NCERT Textbook - Ruling the Countryside Class 8 Notes | EduRev

History(Prelims) by UPSC Toppers

UPSC : NCERT Textbook - Ruling the Countryside Class 8 Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


OUR PASTS – III 26
Fig. 1 – Robert Clive
accepting  the Diwani
of Bengal, Bihar and
Orissa from the Mughal
ruler in 1765
The Company Becomes the Diwan
On 12 August 1765, the Mughal emperor appointed the East India
Company as the Diwan of Bengal. The actual event most probably
took place in Robert Clive’s tent, with a few Englishmen and
Indians as witnesses. But in the painting above, the event is
shown as a majestic occasion, taking place in a grand setting.
The painter was commissioned by Clive to record the memorable
events in Clive’s life. The grant of Diwani clearly was one such
event in British imagination.
As Diwan, the Company became the chief financial
administrator of the territory under its control. Now it had to
think of administering the land and organising its revenue
resources. This had to be done in a way that could yield enough
revenue to meet the growing expenses of the company. A trading
company had also to ensure that it could buy the products it
needed and sell what it wanted.
Ruling the Countryside 3
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 2


OUR PASTS – III 26
Fig. 1 – Robert Clive
accepting  the Diwani
of Bengal, Bihar and
Orissa from the Mughal
ruler in 1765
The Company Becomes the Diwan
On 12 August 1765, the Mughal emperor appointed the East India
Company as the Diwan of Bengal. The actual event most probably
took place in Robert Clive’s tent, with a few Englishmen and
Indians as witnesses. But in the painting above, the event is
shown as a majestic occasion, taking place in a grand setting.
The painter was commissioned by Clive to record the memorable
events in Clive’s life. The grant of Diwani clearly was one such
event in British imagination.
As Diwan, the Company became the chief financial
administrator of the territory under its control. Now it had to
think of administering the land and organising its revenue
resources. This had to be done in a way that could yield enough
revenue to meet the growing expenses of the company. A trading
company had also to ensure that it could buy the products it
needed and sell what it wanted.
Ruling the Countryside 3
© NCERT
not to be republished
27
Over the years the Company also learnt that it had to
move with some caution. Being an alien power, it needed
to pacify those who in the past had ruled the countryside,
and enjoyed authority and prestige. Those who had held
local power had to be controlled but they could not be
entirely eliminated.
How was this to be done? In this chapter we will see
how the Company came to colonise the countryside, organise
revenue resources, redefine the rights of people, and produce
the crops it wanted.
Revenue for the Company
The Company had become the Diwan, but it still saw itself
primarily as a trader. It wanted a large revenue income but
was unwilling to set up any regular system of assessment
and collection. The effort was to increase the revenue as much
as it could and buy fine cotton and silk cloth as cheaply as
possible. Within five years the value of goods bought by the
Company in Bengal doubled. Before 1865, the Company had
purchased goods in India by importing gold and silver from
Britain. Now the revenue collected in Bengal could finance
the purchase of goods for export.
Soon it was clear that the Bengal economy was facing
a deep crisis. Artisans were deserting villages since they
were being forced to sell their goods to the Company at low
prices. Peasants were unable to pay the dues that were being
demanded from them. Artisanal production was in decline,
and agricultural cultivation showed signs of collapse. Then
in 1770 a terrible famine killed ten million people in Bengal.
About one-third of the population was wiped out.
RULING THE COUNTRYSIDE
Fig. 2 – A weekly market
in Murshidabad in Bengal
Peasants and artisans
from rural areas regularly
came to these weekly
markets (haats) to sell
their goods and buy what
they needed. These markets
were badly affected during
times of economic crisis.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 3


OUR PASTS – III 26
Fig. 1 – Robert Clive
accepting  the Diwani
of Bengal, Bihar and
Orissa from the Mughal
ruler in 1765
The Company Becomes the Diwan
On 12 August 1765, the Mughal emperor appointed the East India
Company as the Diwan of Bengal. The actual event most probably
took place in Robert Clive’s tent, with a few Englishmen and
Indians as witnesses. But in the painting above, the event is
shown as a majestic occasion, taking place in a grand setting.
The painter was commissioned by Clive to record the memorable
events in Clive’s life. The grant of Diwani clearly was one such
event in British imagination.
As Diwan, the Company became the chief financial
administrator of the territory under its control. Now it had to
think of administering the land and organising its revenue
resources. This had to be done in a way that could yield enough
revenue to meet the growing expenses of the company. A trading
company had also to ensure that it could buy the products it
needed and sell what it wanted.
Ruling the Countryside 3
© NCERT
not to be republished
27
Over the years the Company also learnt that it had to
move with some caution. Being an alien power, it needed
to pacify those who in the past had ruled the countryside,
and enjoyed authority and prestige. Those who had held
local power had to be controlled but they could not be
entirely eliminated.
How was this to be done? In this chapter we will see
how the Company came to colonise the countryside, organise
revenue resources, redefine the rights of people, and produce
the crops it wanted.
Revenue for the Company
The Company had become the Diwan, but it still saw itself
primarily as a trader. It wanted a large revenue income but
was unwilling to set up any regular system of assessment
and collection. The effort was to increase the revenue as much
as it could and buy fine cotton and silk cloth as cheaply as
possible. Within five years the value of goods bought by the
Company in Bengal doubled. Before 1865, the Company had
purchased goods in India by importing gold and silver from
Britain. Now the revenue collected in Bengal could finance
the purchase of goods for export.
Soon it was clear that the Bengal economy was facing
a deep crisis. Artisans were deserting villages since they
were being forced to sell their goods to the Company at low
prices. Peasants were unable to pay the dues that were being
demanded from them. Artisanal production was in decline,
and agricultural cultivation showed signs of collapse. Then
in 1770 a terrible famine killed ten million people in Bengal.
About one-third of the population was wiped out.
RULING THE COUNTRYSIDE
Fig. 2 – A weekly market
in Murshidabad in Bengal
Peasants and artisans
from rural areas regularly
came to these weekly
markets (haats) to sell
their goods and buy what
they needed. These markets
were badly affected during
times of economic crisis.
© NCERT
not to be republished
OUR PASTS – III 28
The need to improve agriculture
If the economy was in ruins, could the Company be
certain of its revenue income? Most Company officials
began to feel that investment in land had to be
encouraged and agriculture had to be improved.
How was this to be done? After two decades of debate
on the question, the Company finally introduced the
Permanent Settlement in 1793. By the terms of the
settlement, the rajas and taluqdars were recognised
as zamindars. They were asked to collect rent from
the peasants and pay revenue to the Company. The
amount to be paid was fixed permanently, that is, it
was not to be increased ever in future. It was felt that
this would ensure a regular flow of revenue into the
Company’s coffers and at the same time encourage
the zamindars to invest in improving the land. Since
the revenue demand of the state would not be
increased, the zamindar would benefit from increased
production from the land.
The problem
The Permanent Settlement, however, created problems.
Company officials soon discovered that the zamindars
were in fact not investing in the improvement of land.
The revenue that had been fixed was so high that the
zamindars found it difficult to pay. Anyone who failed to
pay the revenue lost his zamindari. Numerous zamindaris
were sold off at auctions organised by the Company.
By the first decade of the nineteenth century the
situation changed. The prices in the market rose and
cultivation slowly expanded. This meant an increase in
the income of the zamindars but no gain for the
Company since it could not increase a revenue demand
that had been fixed permanently
Even then the zamindars did not have an interest in
improving the land. Some had lost their lands in the
earlier years of the settlement; others now saw the
possibility of earning without the trouble and risk of
investment. As long as the zamindars could give out the
land to tenants and get rent, they were not interested in
improving the land.
Fig. 3 – Charles Cornwallis
Cornwallis was the Governor-
General of India when the
Permanent Settlement was
introduced.
Colebrook on
Bengal ryots
In many villages of
Bengal, some of the
powerful ryots did not
cultivate, but instead
gave out their lands to
others (the under-tenants),
taking from them very
high rents. In 1806, H. T.
Colebrook described the
conditions of these under-
tenants in Bengal:
The under-tenants,
depressed by an
excessive rent in kind,
and by usurious returns
for the cattle, seed, and
subsistence, advanced
to them, can never
extricate themselves
from debt. In so abject
a state, they cannot
labour in spirit, while
they earn a scanty
subsistence without
hope of bettering their
situation.
Activity

Why do you think Colebrook is concerned with the
conditions of the under-ryots in Bengal? Read the
preceding pages and suggest possible reasons.
Source 1
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 4


OUR PASTS – III 26
Fig. 1 – Robert Clive
accepting  the Diwani
of Bengal, Bihar and
Orissa from the Mughal
ruler in 1765
The Company Becomes the Diwan
On 12 August 1765, the Mughal emperor appointed the East India
Company as the Diwan of Bengal. The actual event most probably
took place in Robert Clive’s tent, with a few Englishmen and
Indians as witnesses. But in the painting above, the event is
shown as a majestic occasion, taking place in a grand setting.
The painter was commissioned by Clive to record the memorable
events in Clive’s life. The grant of Diwani clearly was one such
event in British imagination.
As Diwan, the Company became the chief financial
administrator of the territory under its control. Now it had to
think of administering the land and organising its revenue
resources. This had to be done in a way that could yield enough
revenue to meet the growing expenses of the company. A trading
company had also to ensure that it could buy the products it
needed and sell what it wanted.
Ruling the Countryside 3
© NCERT
not to be republished
27
Over the years the Company also learnt that it had to
move with some caution. Being an alien power, it needed
to pacify those who in the past had ruled the countryside,
and enjoyed authority and prestige. Those who had held
local power had to be controlled but they could not be
entirely eliminated.
How was this to be done? In this chapter we will see
how the Company came to colonise the countryside, organise
revenue resources, redefine the rights of people, and produce
the crops it wanted.
Revenue for the Company
The Company had become the Diwan, but it still saw itself
primarily as a trader. It wanted a large revenue income but
was unwilling to set up any regular system of assessment
and collection. The effort was to increase the revenue as much
as it could and buy fine cotton and silk cloth as cheaply as
possible. Within five years the value of goods bought by the
Company in Bengal doubled. Before 1865, the Company had
purchased goods in India by importing gold and silver from
Britain. Now the revenue collected in Bengal could finance
the purchase of goods for export.
Soon it was clear that the Bengal economy was facing
a deep crisis. Artisans were deserting villages since they
were being forced to sell their goods to the Company at low
prices. Peasants were unable to pay the dues that were being
demanded from them. Artisanal production was in decline,
and agricultural cultivation showed signs of collapse. Then
in 1770 a terrible famine killed ten million people in Bengal.
About one-third of the population was wiped out.
RULING THE COUNTRYSIDE
Fig. 2 – A weekly market
in Murshidabad in Bengal
Peasants and artisans
from rural areas regularly
came to these weekly
markets (haats) to sell
their goods and buy what
they needed. These markets
were badly affected during
times of economic crisis.
© NCERT
not to be republished
OUR PASTS – III 28
The need to improve agriculture
If the economy was in ruins, could the Company be
certain of its revenue income? Most Company officials
began to feel that investment in land had to be
encouraged and agriculture had to be improved.
How was this to be done? After two decades of debate
on the question, the Company finally introduced the
Permanent Settlement in 1793. By the terms of the
settlement, the rajas and taluqdars were recognised
as zamindars. They were asked to collect rent from
the peasants and pay revenue to the Company. The
amount to be paid was fixed permanently, that is, it
was not to be increased ever in future. It was felt that
this would ensure a regular flow of revenue into the
Company’s coffers and at the same time encourage
the zamindars to invest in improving the land. Since
the revenue demand of the state would not be
increased, the zamindar would benefit from increased
production from the land.
The problem
The Permanent Settlement, however, created problems.
Company officials soon discovered that the zamindars
were in fact not investing in the improvement of land.
The revenue that had been fixed was so high that the
zamindars found it difficult to pay. Anyone who failed to
pay the revenue lost his zamindari. Numerous zamindaris
were sold off at auctions organised by the Company.
By the first decade of the nineteenth century the
situation changed. The prices in the market rose and
cultivation slowly expanded. This meant an increase in
the income of the zamindars but no gain for the
Company since it could not increase a revenue demand
that had been fixed permanently
Even then the zamindars did not have an interest in
improving the land. Some had lost their lands in the
earlier years of the settlement; others now saw the
possibility of earning without the trouble and risk of
investment. As long as the zamindars could give out the
land to tenants and get rent, they were not interested in
improving the land.
Fig. 3 – Charles Cornwallis
Cornwallis was the Governor-
General of India when the
Permanent Settlement was
introduced.
Colebrook on
Bengal ryots
In many villages of
Bengal, some of the
powerful ryots did not
cultivate, but instead
gave out their lands to
others (the under-tenants),
taking from them very
high rents. In 1806, H. T.
Colebrook described the
conditions of these under-
tenants in Bengal:
The under-tenants,
depressed by an
excessive rent in kind,
and by usurious returns
for the cattle, seed, and
subsistence, advanced
to them, can never
extricate themselves
from debt. In so abject
a state, they cannot
labour in spirit, while
they earn a scanty
subsistence without
hope of bettering their
situation.
Activity

Why do you think Colebrook is concerned with the
conditions of the under-ryots in Bengal? Read the
preceding pages and suggest possible reasons.
Source 1
© NCERT
not to be republished
29
On the other hand, in the villages, the cultivator
found the system extremely oppressive. The rent he paid
to the zamindar was high and his right on the land was
insecure. To pay the rent he had to often take a loan
from the moneylender, and when he failed to pay the
rent he was evicted from the land he had cultivated
for generations.
A new system is devised
By the early nineteenth century many of the Company
officials were convinced that the system of revenue
had to be changed again. How could revenues be fixed
permanently at a time when the Company needed
more money to meet its expenses of administration
and trade?
In the North Western Provinces of the Bengal
Presidency (most of this area is now in Uttar Pradesh),
an Englishman called Holt Mackenzie devised the new
system which came into effect in 1822. He felt that
the village was an important social institution in north
Indian society and needed to be preserved. Under
his directions, collectors went from village to village,
inspecting the land, measuring the fields, and recording
the customs and rights of different groups. The
estimated revenue of each plot within a village
was added up to calculate the revenue that each
village (mahal) had to pay. This demand  was to be
revised periodically, not permanently fixed. The charge
of collecting the revenue and paying it to the Company
was given to the village headman, rather than the
zamindar. This system came to be known as the
mahalwari settlement.
The Munro system
In the British territories in the south there was a similar
move away from the idea of Permanent Settlement. The
new system that was devised came to be known as the
ryotwar (or ryotwari). It was tried on a small scale by
Captain Alexander Read in some of the areas that were
taken over by the Company after the wars with Tipu
Sultan. Subsequently developed by Thomas Munro, this
system was gradually extended all over south India.
Read and Munro felt that in the south there were no
traditional zamindars. The settlement, they argued, had
to be made directly with the cultivators (ryots) who had
tilled the land for generations. Their fields had to be
carefully and separately surveyed before the revenue
assessment was made. Munro thought that the British
RULING THE COUNTRYSIDE
Mahal – In British
revenue records mahal
is a revenue estate
which may be a village
or a group of villages.
Fig. 4 – Thomas Munro, Governor
of Madras (1819 -26)
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 5


OUR PASTS – III 26
Fig. 1 – Robert Clive
accepting  the Diwani
of Bengal, Bihar and
Orissa from the Mughal
ruler in 1765
The Company Becomes the Diwan
On 12 August 1765, the Mughal emperor appointed the East India
Company as the Diwan of Bengal. The actual event most probably
took place in Robert Clive’s tent, with a few Englishmen and
Indians as witnesses. But in the painting above, the event is
shown as a majestic occasion, taking place in a grand setting.
The painter was commissioned by Clive to record the memorable
events in Clive’s life. The grant of Diwani clearly was one such
event in British imagination.
As Diwan, the Company became the chief financial
administrator of the territory under its control. Now it had to
think of administering the land and organising its revenue
resources. This had to be done in a way that could yield enough
revenue to meet the growing expenses of the company. A trading
company had also to ensure that it could buy the products it
needed and sell what it wanted.
Ruling the Countryside 3
© NCERT
not to be republished
27
Over the years the Company also learnt that it had to
move with some caution. Being an alien power, it needed
to pacify those who in the past had ruled the countryside,
and enjoyed authority and prestige. Those who had held
local power had to be controlled but they could not be
entirely eliminated.
How was this to be done? In this chapter we will see
how the Company came to colonise the countryside, organise
revenue resources, redefine the rights of people, and produce
the crops it wanted.
Revenue for the Company
The Company had become the Diwan, but it still saw itself
primarily as a trader. It wanted a large revenue income but
was unwilling to set up any regular system of assessment
and collection. The effort was to increase the revenue as much
as it could and buy fine cotton and silk cloth as cheaply as
possible. Within five years the value of goods bought by the
Company in Bengal doubled. Before 1865, the Company had
purchased goods in India by importing gold and silver from
Britain. Now the revenue collected in Bengal could finance
the purchase of goods for export.
Soon it was clear that the Bengal economy was facing
a deep crisis. Artisans were deserting villages since they
were being forced to sell their goods to the Company at low
prices. Peasants were unable to pay the dues that were being
demanded from them. Artisanal production was in decline,
and agricultural cultivation showed signs of collapse. Then
in 1770 a terrible famine killed ten million people in Bengal.
About one-third of the population was wiped out.
RULING THE COUNTRYSIDE
Fig. 2 – A weekly market
in Murshidabad in Bengal
Peasants and artisans
from rural areas regularly
came to these weekly
markets (haats) to sell
their goods and buy what
they needed. These markets
were badly affected during
times of economic crisis.
© NCERT
not to be republished
OUR PASTS – III 28
The need to improve agriculture
If the economy was in ruins, could the Company be
certain of its revenue income? Most Company officials
began to feel that investment in land had to be
encouraged and agriculture had to be improved.
How was this to be done? After two decades of debate
on the question, the Company finally introduced the
Permanent Settlement in 1793. By the terms of the
settlement, the rajas and taluqdars were recognised
as zamindars. They were asked to collect rent from
the peasants and pay revenue to the Company. The
amount to be paid was fixed permanently, that is, it
was not to be increased ever in future. It was felt that
this would ensure a regular flow of revenue into the
Company’s coffers and at the same time encourage
the zamindars to invest in improving the land. Since
the revenue demand of the state would not be
increased, the zamindar would benefit from increased
production from the land.
The problem
The Permanent Settlement, however, created problems.
Company officials soon discovered that the zamindars
were in fact not investing in the improvement of land.
The revenue that had been fixed was so high that the
zamindars found it difficult to pay. Anyone who failed to
pay the revenue lost his zamindari. Numerous zamindaris
were sold off at auctions organised by the Company.
By the first decade of the nineteenth century the
situation changed. The prices in the market rose and
cultivation slowly expanded. This meant an increase in
the income of the zamindars but no gain for the
Company since it could not increase a revenue demand
that had been fixed permanently
Even then the zamindars did not have an interest in
improving the land. Some had lost their lands in the
earlier years of the settlement; others now saw the
possibility of earning without the trouble and risk of
investment. As long as the zamindars could give out the
land to tenants and get rent, they were not interested in
improving the land.
Fig. 3 – Charles Cornwallis
Cornwallis was the Governor-
General of India when the
Permanent Settlement was
introduced.
Colebrook on
Bengal ryots
In many villages of
Bengal, some of the
powerful ryots did not
cultivate, but instead
gave out their lands to
others (the under-tenants),
taking from them very
high rents. In 1806, H. T.
Colebrook described the
conditions of these under-
tenants in Bengal:
The under-tenants,
depressed by an
excessive rent in kind,
and by usurious returns
for the cattle, seed, and
subsistence, advanced
to them, can never
extricate themselves
from debt. In so abject
a state, they cannot
labour in spirit, while
they earn a scanty
subsistence without
hope of bettering their
situation.
Activity

Why do you think Colebrook is concerned with the
conditions of the under-ryots in Bengal? Read the
preceding pages and suggest possible reasons.
Source 1
© NCERT
not to be republished
29
On the other hand, in the villages, the cultivator
found the system extremely oppressive. The rent he paid
to the zamindar was high and his right on the land was
insecure. To pay the rent he had to often take a loan
from the moneylender, and when he failed to pay the
rent he was evicted from the land he had cultivated
for generations.
A new system is devised
By the early nineteenth century many of the Company
officials were convinced that the system of revenue
had to be changed again. How could revenues be fixed
permanently at a time when the Company needed
more money to meet its expenses of administration
and trade?
In the North Western Provinces of the Bengal
Presidency (most of this area is now in Uttar Pradesh),
an Englishman called Holt Mackenzie devised the new
system which came into effect in 1822. He felt that
the village was an important social institution in north
Indian society and needed to be preserved. Under
his directions, collectors went from village to village,
inspecting the land, measuring the fields, and recording
the customs and rights of different groups. The
estimated revenue of each plot within a village
was added up to calculate the revenue that each
village (mahal) had to pay. This demand  was to be
revised periodically, not permanently fixed. The charge
of collecting the revenue and paying it to the Company
was given to the village headman, rather than the
zamindar. This system came to be known as the
mahalwari settlement.
The Munro system
In the British territories in the south there was a similar
move away from the idea of Permanent Settlement. The
new system that was devised came to be known as the
ryotwar (or ryotwari). It was tried on a small scale by
Captain Alexander Read in some of the areas that were
taken over by the Company after the wars with Tipu
Sultan. Subsequently developed by Thomas Munro, this
system was gradually extended all over south India.
Read and Munro felt that in the south there were no
traditional zamindars. The settlement, they argued, had
to be made directly with the cultivators (ryots) who had
tilled the land for generations. Their fields had to be
carefully and separately surveyed before the revenue
assessment was made. Munro thought that the British
RULING THE COUNTRYSIDE
Mahal – In British
revenue records mahal
is a revenue estate
which may be a village
or a group of villages.
Fig. 4 – Thomas Munro, Governor
of Madras (1819 -26)
© NCERT
not to be republished
OUR PASTS – III 30
should act as paternal father figures protecting the ryots
under their charge.
All was not well
Within a few years after the new systems were imposed
it was clear that all was not well with them. Driven by
the desire to increase the income from land, revenue
officials fixed too high a revenue demand. Peasants were
unable to pay, ryots fled the countryside, and villages
became deserted in many regions. Optimistic officials
had imagined that the new systems would transform
the peasants into rich enterprising farmers. But this
did not happen.
Crops for Europe
The British also realised that the countryside could
not only yield revenue, it could also grow the crops
that Europe required. By the late eighteenth century
the Company was trying its best to expand the
cultivation of opium and indigo. In the century and a
half that followed, the British persuaded or forced
cultivators in various parts of India to produce other
crops: jute in Bengal, tea in Assam, sugarcane in the
United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh), wheat in Punjab,
cotton in Maharashtra and Punjab, rice in Madras.
How was this done? The British used a variety of
methods to expand the cultivation of crops that they
needed. Let us take a closer look at the story of one such
crop, one such method of production.
Does colour have a
history?
Figs. 5 and 6 are two
images of cotton prints.
The image on the
left (Fig. 5) shows a
kalamkari print created
by weavers of Andhra
Pradesh in India. On
the right is a floral
cotton print designed
and produced by
William Morris, a
famous poet and artist
of nineteenth-century
Britain. There is one
thing common in the
Fig. 5 – A kalamkari print,
twentieth- century India
Fig. 6 – A Morris cotton print, late-
nineteenth-century England
Activity

Imagine that you are a
Company representative
sending a report back
to England about the
conditions in rural areas
under Company rule.
What would you write?
© NCERT
not to be republished
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