Zamindari System In India- Under Mughals, Abolition, Introduced By

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The zamindari system in India was established through a permanent settlement that gave members perpetual land rides without establishing a set rent or an occupation right for actual formers. The literal meaning of the zamindari system is land holding and collection of revenues by the zamindars or the owner of the land. The zamindari system was introduced by Lord Cornwallis. The intermediate, or simply the middleman called zamindars, was responsible for collecting the land tax from the farmers under the zamindari system.

Zamindari system in India was abolished because of surge in the peasant movements and the Britishers were compelled to take back the reforms and abolish the zamindari system. The topic zamindari system is studied in modern Indian history and is a very important section for the IAS exam. In the following article, we will discuss the zamindari system and its different aspects in detail. The aspirants can get access to the zamindari system UPSC notes to prepare comprehensively for the exam.

What Is Zamindari System?

The land revenue system of India had a specific alteration in its history during the British Governor’s administration. This structure gives rise to several tax collector strata. These particular socioeconomic classes are known as Indian zamindars. There were initially three land revenue systems included under the permanent settlement act.

Under this permanent settlement act, the zamindari system was introduced by Lord Cornwallis, who served as the Governor-General of India from 1786 to 1793. The zamindars and British officials reached an agreement where the zamindars were granted the authority to collect rent from the farmers and were made the land owners. 10 of the 11 shares of the rent, or the entire amount the Zamindar collects, belong to the East India Company, and just one of the 11 shares belongs to the zamindars.

Introduction Of Zamindari System In India

The zamindari system was introduced by Lord Cornwallis in 1793. The zamindari system in India existed during the period of the Mughal empire as well. But there were several distinctions between the zamindari system used by the British and the Mughal zamindari system. It was part of a permanent settlement act.

To begin with, during the Mughal era, the zamindars were not the land owners. The zamindari system during the Mughal rule also prohibited the eviction of peasants from their lands as long as they continued to make rent payments. Thus, compared to the British-instituted zamindari system, the Mughal land revenue system was considerably less exploitative for the peasants.

Functioning Of Zamindari System

The Zamindari system in India was something big as a change for the peasants of India. This is because, formerly, they used to grow the crops and send them directly to the market, and gained profits. But zamindars, introduced by the Britishers, were the middlemen and added a commission system in between.

  • While learning about the zamindars, and the zamindari system, it is crucial to comprehend how the zamindari system was actually operated in order to fully comprehend its significance in India.
  • The zamindars had big pieces of land and started to give them to the farmers for farming on rent. The farmers had to pay back the rent of the land on which they had been cultivating on, the form of yield they produced.
  • The rent collected from the farmers was collected by the zamindars and presented to the British officials. The officers divide the rent into 11 parts. Out of these 11 parts, they gave 10 parts to the British East India Company, and the remaining 1 part belonged to the zamindars of India.

Effects Of Zamindari System On Indian Agriculture

India has been an agriculturally rich country for centuries ago. And with the initiation of the zamindari system in India, there were several effects on Indian agriculture. The introduction of the zamindari system into the agriculture of India stagnated.

  • Zamindars had the authority to expel the peasants in accordance with their wishes or on behalf of some other equal authority, desires, and wishes because they were given ownership of the land during the British era.
  • The native peasants who had previously owned the land were now treated as renters.
  • The peasants were evicted from their own lands, and that is why whenever the zamindar demanded a big chunk of the share, the peasants weren’t able to provide it; hence they were unable to pay the amount.
  • The state and status of the farmers went significantly down and got worse with time. This sometimes resulted in numerous farmer movements like- Indigo revolt Movement, the Pabna rebellion, etc.

Zamindari System And Peasant Movements

Zamindars were actually the middlemen introduced by the British administration in the Indian farming system, that collected rent from the farmers. The zamindars were also not benefitted from this activity, as they had to give away 10/11 part of the rent to them. This all led to different movements by the peasants. Check here the details of the peasant movement due to the zamindari system in India and other such laws.

  • Because of the repressive agriculture method used by the British such as the Ryotwari System, the Zamindari System, Mahalwari System, etc., circumstances for indigenous peasants and Agriculture as a whole deteriorated badly.
  • As a result of all these repressive measures, there were several peasant movements in the decades.
  • One of the first significant patient uprisings in the country was the Champaran satyagraha, which was launched by Mahatma Gandhi in 1917 and protested the mistreatment of Indigo farmers. The three different systems of settlements in India as well as other repressive political systems, were implicitly criticized by this movement.
  • Next, in 1918 Mahatma Gandhi conducted the Kheda Satyagraha against the problem of excessive taxes following a plague outbreak and associated crop collapse.
  • Indian peasants also contributed significantly to the Mahatma Gandhi-led non-cooperation movement, which opposed the repressive British practices of the zamindari system in India.
  • The 1928 Bardoli Satyagraha was headed by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. He brought the peasants having difficulties and spoke against the 30% tax increase that had been implemented as a result of a significant flood and consequent crop loss.
  • To actively protest against practices like the zamindari system, peasants also to part in the civil disobedience movement.
  • A substantial proportion of native peasant movements were also led against repressive laws like the zamindari system in addition to the national peasant movements which were primarily led by individuals like Sardar Patel and Mahatma Gandhi.
  • The fundamental rights and economic program of the Indian National Congress session held in Karachi in 1931 included topics pertaining to indigenous agriculture and peasants.
  • The introduction of the agrarian program during the Faizpur session of the Indian National Congress in 1936 for the justification of demands made during the Karachi session of Indian National Congress in 1935.

Abolition Of Zamindari System In India

With the growing peasant movement against the British with respect to the zamindari system. Under this pressure, the British government had to take the implemented land reforms back and abolish them.

  • The zamindari system in India was eventually abolished after independence.
  • After gaining independence, in 1951, the constitution of India underwent its first amendment for the same reason.
  • Both article 19 and article 31 of the Constitution underwent alterations as a result of the amendment.
  • States have the right to introduce laws to abolish India’s zamindari system.
  • For the same reason, modifications were made to Article 31 Right to Property Act.

Zamindari System Under Mughals

Zamindars, who hung on to a small portion of their family estates throughout the Mughal Empire, were insignificant rural landowners derived from past royal families. This also includes the Rajput and other leaders who had autonomous administrative authority in their domains.

  • During the Mughal Empire, zamindars were small-time landowners in the countryside who were descended from former Royal families and held on to a tiny piece of their family estates.
  • The Rajput and other chiefs who had independent administrative power in their realms were also included in this. They had inherited the right to receive up to 25% of the proceeds from the sale of land.
  • They typically collect a predetermined tax from each individual farmer and give it to the government. The tax rates were either set by custom or by them only. His personal income was the sum of his income, less than the sum he paid to the state.
  • Added action of 10% from the entire amount of revenue was made and given to the zamindars as malikana, if the state demand exceeded what the farmer could afford to pay.
  • Throughout the Mughal era, zamindar did not hold the land as long as the peasant paid land revenue. They could not be forced to give up their land. Zamindars only rose to prominence later and some of them possessed armies and troops.
  • In order to collect money, the authorities occasionally resorted to utilizing military action against obstinate zamindars.
  • Zamindars and farmers were, in some ways, logical partners in any conflict with the Mughal administration.

Zamindari System For UPSC Exam

The Zamindari system in India, or land revenue system, is related to the modern history subject of the UPSC exam. There are laws and Systems created by Britishers in India during their rule which are important for an IAS aspirant to know. It is of essential importance for the candidates to be well aware of essential topics such as Zamindari system, Ryotwari system etc. There is a high probability that the questions can be asked from these topics in UPSC prelims and mains exam. To learn in detail about other systems and topics of modern Indian history, you can refer to the Indian history notes for UPSC provided by us.

Questions on Zamindari System

Indian History has three parts, ancient history, medieval history and modern history. All the parts are equally important for an IAS aspirant to learn, as one should be aware of his/her history. Following is the sample question on the zamindari system for practice, but you may expect more questions on dates and events too.

Q1. The Zamindari system was introduced by whom?

  1. Lord Cornwallis
  2. Lord Mountbatten
  3. Lord Clive
  4. Lord McDonald

Answer- Option A

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