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Ryotwari System

Updated on February 7, 2018

It was introduced in 1820 in Madras, Bombay, parts of Assam and Coorgh provinces of British India. It covers 52% of the territories held by the British. The Ryotwari System was the brainchild of Thomas Munro, the district collector of the Rayalaseema region. He was later the Governor of Madras province of the British.

Ryotwari system was introduced in Ceded district as an experiment and it was successful. During 1799 to 1818, many territories were conquered by the British. In 1799, Mysore was conquered. In 1801, Carnatic was conquered and Madras province was created subsequently in the same year. In 1818, Maratha territories were subjugated and Bombay presidency was created. All these newly acquired territories were introduced with the Ryotwari System.

Zamindari System that was in existence at this point of time was not introduced in these newly conquered territories due to the following circumstances;

  • The system (Zamindari System) was a bit disadvantageous.
  • At this time the burden was increased and more revenue was needed by the British and hence a new system other than Zamindari was introduced.
  • Provinces namely Bombay and Madras do not have a powerful zamindari class to introduce the Zamindari settlement system.
  • Thomas Munro was an advocate fought to introduce this new Ryotwari System, he quoted certain historical reasons like Zabti System, etc as well for the same.

In Ryotwari System the ownership rights were handed over to the peasants. British Government would collect taxes directly from the peasants.

Analysis of the Ryotwari System

The system was pro-peasant, since there was no exploitation of the peasants. Peasants were the owners, theoretically the system was meritorious than the Zamindari System. But, in practical this system was not appreciable. Ryotwari System was introduced in such provinces where peasants were poor, and famines were high. Relatively the peasants in the places where the zamindari system was in existence were prosperous than those who resides in the places where the Ryotwari System was introduced.

The revenue rates of Ryotwari System were as follows; It was 50%, where the lands were dry and 60% in irrigated land. Apart from this never any remissions were given to the peasants even during the famines.

The revenue officials were highly corrupt. High assessments than the original use to be marked and there was no system of appeal over this. Money lenders on the other hand exploited the peasants. According to the contemporary reports, Rural indebtedness is very high in the regions where ryotwari system was implemented.


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