Zitierweise / cite as:
Payer, Alois <1944 - >: Quellenkunde zur indischen Geschichte bis 1858. -- 16. Quellen aus der Zeit des British Ráj. -- 7. Zum Beispiel: The land-systems of British India / by Baden Henry Baden-Powell <Auszug>, 1892. -- Fassung vom 2008-06-28. -- http://www.payer.de/quellenkunde/quellen1607.htm
Erstmals publiziert als:
Baden-Powell, B. H. (Baden Henry) <1841 - 1901>: The land-systems of British India; being a manual of the land-tenures and of the systems of land-revenue administration prevalent in the several provinces. -- Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1892. -- 4 Bde. in 3. ; 23 cm. -- Bd. 1. -- S. 598 - 611. -- Online: http://www.archive.org/details/landsystemsofbri01badeuoft. -- Zugriff am 2008-06-16
Erstmals hier publiziert: 2008-06-28
Anlass: Lehrveranstaltung FS 2008
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Map of Bengal
THE preceding chapter has dealt with landlord estates or those involving proprietary right, and also with 'tenures,' technically so called, which form a sort of secondary class, intermediate between the first grade of interest and the lowest which is that of the raiyat. Properly speaking, no fresh start is necessary before proceeding to describe rayatí rights ; an account of the varieties of these, as they are found in different districts, is as much a part of our study of Bengal land-tenures, as is the description of the Zamíndár or the hawáladár. It is only the magnitude of the subject and the necessity for subdivision into sections, that makes me begin a new 'chapter' for tenants and their rights. In reality, a large number of the persons who have become legally tenants, but are still called by the old name of raiyat, were the original soil-owners of, at any rate, their individual holdings. Their present position is due partly to their own decay, partly to the gradual overlaying of their rights by the growth of the 'Zamindars' ; it is therefore necessary to bear in mind that in Bengal, as in other parts of India, we must not be surprised to find 'tenants' many of whom owe their position to no kind of contract with any landlord whatsoever. That is a main point to be borne in mind. We may now proceed [S. 599] to notice some of the local forms of rayatí tenure, and then proceed to the history of the relations of landlord and tenant, and to the provisions of law actually in force. And first of certain very common terms describing tenants generally.
In the ordinary revenue language, but hardly in the common speech of the people, tenants in the Permanently Settled districts were spoken of in two classes 'khudkásht' and 'páhi-kásht.' Khudkásht properly means a man who cultivates his own land ; and, in reality, it points back to a time before the Zamíndárs' time, when the village cultivator was either a member of a body which had cleared the waste and established the village, or had become, by conquest or grant at some remote date, the virtual owner of it. Where such persons were of a cultivating caste and worked their own holdings personally or with the aid of their servants, they were said to be 'khudkásht,' or cultivating their own. But there were always others in the village who, though not on the same footing, were nevertheless resident and privileged cultivators, just as we see in Panjáb villages at the present day. When the proprietary right of the village cultivators became lost or obscured by the turmoils of the times and the influence of overlords, both the original village owners and their resident helpmates became practically undistinguished, and were called raiyats under the Zamíndár ; but as both were by custom privileged, and were not liable to eviction, both came to be equally called 'khudkásht' with a slight change of meaning, for the word now implied tenants 'cultivating in their own village.' The 'tháni' (or stháni) cultivator is only a Hindi name for exactly the same thing ; and 'chapparband,' the man who has his 'roof' or house 'fixed' in the village, is also the same. Pahi- or pái-kásht meant a man who came from abroad and took up land to cultivate without belonging to the village permanently. He retained [S. 600] the appellation of origin, even though he in fact continued to till the land year after year.
As the modern tenant-law has given privileges, after a lapse of years, to the 'páhi' cultivators as well as to the hudkásht, the distinction found in the Regulations and in the older reports has ceased to be of practical import, and has given place to the legal distinction of 'occupancy' and 'non-occupancy' raiyat.
The common local names for tenants are various. 'Jot' is a term commonly used for any tenancy1, especially in the Bihár districts, where it has not the special meaning explained (in Chap. III. Sec. VI. C, p. 546). 'Prajá' is a common word for tenant, and also 'karshá' (Sansk. krishán).
1 R. and F. Ten. Act, p. 33.
As regards the term 'jot,' Mr. Cotton remarks that it is used with the most elastic application. It has already been stated that in Jessore it means a class of persons who are in fact substantial tenure-holders with an acknowledged right to hold at fixed rates; and so it is explained in the district of Rangpur. In general the raiyat who holds direct from the landlord is called 'jotdár,' and his holding is a 'jot,' whatever its size, and which may, and does, vary from one paying a rent of one rupee to one of which the rent is half a lakh2. It will then be remembered that 'jot' may be either a 'tenure' or a rayatí (tenant) holding according to locality.
2 The term 'jot-jama' merely implies that a lump rent is fixed on the whole holding, say, of five to ten bighás, including the site of house and garden and paddy-fields. The rent is 'be-miyádi,' without a fixed term, or 'miyádi,' for a term, or 'sarásar,' fixed from time to time, and so on.
In the Bhágalpur division a form of tenancy is spoken of as 'hál-hásila' (which means 'what has been realized for [S. 601] the time being, or actually '). This almost explains that the tenant is only bound to pay according to the crop which actually comes to maturity. The tenant cultivates such lands in the holding as he judges best, so that the fields occupied and the rent, vary from year to year ; but it is understood that the tenure is a continuing one. Certain rates for each crop, called 'bera,' are known ; and at the close of the year, the account is made out by taking the area of crops of different kinds matured, and working out the rent by aid of the 'bera' or rates1.
1 There is a more extended account in the Statistical Account (Purneah, vol. xv. p. 324, and Malda (vol. vii. p. 81). The questions there raised about an occupancy-right accruing, are all set at rest by Act VIII of 1885, under which it is not needed that the very same plots should have been continuously held.
So much of the holding as is left fallow is either not paid for at all or according to a 'fallow' rate, as may be agreed on ; but it will be observed that, whether fallow or not, the entire area is at the disposal of the tenant. The landlord has no power to hand over to some other person such fields as the tenant has not elected to plough up. It is said that these tenures are held by the higher castes, and that, in some cases, they are regarded as transferable, having been sold in executing decrees.
A modern form of this, only on a yearly agreement, is found on the banks of the Ganges and Kúsi rivers, by non-resident cultivators, locally called ' dotwár1.'
1 Unless the name is (as I suspect) a misprint for aotwár or ôtwár as in the following note).
1 Commonly written 'utbandi.' Wilson gives it as a Maráthi word Áut, a plough, from Sanscrit áyudh, a weapon. But Platt, with much more probability, spoils it 'oṭ,' which means a 'scotch' (to fix a thing down) ; and hence a fixed rate for the use of a plough and pair of bullocks.
This is a new form of temporary contract tenancy, and only resembles 'the hál-hásila,' which is a permanent tenancy, in this one particular, that the rent depends on the area cultivated, and on the actual crop raised ; nothing is paid for the fallow, if, as in some cases, the útbandi [S. 602] raiyat holds for two or three years ; for it is a local feature that the land (owing to its infertility) must be given rest. This form of tenancy is commonest in Nadiya, but is found in Jessore, Murshidábád, and in Pabna under the name of 'Uthitpatit' or 'charcha jot.' It is said that 'jama'i' raiyats -- i.e. tenants paying a lump rental for their holding -- pay at rates about half as high as those which are paid by útbandi raiyats on their actual cultivation.
Before closing the notice of varieties of tenant, I must mention the 'bháoli' or grain-paying system of Bihár. The process of division is much the same as it is in the Panjáb, or any other place where it survives, or had survived till of late years. As usual, the grain division is effected either by weighing out the grain at the threshing-floor (agor-bátái), or by appraising the standing crop (dánábandi), in which case the tenant makes over as many maunds of the grain as it was estimated would be the share in the field as it stood. It is surprising how accurate an appraisement of this sort can be when made by persons accustomed to the work.
In Gáyá, it is said, four-fifths of the land is held on grain-paying tenures. I have found a report on these tenures written by Babu Bhúb-Sen Singh, of Gáyá, which graphically describes them 1:
1 Report on the Rent Bill in 1884. The account is also curious as it is written from a strongly landlord point of view. When it is recollected that a large proportion of the bháoli tenants are what was once, in byegone days, the village proprietary body, and that the 'gorait' whom the 'Zamíndár maintains,' is one of the regular servants of the village community, and that the Zamíndár was always bound to keep the embankments, the author certainly does not underrate the landlord's equitable interest in the cultivation.
'It is the distinctive feature of the grain-rents that the payment consists not in any fixed quantity but in a fixed proportion of the actual out-turn of the crops grown. The rent, paid or payable accordingly varies from year to year. The land is tilled and the seed sown is supplied by the raiyat or at [S. 603] his cost the cost of hoeing and transplanting, of weeding and clearing, being also borne by him. But the water is supplied by the landlord at his own cost. The cost of gilandázi (throwing up of earth), division of lands into plots, by al and ail (ridges) according to their levels, for the storage of the necessary quantity of water, and of erecting embankments on the banks of rivers for the protection of the villages from being over-flooded, are exclusively paid by him. In dry years, when water cannot be supplied from rivers and village reservoirs and artificial water-courses, he pays the raiyat the cost of sinking wells. It is not only that the landlord supplies water for irrigation, but as the rise or fall in his income depends upon the increase or decrease in the produce of the lands, he naturally shows as much anxiety and takes as much care in the proper and timely ploughing thereof, as he would have done had he been a cultivator himself ; and his servants are always found to be busy in superintending the tilling of the soil, the sowing of the seed, the transplanting of the rice, and so forth, according as the case may be.
'If the raiyat' s bullock happens to die in the ploughing season, and the raiyat is unable to procure one in its stead, the Zamíndár would come forward and help him with one, even at the risk of running into debt, if he is poor. Seed is also supplied by him in the same way. For similar reasons, the landlord is interested in seeing that the best crops are grown upon the land it is capable of producing. No raiyat has the right to sow any crop inferior to what the land is capable of producing, nor can he be allowed, without the express consent of his landlord, to grow crops for which, by the custom of the country, a cash rent is paid, or which are incapable of being appraised or stored in the threshing-floor or barn for division. From the time the crops are sown to the time they are appraised and stored, the landlord watches the crops with keen interest and protects them from being wasted or otherwise injured by men or cattle. For this purpose he has to maintain an establishment of Barahils and Goraits, the former of whom receive their salary from, the Zamíndár, .... while the latter are remunerated by the Zamíndár with rent-free land' [and some grain-payment which is exacted from the tenants]. 'This kind of tenure, it may be remarked en passant, is a peculiar one and has not its like anywhere else either in [S. 604] Asia or Europe : and it would be a mistake to compare it with the European metayer system and to condemn it as having all the evils of that system without any of its advantages1. . . .
1 I should have thought that the author's own description fully justified the condemnation in italics, which, if I recollect rightly, is Dr. Field's I
'The "bháoli" crops are by custom and the circumstances under which they are grown, regarded by the parties concerned as their joint property.' [!] . . . 'The whole of the straw and the chaff, which are not without value, goes to the raiyats. It is only out of the grain-produce that the Zamíndár gets a share which, though everywhere more than half, is different in different parganas, and almost in different villages, and which again varies with the different classes of raiyats, whether Ra'iyán or Shurfá1, the former delivering a higher and the latter a lower share : and we shall be very near the true figure when we state that the Zamíndár's share, with the customary abwábs or cesses, is 9/16 of the grain-produce. But, if the value of the straw and the chaff, which are, in these days, as much valuable commodities as grain, be taken into consideration, the highest share which the Zamíndár gets in lieu of rent, would be much less than even half of the total gross produce. The value of the straw and chaff may fairly be assumed to be one-third of the grain-produce. ....
1 Ra'iyán are ordinary 'subjects.' Shurfá are the higher castes (from sharif—noble), very often ex-proprietors.
'As soon as the crops are ripe for harvesting, the Zamíndár deputes an amín (assessor) and a sális (arbitrator) to make an estimate of the grain-produce. In the presence of these officers, the raiyats, the village gomásta, the patwárí, and the jeth (headman of raiyats), who generally knows how to read and write, representing and watching the interests of the raiyats ; the village chainman, called kathádár (holder of the rod or bamboo), measures the field with the village bamboo, which in this district is nowhere less than 8 feet 3 inches or more than 9 feet in length. The sális then goes round the field, and from his experience guesses out the probable quantity of the grain in the fields, holds a consultation with the amín and the village officers, and when the quantity is unanimously agreed upon, it is made known to the raiyat. If he accepts the estimate so arrived at, the quantity is entered by the patwári [S. 605] in the khasra or field-book. If he objects, other raiyats are called in to act as mediators, and if they fail to convince either party, a partál or test takes place. On behalf of the landlord, a portion of the best part of the crops is reaped, and an equal portion of the worst part is reaped on behalf of the raiyat. The two portions so reaped are threshed and the grain weighed. On the quantity thus ascertained, the whole produce of the field is calculated and entered in the khasra. From the time the estimate is made, the Zamíndár withdraws his supervision from the crops, which are then left in the exclusive charge and possession of the tenant.' . . .
'After the appraisement of the field, the raiyat is allowed the full liberty of reaping the crops and taking them home at any time that may suit his convenience. Out of the estimated quantity, a deduction at the rate of two seers per maund is allowed to the raiyat, which is called chhuthi (let off). I have not been able to ascertain the exact reason for which this allowance is made. But, as in the agorbatái, the reapers who also thresh out the grain are paid from the joint crop, I presume this is allowed to the raiyat to meet the cost of reaping, gathering, and threshing. The landlord's share is then calculated on the quantity left after the chhuthi has been deducted,'
The writer, however, goes on to describe how the landlord exacts several cesses (here called 'hubúb'), which include the dah-haq, which is an extra 'tenth' (4 seers in the maund), besides pau-sera (¼ seer), 'nocha,' and others. With these he says 'the Zamíndár's total shark would come to, in some cases, a little less, and in others a little more, than 9/16.
When the tenant's holding is of considerable size and importance, it is not surprising that sub-letting should be usual. The commonest name for a tenant's tenant, or under-raiyat, is, perhaps, 'kúrpha' (often written 'koorfa,' &c.)1. A sub-tenant paying grain is called bargáit or [S. 606] ádhiyadár. The term 'shikmí ' is used for under-tenants, but not in Gáyá, where it means a kind of money-paying tenant who is permanent, and probably refers to the class of tenant who was not on equal terms with the descendants of original village settlers, though privileged as long resident and settled.
1 As the term is supposed to be of Hindí or Bengalí origin, of course the letter 'f,' which does not occur
in these languages, must be wrong; but I believe it is not settled what the real derivation of the term is.
Where there are special terms for 'tenures,' or for rayatí holdings, there are also special terms for tenants or subtenants ; as, for instance, the chukánidár under the jotdár in Rangpur and other districts, and the kol-karshádár in Bákirganj. For a variety of terms which I do not think it would be interesting to reproduce, as merely indicating kinds of contract, it will be sufficient to refer to the note at p. 35 of Finucane and Rampini's Tenancy Act.
Chittagong presents to us certain peculiarities in the system of tenancy which deserve to be noticed, because they throw light on the difficulties of a tenant law, and how provisions which may be effective in one place, and under one set of circumstances, fail to apply in another. The account that has been given both of land-tenures and of the method of land-revenue Settlement adopted in this district, will have made the subject so far familiar that what follows will be intelligible. We have, in fact, a country where land is extremely abundant in proportion to tenants, and where there is indeed never likely to be much pressure, because the neighbouring district of Arakan is still a virgin wilderness to a great extent, and, like so much of Burma generally, only awaits the overflow of population to turn it into a source of wealth to the agriculturist. Not only is land abundant, but it is held in small patches which are still distinguished by the names of origin. The taluq is the individual holding, whether [S. 607] old-settled revenue-free, assessed (i.e. resumed) revenue-free, or nauábád. The result is (1) that every one ekes out his subsistence by taking, as a tenant, some patch of land belonging to another ; (2) that every one desires to have some land of which he is owner, or at least permanent tenure-holder (qáimi), because that gives him the power of letting it out. A mere occupancy-right is not valued ; for it does not enable a man to get land on any better terms than circumstances always secure for him as a casual tenant ; while of itself it is not a right which enables him to let the plot and get money by it.
A considerable portion of the cultivation is in the hands of tenants-at-will, called (as usual) 'jotdár' or 'chásá,' or sometimes 'karshai-raiyat' (karshá=plough). And of course a man may be a 'chásá' tenant on one plot, while he is owner (or taluqdar) of another.
'Settlements with the cultivators' (writes Mr. Lowis, the Commissioner1) 'are made in March or April, when each jotdár settles what rent is to be paid for the land he proposes to cultivate, the rate being governed by the state of the rice market and the demand for the land. . . . Sometimes written engagements are taken, but as often as not the arrangement is verbal. It is not absolutely necessary that a fresh engagement should be entered into every year. When a chásá has held the same land for several years, he is allowed to hold on at the old rate without attending at the cutcherry to settle afresh. ... It is always assumed, however, by both parties that, on the occasion of a marked rise or fall in the price of rice, there shall be a corresponding change in the rent, after mutual discussion.'
1 Commissioner of Chittagoug to Board of Revenue, No. 72 C.T., dated 8th December, 1882.
A trusted chásá
'will be allowed to hold on for some years without a fresh agreement, while a new man will be required to attend at the beginning of each season to settle his rent.'
In many cases rents are settled only for one year, and at the end of it either party is at liberty to dissolve the connection. [S. 608] Such a system, Mr. Lowis remarks, would, on a large estate, result in rack-renting ; but it does not here, as the tenant is independent, owing to the small size of the holdings ; and if he cannot get one bit on terms that suits him, it is no question of breaking up his home and going to a distant village he is sure to find another, or half a dozen other plots, within a stone's throw, the owners of which are only too anxious to secure him. A man is not absolutely bound to get land or starve ; he is pretty sure to have some of his own, by which he can live ; and if he does not get extra land on a tenancy as it pleases him, he can afford to let it alone.
The taluqdárs have thus the complete control of the land, but subject to conditions which compel moderation ; the tenants prefer to be free also.
'The taluqdárs,' says the Collector regarding the Kutabdiya estates,
'argued that no terms whatever could pay them if the control of the land were taken out of their hands and the cultivators under them were recorded with fixed rights. The reason of this is, that the cultivators under them cannot be relied on for a fixed rent year by year. They prefer to pay heavily on a good crop and lightly in a year when they have reaped less or got lower prices, or have left a larger area uncultivated. Moreover, each taluq has its own small embankments, and the taluqdárs must be entitled to demand the labour of the cultivators to ensure these being kept up. In short, the cultivators do not want fixity of tenure, and it would be ruinous to the taluqdárs if it were given to them. '
Noakhálí is another district where land is abundant, owing to the constant formation of more or less rich silt islands or 'chars ' out of the river-branches that intersect the district.
These 'chars,' of course, vary in their durability : some last but a short time ; some remain for many years, or permanently. Most of the recent chars, and even much land [S. 609] on the older ones, is cultivated by 'jotdárs' on a purely annual tenancy. Tenants of this class will come at the proper time to the office of the hawáladár or other tenure-holder, and offer to take a certain plot, at a rate which varies, and depends on the quality of the land and its advantages. The agreement being completed, the tenant passes a plough-furrow across the land, as the sign of his taking possession.
The Commissioner writes as follows 1:
1 To Board of Revenue, No. 116 C.T., dated nth February, 1882. A similar state of things is described in Tipperah (Típra).
'For the first ten or even twenty years of its existence, a char is thus cultivated by jotdárs pure and simple, non-resident, nomadic, and unsettled. Gradually, however, some of them settle near their cultivation, and come to be looked on as settled-raiyats, who hold at some sort of fixed rate of rent. There is a rate for settled-raiyats, and this is not usually altered ; but even a settled-raiyat often sits loose to his holding, and so a custom has become recognized that he should be allowed some remission in a bad season, and should not be expected to pay for land not cultivated.
'This rule is not invariable, but I am led to believe that in a bad season, after some haggling, a settled-raiyat does generally get some remission, while in a good season he has to pay something extra in one shape or another ; in either case the rate is not altered, but the arrangements made are the result of mutual compromise.
'There is very little actual difference between a settled-raiyat and a jotdár. They neither of them hold under leases ; the usual rate for both is about the same : only the jotdárí rent is admittedly variable ; that of the settled-raiyat is not variable, but -- which comes to much the same thing -- he can generally get some remission when things are bad.
'There has always been more land to be cultivated on the islands than cultivators ; and land once cultivated so soon gets covered with rank vegetation all the ranker for the earth having once been opened up that cultivators are in demand, and have always been able pretty well to dictate their own terms ; while the facilities for obtaining fresh land rent-free, or at low rates, have induced unsettled and nomadic habits, so [S. 610] that even where cultivators have been for a considerable period apparently settled, the hawáladár knows that they sit very loose to the holding, and, if discontented, are apt to abandon them in order to acquire land elsewhere.'
Mr. J. S. Cotton compares the present state of things in the alluvial districts to the condition of the 'páhi-kásht,' or casual or non-resident tenants generally, at the time of the Permanent Settlement ; and the existence of such conditions no doubt largely contributed to the old belief that the relations of landlord and tenant (generally) would settle themselves -- a belief which resulted in the silence of the Regulations as to any definite terms of protection.
'The country was then three parts waste, still slowly recovering from the effects of famine. The demand was on all sides for raiyats to bring the land under cultivation ; the rates of rent were uniformly low, since, as soon as the demand was raised above what the raiyat chose to pay, he would migrate to the lands of a neighbouring landlord1.'
1 And this to the 'páhi-kásht' was not what a removal would be to an old resident of a village. There was no breaking up of an ancestral home—even though a humble one— and severing lifelong ties and associations ; the casual tenant soon`packed up his lolá (drinking-pot) and his bedding and few moveables; and as to his hut, a frame of mud and bamboos and a thatch roof is easily renewed in one place as well as another.
But as time passed, this state of things gradually ceased, and in the end Government was obliged to devise protective measures, which it did in 1859, and again in 1885.
'But in Chittagong, and throughout the new alluvial formations of Noakhálí and Tipperah, population is still sparse, land still plentiful, and the demand is still for raiyats to bring land under cultivation.' . . .
'There is no rack-renting in Chittagong, for there is always the probability that if the rent is fixed too high the land may not be taken up ; and if not engaged for, the loss would, of course, fall on the taluqdár or hawáladár, as the case may be.
'The Chittagong raiyats are, in short, entirely independent [S. 611] of the influence and interference of their landlords, and cultivate as they please on a yearly tenure. It is not surprising that under such circumstances they do not attach much importance to the right of occupancy as our law defines it. They are naturally indisposed to bind themselves definitely to a particular plot of land for which they will have to pay rent whether they cultivate it or not. Their real ambition is to get a permanent lease ['tenure'] and then to let this to other raiyats for cultivation ; but, if they cannot get this, they prefer to make their own terms with their landlord for such lands as they may themselves cultivate.
'A similar state of things exists in the Dwárs1 of Jalpáigúrí, where so much land is available that an under-tenant who feels himself aggrieved will at once desert his holding and take up other land.
1 Commissioner to Board, No. 868, dated 2nd March, 1878, paragraph 11; and Board to Government, No. 211 A., dated 25th March, 1878, paragraph 12.
'It is the same in the estates belonging to the Jaipur Government1 in the district of Bogra (Bagurá). Owing to the abundance of fallow and waste land in this part of the country, the raiyats seldom occupy the same holding for any lengthened period, and rights of occupancy are almost entirely unknown. The Zamíndárs compete for raiyats, and "the latter are almost masters of the situation." The figures given by Mr. Macpherson in paragraph 8 of his report show that nearly 10 per cent, of the holdings on these estates had been vacated during the three years, 1879-80 to 1881-82, and no less than 1,320 bíghás, which were cultivated three years before, had gone out of cultivation. The amount of new land taken under cultivation had prevented the rental of the estates from being reduced by more than R. 48; but the results vary considerably in different villages, and from year to year.'
1 Mr. Macpherson's report to the Board, No. 61, dated 22 Jan. 1883. paragraph 4, published on p. 201 of
the Selections from the correspondence on the preparation of Tables of Rent Rate.
Zu. 8. Zum Beispiel: The people of India : a series of photographic illustrations / India Museum, 1868 - 1875 <Auszug>