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FAMINES AND LAND ASSESSMENT
ROMESH C. DUTT, C.I.E.
LATE OF THE INDIAN CIVIL SERVICE
AND OF THE MIDDLE TEMPLE, BARRISTER-AT-LAW
“RAMAYANA CONDENSED INTO ENGLISH VERSE
KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRÜBNER & Co., Ltd.
In December last I had occasion, in the course
my Presidential Speech at the Lucknow Congress, to draw attention to the fact of the over-assessment of agricultural holdings in some provinces of India, and the consequent impoverishment of cultivators and agricultural labourers, who form four-fifths of the population of India. I pointed out that while in Bengal and Northern India, where cultivators paid rents to private landlords, the rents were comparatively moderate, in Madras, Bombay and the Central Provinces, . where the Government assessed the soil, the assessments were excessive and the people were poorer and more resourceless. And I also stated that in the famines of 1877, 1897 and 1899, the parts of India which were over-assessed had suffered most severely.
The question has naturally received a great deal of attention both in England and in India within the last six months. In England an important debate took place in the House of Commons in April last, and Mr Samuel Smith, M.P., in referring to my statements, spoke the simple truth when he said that the best remedies for famines in India were the moderating of rents and the extension of irrigation works. And Lord George Hamilton, Secretary of State for India, while doubting the accuracy of my statement about moderate rents