Before we go forward to know about the land revenue system in British India, let’s see what Land revenue means. Today, we will talk about everything about land revenue systems in British India. This will help you understand Land Revenue System in British India for clearing the UPSC CSE.
Land revenue in British India is one of the most important topics that an IAS aspirant should know about. So, without wasting any further time, let’s delve into it.
About Land Revenue System in British India
It is a tax or revenue imposed on the agricultural production on land. The British authority collected this tax through two methods. One was as a percentage of the share of the total crop produced. And second, through a monetary value fixed on the land, and the farmer had to pay it. It was the primary source of income for the Britishers in India.
Land revenue system in British India
After the Mughals, in 1765, the British got the Diwani rights of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa. And to increase land revenue was one of the most important aims of the British East India Company. They did everything to get the most out of it without caring about the poor peasants. Before the independence, there were three types of the land revenue system. These are Zamidar System, Mahalwari System, and Ryotwari System. These systems had different payment methods.
Zamindar System followed a Permanent Settlement System framework. It was first introduced by Lord Cornwallis in the year 1793. This system is also known as Jagirdari and also Bizwedari. The British gave the right to the zamindars to supervise land within their territory. They could enforce their decision on farmers’ land in case the farmers failed to pay tax. They often sold the land to others or snatched ownership right from poor farmers. Zamindars had agents who used to collect the revenues from the poor peasants.
Zamindar had to give 10/11th of the collected revenue to the government. They could keep the remaining 1/11th they kept for themselves. This system was prominent in West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, UP, Andhra Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh.
Impacts of zamindari System
- For the cultivators, the system was quite oppressive as the amount they had to pay to the zamindars was really high. Besides, they were also suffering from insecurities that they might have to lose the land.
- The cultivators had to take a loan to pay the heavy taxes.
- Zamindars, too, found that the amount was high. And if they couldn’t provide the amount, they lost their position.
An Englishman, Holt Mackenzie, introduced the Mahalwari System in almost all the Northwestern Provinces of the Bengal Presidency, Punjab, and in Central provinces. It is an ungraded form of the Zamindar System. Under the system, headmen of the village or landlords collected the land revenue from farmers on behalf of the entire village. The village headmen include mainly the elders from higher castes. A village was considered as the one big unit and was named ‘Mahal.’ One mahal was the one unit from where they will gather revenue.
Impacts of Mahalwari System
- In this system, only some of the big families could manage to take the land rights and all the villagers.
- One of the major problems with this system was, there was no stable revenue that the government wanted. The survey was all based on assumptions, and for this reason, corruption made its place.
Captain Alexander Read and Sir Thomas Munro introduced Ryotwari System at the end of the 18th century. Then he became the governor of the Madras Presidency from the year 1819 to 1826. And the government introduced the system in the southern Indian states. It was evident in provinces like Malabar, Coimbatore, Madras, Assam, and Madurai. Later this was also adopted in Maharashtra and East Bengal. Under this system, the revenue was directly paid by the farmers to the state. This system gave the individual cultivator, who is known as ‘Ryot,’ the full rights to sell, transfer, and lease the land. They could not expel individual cultivators from the land as long as they continue to pay rent. In this system, there were no such middlemen who collected revenue from them and gave that to the state.
Impacts of Ryotwari System
- The peasants were not benefited from this system. And the farmers were forced to pay the revenue even in the time of famines and flood. If they were unable to pay the revenue, they were forced to get out of their land.
- Under this system, the Mahajan and the money lenders enjoyed torturing the poor peasants, who couldn’t return their money.
Apart from these three major land revenue systems, there were some other systems as well. Few examples include Taluqdari System and the Malguari system. In all these systems, some of them thought that it might benefit the farmers and the peasants, but it never happened. When the demand for the revenues went higher, they had no other option but to flee. Let us know if this helped you or not. If you want to read more like this, visit our website.