"In recent memory, the visitation from such a calamity occurred in 1974. In the pre-independence days, more often than not, famine-like condition prevailed in the countryside. In the more remote past during the era of domination of British colonialism, devastating famines decimated the rural population in 1943. Barring other small and big famines, history records another famine in the then Bengal only 16 years after the East India Company usurped political power of this land in 1757. Understandably, the famine came in the wake of indiscriminate looting, and plunder by the Company and its local hirelings that laid waste the countryside."
Very good article on the status of food in India, and food access by the ultra poor