to the structure do so only in ways that represent the collective culture (75). This powerful strategy for curbing eccentric and unpredictable functioning of the structure can be assured only if administrators see themselves as faithful and disinterested servants of the system, and if administrative employment can be transmuted into a vocation or calling. (12)
As in numerous other works by Kipling, the labor of the sahib who shoulders the burdens of the civilizing mission is thankless, underpaid, and mostly unglamorous. Colonial governance confers tremendous authority and imposes tremendous responsibilities, but the men who take on such duties are inadequately compensated either for the degree of authority and responsibility that is invested in them or for the extraordinary work that is expected of them in times of crisis. In contrast, minor functionaries working in the safety and comfort of the metropolitan center are often better paid and gain more recognition than the men who face the trials and toils of building and maintaining the empire. To Kipling, this disparity is a shameful instance of cultural hypocrisy. However, the disparity further proves the selflessness of the heroes of the Raj and discounts the popular perception of the colonial career as a ready resource for younger sons and other men unable to find employment in Britain. In "William the Conqueror," Jack Martyn, who has a position of considerable authority as the Acting District Superintendent of Police, is paid a pittance of "six hundred depreciated silver rupees a month" (196). His home is furnished with items "picked up at sales of dead men's effects" and is in a state of disrepair (322). He cannot afford the expense of sending his sister with the other ladies to spend the summer in the cooler climate of the hill resorts. Jack even has to borrow to pay for his sister's passage from England to India. Scott's prospects as an irrigation engineer are even less attractive. He alternates between the tent, when he is in the field, or the impersonal lodgings of the officers' barracks. When he retires, he can count on a pension that is smaller even than Jack's present salary, which would ensure that Scott remain in the colonies after retirement. If he returned to Britain after retirement, he would not be able to afford a degree of comfort commensurate with his rank. Colonial life creates inflated expectations. However small by metropolitan standards, in the colonies these salaries can sustain a degree of comfort inconceivable in Britain on the same amount. While Jack's salary allows him only a modest lifestyle by Anglo-Indian standards, his household, nonetheless, includes eight servants and two horses in the service of just himself and his sister (199). However, the low salaries and pensions effectively impose exile on these men and their families. (13)
To make matters worse, the work ordinarily expected of the men tends to be dull and repetitive. The quotidian routines of bureaucracy engage neither the talents nor the energies of the men who are drawn to the colonies by the promise of an active, adventurous life. Jack and Scott find their days consumed with the standard fare of any bureaucratic labor: paperwork and the drudgery of "shop" (200). Scott would rather be in the field, directing the construction of an irrigation project. Jack would prefer a position in a more untamed part of the Province pacifying natives. Instead they both spend their time doing "office-work" which they experience as meaningless, never-ending toil. The tedium of office-work is matched by the tedium of barrack life (especially for bachelors and men whose families have left for the hill resorts). The men dread meeting "the same white faces night after night" so much that they even prefer to linger at the despised bureaucratic tasks (194). The sultry tropical weather compounds the situation by rendering unbearable the usual recreations of billiards, polo, and other physical activities. Forced into a condition of mental and physical inaction, the men lounge listlessly around the officers' club. Although a position in the capital of the province is technically a promotion, both Scott and Jack would prefer to be engaged in work in the field. Scott's choice of reading matter--one of Frederick Marryat's stirring sea tales--shows his attempt to experience vicariously the adventurous life that colonial service in its usual form of day-to-day administration cannot offer.
Such spiritual doldrums render the occurrence of a famine (or indeed any crisis) an exciting possibility. A crisis restores adventure to the task of colonial governance, since the demands of the crisis supersede those of the usual tasks of day-to-day colonial administration. The opening line of the story captures the sense of anticipation with which the possibility of a famine is greeted by the main characters: as Jack asks Scott, "Is it officially declared yet?" (193, emphasis added). The "it" refers to famine, but without an official declaration, the situation is merely experience without a label. Famine exists only when a situation is officially defined as such. Scott's response to Jack's question is cautious but hopeful: "They've gone so far as to admit 'extreme local scarcity,' and they've started relief-works in one or two districts, the paper says" (193). While Scott thinks, "They'll be able to check it before it gets out of hand" (193, emphasis added), Jack is more optimistic about the possibility of a further semantic change that would complete the chain of semantic transformations from undefined experience to "extreme local scarcity" to full-fledged famine. He is vindicated by the report that arrives shortly in the newspaper extra: '"It's declared!' he cried. 'One, two, three--eight districts go under the operations of the Famine Code ek dum [at once and fully]"' (195). Although the report also heralds the failure of the system to check "it" before it becomes a full-blown disaster, the news is welcome since, paradoxically, failure--rather than success--allows for an even more dramatic demonstration of the merits of the system.
The declaration sets in motion a chain of circumstances, with Scott and Jack being sent down from the North to help in the relief efforts under the command of yet another hero of the Raj, Jimmy Hawkins. Hearing about the appointment of Hawkins, Scott approvingly notes, "When in doubt hire a Punjabi.... He has more bundobust [know-how and capability] than most men" (195). (14) However, the routines of bureaucratic administration are not to be halted by a famine or other crises. Even as the system responds to the crisis by diverting men and resources to the affected region, it takes into account the administrative vacuums that are created as a result. To ensure that the office-work is not neglected, other men are summoned to fill the vacant slots. Scott's replacement is "another cog in the machinery, moved forward behind his fellow" despite his grumbles about "fate and famines" (202). The business of the Raj is identified as "machinery" that can perceive no difference between individuals and is concerned solely with maintaining the system in operation. However, each man submits voluntarily to the operations of the machinery and sets aside his individual desires and plans in its service. In sharp contrast to the singular glories of colonial adventurers (like, for instance, Richard Burton), these true heroes of the Raj are ever ready to subsume their own identities within that of the system and to follow orders rather than exercise personal initiative. In this sense, the bureaucratic machinery imposes on guardians and subjects a similar discipline, requiring individuals in each group to abide by the regulations that pertain to it.
With the invocation of the Famine Code, Scott and Jack receive their reward of meaningful work--that is, work that accomplishes something more than the reproduction of the administrative structure. The enervation produced by the tropical heat and colonial administration is swiftly replaced by a vibrant pageantry of modern technologies and the bustle of men who have mastered them. From the moment that the newspaper extra announces the declaration of the famine, new communication technologies are set in motion. News reports and orders are relayed swiftly over great distances by telephone and telegram. Distant resources of men, goods, and information are disseminated swiftly to the affected region. Technologies of machine and of administration combine to erase the boundaries of time and space, ensuring that the "extreme local scarcity," having undergone the semantic transformation to famine, is constrained within local boundaries even as it becomes a crisis that commands the response of the entire country.
The Indian railways, a relatively new system when Kipling was writing and one which, to this day, is regarded as a major legacy of British rule in India, have a prominent position in the spectacle of modernization. (15) The railways enable the movement of men and resources to and from the affected area. Scott and Jack, accompanied by William, travel down from Punjab to Madras, a journey of fifteen hundred miles, by train. Although Madras is also a province under British rule, it is an older acquisition. Jimmy Hawkins is an import into the Madras Province from Punjab, presumably because the administrators of the southern province lack the bundobust of their Northern colleagues (who have more untamed lands to deal with and, hence, face more challenges). (16) As the three characters travel down to the affected area, the railways make them aware that they are all a part of the grand machinery of the Raj, which stretches beyond even the great distance of their journey. The three are merely one small element of a vast network of resources marshaled at a moment's notice. While the telephone and telegraph take note of where there are surpluses, the railways guarantee a mechanism for conveying those surpluses to regions in need, restoring an economic equilibrium that the ferocity of nature had disrupted. (17) The travelers observe that "many long and heavily-laden grain-trains were in front of them, and they could feel the hand of Jimmy Hawkins from far off" (207). The "hand of Jimmy Hawkins" evokes the long hand of imperial administration and the invisible hand of nineteenth-century industrial capitalism. Its immanence is perceptible to the travelers in the caravans of freight trains and the groups of "hollow-eyed, weary white men armed with written authorities" who greet the trains at each stop (208). Its immanence is perceptible also in the "corps of Irregulars," Indian workers recruited and trained into an informal troop to scour the countryside in search of the dead and dying victims of the famine (208).
The contrast thus set up between the efficiency and modernity of the Raj and the stasis of the Indian landscape emphasizes the difficulty--perhaps impossibility--of completing the civilizing mission. There will always be yet another disaster somewhere which will require the same machinery to be put in motion. The inertia of the Indian landscape is such that it can frustrate even the best efforts of determined men to impose civilization on it. Modernity is characterized by the control of the natural world, but this control comes easier in Britain than in India, where nature is more extreme and more violent and where the territory is vast and disconcertingly diverse. The land and its peoples are subject to the uncontrolled--and perhaps uncontrollable--excesses of nature, with its cycles of droughts and floods. Famine is a perennial feature of this exotic landscape. All the bundobust of Jimmy Hawkins and the Raj can only mitigate each occurrence, not eradicate famine. This Sisyphean image of the civilizing mission faced by the intransigence of the land occludes the fact that what is reproduced constantly are the bureaucratic routines of administration. With or without disaster, the system marshals men and resources to fulfill the needs of paperwork. While famine relief or disaster management has a well-defined goal that the men can understand, "office-work" exists as a goal in itself, one whose purpose and meaning are not readily grasped by anyone. Yet the empire is built and maintained by paperwork, which has a power and life of its own and which exercises enormous control over the lives and actions of both empire builders and their native subjects.
The railway journey from North to South demonstrates that India is essentially unknowable even to experienced colonials. The sheer vastness of the land and the range of regional differences render useless the framework of reference--Britain--used by colonial administration, and the journey itself reinforces this impression. A railway journey offers convenience and efficiency, but it also requires the surrender of the traveler's will to a preset timetable and destination. Such a mode of transportation, by its very nature, creates a distance between the traveler and the terrain even as it moves the traveler swiftly over great distances.
On their journey, Scott, Jack, and William discover an intransigent land that is alien territory to them despite their long association with India. In the North, all three characters were figures of authority, accustomed to regarding the land as something that could be controlled and molded through their work. As an irrigation engineer, Scott exercised control over nature and transformed it into an economic resource. His work softened the extremes of the cycles of drought and flood and brought some measure of regularity to the unpredictable climate. In doing so, he also expanded the penetration of the industrial capitalist state to the natural world. Irrigation projects such as Scott's converted water into a commodity that could be purchased and doled out according to a fixed price. As the superintendent of police, Jack exercised control over the people, by imposing order and curbing outlawry. As a redoubtable memsahib (the female equivalent of a sahib), William exercised a similar authority within the domestic sphere over the servants and their families. However, as they travel further south, all three travelers find their certainties challenged, so that they are forced to remember that they are strangers in a strange land. The essential difference between Britain and India is reinforced by India herself.
No longer colonials who have settled the land and rendered it familiar, the three become in the course of the journey pioneers in a land that is both estranged and wild. The India that they encounter is a "foreign land where the very smells were new" (207). They find that truth mirrors fiction, and the "real India" of the South is identical to the India of sensational travelogues published in the popular press back in England: "Then they came to an India more strange to them than to the untraveled Englishman--the flat, red India of palm-tree, palmyra-palm, and rice--the India of the picture-books, of 'Little Harry and His Bearer'--all dead and dry in the baking heat" (207). The rural hinterlands of the Madras Presidency, an acquisition older than the North West Frontier Province, remain less cosmopolitan and modern. Yet to the bored Northern administrators, this only enhances its appeal to the imagination. The land appears unclaimed and open to discovery by intrepid schoolboy-explorers and their faithful native bearers. Here the colonial project can seem fresh and adventurous again.
The landscape in both Kipling's fiction and the sensationalist travel narratives to which he refers is depopulated. In the story, drought and famine have emptied the landscape, facilitating its imaginative assimilation by the armchair traveler in England, or by his equivalent, the railroad traveler in India. Yet, as the penetration of this terra incognita by the railways suggests, the land has already been assimilated and rendered accessible. The "hand of Jimmy Hawkins" that the travelers perceive throughout their journey is a potent and comforting presence everywhere they go. When natives appear in the story, they are virtually indistinguishable from the fauna (unless they are co-opted into a subaltern relation to the British as bearers or servitors). The travelers take note, for instance, of the "foodless folk picked up beside their dead oxen" (208). The "folk" and their cattle suffer and die side by side until separated by rescuers, who thereby enforce the distinction between human and animal. Another instance emphasizes the difficulty of distinguishing between the human natives and the natural world that surrounds them. At stations where the train stops briefly, "people crawled to the side of the train. Holding their little ones in their arms; and a loaded truck would be behind, men and women clustering round and above it like ants by spilled honey" (207-08). The image strikingly captures the transformation effected by the gaze of a traveler in a train pulling away from the station: the crowd changes from "people holding their little ones" to a jumble of small dark bodies that resemble ants. The image holds an implicit threat as well in the reminder that ants have such relentless instincts for populating and feeding that they can decimate all creatures standing in their path. The people, like ants, seem entirely governed by Malthusian imperatives. They feed and multiply until curtailed by famine or epidemic, the so-called "positive checks" (positive because these checks actively curtail population growth and, perhaps, because such curtailment is seen as beneficial). The compassionate gaze invokes a repellent image as the scene recedes from sight and the perspective widens from a narrow focus on individuals to a more general view of the population.
India actively resists the order that Scott and his colleagues attempt to bring to it, even if such resistance involves self-inflicted harm. Following Jimmy Hawkins's commands, Scott takes the grain specially brought down from the North to a remote village hit hard by the famine, only to find that the villagers refuse to use it. The villagers are accustomed to rice, and do not know how to husk and prepare the millet and other hard grains from the North. It is part of Scott's burden to watch with helpless frustration as the villagers whom he is trying so hard to save refuse to save themselves: "They clamoured for rice--unhusked paddy, such as they were accustomed to--and, when they found that there was none, broke away weeping from the sides of the cart. What was the use of these strange hard grains that choked their throats? They would die. And then there were many of them kept their word" (213-14). The spectacular organization of the Raj is baffled by regional differences in diet. Despite all the evidence of difference, Scott and his superiors had counted on the essential equivalence of grains and peoples. However, the difference of India is such that regional and ethnic identities are binding to the death and will not be subsumed (as British ethnicities had been) to a singular national identity. Unable to transcend ethnicity and accept a new order of things (in which industrial capitalism and communication technologies render both distance and difference irrelevant and all aspects of life are brought under the aegis of a single administrative system), the Southern villagers whom Scott attempts to rescue starve to death rather than accept the Northern grain: "starving [they] crept away to their bark and weeds, grubs, leaves, and clay, and left the open sacks untouched" (214). In refusing the gift of modernity, these villagers refuse also to see themselves as the British see them (as essentially the same as their Northern counterparts). Hence, their fate is to return to the nature of which they are already a part, becoming the compost that they consume.
Scott manages to eke out a partial victory over native obduracy by mediating through nature. Although disappointed by the fiasco of the inedible alien grain, the native women trust in the good intentions of the Sirkar (that is, the British government) enough to leave their children in Scott's care: "sometimes the women laid their phantoms of children at Scott's feet, looking back as they staggered away" (214). However, Scott is then faced with a task not included in his orders and for which no provisions had been made. Instead of transporting adult victims to distant famine camps, Scott is now faced with the logistical challenge of feeding unweaned famine orphans. As Faiz Ullah, Scott's faithful native servant, puts it: "there was no Government order as to babies" (332). More fatalistic and less compassionate than Scott, and also more emphatic about ethnic differences among Indians, Faiz Ullah concludes that "babies were cheap" and that "it was the will of God that these foreigners should die" (214-15). Malthusian doctrine finds its voice through Oriental fatalism, whereas the Englishman interposes himself between the babies and the fate supposedly decreed for them by God and nature.
The solution to the situation comes from Faiz Ullah. Although he does not share Scott's concern for the abandoned children, Faiz Ullah is attentive to his master's needs. Wanting to be assured of a supply of fresh milk and meat for Scott's meals, he collects stray goats and fattens them up with the grain rejected by the villagers. Scott visualizes another use for these animals. The milk of goats fed on the Northern grain can feed the famine orphans. The millet and wheat brought down from the North, and rejected by the Southern natives, are in this way recuperated as food for human consumption. Scott overcomes the cultural divide between the North and the South by mediating the bounty of the modern state through nature (that is, the goats). Such mediation, however, is not an easy task. While his servants and orderlies round up as many goats as they can find and fatten them up with the grain, Scott learns from Faiz Ullah how to milk and sets up a thrice-a-day feeding routine for the children.
However, he then encounters yet another logistical challenge: the absence of human mothers. Although the milk of the goats can substitute for breast milk and represent food in general, Scott must develop a technological surrogate for breast-feeding to deliver the goat's milk to the infants. Drawing on his training as an irrigation engineer, Scott devises a technique in which the baby is placed under a goat teat, and a stream of milk is directed in a jet into its mouth. The baby is then removed, and another takes its place. The connection between the human child and the animal mother is affirmed and negated at the same time, the child needing the goat's teat but receiving its bounty in a distanced and homogenized manner. Native obduracy is also circumvented by the prototype for assembly-line milk production. If the grain is mediated through nature, and worked up the food chain, the delivery of food to humans is mediated once again at this final stage, through technology. Filling the place of both father and mother by this single, efficient process, the Sirkar--as represented by Scott--thus takes on the responsibility of providing complete care for a new generation. Orphaned by famine and by the abrogation of parental responsibility by their biological parents, these children are the true children of the Sirkar whose care ensures that the North and the South are merged in them from infancy so that they grow up as homogenized natives of a single political and cultural entity. Hence, the vastness of India that overwhelmed Scott and the others on their journey, and which poses such difficulties in creating a single administrative system, is mastered. Yet, as Scott observes wryly, such ad hoc tampering with nature and with the systematic way of doing things has its price: "When you have to keep connection unbroken between a restless mother of kids and a baby who is at the point of death, you suffer in all your system" (215, emphasis added).
Scott triumphs over the intransigent South not by resorting to coercion but by bringing to the business of the Raj a maternal nurturance, irrespective of the consequences to his system. For a job well done, Scott gains not only the approbation of his superiors but also the affections of William, whom he has long admired from a distance. Although his salary does not improve, his professional and personal lives are rewarded. Both William and Jimmy Hawkins respect men of action. As William tells one of her rejected suitors, a schoolteacher who teaches romantic poetry to the children of the native elite (thereby instituting the canon of English literature), she prefers men "who do things" (199). (18) By sticking to the unglamorous but important tasks of milking goats and feeding babies, Scott shows himself to be one of the men "who do things." Whereas his colleagues tease Scott for his herd of goats and orphans, William sees in him a hero who performs his duty not only in the face of personal danger (which is, after all, what men of action are supposed to do) but in the face of personal ridicule from his peers as well.
Barred by gender from being an empire builder in any official capacity, William is able to make herself a part of the masculine camaraderie of the Raj by renouncing her femininity. Identified only by her masculine nickname, William does not conform to conventional expectations of the Englishwoman in India. She is the figure of the New Woman, controversial yet attractive in her repudiation of femininity. Unlike most Anglo-Indian women, William is not in India to find a husband amidst the colonial administrators. She cuts her ties to England shortly after her arrival in India, and thrives in the dangers and difficulties of colonial life. Her commitment to the colonial life appears as a visible mark on her face. Not only is her face sun-bleached, she carries in the very center of her forehead (in the spot where a Hindu woman would place the red sindur dot to show her married status) "a big silvery scar about the size of a shilling" (198) from a cauterized blister. (19)
She is popular among the men at the officers' club (many of whom have proposed to her) precisely because they accept her as one of them, and her presence does not interrupt the ease of masculine homosociality. Neither pretty nor delicate, she never fusses with her attire or flirts with the men. Her accomplishments are a mixed bag of skills that a schoolboy might covet. In addition to being fluent in two Indian languages (a fluency envied by the men, presumably for her command of slang), William "could act in amateur theatricals, play on the banjo, rule eight servants and two horses, their accounts and their diseases, and look men slowly and deliberately between the eyes--even after they had proposed to her and been rejected" (199). When Scott visits Jack for dinner (shortly after the men receive their famine orders), he notes, admiringly, that as William rolls the cigarettes after dinner, she tosses them across to the men "with a gesture as true as a school-boy's throwing a stone" (200). In comparison with William's "true" boyishness, conventional femininity appears artificial. In William's presence, the men do not feel obligated to generate social conversation or follow other rituals of politeness. They can instead talk unabashedly about their work, since that is what fascinates her as well. For her, as for the men, the famine opens up the potential for meaningful work. Unlike the men, however, she must create her own opportunities. To the dismay of both Scott and Jack, she completes all the arrangements for accompanying them down to the famine camp, including finagling an invitation from the wife of Jimmy Hawkins, or Mrs. Jim, as she is popularly called. This invitation is the equivalent of the orders that the men receive from Hawkins. William completes all this within the space of the three hours that Jack spends exhorting her to remain behind in the safety and comfort of their home. Admitting defeat, Jack complains to Scott: "It isn't as if she were an ordinary sister" (205).
Although an extraordinary sister and an extraordinary woman, William has no official place in the bureaucratic structure of the Raj. Her talents are not in question, but under the usual circumstances they can only be exercised within the domestic sphere. Scott, for instance, has long admired William for her command over the challenges of a colonial household--that is, for what he would term bundobust in a fellow officer. Bundobust is a rare and prized quality in a colonial administrator, since it refers to the capacity for independent judgment and action. It is a quality associated with Jimmy Hawkins, the man in charge of the entire relief operation. Faiz Ullah, whose presence often signals a choral parabasis, remarks that he may have to leave Scott after he marries William because "young wives, especially such as speak our language and have knowledge of the ways of the Police, make great trouble for honest butlers in the matter of their weekly accounts" (224). Referring to the "confidential reports" evaluating officers under his command, Hawkins observes that William, unlike her brother, can be trusted to act on her own discretion. But as William has no official place in his reports, it is up to Mrs. Jim to praise her contribution: '"Then you must say that William's worth her weight in gold"' (219).
While the colonial landscape poses a challenge to the consolidation of "Englishness" as a singular identity defined by superior civilization, William poses another, potentially more insidious, challenge: she threatens the implicit gendering of that identity as masculine. The colonial landscape threatens the identity of "Englishness" by resisting the importation of the order and system (characteristics of the civilized metropolitan center) that the Raj brings to it. Then again, as the land and the people clearly need the care of the colonizer, the intransigence helps to recuperate the figure of the colonial administrator as guardian and caretaker of the land. William, however, cannot be accounted for so readily. With more bundobust than her brother, and with an equal hunger for meaningful work, she should have an official billet within the system. Her character shows up the contradictions at the core of the colonial project. The lure of empire building as adventure can be as attractive to a woman as to a man. However, the difference that is represented by William's gender confounds the homogenizing impulses of the bureaucratic structure of the Raj.
To assimilate William within the colonial project, the Raj must show itself both as the disciplinary structure of the colonial state and as a domestic space offering nurturance and comfort. As the example of Mrs. Jim shows, William can be incorporated into the latter as Mrs. Jim herself has been incorporated. The famine camp (like the Dickensian workhouse) arrogates to itself the functions of the domestic sphere but structures those functions according to the disciplinary needs of the industrial capitalist state. Unlike Dickens, Kipling is not as keenly aware of the ironies of this state of affairs. Scott's surrogate family of rescued orphans readily finds a surrogate for the bourgeois home in the famine camp. However, for the famine camp to function as the domestic sphere, Scott and William must become a couple, so that William has the "domestic" authority as Scott's woman to preside over the children's care in his absence. William must voluntarily renounce her personal ambitions to be an independent agent within the Raj (as the men are) and accept domesticity as a substitute for political authority. The narrative instrument that can most easily bring about such a change is love.
The principals, Scott and William, are slow to alter their standing from colleagues to lovers. Their relationship is characterized by friendly rivalry and mutual respect. They vie at the task of feeding orphans, contrasting the merits of tinned milk (William's choice) with fresh goat's milk (Scott's innovation). William fair-mindedly concedes that Scott's method is superior. Since William's capitulation to her socially approved gender role is the only possible outcome in the story, interested bystanders, such as Mrs. Jim and Hawkins, interpret Scott and William's reluctance to transform the relationship as a denial of true feelings. Neither Mrs. Jim's matchmaking nor Hawkins's interventions can bring about an admission of love from either Scott or William. It is left to the famine orphans to make the declaration for them, simultaneously consolidating William's status and establishing familial bonds between themselves and the Englishman and his woman. William is Scott's woman; they are his adoptive children.
However, for this solution to work, William herself must change: she must acquire the domestic and maternal instincts that she lacks as a tomboy, and she must learn to desire Scott as a lover. Scott helps William acquire maternal instincts when he generously offers to teach her how to feed the unweaned famine orphans. William joins Scott--as a helpmeet bringing him tea and toast--for a predawn feeding of the babies. Reversing conventional notions of gender roles, William looks admiringly over Scott's shoulder as Scott feeds the baby. The quiet makes the scene appear domestic and intimate, as if Scott, William, and the famine babies were indeed all one family, witnessing a mother breastfeeding an infant in the night. This suggestion is heightened when a six-year-old toddles over to look on as Scott holds a squirming and fussing infant. Scott boasts with paternal pride: '"Don't the little beggars take it well! ... I trained 'em!"' (222). In training them, he has trained William as well, and her capitulation is complete.
While enabling colonial relations to be rewritten as filial relations, the setting of famine and the famine camp enables yet another metamorphosis: the sexing-up of the self-effacing, tongue-tied, and rather dull Scott. In the course of his labors, Scott achieves a kind of apotheosis in William's eyes: "He had no desire to make any dramatic entry, but an accident of the sunset ordered it that, when he had taken off his helmet to get the evening breeze, the low light should fall across his forehead, and he could not see what was before him; while one waiting at the tent door beheld, with new eyes, a young man, beautiful as Paris, a god in a halo of golden dust, walking slowly at the head of his flocks, while at his knee ran small naked Cupids" (334).
Until this moment, Scott appeared as a mere cog in the bureaucratic machinery of the Empire. His foremost qualities are that he is thorough, painstaking, dedicated, and follows orders without resentment. Above all, he appears as an asexual being whose work comprises the totality of his being. His work as an irrigation engineer lacks the obvious glamour of professions such as Jack's, which carry more danger and more authority. His male colleagues find him good-natured to the point of being a bit of a dull stick, and a person who never loses his temper even when teased. In one magical instant, William's "new eyes" rewrite Scott as a figure of legend known for his masculine beauty. The famine camp and the drought-stricken landscape dissolve into a pastoral world of myth in which Scott appears as a simple shepherd (as Paris was before the intrusion of Helen into his life), and then as a god bathed in a golden aura, a Zeus descending in a seductive shower of gold. The nakedness of the rescued orphans--Cupids here but elsewhere described as "loathsome black children" (340)--as well as Scott's baring his head leave no doubt as to the physical desire in William's transformative vision. William is no Helen, but her desiring gaze makes Scott Paris. At the same time, William's "new eyes" channel her desires in a socially acceptable direction.
In light of Scott's newfound sexiness and his train of frolicking famine babies, a comparison to that other official in charge of starving orphans, Mr. Bumble, the parish beadle in Dickens' Oliver Twist, may seem ungracious. Yet the duties that both Mr. Bumble and Scott are charged with are identical. Both characters are functionaries of a bureaucratic system whose mandate is to save the physical bodies of the starving without jeopardizing their morals--that is, without inculcating a spirit of dependence on government assistance in times of disaster. The social mechanism for achieving this delicate balance in Britain (and Ireland) took the form of the Poor Laws. (20) The mechanism in British India was the Famine Code, an encyclopedic body of legislation that was developed incrementally in the late nineteenth century for the purpose of regulating the administration of famine relief. Since the English Poor Laws formed the framework for the letter and spirit of the Famine Code, the combination of humanitarian, utilitarian, and moral impulses that characterized the former characterized the latter as well. Although the Code only came into effect once a famine was declared, its provisions were modeled on what might be needed for the relief of urban poverty in Britain.
A foundational tenet of famine policy in India (and Ireland) was distrust of governmental intervention. The market was held to be a distribution mechanism superior to anything human ingenuity could devise, and any interference in its operations risked making the situation worse. Furthermore, it was believed that interference in the operations of the market during a crisis (for instance, government restrictions on exporting grain from regions experiencing scarcity or government subsidies for imports of grain) would set a particularly bad example for the native population. The principle of nonintervention in the market created rhetorical complications for the crafters of the Code. The Resolution of the Government of India on Famine Policy (1868), one of the earliest documents crafting the Famine Code, sums up these concerns in the following tautology: "It cannot be too clearly borne in mind that in time of extreme famine, when it is impossible to supply the deficiency of food by importation, the main safeguard against general starvation is the reduction of consumption, and that this can only be effectually brought about by a rise of prices." (21) Famine is generally characterized by spiraling food prices, which lead to reduced consumption of food, and widespread "general" starvation; hence the statement offers the circular assertion that the "main safeguard" against "general starvation" is famine.
Famine relief and the administration of famine camps in British India helped to accomplish what the Poor Laws in Britain had done: transform a mainly rural, agrarian population into a proletarian work force with the skills required for building the infrastructure of a modern industrial capitalist state. The provisions of relief helped considerably in this transformation, accustoming the peasantry to the discipline of industrial labor and breaking their dependence on the land for subsistence. Famine relief was especially helpful in habituating the population to the conversion of labor into currency (either in the form of money or of specifically regulated quantities of necessary commodities). All relief was contingent on the performance of hard labor at famine camps, and the labor was usually related to the construction of roads, railway lines, dams, and other elements of the infrastructure of a modern industrial state. Famine camps were constructed at great distances from villages to ensure that only the truly desperate, those who were willing to abandon their land, would apply for relief. All who applied for relief at a camp were classified into broad categories of age and gender. Each classification listed a specific quota of the work to be performed by each individual in that category and a set amount of food determined to be appropriate remuneration for persons in that category. Less demanding work was expected of women and children, and they were given less food as well. Pregnant and nursing women, children under seven, the debilitated elderly, and the ill were offered free subsistence, but at a lower level than working women and children. A person who failed to meet the quota of work for his or her classification was docked his or her "wages" of food. (22) The Code operated in a systematic, principled, and impersonal manner. Confronted with an unknown, intransigent Other, it mandated the development of a compendium of data on a variety of subjects deemed relevant to famine relief, ranging from meteorology and agriculture to the domestic and sexual customs of nomadic peoples. It was the realization of the bureaucratic dream of an administrative system incapable of surprise and effectively omniscient. Preventing famine was not its aim; managing all aspects of a famine was.
More than any other imperial achievement--surpassing even the building of the Indian railways--the development of the Famine Code was held up by many as proof of the moral legitimacy of British occupation in India. The Code stood well into the twentieth century as an unimpeachable record of the governance of the British Raj, whose humanitarian and modernizing impulses transformed the subcontinent into a modern nation. Much more than an administrative instrument for managing famine situations, the Code was a crucial means of establishing Britain's identity as an enlightened and humanitarian empire. Ironically, while this identity depended on India's successful entry into modernity, such success would also obviate the necessity of the guiding hand of Raj governance, and thus spell the end of the empire. The operation of the Code, however, meant that there was an ongoing crisis and the continuation of a particular relation between Britain and India--that is, between British administrators and their colonial subjects. In the epigraph quoted above, Aykroyd confidently echoes the sentiment that the "people trusted the government to save them from starvation," and this trust rested on the stability of British rule and on the hierarchy of power between British authority and "subordinate services, manned by Indians"--that is, on a bureaucratic structure that represented a stable relation of political power. For Aykroyd, the stability of British rule--the "Pax Britannica" that "reigned from Kashmir to Cape Cormarin"--was evidence of the efficacy of the Code. External evidence is not required to prove this proposition: "Certainly the Code must have saved many lives."
However, in the Bengal famine of 1943, during which Aykroyd acted as Famine Commissioner, neither the efficacy of the Code nor the Pax Britannica itself could be taken for granted. Thus it is not surprising that Aykroyd would turn to Kipling's story, where famine provides the occasion for staging Englishness as a cohesive national identity defined against both the "disciplined subordinate services" of Indians who had accepted their place within the Raj, and the helpless multitudes of afflicted natives needing imperial care. However, the figure of Kipling's William--the humanitarian, modern incarnation of the Norman Conqueror--holds out both consolation and warning. Identities forged in the colonial encounter and dependent upon the recognition of the Other are always hybrids. The nation created by the original William's conquest is not Norman, but a hybrid. The conquering Norman identity is not preserved as a pure essence. The "Englishness" developed in the nineteenth century through engagements with colonial others in Britain and abroad is similarly a hybrid identity. Even as they attempt to emphasize their difference from the natives, Scott and William are both visibly marked by the India they shape. While Aykroyd's inclusion of Kipling's story in his history of famine nostalgically recalls the days of the Raj when identities and hierarchies were determinate, the story itself suggests that this memory may be, like many memories, more eloquent of the present than of the past. In a subject often regarded as the domain of statistical truths, Aykroyd's authorial choice reveals the mutability of the boundaries between fact and fiction, and reminds us that history is, after all, a particular narrative. (23)
(1.) Rudyard Kipling, "William the Conqueror," in The Day's Work (New York: Doubleday & McClure, 1899), 215. Hereafter cited parenthetically as "William."
(2.) Wallace Ruddell Aykroyd, The Conquest of Famine (London: Chatto & Windus, 1974), 59-60.
(3.) Linda Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation, 1707-1837 (New Haven: Yale UP, 1992), 6. Colley shows how the stability of British identity in the nineteenth century emerges from a century of conflict and interaction between the metropolitan English center and the Celtic peripheries. See also Raymond Williams, The Country and the City (New York: Oxford UP, 1973).
(4.) I am using the term colonial native to refer to all peoples with whom Britain had colonial engagements, including not only the indigenous peoples of other British colonies but also the "ethnic Briton" (as Colley terms it).
(5.) For more on economic and social distress in Britain, see Gareth Stedman Jones, Outcast London: A Study in the Relationship between Classes in Victorian Society (Oxford: Clarendon P, 1971). As Jones observes, London was both the metropolitan imperial center and a terra incognita that seemed to many middleclass Victorians to be the heart of darkness: "The presence of an unknown number of the casual poor, indistinguishable to many contemporaries from criminals, apparently divorced from all forms of established religion, or ties with their social superiors, inhabiting unknown cities within the capitals, constituted a disquieting alien presence in the midst of mid-Victorian plenty" (14).
(6.) The literature on the Bengal famine of 1943 is quite extensive. The Famine Inquiry Commission's Report on Bengal (New Delhi: Government of India P, 1945), an official account, emphasizes the organizational challenges and triumphs of the relief effort. Kalicharan Ghosh's Famines in Bengal, 1770-1943 (Calcutta: Indian Associated Publishing, 1944), a contemporaneous nationalistic account, focuses on the human costs of the famine and on administrative failures. For later analyses, see Amartya Sen, Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation (Oxford: Clarendon P, 1981), 52-83; and David Arnold, Famine: Social Crisis and Historical Change (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1988).
(7.) "William the Conqueror" was written for the American readership of the American Ladies' Home Journal in 1895 and subsequently anthologized in The Day's Work in 1899. For the North American context of the stories, see Andrew Hagiioannu, The Man Who Would Be Kipling: The Colonial Fiction and the Frontiers of Exile (New York: Palgrave, 2003), 61-95.
(8.) There have been several film adaptations of the novel. I am referring here to the musical Oliver! directed by Carol Reed (1968).
(9.) Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, ed. Kathleen Tillotson (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1998), 11. Hereafter cited parenthetically as Oliver Twist.
(10.) The other stories in A Day's Work echo the theme of men of action who are obstructed in their work of civilizing India by the misguided bureaucracy of the very administration whose interests they serve. As Lewis D. Wurgraft points out in The Imperial Imagination: Magic and Myth in Kipling's India (Middletown: Wesleyan UP, 1983), in his analysis of "The Bridge Builders," another of the stories in the collection The Day's Work, Kipling's colonial administrator is usually a dedicated man of action whose sound, if unpalatable, commonsense views contrast with "the blackness and inscrutability of India, as well as to the posturing and idealism of well-meaning but deluded Europeans" (147).
(11.) Max Weber, "Bureaucracy," in On Charisma and Institution Building, Heritage of Sociology Series, ed. S. N. Eisenstadt (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1968), 69, emphasis in original.
(12.) For the application of Weber's model of bureaucracy in the context of Victorian Britain, see Mary Poovey, "Thomas Chalmers, Edwin Chadwyck, and the Sublime Revolution in Nineteenth-Century Government," in Making a Social Body: British Cultural Formation, 1830-1864 (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1995), 98-114.
(13.) Jitender Gill, in "Servants of the Raj: Colonials and Their Fictions, 1770-1930" (PhD diss., University of Southern California, 2004), elaborates on the ambivalent relation of the returning colonial to the metropolitan center.
(14.) An invaluable resource for Anglo-Indian terms is Henry Yule and A. C. Burnell, Hobson-Jobson, A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases, and of Kindred Terms, Etymological, Historical, Geographical and Discursive, ed. William Crooke (1903; reprint, New Delhi: Rupa, 1994). The term bundobust is defined as 'tying and binding.' Any system or mode of regulation; discipline; a revenue settlement." The definition in the Oxford English Dictionary adds "an arrangement, organization; preparation." Additional insights on the importance of bundobust (or system and organization) in French colonial Egypt are offered in Timothy Mitchell, Colonising Egypt (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1988). Mitchell writes that a key feature of the modern colonial state is organization, which produces the effect of political certainty: "the apparent certainty with which everything is ordered and organised, calculated and rendered unambiguous--ultimately, what seems its political decidedness" (13).
(15.) Michael Satow and Ray Desmond, Railways of the Raj (London: Scolar P, 1980) offer the popular and nostalgic view of the Indian railways and British rule. Ian Kerr's Building the Railways of the Raj, 1850-1900 (New Delhi: Oxford UP, 1995), a labor history of the railways, is a useful complement.
(16.) For further analysis of the efficacy of administrators who served in Punjab, see Wurgraft, The Imperial Imagination, 32-41.
(17.) There was much discussion about the impact of the railways on famine. While many British administrators held fast to the idea (illustrated in Kipling's story) that the railways helped to bring grain into an affected region (since merchants would presumably be drawn to the high famine prices), other administrators and many Indian nationalists charged that, without restrictions, the railways made it easier for grain to move out of famine-stricken regions. Rather than being attracted to high prices, merchants would know that most people in such a region would not be able to afford to purchase grain at high prices and would not restock or might even send their grain elsewhere rather than risk wasting it. The debates over the impact of the railways on famine are discussed in Kerr and in Hari Shankar Srivastava, The History of Indian Famines and Development of Famine Policy, 1858-1918 (Agra, India: Sriram P, 1968).
(18.) For more on the uses of literary education in colonial India (especially the construction of a canon of English literature), see Gauri Vishwanathan, Masks of Conquest: Literary Study and British Rule in India (New York: Columbia UP, 1989).
(19.) In Female Masculinity (Durham: Duke UP, 1998), a study of the separate but related figure of the tomboy, Judith Halberstam writes that tomboyish behavior (such as William's) is often tolerated up to a point because "tomboyism tends to be associated with a 'natural' desire for the greater freedoms and mobilities enjoyed by boys. Very often it is read as a sign of independence and self-motivation, and tomboyism may even be encouraged to the extent that it remains comfortably linked to a stable sense of a girl identity" (6). However, the tomboy's fate is to be folded back into the properly domestic role of a woman through heterosexual love, so that tomboyish behavior is seen as a kind of presexual identity in which the girl's wished-for independence masks a desire to be loved as a woman.
(20.) For the application of the Poor Laws in Ireland, see Peter Gray, Famine, Land, and Politics: British Government and Irish Society, 1843-1850 (Dublin: Irish Academy P, 1999).
(21.) C.H. Philips, H. L. Singh, and B. N. Pandey, eds., The Evolution of India and Pakistan: 1858-1947, Select Documents (London: Oxford UP, 1962), 668-69, emphasis added.
(22.) See Srivastava for a detailed account of the provisions of nineteenth-century famine relief in India.
(23.) This project would not be possible without the help and encouragement of my parents, Mrs. Gitanjali Bhattacharya and the late Professor Sushil Kumar Bhattacharya, my colleague Dr. Harriet Linkin, Chair, Department of English at New Mexico State University, and my friend Dr. Sharilyn Nakata, Assistant Professor, Department of Classics at Luther College.
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|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2007|
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