Like so many other sectors of domestic industry, Indian agriculture was decimated by British colonialism. In order to protect and strengthen colonial rule, the British created an artificial class system in the Indian countryside in the hopes that a new class of landlords would act as a reliable political foundation for the Raj.
The so-called Zamindars did indeed fulfill this function, but unfortunately, they did nothing for the Indian agricultural economy. The Zamindars systematically squeezed every last penny out of the land they owned, impoverishing the local peasantry and turning them into tenants with no rights, who could thus easily be evicted from the land they had worked for generations.
As farmers were increasingly required to grow cash crops to be exported to Great Britain, much domestic agricultural produce was no longer available for use in the village, which was the foundation of Indian rural life. This had the knock-on effect of making villages less self-reliant and more vulnerable to famine in the wake of natural disasters.