Land Revenue Systems in British India: The Ryotwari & Mahalwari Systems Of Land Revenue In British

The Ryotwari System

The Ryotwari system was mainly implemented in Madras and Bombay. According to this arrangement, conditions were fixed for each landholder to accept the land owner and pay the rent along with him. The reason for doing this was that these places lacked zamindars (big landowners). Therefore, Captain Reed and Thomas Munro suggested settlement with actual farmers. They accepted almost half of the income from land produce as rent. One of his arguments was also that the company did not get the full benefits from the permanent arrangement; Because some part of the rent was kept by the landlord himself. Apart from this, the amount of rent to be taken in the permanent system was also fixed. Therefore, even if there was more production, the government did not get any benefit from it, only the zamindars benefited from it. For this reason, the amount of rent was not fixed permanently in the Ryotwari system. Changes could be made after 20-30 years. The government had the freedom to increase the amount of rent. The peasants were free to either retain their ownership of the land by paying rent to the government or, in case of failure to pay the rent, or voluntarily withdraw their ownership of the land. To pay the rent, he could give his land to other farmers for cultivation, he could mortgage it, he could even sell it. This system was implemented in 1812 AD.

Consequences of Ryotwari System

In the Bombay and Madras Presidencies, where this system was introduced, this practice had bad consequences. This caused great suffering to the farmers in Madras. The amount of rent was kept so high that to pay it, the farmers had to take loans from moneylenders, due to which their land was sold or mortgaged. So, they gradually lost their right on the ground. The farmers also did not know when the amount of rent would be increased. Therefore, there was always an atmosphere of fear, apprehension and uncertainty in front of them. They also had an impact on the production of agriculture. The saddest part was that the revenue collecting officers used cruel and inhumane measures to collect the rent; For example, starving the criminal, making hunchbacks, etc. The echo of these human atrocities was also heard in the British Parliament, but the government did not pay any attention to it because this system increased the government revenue immensely. The biggest thing was that the right was always reserved in the hands of the government to increase the rate of rent to increase its income. One of the advantages of this system was that the class of landlords could not develop. The second advantage was that the record of rights related to land was prepared. Now the land became personal property. This led to the loosening of the community bond of the villages; Land became a transferred commodity and social mobility increased.

The Mahalwari System

In addition to the Zamindari system and Ryotwari system, Mahalwari or Mahalwari land-system was introduced in some parts of the country. It was implemented in the Awadh region in AD and in the territories of the Marathas in 1803-04. The Mahalwadi system was a modified form of the Zamindari system. According to this the revenue was not fixed on per farm basis, but was fixed according to each mahal (village or jagir). That is why, this system is known as Mahalwari system. The entire Mahal was jointly responsible for paying the revenue. The task of collecting revenue was left to the village headmen or the zamindars. In this system the cultivator did not have personal ownership of the land, but the entire mahal or village was the owner of the land. If a farmer gave up his land, the village society took care of that land.

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This system was implemented in the Ganges Valley, North-Western Provinces and other parts of India. A modified Mahalwari system was established in Punjab which was the village system. Initially this arrangement was implemented for 3-4 years in Awadh and other regions. During this period, there was an increase of 25% in the amount of rent to be recovered from the Mahals. Again, between 1807 and 1819, the amount of rent was increased by 50%. For the first time in 1822, this system was formally established. According to this, zamindars had to pay 83% of the income received from farmers in zamindari jagirs to the government. Further improvements were made in this system in 1833 AD. Now the revenue of the Mahal was fixed by mixing the villages into the Mahals and was distributed among its various villages (coming under the Mahal). This new system was devised by Martin Bird. Hence, it is known as Bird Scheme. This scheme was mainly implemented in the North-Western region. The amount of rent was fixed at 2/3. This arrangement remained in force for 30 years. The amount of rent in this system was kept very high, about 66%. Therefore, in 1855, Lord Dalhousie fixed the amount of rent as 50% according to the Saharanpur rule, but future increases were also taken into account. As a result, the burden of additional revenue increased on the cultivators.

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