Zamindari Ryotwari and Mahalwari Land Revenue Systems of British India

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Land Taxation is one of the major sources of revenue for a kingdom in the ancient and medieval time-period in India. The whole land of a kingdom was divided into some parts. These parts were known as Jagirs. The owner of Jagir is called Jagirdar. These Jagirdars again split their lands and allocated them to subordinate Zamindars. Zamindars hire peasants to cultivate these lands. The Major Part of produce was collected as tax.


Also, Read – The Doctrine of Lapse

Land Revenue Systems in British India

During the British rule in India, there were three types of land revenue systems present in India.

  1. The Zamindari System
  2. The Mahalwari System
  3. The Ryotwari System

The Zamindari System

Important Points to learn

  • The Zamindari System was introduced by Lord Cornwallis in 1793 under permanent settlement.
  • Permanent Settlement was basically an agreement between teh company and Zamindar to fix the land revenue.
  • The major prevalent areas were in West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, UP (Varanasi), Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh.
  • Governemtn share of total land revenue was 10/11th and Zamindar share was 1/11th.
  • As zamindars were recognized as the owner of the lands, the actual peasants became Tenants.

Drawbacks of Zamindari System

  • The peasant or Farmers became oppressive and insecure.
  • if Zamindars failed to pay the revenue, they had to lost their Zamindari.

The Ryotwari System

Important Points to learn

  • The Ryotwari system was introduced by Sir Thomas Munro in 1820.
  • The land ownership was handed over to the peasant and so the middlemen were now eliminated.
  • The peasant who had now full rights over his land called Ryot.
  • This system was first introduced in Tamilnadu.
  • Later, the prevalent areas were Maharashtra, Berar, East Punjab, Coorg and Assam.
  • The revenue rates of teh Ryotwari system were 50% for dry land and 60% for irrigated land.

Drawbacks of Ryotwari System

  • The tax was not based on the actual revenues from the produce of the land.
  • It was based on an estimate of the potential of the soil. So, the rate of taxation was quite high.
  • The tax had to be paid irrespective even if the crops failed due to factors like drought.
  • This loophole made mahajans and money landers dominate who granted loans to cultivators by mortgaging their land.

The Mahalwari System

Important Points to learn

  • The Mahalwari system was introduced by Holt Mackenzie in 1822. Later, the system was reformed during the period of Lard William Bentick (1833).
  • The Major prevalent areas are Central province, North-west frontier, Agra, Punjab, Gangetic Valley.
  • In this system, land tax was collected from a village or a group of villages.
  • These villages were known as Mahals. The village headman or villages committee was assigned the responsibility to collect tax.
  • ownership rights were vested with the peasants.

Drawbacks of Mahalwari System

  • The Land revenue was decided on estimantion and the village had to pay that amount of tax on any cost. if villagers failed to pay the estimated tax then their lands were seized by the british government.

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