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for the Government in all Ryotwari Districts. The consequence is that whenever those people go to a village, the first thing the Ryots of a village do is to endeavour to buy them over to get a low assessment.” 1
James Williant B. Dykes, who had been employed in revenue work in the district of Salem, stated before the House of Commons that throughout that Province the evils of the Ryotwari System were (1) irregularity in assessments which were increased if the cultivators improved their lands; (2) uncertainty of tenure, and (3) the obscurity of the revenue rules which were never made known to the ignorant cultivators.?
The Administration of Madras was then forced to adopt a large remedial measure in 1855, similar to that which had been adopted in Northern India in 1833, and in Bombay in 1835. An extensive Survey and Settlement were determined upon; and in their well-known order of 1855, the Madras Government anticipated the happiest results from this Settlement.
“An accurate survey and careful settlement of the land revenue will remove the evils. Each man's payment will be certain ; as a general rule there will be no remissions to be intrigued for or purchased; and thus the scope for cringing and bribery on the one part, and of corruption on the other, will be very greatly diminished ; and there is no doubt that, under such a system, a larger revenue may be obtained than at present, with less inconvenience to the people. Not only will the greater proportion of the payments now made to the Government Officers be saved to the Ryot, but by an equal distribution of taxation, those who now pay exorbitantly will be relieved from such extra exertion, and the burden will be laid on those who now, unfairly, evade it. Nor is this all; it is morally certain that, with a moderate and fixed assessment the occupation of land will rapidly increase. At present, cultivation is undoubtedly repressed by the heavy burdens on the land direct and indirect; but when these are lightened, not only will the properly agricultural ciasses extend their holdings, but numbers of the trading classes will apply their acquisitions to agriculture.
1 First Report of the Select Committee of the House of Commors, 1853, p. 286.
Fourth Report, p. 124.
“Further, it is certain that the high assessments and the absence of accurate accounts give occasion to very extensive fraud and the concealment of cultivation. Occasionally instances of this are brought to light on a large scale, so as to prove its existence, and it is well known to all revenue officers that it exists largely, but is concealed through the purchased connivance of the subordinate officials. With reduced assessments, there would be less of this fraudulent evasion, because there would be less inducement to pay for such connivance; and with an accurate survey and clear and simple accounts such fraud would become difficult and dangerous.
“There seems no reason for doubt that, with a vast extent of unoccupied land, with a peaceful and industrious population, scantily fed and scantily employed to the extent of being led to cross the sea in search of employment, though peculiarly averse to leaving home, with roads and other means of communication being every year improved and extended; under all these circumstances it seems clear that such a reduction of assessment as would make agriculture profitable would be speedily followed by a vast extension of cultivation. To these expectations are to be added the more partial causes which will make it practicable to enforce the fair claims of the revenue on extensive tracts. now evading them; and lastly it must be noticed that the measures proposed must of necessity occupy a very considerable length of time. It can hardly be expected that the survey and settlement of this extensive Presidency can be accomplished in less than 15 or 20 years, and thus only onefifteenth or one-twentieth of the revenue will have to be dealt with in each year, and there will be full time for the restorative agencies called into existence by the new measures to come into operation. On the whole, considering the present depressed condition of the Presidency, it seems fair to anticipate with confidence, that the result of these measures, instead of a falling off, will be an accession to the revenue, while as respects the payers and the public the good will be enormous; the revenue will be derived from resources double or treble those upon which it is levied now, and will be paid with corresponding ease and absence of privation.” 1
We have made this long extract, because this document opens a new chapter in the history of Madras land administrations. The results of the Survey and Settlement, recommended in 1855, will be narrated in a subsequent chapter.
Order No. 951, dated August 14, 1855.
LAND SETTLEMENTS IN THE PUNJAB
A PORTION of the Punjab was annexed to the British dominions by Lord Hardinge in 1846, after the first Sikh War; and the remainder was taken over by Lord Dalhousie after the second Sikh War in 1849. And we have a clear and lucid account of the condition of the Province, under its former Sikh ruler sas well as under British rule, in the First Punjab Administration Report, published in 1852.
Under the great Ranjit Singh, who had consolidated the Province into a strong and powerful kingdom, men who distinguished themselves by their courage and high capacity were deputed to the remoter districts for the collection of revenue, armed with pretorian and proconsular power. Among them was General Avitable who held down Peshawar with an iron hand, as also the doughty Hari Singh who kept the fierce and turbulent mountaineers of Hazara in unwilling submission. In the districts nearer to Lahore, Kardars or agents were employed to collect the revenue; and their inost important proceedings were subject to review by the Lahore Ministry.
Written law there was none; but a rude and simple justice was dealt out. “Private property in land, the . relative rights of land-holders and .cultivators, the corporate capacities of Village Communities, were all recognised. Under the direction of the local authorities, private arbitration was extensively resorted to. The most difficult questions of real and personal property were adjudicated by these tribunals. ... The Maharaja
constantly made tours through his dominions. He would listen to complainants during his rides, and he would become angered with any Governor in whose province complaints were numerous. At court also, he would receive individual appeals.” 1
The taxation was heavy. “But in some respects the Government gave back with one hand what it had taken with the other. The employés of the State were most numerous; every village sent recruits for the army who again remitted their savings to their homes. Many a highly-taxed village paid half its revenue from its inilitary earnings; thus money circulated freely." 2
The Land Tax under Maharaja Ranjit Singh was in theory assumed to be one-half the gross produce, but in practice “ may be said to have varied from two-fifths to one-third of the gross produce. The proportion prevailed in all the provinces which the Sikhs had fully conquered, and which were fairly cultivated, and may be said to have been in force in all their Cis-Indus possessions, except the province governed by Dewan Mulraj. Beyond the Indus, owing to the distance from control, the less patient character of the population, the insecurity of property, and the scarcity of population, the revenue system pressed more lightly on the people.” 3
The Land Tax, such as it was, was raised not in money but in kind; and it was therefore proportionate to the produce of the fields in good years as well as in bad years. Under such a system cultivators were not called upon to pay a fixed and immutable sum when their harvest had
failed; nor were they required in years of low prices to · pay a revenue calculated on the basis of high prices.
The second treaty of 1846, concluded in December of that year, provided that a British Resident should control the civil and military affairs of the Punjab; and
. Punjab Administratiou Report, 1852, paragraph 28.
? Ibid., paragraph 31. 3 Ibid., paragraph 233.