Battle of Plassey

The British Company had obtained valuable privileges in 1717 under a royal farman of the Mughal Emperor which had granted the company the freedom to export and import their goods in Bengal without paying taxes and the right to issue Dastaks for the movement of such goods. The company’s servants were also permitted to trade but were not covered by this farman. All the nawabs of Bengal from Murshid Quli Khan to Alivardi Khan had objected to the English misinterpretation of farman of 1717. But matters came to head in 1756 when Siraj-ud-Daula succeeded to the throne.

Battle of plassey

The spark was provided by the fortifications of Calcutta by the British without the prior permission of the Nawab and their refusal to demolish the fortification when ordered by the Nawab. Siraj-ud-Daula was willing to let the Europeans remain as merchants and not as masters. He ordered both the English and French to demolish their fortification at Calcutta and chandranagore and to desist from fighting each other. While the French obeyed his order ,the English refused to do so. The English company was now determined to remain in Bengal even against the wishes of the Nawab and to trade on its own terms. Siraj seized the English factory at kasimbazar, marched on to Calcutta and occupied Fort Williams in 1756. After receiving the aid from Madras, the British under Lord Clive reconquered  Calcutta. Both sides met for battle in the field of Plassey on 23rd june ,1757.But it was battle only in name ,for the major part of the Nawab’s army (led by traitors Mir Jafar and Rai Durlabh) took no part in the fighting. Mir Jafar, the new nawab remained a puppet in the hand of British. The East India Company was granted undisputed right to trade free of tax in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, recieved the zamindari of 24 paragnas near Calcutta and a sum of Rs. 17.7 million as compensation for the attack on Calcutta. The Company opened its first mint in Calcutta in 1757.

Permanent Settlement

Anxious to secure a regular payment of land revenue , the British decided to settle the payment of the government demand with certain intermediaries whi would hold themselves responsible for payment of the revenues. After prolonged deliberations permanent settlement was introduced by Lord Cornwallis in Bengal and Bihar in 1793. Under this system Zamindars were given full rights of ownership over their estates , who were till now only revenue farmers. Lord Minto and Lord Wellesley , the successor of Lord Cornwallis were great believers in large estates property rights , fixed revenue and fixed taxation ; consequently they tried to introduce permanent settlement in the newly acquired region of northern India . This happened in Orissa as well as certain parts of Madras presidency in the first two decades of the 19th century.

Also read : The Revolt of 1857

Purpose and Impact : 

The important purpose of this policy was to create a new class of landlords based on the English model as the social buttress of English rule.  It was felt that with the small number of English , holding down a vast population, it was absolutely essential to establish a social bias for their power through the creation of a new class whose inteeests, through receiving a subsidiary share in the spoils( one -eleventh) would be bound up with the maintenance of English rule. This contention was proved several times and the best example would be the 1857 revolt during which the landed aristocracy stood finely on the side of the British,which made Lord Canning to call Zamindars as breakwaters in the storm. It’s impact on peasants cultivator was disastrous. Zamindars instead living on their estates preferred to live in luxury in cities and became sort of distant suction pumps ; literally sucking the blood of the peasants . As the income from the land decreased due to high rents and taxes  and increase in population, the gap between the Zamindar and tiller began to grow wide. Thus the greatest amount of agrarian unrest can be found in Zamindar areas .

Ryotwari system

In Madras Presidency , when Thomas Munro was the Governor , the decision was taken to introduce the ‘Ryotwari System,’ as permanent settlement  would not be possible in the absence of zamindars in these regions. Moreover , by this time (1825) the government had a well developed machinery of an administration and felt that it was capable of collecting revenue directly from the cultivators, thus avoiding financial losses which could occur under permanent settlement. Land revenue was assessed according to the fertility of the land and the net income from land during previous 20 non- famine years. Under this system there was provision for periodical revision of land revenue once in 30 years. The gift of the peoperty rights was made to the cultivators in these areas , which infact was a far better arrangement from the point of view of the peasantry than the permanent settlement. But the rigidity of crop production in India due to vagaries of monsoons soon made Ryotwari ensure the bane of Indian agriculture . A large numbers of farmers grew indebted and land came to be grabbed by moneylenders who later established themselves as the new landed – Oligarch.

Also read : The making of Indian Constitution

Mahalwari System

In the united province of Agra and Awadh and also in Punjab , a new method of land revenue system was introduced known as Mahalwari system or joint village system. All the owners of land in the Mahal or Village were jointly responsible for payment of land revenue. The head of each village had a special responsibility for collecting land revenue . Under the Mahalwari system, provisions was made for periodical revision of land revenue.
In the Central Provinces, where the British took over the administration from the rulers, the land revenue system known as Malguzari system was introduced . Under this system , the Malaguzars who were originally village officers , were given proprietary rights on land. Here too the government retained the rights of making periodical revision of land revenue.

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