What Is Permanent Settlement?
The Permanent Settlement of Land Revenue, also known as the Zamindari system, was introduced in British India in 1793 by Lord Cornwallis. It was primarily implemented in the Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa regions, and later extended to Varanasi and Madras. The Permanent Settlement covered approximately 19% of British India. Under this system, a new class of landowners called Zamindars was created. This was an altogether new type of system and was never practiced by previous rulers e.g. Mughals, Marathas, Sikhs, Mysore or Awadh etc. As the British rule expanded in India two other types of revenue systems namely – Mahalwari System (Nothern and Central India) and Ryotwari System (Western and Southern India) were also initiated.
These zamindars were responsible for collecting land revenue from farmers through intermediaries and paying a portion of it to the British East India Company which was 10/11th of the collection. In return, the zamindars were granted the right to collect the remaining portion of the revenue for their own use and for performing their duties as intermediaries. The Permanent Settlement was also known by the names Istamrari, Jagirdari, Malguzari, Bishvedari and Zamindari.
Permanent Settlement was designed to provide the British East India Company with a predictable and stable source of revenue from land taxes, while also establishing the rights of Bengali landlords over their land.
Under the permanent settlement, the British divided the land in Bengal into three categories: Zamindari, Raiyati, And Khudkasht.
- Zamindari land was held by zamindars, or large landowners, who were responsible for collecting taxes from the tenants on their land. These zamindars were granted permanent rights to collect revenue from the land, as long as they paid the agreed-upon taxes to the British.
- Raiyati land was held by raiyats, or small and medium-sized landowners, who were responsible for cultivating their own land and paying taxes directly to the British.
- Khudkasht land was land that was personally cultivated by the owner and not rented out to tenants.
The permanent settlement had a number of consequences for Bengal. One of the most significant was the creation of a new class of wealthy zamindars, who controlled vast tracts of land and had the power to collect taxes from tenants. This led to the concentration of wealth and land in the hands of a few wealthy landowners, while the majority of peasants remained poor and landless.
The permanent settlement also had a negative impact on agricultural production in Bengal. The zamindars had little incentive to invest in improving their land, as they were not required to pay higher taxes based on increased productivity. This led to a stagnation in agricultural production and a decline in the overall prosperity of the region.
The permanent settlement was also criticized for its lack of flexibility. It did not account for fluctuations in the price of crops or changes in the population, which could significantly impact the amount of revenue collected by the British.
Overall, the permanent settlement had significant and lasting consequences for the people of Bengal. It entrenched the power of a small group of wealthy landowners, while the majority of peasants remained poor and disadvantaged.
Permanent Settlement Was Introduced By
The Permanent Settlement of Land Revenue, also known as the Zamindari system, was introduced in British India in 1793 by Lord Cornwallis under the Cornwallis Code. The Cornwallis Code refers to a set of laws and regulations implemented in British India by Lord Cornwallis, who served as the Governor-General of India from 1786 to 1793. These laws were designed to reform and modernize the administration of the East India Company in India.
One of the most significant parts of the Cornwallis Code was the Permanent Settlement of Land Revenue, which established a new system for collecting land taxes and granted permanent rights to collect revenue to a class of intermediaries called zamindars. The Cornwallis Code also included the Charter Act of 1793, which granted the East India Company a monopoly on trade with India and established a system for the appointment and promotion of civil servants.
Other notable aspects of the Cornwallis Code included:
- The introduction of a professional and merit-based system for the recruitment of civil servants,
- The establishment of a central treasury and a system of standardized accounting, and the codification of criminal and civil law.
- Overall, the Cornwallis Code had a significant impact on the administration and legal system of British India and laid the foundations for the modern Indian state.
Describe The Main Features Of The Permanent Settlement
The Permanent Settlement of Land Revenue was a land revenue system introduced in British India in 1793.
- It recognized landlords, known as zamindars, as landowners and granted them hereditary succession rights to the lands under their control.
- The zamindars were free to sell or transfer the land as they saw fit, as long as they paid the government a fixed revenue on the specified date.
- If they failed to do so, their rights would be terminated and the land would be auctioned off.
- Under the Permanent Settlement, the zamindars were required to pay a set amount of tax, which was fixed at a rate of 10% for the government and 10% for the zamindar.
- This tax rate was significantly higher than the current rates in England.
- The zamindars were also required to issue written agreements, known as pattas, to each cultivator outlining how much the tenant was required to pay in rent.
Drawbacks of Permanent Settlement
However, the Permanent Settlement had several drawbacks:
- The fixed revenue rates were high, leaving many zamindars with little or no margin for shortfalls in times of natural disasters or other calamities.
- As a result, many zamindars were forced to divide their estates into small lots of land known as patni and rent them out permanently to holders on the promise of a fixed rent.
- This process, known as subinfeudation, further exacerbated the exploitation and oppression experienced by cultivators, who were frequently forced to take out loans to pay their rents and risked eviction if they failed to do so.
- The Permanent Settlement also did not allow for the tax rate to be increased, which meant that revenue could not increase to meet the growing expenses of the East India Company.
- It was disastrous for the zamindars as well since the rate was fixed and if the zamindar could not pay due to crop failure, he was evicted.
- In some ways it was not good for the Company as well. When the cultivation grew and zamindars were making more money, the company could not increase the rent as the rate was fixed.
How was the Mahalwari system different from the Permanent Settlement
The Mahalwari system was a land revenue system that was implemented in parts of India, including the North-Western Provinces and the Punjab, during the British colonial period. It was introduced in 1822 to replace the zamindari system, which had been in place since the early 18th century. Under the Mahalwari system, the revenue from the land was collected directly from the cultivators, rather than from intermediaries such as zamindars.
The Permanent Settlement, on the other hand, was a land revenue system that was implemented in the Bengal Presidency of British India in 1793. It was introduced by Lord Cornwallis and was intended to provide a stable and predictable source of revenue for the British East India Company. Under the Permanent Settlement, the zamindars were made the owners of the land, and they were required to pay a fixed amount of revenue to the British government. This system was seen as more favorable to the zamindars, as they were able to keep the excess revenue from their lands and pass on the burden of taxation to the cultivators.
Overall, the Mahalwari system was seen as more equitable than the Permanent Settlement, as it sought to collect revenue directly from the cultivators rather than from intermediaries. However, both systems had their limitations and were criticized for various reasons, including the lack of incentives for improvement of land and the burden of taxation on the cultivators.
Permanent Settlement UPSC
The Permanent Settlement is an important topic in the history of British India and is likely to be covered in the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) exams for the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and other civil service exams in India.
Some key points to remember about the Permanent Settlement in the context of UPSC exams include:
- The Permanent Settlement was a land revenue system introduced in the Bengal Presidency of British India in 1793.
- It was introduced by Lord Cornwallis and was intended to provide a stable and predictable source of revenue for the British East India Company.
- Under the Permanent Settlement, the zamindars were made the owners of the land and were required to pay a fixed amount of revenue to the British government.
- The Permanent Settlement was seen as more favorable to the zamindars, as they were able to keep the excess revenue from their lands and pass on the burden of taxation to the cultivators.
- The Permanent Settlement was criticized for various reasons, including the lack of incentives for improvement of land and the burden of taxation on the cultivators.
It is important to have a clear understanding of the Permanent Settlement and its implications in the context of the history of British India and the social and economic structures of the time. This can help you in answering questions related to the Permanent Settlement in the UPSC.
The Permanent Settlement had both positive and negative impacts. On the positive side, it provided a stable and predictable source of revenue for the British East India Company and also allowed the zamindars to keep the excess revenue from their lands, which they could use for the development of their estates. However, the Permanent Settlement was also criticized for various reasons. It was seen as inequitable, as it placed the burden of taxation on the cultivators rather than on the zamindars. It also did not provide any incentives for the improvement of land, leading to stagnation and declining productivity in many areas.
Overall, the Permanent Settlement was a significant event in the history of British India and had far-reaching consequences on the social and economic structures of the time. It is an important topic for students of history and for those preparing for exams such as the UPSC.
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