Ryotwari Settlement - Ryotwari System Was Introduced By Sir Thomas Munro

By Shubhra Anand Jain|Updated : November 24th, 2022

The Ryotwari System was a land revenue system in British India mainly introduced in the southern part of the country to replace permanent settlements. Ryotwari System of land revenue enabled collection from farmers and was introduced by Thomas Munro. The Ryotwari settlement permitted the government to collect direct revenue from the cultivators, who were also called the 'ryot'.

Ryotwari Settlement was introduced in the later period of the 18th century and the system enabled the cultivators to have control over their lands. Know more about who introduced the Ryotwari System and its features. 

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What is Ryotwari System?

The Ryotwari System was a land revenue system introduced by Captain Alexander Read and Sir Thomas Munro. Munro was the governor of Madras Presidency from 1819–26 and introduced the ryotwari settlement in Tamil Nadu. The government could deal directly with the farmer ('ryot') for revenue collection, and the peasant may cede or purchase more agricultural land.

Ryotwari System PDF

Let's look at some of the important points related to the Ryotwari System that are important for the upcoming exam.

Ryotwari System Highlights

Also known as

Munro System

Ryotwari System Was Introduced In

It was introduced in Tamil Nadu in 1820. 

Ryotwari System Introduced By

Sir Thomas Munro

Main Features of the Ryotwari System

Ryotwari System removed the middleman and collected the revenue directly from the cultivators.

Ryotwari System in India

The term Ryot refers to peasant cultivators. Sir Thomas Munro first introduced the Ryotwari System, a concept of collecting land revenue from farmers in 1820. He was the former governor of Madras and was also a British Soldier. He made more than half of the British Indian cultivators pay these taxes.

Features of Ryotwari System

  • He brought to be practiced with the farmers of Madras, Bombay, Assam, and Coorg provinces.
  • The Ryotwari System was where the farmers or the cultivators were supposed to be the landowner, which meant they had complete rights to their land.
  • Being the owner of the total land area, each cultivator was given complete ownership. They had all the rights to buy, sell, mortgage, and even gift the land to anyone.
  • According to the statement issued by Sir Thomas Munro, the taxes were applied to the land by the government, which had to be paid by the peasants.
  • The rates under Ryotwari System were also set for the type of land, meaning if the land is dry, the rates would be 50%, and if it is wetland, the rate will increase to 10%, and it will be 60%.
  • These rates were temporary, meaning there was no permanence in the rates of the taxes on land, and they may vary, mostly increasing with time.
  • Because of this uncertainty in the rating system of taxes on land, if any peasant or cultivator failed to pay the taxes on time, they were evicted by the government from the land ownership.
  • Although the zamindari system has the concept of a middleman, in this Ryotwari System, there was no middleman.
  • The taxes were very high and supposed to be paid in cash as the British government did not accept any kind. Hence another problem the cultivators faced was the money lenders who loaned the money at very high interest.

The concept of Ryotwari, Mahalwari and the Zamindari System ran hand in hand. 

Ryotwari System in Madras

In 1820, when sir Thomas Munro was the governor of Madras state or province, he first introduced the Ryotwari System concept.

  • The concept behind launching this type of land revenue collection process was that the British believed that no middlemen should be involved in the Ryotwari System, and they could get the most of the revenue directly from the cultivators.
  • Another main reason for introducing this type of revenue collection was that the Madras government was underfunded for a long time; therefore, this type of revenue was logically correct.
  • The Madras government proposed this idea to the British Parliament. However, it was rejected, and hence the temporary Ryotwari Settlement was enacted.

Ryotwari System in Bombay

Originally, the Ryotwari System of Bombay originated in the province of Gujarat. Before introducing the Ryotwari System, the British government collected the taxes from the ‘desias, who were the hereditary officers and the village's headman.

  • However, this collection wasn’t sufficient for them, so they brought the Ryotwari System and started collecting the land revenue from the cultivators.
  • Later, in 1818, after conquering the territory of Peshwa in Bombay, they introduced the concept of the Ryotwari System.
  • There in Bombay, that system was under the guidance of the disciple of Munro, Elphinstone.
  • The same pattern of revenue collection was established in Bombay, where the peasants were forced to give the revenue, and the government gradually kept increasing the rates rapidly.

Issues With Ryotwari System

The power related to the Ryotwari system was delegated to the subordinate revenue officials. Those were then misused by them as there was nobody to monitor them. The increased taxes were a big issue for the cultivators, for which sometimes they had to mortgage even their lands. The money lenders and the mahajans also exploited the cultivators if they couldn't pay the interests.

Drawbacks of the Ryotwari System

  • The rates of collecting taxes from the cultivator were very high, which was a very important drawback of this system.
  • This is because the rates fixed for land as tax were relatively much higher than the actual land production capacity.
  • The collection method of the review was quite rude and rigid for the British government. If the cultivator could not pay the desired amount at the time, the British government would torture the peasants and evict them.
  • Another major drawback of this system was that the officers could be easily bribed while assessing the land. Hence bribery increased to a wide level.
  • The increased taxes on the lands devalued it as there was no proper care. This is because farmers were unable to take care of their land.

Ryotwari System UPSC

Ryotwari System is an essential part of Modern Indian History. It is more important from the sight of UPSC Mains answer writing but equally important for prelims. The Ryotwari System UPSC notes will help you to learn the topic easily.

Download Ryotwari System UPSC Notes PDF

Ryotwari System Questions asked in UPSC Prelims

Question - Which of the statements are correct regarding the Ryotwari System-

1- The Zamindar was responsible for paying land revenue to the state.

2- A Patta was maintained to keep the records of land revenue.

3- Land revenue was based on the quality of soil and the nature of the crop grown.

(A). 1 and 2 only

(B). 2 and 3 only

(C). 1 only

(D). All of these

Answer:- Option B

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FAQs on Ryotwari System

  • Ryotwari System was introduced by the British Official Munro as the tax collection because the British Government underfunded them.

  • Ryotwari System didn't have any middlemen so the officials could impose and collect heavy taxes. Drylands were levied for 50% of the taxes, and the wetland was levied for 60% of the taxes. Under the Ryotwari settlement, there was no middleman, and the payment was done directly by the farmers to the government.

  • The cultivators were levied higher taxes than the actual production of the land under the Ryotwari System. They weren't exempted even from crop failure. They were even exploited by the Mahajan for moneylending and mortgaging the lands. The taxes were temporary and kept on increasing with time.

  • To Cover Ryotwari System Topic for UPSC Exam, you can directly download complete notes from here.

  • The Ryotwari System was first introduced in Madras province. The purpose of introducing this System was to collect the land revenue from the peasants.

  • Under the Mahalwari System, the payment was collected by a middleman, while in the Ryotwari system, the farmers paid the Britishers directly.

  •  Ryotwari System was introduced by Sir Thomas Munro who was the governor of Madras Presidency.

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