SMU Journal of Undergraduate Research


Some of the most profound effects Britain imposed on society in Orissa, India came as a result of the missions that formed the majority of the protective infrastructure during the Orissa famine. Shortly after the British began their occupation of Orissa, a network of Protestant Christian missions based in England began to move into the region. Leadership came from the Christian Missionary Society, an Evangelical Anglican group, as well as Baptist figures such as Rev. J. Buckley. Their move was difficult, and for many years unsuccessful. However, the British East India Company and the Raj that followed it would pave the way for an increase in mission power through their laissez-faire policies of ignoring preexisting infrastructure and discontinuing preexisting social support systems. The missions, through their network of periodical publications, were then able to position themselves as a charitable counterpoint to the mainstream ideology of free markets at the time. In 1865, when a harvest failed as a result of British lack of infrastructure maintenance, the Protestant mission network’s opportunity arrived. The famine left many children without caretakers, and the missions, having begun a precedent of taking in orphans, became one of the only options for these children. The missions completed their takeover after the British first refused to acknowledge the famine, and then offered an ineffective response. The mission takeover quickly became so complete that secular authorities turned those seeking to give charity to the missions, since missions were some of the only organizations with a history of working directly with people in the region. The lives and identities of these famine orphans formed a microcosm of the changes to Orissa over the course of the Orissa famine.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License