Q. 1 . Explain any three reasons for the fixture of payments by the Zamindars.
Ans. The British introduced the system of Permanent Settlement in Bengal. They thought that the fixed revenue would imbibe a sense of security among Zamindars. But contrary to this perception, the Zamindars regularly failed to pay the revenue. This resulted in the accumulation of unpaid balances. The Zamindars failed to make regular payments of revenue due to the following reasons:
(a) The rate of revenue was very high and was fixed. The East India Company had thought that it would never be able to claim a share in the increased income from land if at any stage, the prices rose and the cultivation expanded. The Company also argued that the burden on the Zamindars would slowly come down with increase in agricultural production and the prices of agricultural produces.
(b) The amount of revenue was fixed during the period of economic depression. The Ryots found it difficult to pay their dues to the Zamindars. As such the Zamindars were unable to pay the revenue to the East India Company.
(c) Since the revenue was fixed and had to be paid punctually even if the harvest was not good, there was the enforcement of Sunset law. If any Zamindar did not make the payment before the sunset on the specific day, his Estate was auctioned.
(d) The Permanent Settlement had reduced the power of the Zamindars to collect rent from Ryot.
Q. 2. “Jotedars inevitably weakened Zamindars in Bengal by the end of the 18th century.” Give arguments to support the statement.
Ans. In early nineteenth century, Jotedars were a class of rich peasants. They acquired vast area of land and controlled local trade as well as money lending and exercised immense power over the poorer cultivators of the region. A large part of their land was cultivated through share croppers who brought their own ploughs, labours in the field and handed over half the produce to Jotedars after the harvest. Within the villages, the power of Jotedars was more effective than that of Zamindars who often lived in urban areas whereas the Jotedars were located in the villages and exercised direct control over a considerable section of poor villagers. They forcefully resisted efforts by Zamindars to increase the Jama of the village, prevented Zamindar’s officials from executing their duties, mobilised Ryots who were dependent on them and deliberately delayed payments of revenue to Zamindar. When the Estates of the Zamindars were auctioned for failure to make revenue payment, Jotedars were often the purchasers. So, the rise of Jotedars inevitably weakened Zamindari authority.
Q. 3 . Explain how far East India Company subdued the authority of Zamindars in Bengal during 18th century.
“The East India Company had recognised the Zamindars’ importance but wanted to control and regulate them.” Explain the steps taken by them to subdue their authority in the 18th century.
Ans. Though the East India Company had recognised the Zamindars, yet it wanted to control and regulate them. The Company subdued the Zamindars’ authority and restricted their power. The troops of the Zamindars were disbanded by the Company and custom duties were abolished. Their cutcheries (courts) were brought under the supervision of a collector appointed by the East India Company. Subsequently, the Zamindars lost their authority to organize local justice and local police. Now, the collectorate emerged as an alternative centre of power and the authority of the Zamindars was severely reduced. Also, the Permanent Settlement initially limited the power of the Zamindar to collect rent from the Ryot.
Q. 4. “The argument and evidence offered by the Fifth Report cannot be accepted uncritically.” Give arguments.
Critically examine “the Fifth Report” of late eighteenth century.
Ans. The Fifth Report was the report on the administration and activities of the East India Company in India. From the time, the Company established its rule in Bengal in the mid 1760s, its activities were closely watched and debated in England. The report ran upto 1002 pages. There were many in England who opposed monopoly that the East India Company had overtrade with India and China, who wanted a revocation of the Royal Charter that gave Company this monopoly.
Moreover, the private traders wanted a share in Indian trade and the British industries were keen to open up the Indian market for British manufacturers. Many political groups argued that the conquest of Bengal was benefiting only the East India Company but not the British National. Information about Company’s misrule and maladministration was hotly debated in Britain and incidents of the greed and corruption of Company officials were widely publicised in the press.
The British Parliament passed a series of Acts in late 18th century to regulate the rulers of the Company in India. The Acts forced the Company to produce regular reports on the administration of India and appointed committees to inquire into the affairs of the Company. The Fifth Report was one such report produced by a selected committee. Thus, it became the basis of intense Parliamentary affairs on the nature of the East India Company’s rule in India.
Q.5. “By the 1850s, the Santhals felt that the time had come to rebel against Zamindars, Moneylenders and the Colonial State.” Identify aspects related to the statement.
Ans. The Santhals rose up in rebellion against the British rule
(i) The Santhals settled on the peripheries of the Rajmahal Hill and started cultivating a range of commercial crops for the market, and dealing with traders and moneylenders according to permanent settlement.
(ii) The Santhals found that the land they had brought under cultivation was slipping away from their hands due to Britishers.
(iii) The State was levying heavy taxes on the land that the Santhals had cleared, moneylenders (dikus) were charging them high rates of interest and taking over the land when debts remained unpaid, and Zamindars were asserting control over the Damin area.
(iv) By the 1850s, the Santhals felt that the time had come to rebel against Zamindars, Moneylenders and the Colonial State, to create an ideal world for themselves where they would rule.
(v) It was after the Santhal Revolt (1855-56) that the Santhal Pargana was created. The Colonial State hoped that by creating a new territory for the Santhals and imposing some special laws, the Santhals could be conciliated
Q.6. Who were the Hill Folk? Why were they so apprehensive of Buchanan’s visit to Rajmahal Hills in the 19th century? Explain.
Ans. The Paharias were known as the Hill Folk. They lived in the vicinity of the Rajmahal Hills. They earned their livelihood from the forest produce and also practised shifting cultivation. Buchanan reached the Rajmahal Hills in the early 19th century. He found those Hills as impenetrable. They posed a great risk and danger to the travellers. Buchanan also found the Hilly people as hostile, apprehensive and not willing to talk to any traveller. In fact, all the Paharias looked at him with suspicion and distrust. When he arrived at a village with his army of people, he was immediately perceived as an Agent of the Sarkar, i.e., the British Government.
Q.7. Why were the Paharias, living in the Rajmahal Hills, forced to withdraw deeper into the Hills? How was their life affected?
Ans. Due to pacification campaigns of British and continuation of their policies, the Paharias living in the Hills were forced to withdraw deeper into the Hills, insulating themselves from hostile forces and carrying on a war with outsiders. Buchanan travelled through the region in the winter of 1810-11. The Paharias at that time naturally viewed him with suspicious and distrust. Their Movement into Hills destroyed their way of life and means of survival. It also snatched away their control over their forests and land.
Q.8. Explain how the Paharias of Rajmahal Hills used to earn their livelihood during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Ans. Paharias are the people in and around Rajmahal Hills subsisting on forest produce and practicing shifting cultivation. They cleared patches of forest by cutting bushes and burning the undergrowth. On these patches, rich in potash from the ashes, they grew pulses and millets for consumption. They scratched the ground lightly with hoes, cultivated the cleared land for a few years, let it rest to recover its fertility and moved to a new area. From the forest, they collected mahua for food, silk cocoons and resins for sale and wood for charcoal production. The undergrowth that spread like a mat below the trees and the patches of grass that covered the lands left fallow provided for cattle. Their life as hunters, shifting cultivators, food gatherers, charcoal producers, silkworm rearers was intimately connected to the forest. They lived in huts within tamarind grooves and rested under mango trees. They considered the land as the basis of their identity and survival. They resisted any intrusion of outsiders and their leaders maintained the unity of the group, settled disputes and led the tribe in battles with other tribes. They regularly raided the plains where settled agriculturists lived. These raids were necessary for survival especially in years of scarcity, way of asserting power over settled communities and Zamindars paid tribute to the Paharia Chief for purchasing peace and traders paid tolls, to use the passes and ensure their goods were safe. These were the ways that Paharias used to earn their livelihood.
Q.9. “The battle between the hoe and the plough was a long one.” Substantiate the statement with reference to the Santhals and Paharias of Rajmahal Hills during 18th century.
Ans. From the 18th century revenue records and the records of Buchanan, we learn that the people of Rajmahal Hills were known as Paharias. They lived subsisting on forest produce and practised shifting cultivation. They cleared patches of forest by burning the bushes and undergrowth and on these patches, rich in potash from the ashes, they grew pulses and millets for consumption. They scratched the ground lightly with hoes, cultivate the cleared land for a few years, let it rest to recover its fertility and moved to a new area. They collected mahua for food, silk cocoons and resins for sale and wood for charcoal production. They were connected to the forest as hunters, shifting cultivators, food gatherers and considered the land as theirs. They resisted any intrusion of people and their leaders maintained the unity.
The Santhals came to Bengal in 1780, Zamindars hired them to reclaim land and expand cultivation and the British made them settle in the Jangal Mahal. The Paharias were resistant and turbulent, they refused to cut forests, touch the plough, whereas Santhals appeared to be ideal settlers as they were ploughing and clearing the forests. Santhals were given land and settled in the foothills of Rajmahal and large area of land called Damin-i-Koh were demarcated for them. They were to live, plough and become settled peasants. Thus, Santhals settled in Rajmahal Hills displacing the Paharias from the foothills of the Rajmahal.
Q.10. What was Damin-i-Koh? Why did Santhals resist against British during eighteenth century? Give three reasons.
Ans. By 1832, large area of land was demarcated as Damin-i-Koh, in the foothills of Rajmahal and it was declared as the land of the Santhals. They were to practice plough agriculture and become settled peasants. The Santhals soon found that they are losing their lands, the State was taxing them heavily. Moneylenders were charging them high rates of interest and taking over the land when debts were not paid and Zamindars were taking control of the Damin area. Hence, by 1850s, the Santhals felt that the time had come to rebel against the Zamindars, Moneylenders and the Colonial State in order to create an ideal rule for themselves.
Q.11. Examine the impact of ‘Limitation Laws’ passed by the British in 1859.
Ans. In 1859, the British passed the Limitation Law, which stated that the loans signed between the moneylenders and Ryots would be valid for 3 years only. The purpose of this law was to check the accumulation of interest over time. The moneylenders turned the law around, forcing the Ryot to sign a new bond every three years. At the time of signing a new bond, the unpaid balance and the accumulated interest was entered as the principal on which new interest was charged. Peasants were made to sign and put thumb impression on the documents, though they did not know what they were signing. They feared the written bond, but had no choice as moneylenders were unwilling to give money without legal bonds.
Q.12. What was the impact of American Civil War on the cotton industry in India?
Ans. Before the decade of 1860, around 2/3 of the cotton imported into Britain as raw material came from America. Britain felt that India can supply cotton to her in case of lack of supply of cotton from America as the soil and labour was available in India. When in 1861, Civil War broke in America, panic spread in Britain and the Cotton Exporters in Bombay tried to fulfill the British needs. They extended loans to the people to secure the produce.
Q.13. What was the Limitation Law? Why was this considered as a symbol of oppression against the Ryots of the 19th century? Give three reasons.
Examine the circumstances that led to the passing of ‘Limitations Law’ by the British in 1859.
Ans. In 1859, the British passed the Limitation Law, which stated that the loans signed between the moneylenders and Ryots would be valid for 3 years only. The purpose of this law was to check the accumulation of interest over time. The moneylenders turned the law around, forcing the Ryot to sign a new bond every three years. At the time of signing a new bond, the unpaid balance and the accumulated was interest was entered as the principal on which new interest was charged. Peasants were made to sign and put thumb impression on the documents, though they did not know what they were signing. They feared the written bond, but had no choice as moneylenders were unwilling to give money without legal bonds.
Q.14. Examine how Ricardo’s idea of land ownership was introduced in the ‘Bombay Deccan’.
Ans. According to Ricardian theory, a land owner should have a claim only to the average rent that prevailed at a given time. When the land yielded more than this ‘average rent’ the landowner had a surplus that the state needed to tax. If the tax was not levied, cultivators were likely to turn into rentiers and their surplus income was unlikely to be used productively for the land. Many British officials in India thought that the history of Bengal confirmed Ricardo’s theory. The Zamindars seemed to have turned into rentiers leasing out land and living on the rental incomes.
It was, necessary to have a different system. The Revenue System that was introduced came to be known as Ryotwar Settlement where the revenue was directly settled with the Ryot unlike the Bengal system. The average income from different types of soil was estimated, the revenue paying capacity of the Ryot was determined and then a proportion was fixed as the share of the state. The land was resurveyed every 30 years and the revenue rates increased. Therefore, the revenue demand was no longer permanent.
Q. 15. What explains the anger of the Deccan Ryot against the moneylenders?
Critically examine the experience of injustice felt by Ryot on refusal of extending loans to them after 1830s.
Ans. Following were the main reasons of anger of the Deccan Ryots against the moneylenders: Moneylenders refused to extend loans to Ryots. Ryots felt that moneylender were insensitive to their plight and miserable condition. Moneylenders were disobeying the traditional customary norms of rural areas. For example, the amount of interest could not exceed the principal amount. Paid amount of interest was also being included in new loan deeds so that moneylenders could remain away from the hands of law and his amount remained as it is. The Ryots feared the written bond but had to put the thumb impression, without knowing what is written. No receipt was given to Peasant in case of the repayment of loan. Ryots also complained about moneylenders manipulating and forging accounts.
Q.16. Assess the impact of American Civil War on the cotton imports of the British. Explain the impact of American War of 1861 on Indian Peasants.
Ans. As a boom in cotton market lasted for long, Indian cotton merchants began to visualise capturing of world market in raw cotton by permanently replacing USA. But this condition changed in 1865. American Civil War came to an end, it again began producing cotton. As a result, export of cotton to British reduced. The Export Merchants of Maharashtra were no longer keen in providing long-term loans. They observed that demand of Indian cotton is decreasing. So, they stopped their business and refused to give advance to peasants. Now they began concentrating on their recovery of loans. In this way, a source of taking loans, for peasants, came to an end.
Q.17. Explain the impact of American War of 1861 on Indian Peasants.
Ans. Before the decades of 1860, Britain was dependent on America for the import of cotton. Most of the raw cotton requirement was from America. But after the Civil War in 1861, the amount of cotton to Britain from USA reduced. Soil and labour were favourable in India and Indians grew cotton. Indian Peasants were given loan to grow cotton. Landlords did not hesitate giving long-term loan. Soon, some Peasants became rich and this had an impact in the development of the Deccan countryside. Between 1860–1864 cotton produce increased. Hence, by 1862, over 90% of the cotton was exported from India to Britain.
Q.18 . Explain the impact of refusal of moneylenders to extend loans to Ryots around 1865, under the Colonial rule in India.
Ans. As a boom in cotton market lasted for long, Indian cotton merchants began to visualise the capturing of world market in raw cotton by permanently displacing the USA. But this condition changed in 1865. American Civil War came to an end and America again began to produce cotton. As a result, Indian export of cotton to British steadily declined. Under these circumstances, moneylenders and export merchants of Maharashtra were no longer keen on providing long-term loan. The refusal of moneylenders to extend loans enraged the Ryots. What infuriated them was not that they got deeper into debt, or they were utterly dependent on the Moneylenders for survival, but the moneylenders were insensitive to their plight. The moneylenders were violating the customary norms of the countryside.