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troversy the Court of Directors finally declared themselves, in 1821, against the conclusion of a Permanent Settlement in Northern India. Regulation VII. of 1822 was then passed, which declared that the State was entitled to 83 per cent. of the grosę rental of estates, and permitted the Settlement to be revised from time to time.
To Lord William Bentinck belongs the credit of reducing this excessive assessment, and of introducing long-term Settlements. He held a Conference at Allahabad in 1833, and the result was the passing of Regulation IX. of 1833, the basis of Land Settlements in Northern India. The State-demand was reduced to 66 per cent. of the rental, and Settlements were made for thirty years.
The great task was entrusted to Robert Merttins Bird, who performed it in the humane spirit in which Lord William Bentinck's policy was conceived. The procedure which he followed was described by himself many years after, when he was examined as a witness before a Select Committee of the House of Commous. The first process was to make a rough summary of all the land within a fiscal area. The second was to inake a map including every field. The third was to make a professional survey showing the cultivated and the uncultivated land. The fourth process was to fix the Land Tax for the entire fiscal area. And the fifth and final measure was to apportion the entire amount among the villages contained within the area.
It may easily be imagined that the last two processes, the fixing of the Land Tax for a Pergana or fiscal division, and its apportionment among the villages included in the division, were watched by the agriculturists with the keenest anxiety. And indeed the weak point of the system was the assessment. For although 66 per cent. of the rental was made the rule, the rental itself was ascertained by guess-work, especially in lands held by Village Communities. We then proceeded," said Merttins Bird, “to investigate the assessinent of the Government Land Tax upon that tract, finding out, as best we could from the previous payments, and from the statements of the people themselves, from the nature of the crop and the nature of the soil, and such various means as experience furnished to us, what might be considered a . fair demand for the Government to lay upon it.” 1
most solemn pledge given in the most authentic form, were to be deprived of the promised benefit, and that in the end they were to be cast aside as an encumbrance on the earth. That pledge can never be effaced, although it remains unfulfilled.”-Kaye's Life and Correspondence of Henry Št. George Tutker, p. 222.
This method left the widest latitude to the Settlement Officer, and the greatest uncertainty in the liabilities of the agriculturist. No two Settlement Officers could form the same judgment on data which were so vague; and the assessment made at one Settlement was departed from, and generally enhanced, at the next Settlement. Agricultural prosperity was impossible when the tax on agriculture was so variable; and the accumulation of wealth, which the advocates of a Permanent Settlement had contemplated, was equally impossible, when the first signs of wealth and prosperity naturally suggested a more rigorous assessment at the succeeding Settlement.
In spite of this defect, however, the Settlement commenced in 1833 was made in a humane spirit, and gave great relief to the peasantry of Northern India, harassed by severe assessments and short settlements during the first thirty years of British rule. Merttins Bird laboured for nine years, and, on the eve of leaving India in 1842, submitted a full and exhaustive report on the results of the Settlement which was then coming to a close.
• The idea of a Permanent Settlement had been abandoned. But nevertheless Bird intended and desired that the Settlement he had made should be considered permanent in the districts where most of the cultivable
1 Fourth Report of the Select Committee, 1853, p. 30.
lands had already been brought under the plough. We glean the following facts from his lucid report.
DELHI DIVISION. Portions of this division, irrigated by canals, were well peopled and prosperous. They had been overassessed in some instances, but the pressure was now removed, and the Government Revenue now assessed was fair. The remaining portion which was not irrigated afforded only a precarious return to the husbandman.
“I consider, therefore, that no increase of resources can be expected from the Delhi territory on a revision of Settlement, unless Government should hereafter open a canal."
The average price of wheat was 73 lbs. for 2s.
MEERUT DIVISION. Saharanpur District.—“This district had been partially very much over-assessed, and the measures employed for collecting the revenue had been equally harsh and illegal; some of the communities composed of the most industrious classes had been cruelly depressed. Every effort was made to effect an equalisation of the demand, and with considerable success; but a considerable inequality still remains.” An increase in the Government Revenue might be made ir some villages of this district after the expiry of the Settlement, but, “one-fifth of the culturable land should always be left untaxed to allow for raising artificial grasses or other fodder for cattde, and to allow for fallows and chances of dereliction.” A moderate increase in the Government Revenue might be expected on the completion of the irrigation canal from Hurdwar to Allahabad.
The average price of wheat was 80 lbs. for 2s.
Muzaffarnagar District.—Some increase in the revenue might be expected at the next Settlement where low rates
were now paid, but, "no Mauza (village) having brought one-half of its culturable area into the state known in the district by the term Meesum, and paying at the standard fixed for that rate, should be subjected to any enhanced demand."
The average price of wheat was 75 lbs. for 2s.
Bulandshahar District.-Backward, and assessment low. Increase in the Government Revenue might be expected on the completion of the irrigation canal, and also from increased cultivation and the raising of rates.
The average price of wheat was 66 lbs. for 2s.
Meerut District.—A very fine district. Increase in the Government demand might be expected at the next Settlement from increased cultivation, “but none could be looked for from enhancement of rates, except what may be obtained by the introduction of canal irrigation."
The average price of wheat was 66 lbs. for 2s.
Aligarh District.-A prosperous and well-cultivated district. Future increase of land revenue could be expected only in six Perganas named, not in others except by the introduction of canal irrigation. The Village Communities of this district had received large advances from the indigo planters, Morton and MacClintock, as well as from native bankers; and much trouble, and the sale of lands assigned for the debts, ensued.
The average price of wheat was 78 lbs. for 2s.
AGRA Division. Agra District.--Fully cultivated and assessed. “No increase of revenue can at any time be expected from this district, and the Jumma (assessment] should be declared permanent at its present amount. The only hope of any improvement in the products, or methods of cultivation, or increase of irrigation, must be founded on the agriculturists possessing an assurance that they will reap the whole return of their pains and cost.”1
Muttra District.—Also fully cultivated. “The revenue at its present rate should be confirmed in perpetuity. There is no prospect of any further improvement unless the people be assured of reaping all the advantage of it.”
Farrackabad District.—Some parts were fully cultivated, but others ought to yield an increase of revenue at the next Settlement, both from increase of cultivation and from increase of rates. The introduction of canal irrigation should also lead to an increase.
Mynpoori District.—Some parts fully cultivated and assessed, others not.
Etawa District.-Fully cultivated and assessed. "No future increase is to be expected from it, except from the introduction of canal irrigation. With this reservation the present assessment ought to be considered perpetual.”
ROHILKHAND DIVISION. Bijnaur District. The district had been heavily assessed before, and cruelly treated by previous Revenue Officers. “Forced transfers of property to unwilling purchasers and mortgagees, forced loans extorted from recusant bankers, forced labour required for the cultivation of Mauzas (villages] which from abandonment had fallen into the management of public officers, were among the practices resorted to." These evils were now remedied, and an equitable revenue was fixed, but an equality in assessment was not yet obtained.
Muradabad District.—No information had been obtained.
i Paragraph 87 of Bird's Report. This was the argument used by all the advocates of a Permanent Settlement from Lord Cornwallis to Lord Wellesley, Hastings, and Minto. It is significant that after the Directors bad rejected the idea of a Permanent Settlement in 1821, Robert Bird still insisted on it in 1842, in the fully cultivated districts of Northern India, as the only hope of future agricultural improvement.