Land revenue policy of British: Permanent, Ryotwari,Mahalwari

Land revenue policy of British was formulated to serve one end in particular,i.e. stable revenue. Apart from reducing India to an importing economy, its land policy lead to complete ruination of peasants.

Read here: Important News Papers and Journals of Freedom Struggle Era India

Let’s see how the policies differed from each other.

Basis Permanent Ryotwari Mahalwari
Who? Lord Cornwallis introduced this system. Thomas Reed and Munro introduced it. Holt Mackenzie introduced this system.

Bengal,Orissa and Bihar

Temporary settlements were made in Awadh.

Madras,Assam and Bombay Ganga valley, Northwest Punjab and Central India.
  • Zamindars were made the owner of the land.
  • This right was made hereditary and transferable.
  • The system was fixed in perpetuity.
  • Unlike Permanent settlement was not fixed and was revised periodically.
  • However, the zamindar still continued to be the owner of the land.
  • Revenue settlement made with villages. Unlike the other two systems, an entire village represented by village headmen was responsible for revenue collection to the British.
  • Unlike Permanent settlement was not fixed and was revised periodically.

10/11 of the total produce went to British and 1/11 to Zamindars.

60% in irrigated land and 50% in dryland. 66% of the total produce went to the State/British.
Outcome Made land commercial entity. Since ages, the land had continued to be a property of the State/Kingdom, yet the ownership vested in the cultivator. Removed intermediaries but replaced by one big zamindar, The State. Taxed entire lands, ranging from cultivated land to forested lands as well. Although, the Mahals/Villages were extracted rent in toto, yet the individual responsibility existed. Upon non-payment land could be sold to recover the dues.

Land revenue consisted of the bulk of the revenue exacted by the British from Indians. Land revenue policy of the British made the land a commercial entity which ensured stability in income.

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