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General in Council would be disposed to leave the Malguzars in all cases 40 per cent. for expenses of management and proprietary rights, and to extend the limit in special cases to 50 per cent." These instructions were liberally interpreted by Richard Temple; and in the Settlement Code which he issued, with the sanction of the Governor-General, for application throughout the Central Provinces without any reservation, the only principle of assessment he laid down was the half-rental principle of the Saharanpur rules.
These, then, were the two main principles of the Settlement of the Central Provinces :
(1) The recognition of proprietary rights in Malguzars and tenant's rights in cultivators;
(2) The limitation of the land revenue to one-half of the rental of estates.
It is painful to record that the second principle was not adhered to in the assessments made. The exact method by which the rental value of each estate was ascertained has been described by two subsequent Chief Commissioners of these Provinces.
In so far as these two accounts can be reconciled, it is clear that Settlement Officers did not accept the actual rental of estates. They estimated what the rental should be from their own calculations; they based the land revenue demand on these estimated rentals; and they communicated the demand to the landlords who were left to raise their rents to the estimated rentals. A more reprehensible system of encouraging landlords to screw up their rents from helpless and ignorant cultivators can scarcely be conceived. In Bengal, in Oudh, and in the Punjab, Lord Canning and Sir John Lawrence had striven
i Vide paragraph 135 of his Administration Report for 1862-63.
? Sambalpur, still in a state of disorder, did not receive the benefit of this Settlement, and a Ryotwari Settlement was subsequently made in that district.
3 Letter No. 501 S, dated May 18, 1887, and Letter No. 1862, dated April 11, 1901.
to restrict the enhancement of rents by private landlords by special legislation. But Settlement Officers in the Central Provinces and elsewhere adopted a method which encouraged landlords to screw up their rents.
The actual proportion of the rental, so calculated, which was demanded as land revenue, was also higher than 50 per cent. in most districts, as the following list will show.1
It will thus be seen that the principles laid down for the assessment of the land revenue were violated in a twofold manner. In the first place, the rental accepted as the basis of assessment was higher than the actual rents received by the landlords; and in the second place, the proportion demanded as revenue exceeded 50 per cent. of this rental in most districts, and was fixed at 78 per cent. in Nagpur itself. Once again the orders of the Government “were carried out by the local authorities with a niggardly hand,” and the people had no redress against the violation of rules by the very officers for whom the rules had been framed.
One benefit, however, the people obtained from this Settlement. The Settlement lasted for thirty years, and the cultivators and landlords enjoyed some rest after the harassment of previous operations.
1 Letter of the Chief Commissioner of the Central Provinces to the Governor of India, No. 1862, dated April 11, 1901.
LAND SETTLEMENTS IN MADRAS
IN & prerious chapter we have described the Land Revenue administration of Madras during the last twenty years of the East India Company's Rule. In 1855 the Government of Madras resolved on a survey and settlement of the Province. It was proposed to reduce the Land Tax so as to promote the extension of cultivation. And it was hoped that the Government Revenue would increase with the increase of cultivation.
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VIEWS OF THE DIRECTORS. The Directors of the East India Company, who had noted the happy results of the new settlements in Northern India and in Bombay, welcomed this proposal. And in 1856 they gave their formal sanction in a letter, from which we make the following extracts :
“With your letter, dated the 11th October (No. 44) 1855, you have submitted to us a Minute of Consultation, dated the 14th August 1855, showing the final result of the consideration which has been given, during the last ten years, to the question of a general survey and revision of assessments in the districts subordinate to your Presidency."
“The urgent necessity of a survey, with a view to the reassessment of the Land Revenue in the greater portion of the districts under your Presidency is, we consider, established beyond the possibility of doubt."
“The officers engaged in the duty of fixing the assess1 Letter to the Governor of Fort St. George, dated December 17, 1856.
ment should always bear in mind that as you have expressed it-'the right of the Government is not a rent which consists of all the surplus produce after paying the costs of cultivation and the profits of the agricultural stocks, but a land revenue only, which ought, if possible, to be so lightly assessed as to have a surplus or rent to the occupier, whether he, in fact, let the land to others or retain it in his own hands.'”
“We are therefore of opinion that the assessment should be proportioned to the nett, and not to the gross produce.”1
"The grain assessment having been determined, and converted into money at a fair and moderate rate, we should prefer that the assessment so fixed should be declared unalterable for a term of thirty years (as in Bombay and the North-West Provinces), at the expiration of which period both the amount of the grain assessment, and the rate of its conversion into money, would be subject to readjustment according to existing circumstances.”
“You are of opinion that they (the proposed measures) will be followed generally, but surely, by a great extension of cultivation, and you anticipate with confidence the result, ‘instead of a falling off, will be an accession to the revenue.'"
“We are disposed to concur in these expectations, and the probability of their realisation is borne out by the actual results of the revisions of assessment under the Presidency of Bombay, as well as by the effects of the introduction of reduced rates into the district of South Arcot."
VIEWS OF SIR CHARLES Wood. The words which we have put in italics are important. They show that the East India Company did not claim the entire nett produce or rent of the soil, but only a portion of it as Land Revenue. They desired to have two-thirds of the nett produce as Land Revenue in Ryotwari tracts, as two-thirds of the rental bad been claimed as Land Revenue in Northern India before 1855. In that year Lord Dalhousie's Government reduced the Land Revenue to onehalf the rental in Northern India. And nine years after, when the administration of India had passed from the Company to the Crown, Sir Charles Wood, Secretary of State for India, similarly fixed one-half the nett produce as the limit of Land Revenue in Southern India. We quote two passages from the important Despatch of 1864, which lays down this rule, and which has never been published.
i The nett produce is what is left to the cultivator after deducting the costs of cultivation and the profits of the agricultural stocks.
"I am accordingly prepared to give my full support to the proposition of Sir William Denison, that the nett, and not the gross produce, should be adopted as the unit of which the Government is to take a fraction."
“I have to communicate to your Excellency in Council my deliberate opinion that the share of the nett produce, which may be fairly taken as the due of Government, should be assumed at one-hulf, and not one-third, as proposed in Sir William Denison's Minute.” 1
From 1864, therefore, i.e. from the commencement of the Settlement which had been sanctioned in 1856, but which did not begin till several years after, the clear rule of assessment for the Madras Government was to fix the Government demand so as to leave one-half the nett produce of fields to the cultivators, and to claim the other half as Land Revenue.
PRINCIPLE OF PERMANENCY. One other remark is suggested by the Directors' letter of 1856. It entirely ignored the principle of permanency which underlay the Ryotwari System. Sir Thomas Munro, the real author of that system, had declared emphatically
1 Revenue Despatch to Madras, No. 7, dated February 24, 1864, paragraphs 11 and 15. The italics are our own.