Chapter – 03 - History Ruling the Countryside
• On 12August 1765, the Mughal emperor appointed the East India Company as the Diwan of Bengal.
• As Diwan, the company became the chief financial administrator of the territory under its control.
• The company came to colonise the countryside, organize revenue resources, redefine the rights of people and produce the crops it wanted.
Revenue for the Company:
(i) The company gad become the Diwan, but still saw itself primarily as a trader.
(ii) Before 1865, the company purchased goods in India by importing gold and silver from Britain. Now the revenue collected in Bengal could financial the purchase of goods for exports.
iii) Bengal economy was facing a deep crisis.
The Need to Improve Agriculture:
(i) The company introduced Permanent Settlement in 1793.
(ii)The Rajas and taluqdars were recognized as Zamindars.
(i) Numerous zamindaris were sold off at auctions organized by the company, as anyone who failed to pay the revenue lost his zamindari.
(ii) The zamindars were not interested in the important in the improvement of land.
A New System is Devised:
(i) By the early nineteenth century many of the company officials were convinced that the system of revenue had to be changed again.
(ii) An Englishman, Holt Machenzie devised the new system which came into effect in 1822. This system was called as Mahalwari settlement.
The Munro System:
(i) In the Britain territories in the south, a new system was devised which was known as ryotwar or ryotwari.
(ii) Ryotwari ws intiated by Captain Alexander Read and developed by Thomas Munro. This system was extended all over south India.
All was Not Well:
(i) As they desired to increase the income from land, revenue officials fixed too high a revenue demand.
(ii) As peasants were unable to pay, ryots filed the countryside, and villages became deserted in many regions.
Crops for Europe:
(i) By the late eighteenth century the company was trying to expand the cultivation of opium ad indigo.
(ii) The Britishers forced cultivators to produce jute, tea, sugarcane, wheat, cotton and rice in various parts of India.
Does Colour have a History:
(i) The rich blue colour was commonly called as Indigoo.
(ii) The blue dye used in the Morris prints in nineteenth-century Britain was manufactured from Indigo plants cultivated in India.
(iii) India was the biggest supplier of indigo in the world in 19th century.
Why the Demand for Indian Indigo:
i) By the thirteenth century Indian Indigo was being used by cloth manufacturers in Italy, France and Britain to dye cloth.
ii) Indigo produce a rich blue colour whereas the dye from woad another plant was pale and dull.
iii) Indigo plantations came up in many parts of North America.
Britain turns to India:
(i) The company in India expanded the area under the indigo cultivation to meet the rising demand for indigo in Europe.
(ii) As the indigo trade grew commercial agents and officials of the company began investing in indigo production.
How was Indigo Cultivated:
(i) There were two main system of Indigo cultivation: Nij and Ryoti.
(ii) In Nij system, the planter produced indigo in lands that he directly controlled.
The Problem with Nij Cultivation:
(i) The planters found difficulty to expand the area under Nij cultivation.
(ii) Nij cultivation on a large scale required many ploughs and bullocks, investing on purchase and maintenance of ploughs was a big problem. The planters were reluctant to expand the area under Nij cultivation.
Indigo on the Land of Ryots:
(i) In Ryoti system, the planters forced the ryots to sign a contract an agreement (satta).
(ii) Those who signed the contract got cash advances from planters at low rates of interest to produce indigo.
(iii) The peasants got very low price for the indigo they produced and the cycle of loans never ended.
(iv) After an indigo harvest the land could not be sown with rice which the peasants preferred.
The ‘Blue Rebellion’ and after:
(i) In March 1859thousands of ryots in Bengal refused to grow indigo.
(ii) As the rebellion spread, ryots refused to pay rents to the planters and attacked indigo factories.
(iii) Ryots swore they would no longer take advances to sow indigo nor be bullied by the planters’ lathiyals.
(iv) The government set up the indigo commission to enquire into the system of indigo production.
(v) It declared that indigo cultivation was not profitable for ryots. Hence they could refuse to produce indigo in future.
(vi) Afte the revolt, indigo production collapsed in Bengal. The planters now shifted their operations to Bihar.