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and Patwaris, getting three shillings to six shillings a week, are expected to work according to these impossible inductive and deductive rules | As a matter of fact, they vaguely imagine that the Government wants an increase in rental, and they secure one. Two or three Assistant Settlement Officers in a District cannot efficiently check the work of Patels and Patwaris over thousands of square miles. The fixing of the rent is therefore often a poor guess work, and the mistakes are against the cultivator. And the cultivator has no independent Land Court to appeal to against the finding of the official paid three to six shillings a week. The mistakes which are most frequently made in fixing and enhancing rents are known universally in the Central Provinces. In the first place the classification of lands is often wrong, and Patels have a habit of placing on a higher class lands which really fall under a lower class. In the second place, the crop experiments, by which the productiveness of the different classes of soil is judged, are often misleading; no adequate allowance is made for dryage and loss in harvesting. In the third place, much cultivable land is left uncultivated owing to the want of seed grain, want of bullocks, or the general poverty of the cultivator. All such land is, however, included by Government Officers in fixing the rental; and the landlord has to realise rents for lands which tenants cannot cultivate, or to pay revenue for lands for
ment, those obtained deductively from considerations based on the rise in prices, let it be supposed that prices would justify an enhancement of 3 per cent. on rents paid at a former settlement, whereas a comparison o the rental paid then and now, effected by contrasting the rate per acre in cultivation at both periods, shows that rents, considered in the aggregate, have risen by 1o per cent. only, a further enhancement of 23 on the original rental, or of 20 per cent. on the rental as it stands, is justified. The soil-unit system offers a means of distributing this enhancement equitably.”
“In the hands of inductive reasoning, the system is then an instrument for arriving at the amount of an enhancement; it serves also as a means for fairly distributing an enhancement arrived at by deductive reasoning, as it reduces every Ryot's holding to, so to speak, a common denominator.”
which he gets no rent. In the fourth place, it is proved in the case of minor's estates, which the State administers for those minors, that State Officers are themselves unable to realise the rents they have fixed by something like 10 per cent. Private landlords necessarily bear a heavier loss. Fifthly, the instalments of the Government demand are not judiciously fixed. A large instalment is demanded in February in order to complete the collection within the financial year. Landlords press their tenants for rent in January in order to pay the revenue in February. The crops are not yet harvested in January, and the tenants have to mortgage standing crops, much under their fair value, to money-lenders in order to pay rents. Sixthly and lastly, while the law of Bengal empowers the Government to sell an estate in default of payment of revenue, the law of the Central Provinces empowers revenue officers to arrest a landlord and send him to prison for default. Such severity, unknown in the revenue laws of Bengal, is a stain on the administration of the Central Provinces.
TENANCY ACT OF 1898 AND NEEDED REFORMS.
A consolidating and amending Rent Act, passed in 1898, has not improved the position of the tenant. It provides that the rent of ordinary tenants shall be fixed by Settlement Officers for seven years. And provisions have been made restricting the alienation of home-farm lands by landlords, and the transfer of their right by occupancy and ordinary tenants. Such restrictions are unknown to Bengal laws, and they have the economic effect of lessening the marketable value of properties. It is not by such measures that the Central Provinces can regain their prosperity after the recent calamities. It is by more liberal measures, and by going back to the healthy principles of 1863, that the agricultural population of the Province can become strong, resourceful, selfreliant, and prosperous.
1 In the inquiries which I personally made in the Central Provinces in March 1903, I was informed in one District that nearly a fourth of the assessed land was left uncultivated that year. Rents could not be realised for most of these lands, but the revenue had to be paid.
CHAPTER WI LAND ADMINISTRATION IN BOMBAY AND MADRAS
THE Land Systems of Bombay and Madras, like those of Northern India, were built up under the administration of the East India Company. The first Settlement for thirty years in Bombay was commenced by Wingate in 1836; and a Settlement of thirty years for Madras was ordered by the Court of Directors in 1855. And after the administration had passed to the Crown, it was laid down by Sir Charles Wood in 1864, that the demand of the State from the soil should be limited, as in Northern India, to one-half the nett produce or economic rent. The action which was taken in the two Provinces, down to the time of Lord Lytton's administration, to carry out these principles, has been narrated in a previous chapter. We shall now briefly continue the story to the end of the century.
The mistakes which were made in Bombay at the revision of the Settlement commenced in 1866 were among the reasons which led to the Poona Riot of 1875. Auckland Colvin, one of the Members of the Commission appointed to inquire into the causes of the disturbance, pointed out the sudden and enormous enhancements made in the Land Revenue demand. This evil was not removed. The Bombay Government did not place clear and definite limits on its own claims upon the soil. The rule of Sir Charles Wood to limit the demand to one-half the rental
was virtually ignored in Settlement Operations.
The Revenue Jurisdiction Act of 1876 took away the jurisdiction of Courts of Justice in matters of assessment, and made the Settlement Officers absolute. The Agricultural Relief Acts of 1879 sought to protect cultivators from their creditors, but gave no hint of limiting the Land Revenue. The Land Revenue Act of 1879 contained no adequate provisions to limit the State-demand. And yet it was this protection which Bombay cultivators needed more urgently than any other. As Sir William Hunter said, openly and strongly from his place in the Governor-General's Council in 1879: “The fundamentai difficulty of bringing relief to the Deccan Peasantry is that the Government Assessment does not leave enough food to the cultivator to support himself and his family throughout the year.”
The only rule which limited the discretion of the Settlement Officer was that he should not enhance the revenue of a Taluka or group of villages by more than 33 per cent., or that of a single village by more than 66 per cent., or that of an individual holding by more than 100 per cent. Such a rule was calculated to do more harm than good.
The Revision Settlement, commenced in 1866, went on slowly, and by 1899 (the year preceding the Bombay famine), only half the villages of the Province had been revised. Out of 27,781 villages in the Province, only 13,3691 had been resettled. And the figures? showing the old demand, and the revised demand, indicate the enormous increase which had been secured.
The figures on the opposite page call for one or two remarks. The headings of columns 3 and 4 will show that this increase of 30 per cent. was not the result of the slow extension in cultivation during thirty years; it was obtained in the year of the revision. As Auckland Colvin
1 Bombay Administration Report for 1898-99; Appendix II. £1 is taken as equivalent to 10 rupees. Fractions of £1 are taken as [1, or omitted.