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What is Ryotwari System of land tenure?

    According to this system, every registered Bhumidar was considered to be the owner of the land. He was responsible for paying the land tax to the state government. He was allowed to sublet, mortgage, and sell his land. He could not be deprived of his land as long as he paid the land tax on time.


Ryotwari land tax system


In which state the Ryotwari system was introduced?

Madras land system

      The first land arrangement in Madras Presidency was done in 1792 AD after getting the Baramahal district. Captain Reed, with the help of Thomas Munro, fixed about half of the farm’s estimated income as land taxes. This was more than the whole economic rent. The same system was implemented in other parts as well.

 Thomas Manro and the land system of Madras

Tomas Manro, who was the governor of Madras from 1820 AD to 1827 AD, considered the old tax system to be wrong. Taking the third part of the total production as the basis of land tax, he implemented the Ryotwari system in all the remaining provinces except the territories of the permanent land system. Unfortunately, this too was almost the same as the overall economic rent. Secondly, because the land tax has to be paid in the form of money and it had no relation to the actual product or the prices prevailing in the market, hence the farmer was heavily burdened.

Impact of Madras Ryotwari Land Tax System


Who introduced Ryotwari System of taxation?

      The land tax system of Manro continued for about 30 years and this led to widespread oppression and difficulties for the farmers. The agriculturists got caught in the clutches of Chettis (money moneylenders) to pay the land tax. The arrangements for the collection of land tax were very strict and for this often torture was done. Questions were asked about these tortures in the English Parliament. 

      These tortures included starving, not letting go for defecation, etc., making a man hunchbacked, making him sit with bricks behind his knees, putting necklaces (garlands) of bones and other degrading things, etc. In 1855, the scheme of detailed survey and arrangement was implemented on the basis of 30 percent of the total yield. The actual work started in 1861 AD. 

    According to the rules of 1864, the share of the state government was fixed at 50 percent of the land rent, but this rule remained only paperwork and did not become part of the administration. The real situation of Madrasi came to the fore only in the severe famine of 1877-78.

 the land tax system in Mumbai

    Here the Ryotwari system was introduced so that the zamindars or Gram Sabhas did not usurp their profits by themselves.
Elphinstone and Chaplin’s report

Elphinstone was the governor of Mumbai from 1819 to 27. He presented a detailed report on the territories conquered by the Peshwa in 1819. He drew attention to two main points of the Maratha administration–

First- is the existence of village councils as local administrative units. And

Second- is the existence of the Miras land tenure system (Mirasdars were hereditary landholder farmers who themselves tilled their land and paid fixed land tax to the state government).

    Chaplin, who was the commissioner at that time, submitted his reports in 1821 and 1822, in which he described the old system of land tax and made some valuable suggestions.


How much is tax on a Ryotwari System?

    Pringle did a thorough survey of the land till 1824-28 and fixed 55 percent of the state’s share of net produce. Unfortunately, most of the surveys were faulty and the yield estimates were not correct. As a result, land tax was fixed and the farmers suffered a lot. Many farmers stopped plowing the land and the area became barren.

Survey of Vignettes and Riteistic Landscaping in Mumbai

      In 1835, Lieutenant Vignette, an officer of the Engineering Corps, was appointed superintendent of land survey. He submitted his report in 1847 which was signed by E. Goldsmith, Captain Davidson, and Captain Vignette.

     Mainly the demand for land-tax in the district depended on the history of that district and the condition of the people of that district, that is, the paying power of the people. Thereafter the demand of the entire district was distributed on individual farms. In place of the method based on ancient equality, the demand was determined by the geological state of the land.

     Apart from this, the tax was fixed on the plots and not on all the land of that farmer, so any farmer could leave whatever field he wanted and could plow the field. This arrangement was done for 30 years. But this too was mostly based on conjecture and leaned towards rigidity.

      Again the work of resettlement was done after 30 years in 1868. Due to the American Civil War (1861-65), the prices of cotton increased greatly. This temporary increase gave the survey officers an opportunity to increase the land tax from 66% to 100%. The agriculturists did not have the right to appeal in court.

      Due to this rigidity, there were agricultural disturbances in the Deccan in 1875, due to which the government passed the Deccan Agriculturists Relief Act-1875 in 1879, which provided protection to the farmers against moneylenders. But nothing has been done about the root of all the troubles, that is, the government’s demand for a higher land tax.

    The Ryotwari system in Mumbai had two major drawbacks – high land tax and uncertainty. It did not allow the appeal to the court for higher land tax. The Collector had the right to tell the farmers the rate of land tax for the future and also to say that if he did not accept the new rate, he should give up the land.

Consequences of Ryotwari Land System

The disintegration of the Village Economy

    The land tax system of the East India Company, especially the excessive taxes and the new administrative and judicial system, resulted in the collapse of the Indian economy. The main functions of village panchayats, land management, and judicial functions were over and Patil was now only a collector of land tax on behalf of the government. In this way, the ancient social, economic and political system of the villages was torn apart.

       The Indian cottage industries were almost extinct and the importance of land in the villages increased. With this new system, both the land and the farmers became movable, as a result of which moneylenders and Absentee Landholders were born in the villages.

    The nationalist thinkers of the 19th century had repeatedly said that the demand for land revenue of the government was high in both the Ryotwari and Zamindari systems. In the event of non-payment of land revenue on time, the government used to confiscate the land of the zamindars and sell it again to the townspeople, traders, and speculators. Or the newcomers, who were often not cultivators, worried only about the maximum rent and often entrusted the task of collecting land tax to the rent speculators themselves.

Positive aspects of the Ryotwari system

     The zamindars and moneylenders, whom the village residents now needed more and more, became very important persons in society. Now the number of rural proletariats consisting of small and landless farmers increased. In place of cooperation, mutual competition and individual were encouraged and the prerequisite elements of capitalism were born. Now new means of production required money, the money economy, commercialization of agriculture, improvement in the communication system, and contact with the world’s markets, all these elements gave a new look to the rural economy and Indian agriculture.

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