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Revenue Collection in Colonial India

Updated on April 15, 2014
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IRSHAD. CV has completed graduation. History was one of his optional course. He is interested in Indian history.

By this essay YOU can briefly learn about the system of land revenue collection by English East India Company in India. The major aim of the company was to maximize their revenue and profits. For this purpose the English East India Company adopted many number of ways to collect revenue from Indian cultivators. The different system of revenue administration by the English East India Company are briefly described below.

When Robert Clive become the Governor General, the land revenue administration was collected by Zamindars from peasants annually. And the Zamindars paid share to the company of the collected revenue from peasants. The Zamindars also begin to collect a huge tax to increase their revenue. Zamindars acted as an agent for revenue collection for the compamy. So, he peasants needed to satisfy both needs of the zamindars and the company. Zamindars were not considered the agricultural production to collect revenue. The peasants were imposed to pay taxes even there was a bad result in agricultural activity. In theory the system was failure and it lead to generate more and more problems among peasants.

After Warren Hastings become the Governor General and introduced a new system of revenue collection in 1773. By this, the company gave the right to collect revenue through bidding or auctioning. Highest bidder given the right to collect revenue. Then the company focused to increase their revenue by increasing the tax amount and any actions were not implemented to pramote agricultural production. This badly effected in agricultural field. Finally the company introduced ‘Permanent Settlement’ system in the revenue administration under the Governor General of Lord Cornwallis in 1793. Under the system of ‘Permanent Settlement’ the company fixed amount as land tax. So, the peasants required to pay a fixed amount of tax in every year even the output from agriculture was very bad. At the same time the company began to get fixed income as tax in every year. The company assigned the duty of tax collection to the Zamindars. By this the Zamindars considered as the land owner. So, the peasants came under the control of Zamindars. The peasants were lost their rights and freedom enjoyed earlier.

The collected amount of revenue distributed between the company and Zamindars. If any Zamindar failed to pay the amount to the company, he will loss his right to collect revenue and given to another Zamindar. So, the Zamindars were tried to increase their income from peasants, and they came more lands in to agriculture.

Under the ‘Permanent Settlement’ system the company fixed a higher amount as tax, which was over than the tax collected earlier. This system of revenue collection enables the company to deal with few Zamindars instead of dealing with thousands of cultivators. The ‘Permanent Settlement’ system of revenue collection was agreat successful. And the company expanded this system of in to the nearest places of Bengal like Orissa, Bihar………

Along with the ‘Permanent Settlement’ system the company adopted two other methods to collect revenue from peasants. Ie, the Mahalwari system and Ryotwari system

Mahalwari system implemented in the northern region of India including Punjab. According to Mahalwari system the land revenue collected from peasants through the village headmen.

Ryotwari system implemented in the south and western region of India. According to this system land revenue collected directly from peasants.


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