Study Material and Notes of Ch 3 Ruling the Countryside Class 8th History

The Company Becomes the Diwan

• On 12 August 1765, the Mughal emperor appointed the East India Company as the Diwan of Bengal.

• As Diwan, the Company became the chief financial administrator of the territory under its control.

Revenue for the Company

• The company made effort was to increase the revenue as much as it could and buy fine cotton and silk cloth as cheaply as possible.

• Within five years the value of goods bought by the Company in Bengal doubled.
→ Now the revenue collected in Bengal could finance the purchase of goods for export.

• Bengal economy was facing a deep crisis because artisans were deserting villages since they were being forced to sell their goods to the Company at low prices.
→ Agricultural cultivation showed signs of collapse.

• In 1770 a terrible famine killed ten million people in Bengal.

The need to improve agriculture

• Most Company officials began to feel that investment in land had to be encouraged and agriculture had to be improved.

• In 1793, the Company finally introduced the Permanent Settlement.
→ By the terms of the settlement, the rajas and taluqdars were recognised as zamindars.

• They were asked to collect rent from the peasants and pay revenue to the Company which was fixed permanently.

• This would ensure a regular flow of revenue to the Company’and at the same time encourage
the zamindars to invest in improving the land.

The problem

• The zamindars were not investing in improving the quality of land.

• The revenue fixed was too high for the zamindars.

• As long as the zamindars could earn by giving out their land to tenants, they were not interested in
improving the land.

• On the other hand, in the villages, the cultivator found the system extremely oppressive.

A new system is devised

• By the early nineteenth century, many of the Company officials were convinced that the system of revenue had to be changed again to meet the growing expenses.

Mahalwari settlement

• The collectors went from village to village to estimate the land revenue that each village (mahal) had to pay.

• The charge of collecting the revenue and paying it to the Company was given to the village headman, rather than the zamindar.

• This system came to be known as the mahalwari settlement.

The Munro system

• The new system that was devised came to be known as the ryotwar (or ryotwari).

• It was tried on a small scale by Captain Alexander Read.

• It was subsequently developed by Thomas Munro, which was gradually extended all over south India.

Ryotwari system and its problem

• The settlement had to be made directly with the cultivators ( ryots ) who had tilled the land for generations.

• British should act as paternal father figures protecting the ryots under their charge.

• To increase the income from land, revenue officials fixed too high a revenue demand.

• Peasants were unable to pay, ryots fled the countryside, and villages became deserted in many regions.

Crops for Europe

• The British persuaded or forced cultivators in various parts of India to produce other commercial crops:
→ jute in Bengal
→ tea in Assam
→ sugarcane in the United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh)
→ wheat in Punjab
→ cotton in Maharashtra and Punjab
→ rice in Madras.

• The British used a variety of methods for increasing cultivation of crops that they needed.

• One such crop was Indigo, which had a great worldwide demand.

Why the demand for Indian indigo?

• By the thirteenth century, Indian indigo was being used by cloth manufacturers in Italy, France and Britain to dye cloth.
→ But the price of indigo was very high.

• European cloth manufacturers, therefore, had to depend on another plant called woad to make violet and blue dyes which were pale and dull.
→ Therefore, cloth dyers, however, preferred indigo as a dye.

• The French began cultivating indigo in St Domingue in the Caribbean islands, the Portuguese in Brazil, the English in Jamaica, and the Spanish in Venezuela.

• Between 1783 and 1789 the production of indigo in the world fell by half.

• Cloth dyers in Britain started looking for new sources of indigo supply.

Britain turns to India

• The Company in India looked for ways to expand the area under indigo cultivation.

• By 1810, 95 percent of the indigo imported into Britain was from India.

• Many Company officials left their jobs and numerous Scotsmen and Englishmen came to India and became planters attracted by the prospect of high profits.

How was indigo cultivated?

• There were two main systems of indigo cultivation –  nij and ryoti.

Nij cultivation and problems

• The planter produced indigo in lands that he directly controlled.

• The planters found it difficult to expand the area under nij cultivation.

• Indigo could be cultivated only on fertile lands which were all already densely populated.

• A large plantation required large number of labour at a time when peasants were
usually busy with their rice cultivation.

• It also required many ploughs and bullocks.

• Till the late nineteenth century, planters were therefore reluctant to expand the area under  nij cultivation.

Indigo on the land of ryots

• Under the ryoti system, the planters pressurised the village headmen to sign the contract on behalf of the ryots.
→ Those who signed the contract got cash advances from the planters at low rates of interest to produce indigo.
→ But the ryot to had to cultivate indigo on at least 25 percent of the area under his holding.

• When the crop was delivered to the planter after the harvest, a new loan was given to the ryot, and the cycle started all over again.

• The price provided to the peasants for the indigo they produced was very low and the cycle of loans never ended.

• Indigo also exhaust the soil rapidly.
→ After an indigo harvest the land could not be sown with rice.

The “Blue Rebellion” and After

• In 1859, the indigo ryots felt that they had the support of the local zamindars and village headmen in their rebellion against the planters.

• As the rebellion spread, intellectuals rushed to the indigo districts and wrote of the misery of the ryots, the tyranny of the planters, and the horrors of the indigo system.

• The government set up the Indigo Commission to enquire into the system of indigo production.
→ The Commission held the planters guilty, and criticised them for the coercive methods they used with indigo cultivators.

• After the revolt, indigo production now shifted their operation to Bihar.

• Mahatma Gandhi’s visit in 1917 marked the beginning of the Champaran movement against the indigo planters.

NCERT Solutions of Chapter 3 Ruling the Countryside

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