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first, and was then distributed to the villages situated within the circle. The later method, introduced by rules framed under Act xix. of 1873, was to proceed from detail to aggregate ; the rental of each estate was corrected and fixed by inquiry; and the Government Revenue, assessed on the revised rentals of estates within a fiscal circle, was the revenue of that circle. In other words, the revenue demand in a fiscal circle was fixed by guess-work under the old system ; it was fixed on the basis of the revised rentals under the new system.
Nevertheless, the method, under which the actual rentals were fixed, was wrong in principle, and oppressive in practice. If a landlord was supposed to be lenient, the Settlement Officer might, by revising the rental of £1000, bring it up to £1200, and fix the Government Revenue at £600. Such a proceeding taught the landlord to be severe where he was inclined to be lenient; and it inspired him with a motive to screw up his rents which it is the first object of British Administration to prevent.
Another violation of the Half-Rental Rule was introduced when Local Cesses were multiplied under Lord Mayo's Decentralisation Scheme of 1870. The Half-Rental Rule was laid down by Lord Dalhousie's Government with the clear and unmistakable object of leaving to the landed classes one-half of the income from their estates, and the Land Revenue was limited to the other half. But when, in 1871, Local Cesses of 10 per cent. of the Land Revenue were imposed on estates in addition to the Land Revenue, the object of the Half-Rental Rule was defeated. The new scheme virtually added to the tax on land; it removed the clear limit which Lord Dalhousie had fixed; and it gave to Provincial Governments indefinite powers to add to the State-demand from the soil. All provinces of India suffered alike from the multiplication of Local Cesses on the land in 1871.
PUNJAB. Sir John Lawrence made a valiant and successful endeavour to secure the Punjab cultivators in their tenantrights. When the time came for a revised Settlement, many landlords, who had failed to register themselves as such at the Settlement of 1853, put forward their claims. To recognise them as landlords would be to degrade those who held under them to the position of tenants-at-will. And it was estimated that in Amritsar District, out of 60,000 heads of families, no less than 46,000 would be so degraded by a recognition of the claims of the landlords. A Tenant Bill was accordingly introduced to protect the cultivators; and on October 18, 1868, a great debate took place at Simla on this Bill. Sir Henry Maine gave it his hearty support in a memorable speech; and Sir John Lawrence desired it to become law. The opposition collapsed; and the Tenant Act (Act xxvi. of 1868) saved the cultivators of the Punjab, while recognising the claims of the landlords.
“The Act regulated and defined the position of tenants with rights of occupancy; it protected them against enhancement except under peculiar conditions; it recognised their power to alienate tenures; it limited the privilege of the pre-emption and gave the option to the landlord; and, with almost prophetic apprehension of the points at issue in Ireland, it defined the improvements which might be made by the tenant, and specified the compensation which he might look to receive." I
It is only necessary to add that three years after the Tenant Act was enacted, the Punjab Land Revenue Act (Act xxxiii. of 1871) was passed during the rule of Lord Mayo; and Settlements in the Punjab were made according to rules framed under this Act.
1 W. S. Seton Karr, quoted in Bosworth Smith’s Life of Lord Lawrence (1885), vol. ii. p. 423.
We have in the present chapter very briefly reviewed the legislation which was undertaken by Lord Canning and his successors to secure tenant-rights to the cultivators of Northern India. No more useful or beneficial legislation was ever undertaken by the British Government in India. The wise administrators of the day did not desire to set aside the landed classes. On the contrary, they respected their rights while they also extended protection to those who actually tilled the soil under them. Nor did Canning and Lawrence introduce new ideas and new rights for the Indian tenants. On the contrary, they only defined, improved, and codified those rights which Indian cultivators had always enjoyed by custom for centuries and thousands of years. The historian of the Indian people dwells with pleasure on the legislation of these years—legislation which respected the great and protected the weak, and which was based on the unwritten customs and the ancient rights of India. The credit of this wise and beneficent legislation was principally due to Lord Canning who first gave the protection of law to Bengal cultivators, and to John Lawrence who extended the same protection to the cultivators in Oudh and the Punjab. History recognises the heroic services of these two men in saving the British Empire in India in the dark days of 1857; but history scarcely condescends to note the services which they rendered to the voiceless tillers of Northern India by their strong determination to save their interests and secure their welfare. It is the special privilege of the chronicler of the economic condition of the people to recognise, fully and emphatically, this almost unnoticed work of the two greatest of Indian administrators.
And while those eminent rulers limited the demands • of the landed classes from the cultivators of the soil in Northern India, they exerted with equal courage to limit the demands of the Government itself on the landed classes. For they held, and rightly held, that there could be no permanent prosperity, no accumulation of wealth, and no adequate motive for improvement in an agricultural country, if the Government of the country demanded a continuous increase of the Land Revenue at each recurring Settlement. Canning and Lawrence desired to limit the increasing demand in order that the people might be prosperous, and the revenue of the State might increase with the general prosperity of the people. Canning and Lawrence failed because narrower views prevailed with the succeeding generation of statesmen,with men who were less in touch with the people and thought less of the people when the empire was safe. The story of this controversy has a melancholy interest, and will be narrated in the following chapter.
PROPOSED PERMANENT SETTLEMENT FOR INDIA
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The famine of 1860 was the severest calamity that had visited the people of Northern India since the famine of 1837. It affected an area of 25,000 square miles, and a population of 13 millions. Delhi, Agra, Allahabad, and other towns suffered severely. The Government opened relief works for the able-bodied men and women who could work. Gratuitous relief was provided at the expense of the charitable public for those who could not work. The mortality was less than in 1837.
When the great calamity was at last over, Lord Canning appointed Colonel Baird Smith to inquire into its causes and its extent. No better man could have been selected. Baird Smith had distinguished himself as the Chief Engineer at the recapture of Delhi in 1857. But his fame rested chiefly on those great irrigation works in Northern India by which he had extended the limits of cultivation and added to the food of the people. He entered upon his new task with all his wonted energy and zeal. After an exhaustive inquiry into the condition of the faminestricken tracts, he submitted three reports in May and August 1861. And he may be said to have discovered some facts which are true of all Indian famines.
In the first place, he clearly showed that the famine was due, not to want of food in the country, but to the difficulty of the starving people in obtaining the food. And in the second place, he also pointed out that the staying power of the people depended greatly on the land system under which they lived.
“No misapprehension can be greater than to suppose