NCERT Textbook - Colonialism And The Country Side Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

History(Prelims) by UPSC Toppers

Created by: Rajni Sharma

Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Colonialism And The Country Side Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


257
In this chapter you will see what
colonial rule meant to those who lived
in the countryside. You will meet the
zamindars of Bengal, travel to the
Rajmahal hills where the Paharias
and the Santhals lived, and then move
west to the Deccan. You will look at
the way the English East India
Company (E.I.C.) established its raj in
the countryside, implemented its
revenue policies, what these policies
meant to different sections of people,
and how they changed everyday lives.
Laws introduced by the state
have consequences for people: they
determine to an extent who grows
richer and who poorer, who acquires
new land and who loses the land they
have lived on, where peasants go
when they need money. As you will see,
however, people were not only subject
to the working of laws, they also
resisted the law by acting according to
what they believed to be just. In doing
so people defined the way in which
laws operated, thereby modifying their
consequences.
You will also come to know about
the sources that tell us about these
histories, and the problems historians
face in interpreting them. You will read
about revenue records and surveys,
journals and accounts left by surveyors
and travellers, and reports produced
by enquiry commissions.
Fig. 10.1
Cotton being carried from the village to the mandi,
Illustrated London News, 20 April 1861
Colonialism and the
Countryside
Explor Explor Explor Explor Exploring Of ing Of ing Of ing Of ing Off f f f ficial Ar icial Ar icial Ar icial Ar icial Arc c c c chiv hiv hiv hiv hives es es es es
THEME
TEN
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 2


257
In this chapter you will see what
colonial rule meant to those who lived
in the countryside. You will meet the
zamindars of Bengal, travel to the
Rajmahal hills where the Paharias
and the Santhals lived, and then move
west to the Deccan. You will look at
the way the English East India
Company (E.I.C.) established its raj in
the countryside, implemented its
revenue policies, what these policies
meant to different sections of people,
and how they changed everyday lives.
Laws introduced by the state
have consequences for people: they
determine to an extent who grows
richer and who poorer, who acquires
new land and who loses the land they
have lived on, where peasants go
when they need money. As you will see,
however, people were not only subject
to the working of laws, they also
resisted the law by acting according to
what they believed to be just. In doing
so people defined the way in which
laws operated, thereby modifying their
consequences.
You will also come to know about
the sources that tell us about these
histories, and the problems historians
face in interpreting them. You will read
about revenue records and surveys,
journals and accounts left by surveyors
and travellers, and reports produced
by enquiry commissions.
Fig. 10.1
Cotton being carried from the village to the mandi,
Illustrated London News, 20 April 1861
Colonialism and the
Countryside
Explor Explor Explor Explor Exploring Of ing Of ing Of ing Of ing Off f f f ficial Ar icial Ar icial Ar icial Ar icial Arc c c c chiv hiv hiv hiv hives es es es es
THEME
TEN
© NCERT
not to be republished
 THEMES IN INDIAN HISTORY – PART III 258
1. Bengal and the Zamindars
As you know, colonial rule was first established in
Bengal. It is here that the earliest attempts were
made to reorder rural society and establish a new
regime of land rights and a new revenue system. Let
us see what happened in Bengal in the early years
of Company (E.I.C.) rule.
1.1 An auction in Burdwan
In 1797 there was an auction in Burdwan (present-
day Bardhaman). It was a big public event. A number
of mahals (estates) held by the Raja of Burdwan
were being sold. The Permanent Settlement had
come into operation in 1793. The East India
Company had fixed the revenue that each zamindar
had to pay. The estates of those who failed to pay
were to be auctioned to recover the revenue. Since
the raja had accumulated huge arrears, his estates
had been put up for auction.
Numerous purchasers came to the auction and
the estates were sold to the highest bidder. But the
Collector soon discovered a strange twist to the tale.
Many of the purchasers turned out to be servants
and agents of the raja who had bought the lands
on behalf of their master. Over 95 per cent of the
sale at the auction was fictitious. The raja’s estates
had been publicly sold, but he remained in control
of his zamindari.
Why had the raja failed to pay the revenue? Who
were the purchasers at the auction? What does the
story tell us about what was happening in the rural
areas of eastern India at that time?
1.2 The problem of unpaid revenue
The estates of the Burdwan raj were not the only
ones sold during the closing years of the eighteenth
century. Over 75 per cent of the zamindaris changed
hands after the Permanent Settlement.
In introducing the Permanent Settlement, British
officials hoped to resolve the problems they had
been facing since the conquest of Bengal. By
the 1770s, the rural economy in Bengal was in
crisis, with recurrent famines and declining
agricultural output. Officials felt that agriculture,
trade and the revenue resources of the state could
all be developed by encouraging investment in
agriculture. This could be done by securing rights
of property and permanently fixing the rates of
Raja (literally king) was a term
that was often used to designate
powerful zamindars.
Fig. 10.2
Burdwan raja’s City Palace on
Diamond Harbour Road, Calcutta
By the late nineteenth century
many rich zamindars of Bengal
had city palaces with ballrooms,
large grounds, entrance porches
supported by Corinthian columns
like these.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 3


257
In this chapter you will see what
colonial rule meant to those who lived
in the countryside. You will meet the
zamindars of Bengal, travel to the
Rajmahal hills where the Paharias
and the Santhals lived, and then move
west to the Deccan. You will look at
the way the English East India
Company (E.I.C.) established its raj in
the countryside, implemented its
revenue policies, what these policies
meant to different sections of people,
and how they changed everyday lives.
Laws introduced by the state
have consequences for people: they
determine to an extent who grows
richer and who poorer, who acquires
new land and who loses the land they
have lived on, where peasants go
when they need money. As you will see,
however, people were not only subject
to the working of laws, they also
resisted the law by acting according to
what they believed to be just. In doing
so people defined the way in which
laws operated, thereby modifying their
consequences.
You will also come to know about
the sources that tell us about these
histories, and the problems historians
face in interpreting them. You will read
about revenue records and surveys,
journals and accounts left by surveyors
and travellers, and reports produced
by enquiry commissions.
Fig. 10.1
Cotton being carried from the village to the mandi,
Illustrated London News, 20 April 1861
Colonialism and the
Countryside
Explor Explor Explor Explor Exploring Of ing Of ing Of ing Of ing Off f f f ficial Ar icial Ar icial Ar icial Ar icial Arc c c c chiv hiv hiv hiv hives es es es es
THEME
TEN
© NCERT
not to be republished
 THEMES IN INDIAN HISTORY – PART III 258
1. Bengal and the Zamindars
As you know, colonial rule was first established in
Bengal. It is here that the earliest attempts were
made to reorder rural society and establish a new
regime of land rights and a new revenue system. Let
us see what happened in Bengal in the early years
of Company (E.I.C.) rule.
1.1 An auction in Burdwan
In 1797 there was an auction in Burdwan (present-
day Bardhaman). It was a big public event. A number
of mahals (estates) held by the Raja of Burdwan
were being sold. The Permanent Settlement had
come into operation in 1793. The East India
Company had fixed the revenue that each zamindar
had to pay. The estates of those who failed to pay
were to be auctioned to recover the revenue. Since
the raja had accumulated huge arrears, his estates
had been put up for auction.
Numerous purchasers came to the auction and
the estates were sold to the highest bidder. But the
Collector soon discovered a strange twist to the tale.
Many of the purchasers turned out to be servants
and agents of the raja who had bought the lands
on behalf of their master. Over 95 per cent of the
sale at the auction was fictitious. The raja’s estates
had been publicly sold, but he remained in control
of his zamindari.
Why had the raja failed to pay the revenue? Who
were the purchasers at the auction? What does the
story tell us about what was happening in the rural
areas of eastern India at that time?
1.2 The problem of unpaid revenue
The estates of the Burdwan raj were not the only
ones sold during the closing years of the eighteenth
century. Over 75 per cent of the zamindaris changed
hands after the Permanent Settlement.
In introducing the Permanent Settlement, British
officials hoped to resolve the problems they had
been facing since the conquest of Bengal. By
the 1770s, the rural economy in Bengal was in
crisis, with recurrent famines and declining
agricultural output. Officials felt that agriculture,
trade and the revenue resources of the state could
all be developed by encouraging investment in
agriculture. This could be done by securing rights
of property and permanently fixing the rates of
Raja (literally king) was a term
that was often used to designate
powerful zamindars.
Fig. 10.2
Burdwan raja’s City Palace on
Diamond Harbour Road, Calcutta
By the late nineteenth century
many rich zamindars of Bengal
had city palaces with ballrooms,
large grounds, entrance porches
supported by Corinthian columns
like these.
© NCERT
not to be republished
259
revenue demand. If the revenue demand of the state
was permanently fixed, then the Company could
look forward to a regular flow of revenue, while
entrepreneurs could feel sure of earning a profit
from their investment, since the state would not
siphon it off by increasing its claim. The process,
officials hoped, would lead to the emergence of a
class of yeomen farmers and rich landowners who
would have the capital and enterprise to improve
agriculture. Nurtured by the British, this class
would also be loyal to the Company.
The problem, however, lay in identifying
individuals who could both improve agriculture and
contract to pay the fixed revenue to the state. After
a prolonged debate amongst Company officials, the
Permanent Settlement was made with the rajas
and taluqdars of Bengal. They were now classified
as zamindars, and they had to pay the revenue
demand that was fixed in perpetuity. In terms of
this definition, the zamindar was not a landowner
in the village, but a revenue Collector of the state.
Zamindars had several (sometimes as many as 400)
villages under them. In Company calculations the
villages within one zamindari formed one revenue
estate. The Company fixed the total demand over the
entire estate whose revenue the zamindar contracted
to pay. The zamindar collected rent from the different
villages, paid the revenue to the Company, and
retained the difference as his income. He was expected
to pay the Company regularly, failing which his estate
could be auctioned.
1.3 Why zamindars defaulted on payments
Company officials felt that a fixed revenue demand
would give zamindars a sense of security and,
assured of returns on their investment, encourage
them to improve their estates.  In the early decades
after the Permanent Settlement, however, zamindars
regularly failed to pay the revenue demand and
unpaid balances accumulated.
The reasons for this failure were various. First: the
initial demands were very high. This was because it
was felt that if the demand was fixed for all time to
come, the Company would never be able to claim a
share of increased income from land when prices
rose and cultivation expanded. To minimise this
anticipated loss, the Company pegged the revenue
Taluqdar literally means “one
who holds a taluq” or a
connection. Taluq came to refer
to a territorial unit.
COLONIALISM AND THE COUNTRYSIDE
Fig. 10.3
Charles Cornwallis (1738-1805),
painted by Thomas Gainsborough,
1785
He was the commander of the
British forces during the American
War of Independence and the
Governor General of Bengal when
the Permanent Settlement was
introduced there in 1793.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 4


257
In this chapter you will see what
colonial rule meant to those who lived
in the countryside. You will meet the
zamindars of Bengal, travel to the
Rajmahal hills where the Paharias
and the Santhals lived, and then move
west to the Deccan. You will look at
the way the English East India
Company (E.I.C.) established its raj in
the countryside, implemented its
revenue policies, what these policies
meant to different sections of people,
and how they changed everyday lives.
Laws introduced by the state
have consequences for people: they
determine to an extent who grows
richer and who poorer, who acquires
new land and who loses the land they
have lived on, where peasants go
when they need money. As you will see,
however, people were not only subject
to the working of laws, they also
resisted the law by acting according to
what they believed to be just. In doing
so people defined the way in which
laws operated, thereby modifying their
consequences.
You will also come to know about
the sources that tell us about these
histories, and the problems historians
face in interpreting them. You will read
about revenue records and surveys,
journals and accounts left by surveyors
and travellers, and reports produced
by enquiry commissions.
Fig. 10.1
Cotton being carried from the village to the mandi,
Illustrated London News, 20 April 1861
Colonialism and the
Countryside
Explor Explor Explor Explor Exploring Of ing Of ing Of ing Of ing Off f f f ficial Ar icial Ar icial Ar icial Ar icial Arc c c c chiv hiv hiv hiv hives es es es es
THEME
TEN
© NCERT
not to be republished
 THEMES IN INDIAN HISTORY – PART III 258
1. Bengal and the Zamindars
As you know, colonial rule was first established in
Bengal. It is here that the earliest attempts were
made to reorder rural society and establish a new
regime of land rights and a new revenue system. Let
us see what happened in Bengal in the early years
of Company (E.I.C.) rule.
1.1 An auction in Burdwan
In 1797 there was an auction in Burdwan (present-
day Bardhaman). It was a big public event. A number
of mahals (estates) held by the Raja of Burdwan
were being sold. The Permanent Settlement had
come into operation in 1793. The East India
Company had fixed the revenue that each zamindar
had to pay. The estates of those who failed to pay
were to be auctioned to recover the revenue. Since
the raja had accumulated huge arrears, his estates
had been put up for auction.
Numerous purchasers came to the auction and
the estates were sold to the highest bidder. But the
Collector soon discovered a strange twist to the tale.
Many of the purchasers turned out to be servants
and agents of the raja who had bought the lands
on behalf of their master. Over 95 per cent of the
sale at the auction was fictitious. The raja’s estates
had been publicly sold, but he remained in control
of his zamindari.
Why had the raja failed to pay the revenue? Who
were the purchasers at the auction? What does the
story tell us about what was happening in the rural
areas of eastern India at that time?
1.2 The problem of unpaid revenue
The estates of the Burdwan raj were not the only
ones sold during the closing years of the eighteenth
century. Over 75 per cent of the zamindaris changed
hands after the Permanent Settlement.
In introducing the Permanent Settlement, British
officials hoped to resolve the problems they had
been facing since the conquest of Bengal. By
the 1770s, the rural economy in Bengal was in
crisis, with recurrent famines and declining
agricultural output. Officials felt that agriculture,
trade and the revenue resources of the state could
all be developed by encouraging investment in
agriculture. This could be done by securing rights
of property and permanently fixing the rates of
Raja (literally king) was a term
that was often used to designate
powerful zamindars.
Fig. 10.2
Burdwan raja’s City Palace on
Diamond Harbour Road, Calcutta
By the late nineteenth century
many rich zamindars of Bengal
had city palaces with ballrooms,
large grounds, entrance porches
supported by Corinthian columns
like these.
© NCERT
not to be republished
259
revenue demand. If the revenue demand of the state
was permanently fixed, then the Company could
look forward to a regular flow of revenue, while
entrepreneurs could feel sure of earning a profit
from their investment, since the state would not
siphon it off by increasing its claim. The process,
officials hoped, would lead to the emergence of a
class of yeomen farmers and rich landowners who
would have the capital and enterprise to improve
agriculture. Nurtured by the British, this class
would also be loyal to the Company.
The problem, however, lay in identifying
individuals who could both improve agriculture and
contract to pay the fixed revenue to the state. After
a prolonged debate amongst Company officials, the
Permanent Settlement was made with the rajas
and taluqdars of Bengal. They were now classified
as zamindars, and they had to pay the revenue
demand that was fixed in perpetuity. In terms of
this definition, the zamindar was not a landowner
in the village, but a revenue Collector of the state.
Zamindars had several (sometimes as many as 400)
villages under them. In Company calculations the
villages within one zamindari formed one revenue
estate. The Company fixed the total demand over the
entire estate whose revenue the zamindar contracted
to pay. The zamindar collected rent from the different
villages, paid the revenue to the Company, and
retained the difference as his income. He was expected
to pay the Company regularly, failing which his estate
could be auctioned.
1.3 Why zamindars defaulted on payments
Company officials felt that a fixed revenue demand
would give zamindars a sense of security and,
assured of returns on their investment, encourage
them to improve their estates.  In the early decades
after the Permanent Settlement, however, zamindars
regularly failed to pay the revenue demand and
unpaid balances accumulated.
The reasons for this failure were various. First: the
initial demands were very high. This was because it
was felt that if the demand was fixed for all time to
come, the Company would never be able to claim a
share of increased income from land when prices
rose and cultivation expanded. To minimise this
anticipated loss, the Company pegged the revenue
Taluqdar literally means “one
who holds a taluq” or a
connection. Taluq came to refer
to a territorial unit.
COLONIALISM AND THE COUNTRYSIDE
Fig. 10.3
Charles Cornwallis (1738-1805),
painted by Thomas Gainsborough,
1785
He was the commander of the
British forces during the American
War of Independence and the
Governor General of Bengal when
the Permanent Settlement was
introduced there in 1793.
© NCERT
not to be republished
 THEMES IN INDIAN HISTORY – PART III 260
demand high, arguing that the burden on zamindars
would gradually decline as agricultural production
expanded and prices rose.
Second: this high demand was imposed in the
1790s, a time when the prices of agricultural produce
were depressed, making it difficult for the ryots to
pay their dues to the zamindar. If the zamindar could
not collect the rent, how could he pay the Company?
Third: the revenue was invariable, regardless of the
harvest, and had to be paid punctually. In fact,
according to the Sunset Law, if payment did not come
in by sunset of the specified date, the zamindari was
liable to be auctioned. Fourth: the Permanent
Settlement initially limited the power of the zamindar
to collect rent from the ryot and manage his zamindari.
The Company had recognised the zamindars as
important, but it wanted to control and regulate them,
subdue their authority and restrict their autonomy.
The zamindars’ troops were disbanded, customs
duties abolished, and their “cutcheries” (courts)
brought under the supervision of a Collector appointed
by the Company. Zamindars lost their power to
organise local justice and the local police. Over time
the collectorate emerged as an alternative centre of
authority, severely restricting what the zamindar
could do. In one case, when a raja failed to pay the
revenue, a Company official was speedily dispatched
to his zamindari with explicit instructions “to take
charge of the District and to use the most effectual
means to destroy all the influence and the authority
of the raja and his officers”.
At the time of rent collection, an officer of the
zamindar, usually the amlah, came around to the
village. But rent collection was a perennial problem.
Sometimes bad harvests and low prices made
payment of dues difficult for the ryots. At other times
ryots deliberately delayed payment. Rich ryots and
village headmen – jotedars and mandals – were only
too happy to see the zamindar in trouble. The
zamindar could therefore not easily assert his power
over them. Zamindars could prosecute defaulters,
but the judicial process was long drawn. In Burdwan
alone there were over 30,000 pending suits for
arrears of rent payment in 1798.
Ryot is the way the term raiyat,
used to designate peasants
(Chapter 8), was spelt in British
records. Ryots in Bengal did
not always cultivate the land
directly, but leased it out to
under-ryots.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 5


257
In this chapter you will see what
colonial rule meant to those who lived
in the countryside. You will meet the
zamindars of Bengal, travel to the
Rajmahal hills where the Paharias
and the Santhals lived, and then move
west to the Deccan. You will look at
the way the English East India
Company (E.I.C.) established its raj in
the countryside, implemented its
revenue policies, what these policies
meant to different sections of people,
and how they changed everyday lives.
Laws introduced by the state
have consequences for people: they
determine to an extent who grows
richer and who poorer, who acquires
new land and who loses the land they
have lived on, where peasants go
when they need money. As you will see,
however, people were not only subject
to the working of laws, they also
resisted the law by acting according to
what they believed to be just. In doing
so people defined the way in which
laws operated, thereby modifying their
consequences.
You will also come to know about
the sources that tell us about these
histories, and the problems historians
face in interpreting them. You will read
about revenue records and surveys,
journals and accounts left by surveyors
and travellers, and reports produced
by enquiry commissions.
Fig. 10.1
Cotton being carried from the village to the mandi,
Illustrated London News, 20 April 1861
Colonialism and the
Countryside
Explor Explor Explor Explor Exploring Of ing Of ing Of ing Of ing Off f f f ficial Ar icial Ar icial Ar icial Ar icial Arc c c c chiv hiv hiv hiv hives es es es es
THEME
TEN
© NCERT
not to be republished
 THEMES IN INDIAN HISTORY – PART III 258
1. Bengal and the Zamindars
As you know, colonial rule was first established in
Bengal. It is here that the earliest attempts were
made to reorder rural society and establish a new
regime of land rights and a new revenue system. Let
us see what happened in Bengal in the early years
of Company (E.I.C.) rule.
1.1 An auction in Burdwan
In 1797 there was an auction in Burdwan (present-
day Bardhaman). It was a big public event. A number
of mahals (estates) held by the Raja of Burdwan
were being sold. The Permanent Settlement had
come into operation in 1793. The East India
Company had fixed the revenue that each zamindar
had to pay. The estates of those who failed to pay
were to be auctioned to recover the revenue. Since
the raja had accumulated huge arrears, his estates
had been put up for auction.
Numerous purchasers came to the auction and
the estates were sold to the highest bidder. But the
Collector soon discovered a strange twist to the tale.
Many of the purchasers turned out to be servants
and agents of the raja who had bought the lands
on behalf of their master. Over 95 per cent of the
sale at the auction was fictitious. The raja’s estates
had been publicly sold, but he remained in control
of his zamindari.
Why had the raja failed to pay the revenue? Who
were the purchasers at the auction? What does the
story tell us about what was happening in the rural
areas of eastern India at that time?
1.2 The problem of unpaid revenue
The estates of the Burdwan raj were not the only
ones sold during the closing years of the eighteenth
century. Over 75 per cent of the zamindaris changed
hands after the Permanent Settlement.
In introducing the Permanent Settlement, British
officials hoped to resolve the problems they had
been facing since the conquest of Bengal. By
the 1770s, the rural economy in Bengal was in
crisis, with recurrent famines and declining
agricultural output. Officials felt that agriculture,
trade and the revenue resources of the state could
all be developed by encouraging investment in
agriculture. This could be done by securing rights
of property and permanently fixing the rates of
Raja (literally king) was a term
that was often used to designate
powerful zamindars.
Fig. 10.2
Burdwan raja’s City Palace on
Diamond Harbour Road, Calcutta
By the late nineteenth century
many rich zamindars of Bengal
had city palaces with ballrooms,
large grounds, entrance porches
supported by Corinthian columns
like these.
© NCERT
not to be republished
259
revenue demand. If the revenue demand of the state
was permanently fixed, then the Company could
look forward to a regular flow of revenue, while
entrepreneurs could feel sure of earning a profit
from their investment, since the state would not
siphon it off by increasing its claim. The process,
officials hoped, would lead to the emergence of a
class of yeomen farmers and rich landowners who
would have the capital and enterprise to improve
agriculture. Nurtured by the British, this class
would also be loyal to the Company.
The problem, however, lay in identifying
individuals who could both improve agriculture and
contract to pay the fixed revenue to the state. After
a prolonged debate amongst Company officials, the
Permanent Settlement was made with the rajas
and taluqdars of Bengal. They were now classified
as zamindars, and they had to pay the revenue
demand that was fixed in perpetuity. In terms of
this definition, the zamindar was not a landowner
in the village, but a revenue Collector of the state.
Zamindars had several (sometimes as many as 400)
villages under them. In Company calculations the
villages within one zamindari formed one revenue
estate. The Company fixed the total demand over the
entire estate whose revenue the zamindar contracted
to pay. The zamindar collected rent from the different
villages, paid the revenue to the Company, and
retained the difference as his income. He was expected
to pay the Company regularly, failing which his estate
could be auctioned.
1.3 Why zamindars defaulted on payments
Company officials felt that a fixed revenue demand
would give zamindars a sense of security and,
assured of returns on their investment, encourage
them to improve their estates.  In the early decades
after the Permanent Settlement, however, zamindars
regularly failed to pay the revenue demand and
unpaid balances accumulated.
The reasons for this failure were various. First: the
initial demands were very high. This was because it
was felt that if the demand was fixed for all time to
come, the Company would never be able to claim a
share of increased income from land when prices
rose and cultivation expanded. To minimise this
anticipated loss, the Company pegged the revenue
Taluqdar literally means “one
who holds a taluq” or a
connection. Taluq came to refer
to a territorial unit.
COLONIALISM AND THE COUNTRYSIDE
Fig. 10.3
Charles Cornwallis (1738-1805),
painted by Thomas Gainsborough,
1785
He was the commander of the
British forces during the American
War of Independence and the
Governor General of Bengal when
the Permanent Settlement was
introduced there in 1793.
© NCERT
not to be republished
 THEMES IN INDIAN HISTORY – PART III 260
demand high, arguing that the burden on zamindars
would gradually decline as agricultural production
expanded and prices rose.
Second: this high demand was imposed in the
1790s, a time when the prices of agricultural produce
were depressed, making it difficult for the ryots to
pay their dues to the zamindar. If the zamindar could
not collect the rent, how could he pay the Company?
Third: the revenue was invariable, regardless of the
harvest, and had to be paid punctually. In fact,
according to the Sunset Law, if payment did not come
in by sunset of the specified date, the zamindari was
liable to be auctioned. Fourth: the Permanent
Settlement initially limited the power of the zamindar
to collect rent from the ryot and manage his zamindari.
The Company had recognised the zamindars as
important, but it wanted to control and regulate them,
subdue their authority and restrict their autonomy.
The zamindars’ troops were disbanded, customs
duties abolished, and their “cutcheries” (courts)
brought under the supervision of a Collector appointed
by the Company. Zamindars lost their power to
organise local justice and the local police. Over time
the collectorate emerged as an alternative centre of
authority, severely restricting what the zamindar
could do. In one case, when a raja failed to pay the
revenue, a Company official was speedily dispatched
to his zamindari with explicit instructions “to take
charge of the District and to use the most effectual
means to destroy all the influence and the authority
of the raja and his officers”.
At the time of rent collection, an officer of the
zamindar, usually the amlah, came around to the
village. But rent collection was a perennial problem.
Sometimes bad harvests and low prices made
payment of dues difficult for the ryots. At other times
ryots deliberately delayed payment. Rich ryots and
village headmen – jotedars and mandals – were only
too happy to see the zamindar in trouble. The
zamindar could therefore not easily assert his power
over them. Zamindars could prosecute defaulters,
but the judicial process was long drawn. In Burdwan
alone there were over 30,000 pending suits for
arrears of rent payment in 1798.
Ryot is the way the term raiyat,
used to designate peasants
(Chapter 8), was spelt in British
records. Ryots in Bengal did
not always cultivate the land
directly, but leased it out to
under-ryots.
© NCERT
not to be republished
261
1.4 The rise of the jotedars
While many zamindars were facing a crisis at the
end of the eighteenth century, a group of rich
peasants were consolidating their position in the
villages. In Francis Buchanan’s survey of the
Dinajpur district in North Bengal we have a vivid
description of this class of rich peasants known as
jotedars. By the early nineteenth century, jotedars
had acquired vast areas of land – sometimes as much
as several thousand acres. They controlled local trade
as well as moneylending, exercising immense power
over the poorer cultivators of the region. A large part
of their land was cultivated through sharecroppers
(adhiyars or bargadars) who brought their own
ploughs, laboured in the field, and handed over half
the produce to the jotedars after the harvest.
Within the villages, the power of jotedars was more
effective than that of zamindars. Unlike zamindars
who often lived in urban areas, jotedars were located
in the villages and exercised direct control over a
considerable section of poor villagers. They fiercely
resisted efforts by zamindars to increase the jama of
the village, prevented zamindari officials from
executing their duties, mobilised ryots who were
dependent on them, and deliberately delayed
payments of revenue to the zamindar. In fact,
when the estates of
the zamindars were
auctioned for failure to
make revenue payment,
jotedars were often
amongst the purchasers.
The jotedars were
most powerful in North
Bengal, although rich
peasants and village
headmen were emerging
as commanding figures
in the countryside in
other parts of Bengal as
well. In some places they
were called haoladars,
elsewhere they were
known as gantidars
or mandals. Their rise
inevitably weakened
zamindari authority.
Fig. 10.4
Bengal village scene, painted
by George Chinnery, 1820
Chinnery stayed in India for
23 years (1802-25), painting
portraits, landscapes and
scenes of the everyday life of
the common people. Jotedars and
moneylenders in rural Bengal
lived in houses like the one you
see on the right.
COLONIALISM AND THE COUNTRYSIDE
© NCERT
not to be republished
Read More

Complete Syllabus of Humanities/Arts

Dynamic Test

Content Category

Related Searches

Previous Year Questions with Solutions

,

shortcuts and tricks

,

Sample Paper

,

Extra Questions

,

Objective type Questions

,

Exam

,

Summary

,

ppt

,

mock tests for examination

,

MCQs

,

NCERT Textbook - Colonialism And The Country Side Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

,

study material

,

NCERT Textbook - Colonialism And The Country Side Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

,

Semester Notes

,

Viva Questions

,

pdf

,

NCERT Textbook - Colonialism And The Country Side Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

,

Important questions

,

past year papers

,

practice quizzes

,

Free

,

video lectures

;