Land Revenue System in Rajasthan during British Times

Land Revenue System Rajasthan during British Period

After 1878 new land revenue system was installed on the British lines to instutionalize the loot by the states. These new settlements were not aimed at improving the agriculture and working conditions of the peasantry but their sole object was to enable increment of revenue. This resulted in the decline of agriculture on the one hand, and increase in poverty and indebtedness of the peasantry on the other.

Land Revenue System in Rajasthan during British Period

The land was divided into two main groups, viz. Khalsa and Jagir.

  • Khalsa Land: The land under the direct management of the State (Darbar) was known as Khalsa.
  • Jagir Land: The land held by grantees, whether individuals or religious, institutions, was known as non- Khalsa or Jagir.

While in total, about 60% land was under Jagir and 40%  was under Khalsa. The proportion of territory under both the groups varied widely in different states. According to the Imperial Gazetter, the proportion of the Khalsa and Jagir land was:

  • Jodhpur: 1/7 (Khalsa) & 6/7 (Jagir).
  • Udaipur: 1/4 (Khalsa) & 3/4 (Jagir)
  • Jaipur: 2/5 (Khalsa) & 3/5  (Jagir)
  • Kota: 3/4 (Khalsa) & 1/4 (Jagir)
  • Alwar: 7/8 (Khalsa) & 1/8 (Jagir)
  • Bharatpur: 7/8 (Khalsa) & 1/8 (Jagir)

Land Tenure system in Khalsa Lands:

In the Khalsa territory, the Darbar was the landlord and the final superior authority.  The Darbar was empowered to eject the cultivators as the land finally belonged to it. The system of land tenure in the Khalsa area could be explained as follows:

Biswadars or Bapidars

These were permanent tenures in the Khalsa areas. The holders of these were given occupancy rights which were hereditary. They enjoyed undisturbed possession of their holdings so long as they continued to pay the fixed rent. The peasant under these tenures enjoyed certain other rights. The land revenue was charged on concessional, rates and the land revenue once fixed could not be enhanced. All the trees and other natural products could be used by them without restriction or additional payment. They could sell or mortgagee their holdings. The peasants under the Biswadars or Bapidars tenure were very few but certainly they privileged in comparison to others. The demand for such type of tenure was prominent during the course of peasant movements in all parts of Rajasthan. The status of Biswadars or Bapidars was higher and in some cases they were petty landlords who used to lend their holdings to the peasants on the terms and conditions fixed by themselves.

Ijara System

This was a prominent system of land tenure in the eastern and south eastern states while it was in vogue more or less all over the province. It was also known as Theka (contract) or Ankbandi. Under this system the right of collecting land revenue of certain pargana or area was sold out by public auction to the highest bidder who was held responsible for the payment of amount so fixed in one lumpsum to the state. Jagirdars were supreme authority to let out the land to peasants on the terms and conditions fixed by them.

Those villages or areas which were leased to the general body of cultivators were called Kham Izara. The amount payable by them was usually distributed over the holdings either by the cultivator themselves or by the revenue officials. In principle the cultivators were jointly responsible for their payment but in practice they held the land jointly and were severally responsible for their payment.

Where the Tehsildar or Revenue officials managed the village directly because of its unsuitability for the Ijara, the land was given to the individuals on patta or lease for a certain period.

Ijara system was continued more or less till 1919 but after 1920, the process of replacement of Ijara with Ryotwari started.

Ryotwari System

The rest of the land (other than ijaradari) was taken up by peasants who did not possess any tenancy right. At the beginning of each Fasal (crop season) every peasant selected agricultural land in the presence of the headman of the village and revenue officials. The amount payable by the peasant was fixed annually. The term of such peasants terminated with the crop season.

Pahi Kashats

The cultivators who had no cultivable land in their own villages were allowed to take up land in other villages. They were know as Pahi Kashats.  The villagers were always opposed to such tenants as they preferred to have the advantage of grazing their cattle on the land which otherwise might remain fallow.

Land Tenures in Jagir

The land held by the State grantees was known as Jagir . Before the British paramountcy the word Jagir was applied only to estates held by Rajputs on condition of military service. The Jagir were also known as thikanas and the Jagirdars as Thakurs. The various tenures of Jagir were as follows :

Jagir

The holders of grants under Jagirs were the oldest and most numerous. The Jagirdar was the Thakur or lord who held Jagir by grant (Patta) of his chief and performed service with specified quota (Tan) of military. The land under their possession was managed by them and the State had no right to intervene.

During the British period their military importance was finished as the external affairs were transferred into the British hands. Though they continued to perform military services, the process of cash commutation was introduced after 1858. By the first decade of the twentieth century their military services were commuted in cash.

Muamla

The word Muamla means primarily an arrangement or settlement. This category of Jagir tenures claimed that these were conquered by the ancestors of the owners. These were not granted by the states.  The Jagirdars under this category accepted the overlordship of the State concerned on the condition of tribute or military service. During the British period these were tributaries.

Subegujars or Istamarardars

These were tributary grants for service performed but in these lands rent was once fixed was not variable.

Bhumias

Those holding on the bhum tenure were called Bhumias, and were mostly Rajputs. They pcrformed certain services, such as watch and ward, escort of treasuries, etc.

Inam & Tankha

Inam was a revenue free grant to a person in recognition of his services, whereas Tankha was the grant to a person in lieu of service rendered by him. The grantees were not cultivators themselves. They were landlords and rent receivers. These were managed by the landlords according to their will.

Assessment and Collection of Land Revenue

Batai System:

In both the areas viz. Khalsa and Jagir, the main system of assessment of land revenue was the ‘Batai system’. The rent was paid various methods of Batai.

  • Seedha Batai was a division of the grain after threshing by an earthen pot called Mutka.
  • Another method of Batai was lata and Kvnta under which the produce was estimated by the officials of the standing crop. The share of jagirdars and the State varied from one half to one sixth of the gross produce.

Bleij or Jama System:

  • The Batai system continued in the Jagir areas upio 1949, but in the Khalsa area it was replaced by cash rents fixed on the quality of land.
  • The cash system was known as Bliej or Jama system.

Lag-Bags (Cess):

In addition of the land revenue a large number of Lag-Bags (cess) were also imposed upon the peasants. Some of these cess were regular while other were occasional. The number of these was not fixed. In some states it was upto three hundred. The cess such as Sirana, Mtilka, Kunsari Gaon-Kharcli Karda, Batta, Kasar, Tulai, Parkhai. Nazarana, Dastitr, Lata, Kwua, Sahanagi, Haq Patel Patwari, Kanungo, Choudhary and Kamdar, Paona, Bhum were charged regularly with the land revenue.

Production Cess:

  • The cesses related to agricultural production were charged on commercial crops such as cotton, opium, jute, sugarcane and oilseeds.

Irrigation Cess:

  • Nalrai and Naharbas cess were charged on irrigated land.

Cattle Breeding Cess:

  • Pzer, Kadbi. Jura, Gore-ka-ghas, Rajka etc. were charged for the cattle owned by Jagirdars and the State cavalary.
  • The cess known as Cbheli Ginti, Unt- Ginti, Khuntabandi, Pan-Charai, Hansil Mavesi Johar, Hansil Charai, Guada etc. were charged on cattle breeding.

Goods transportation Cess:

  • Cesses were also charged on the export and import of grain, fodder, live stock, seeds, fertilisers, agricultural implements, etc. which were known as Lag Mapa, Virsa, Dagli Binsiid, Arat, Cbhapa, Zakat etc.

Cess on nature goods:

  • Cesses were also charged on the naturally grown grass, firewood, gond etc.

Social Cess(s):

  • Apart from the above mentioned agrarian cess, there were also some other cess which may be grouped as social cess.
  • These cess known as Bagdam, Nata- Dharicha, DIioI Danka, Kansa-parosa, etc. were charged from peasants on the occasion of marriage and death feast.
  • The Jagirdars also charged Baiji-ka-hathkharch, Bhent-Mataji, Kimwarji-ka-Kalewa, Bhent-Holi-Diwali and Dashahara etc.

Conclusion

Under the prevailing land revenue system during British times, the peasants had no land rights.The amount of these Cesses sometimes reached a figure almost double of the land revenue. The economic burden upon the peasantry was unbearable.  The result was, peasants were compelled to borrow money from the usurer money-lender. The conditions of peasants were worse in the areas under Jagir system in comparison to the Khalsa system. There was no rule of law and the peasants were on the mercy of the Jagirdars. As a result, most of the peasant movements arose in the Jagir areas.