By Amartya Sen
This booklet makes a speciality of the reasons of hunger more often than not and famines specifically. the conventional research of famines is proven to be essentially faulty, and the writer develops an alternate research.
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Additional info for Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation
41the fact that a rising trend need not eliminate big fluctuations. Indeed, there are good reasons to think that the trend of food availability per head in recent years has been a rising one in most parts of the world, 9 but nevertheless acute starvation has occurred quite often, and there is some evidence of intensification of famine threats. 10 While this is partly a problem of distribution of food between different groups in a nation -- an issue to which I shall turn presently -- there is also the time contrast (in particular, the problem of sharp falls against a generally rising trend).
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 -39diagnose it -- like a flood or a fire -- even without being armed with a precise definition.
Clearly, the poorest poor has the largest rank value q, when there are q people altogether on this side of the poverty line, while the least poor has the rank value of 1. The greater the rank value, the more the person is deprived in terms of relative deprivation with respect to others in the same category. 19 It is, thus, reasonable to argue that a poverty measure capturing this aspect of relative deprivation must make the weight on a person's income short-fall increase with his rank value r(i).