Land Reforms in India During the British Era
What is land reform?
- Land reform involves taking away land from rich and redistributing among landless.
- Formally, improving land tenure and institution related to agriculture.
- It is an integrated program to remove barriers for economic and social development caused by the existing land tenure system.
- During the British legacy, EIC faced the following problem,
- Demand for British goods in India is was negligible.
- The company needed cash to maintain an army for defeating the native rulers.
- EIC came up with the following land revenue policy.
Permanent Settlement (1793)/ Zamindari System
- Started by Lord Cornwallis + John Shore
- Where – Bengal and Bihar
- Cornwallis wanted a consistent revenue system therefore; he fixed the revenue with the zamindars and every year they had to pay their fixed amount.
- It covered 56% of British India.
- It would be easy for the company to collect the revenue from zamindars rather than millions of peasants.
- He wanted to create a social class of zamindars who would be loyal to the company in future.
- He expected that it would increase agricultural productivity as a company would not demand a share in the surplus production.
- Zamindars were made as owners of those lands in which they had previously being revenue collectors.
- Their rights were hereditary. They could sell, transfer and even mortgage the land.
- They had to pay 10/11 part to the company.
- By the evening at the predetermined date, they had to pay their due. Therefore, it is also known as sunset law.
Ryotwari Settlement (1820)
- Thomas Munro and Alexander Reed
- Where- Madras, Bombay and Assam
- It covered 37% of British India.
- This settlement was made directly with the peasants who were known as ryot.
- The peasants were issued PATTA. This was a document which confirms the ownership rights of the peasants.
- The state revenue was too high and was calculated as 50% of the standard production.
- Farmers could sell, use, mortgage and transfer their land as long as they paid their taxes. If they did not pay taxes they were evicted.
- Taxes were only fixed in a temporary for a period of 20-30 years and then revised.
- Farmers had o pay revenue even during droughts and famines.
- The government insisted on cash revenue, farmers started growing cash crops instead of food crops and cash crops needed more inputs increasing loans and indebtedness.
- Holt Mackenzie and R.M. Bird
- Where- Gangetic valley, North West provinces, parts of Central India and Punjab.
- It covered 7% of British India.
- Unit of assessment was a village.
- Taxes on village community and they had to distribute it among the cultivators.
- Farmers had the right to sell and mortgage land.
- A village inhabitant called lambardar collected the amounts and gave o the British.
- British periodically revised tax rates.
- Since Punjab and northern India was fertile so, they want to collect the maximum amount. Revenue was usually 50-75% of produce.
- Fragmentation occurs and the land becomes smaller and smaller.
- British demanded revenue in cash so farmers had to take a loan to pay revenue, as a result, more and more farms passed into the hands of moneylenders.
- It is also called modified zamindari system.
Consequences of British tenure policy:
- Land becomes a property before its private ownership did not exist.
- Panchayat lost prestige.
- Since British demanded revenue in cash, declining the food crops. It increased food security.
- British did not do much about irrigation and taxes on irrigation were high.
- More area brought under cultivation particularly in Punjab.
- It increases the absentee landlordism.
- Rural industry destroyed due to the high pressure of agriculture.
- They introduced the commercialization of agriculture.
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