Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/42

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38 THE PEOPLE. The landlords had to tempt husbandmen to settle on their estates, by giving them land at low rents. Now the cultivators have grown so numerous, that in some districts they will offer any rent for a piece of ground. The Government has, there- fore, had to pass laws to prevent too great a rise in rents. These laws recognize the rights of the cultivators in the fields which they have long tilled ; and the rents of such hereditary husbandmen cannot be raised above fair rates, fixed by the Courts. Serfdom abolished. — In the old times the scarcity of people made each family of cultivators of great value to their landlord. In many parts of India, when once a peasant had settled in a village, he was not allowed to go away. In hill districts where the nomadic or wandering system of husbandry still survives, no family is allowed by the Native Chief to quit his territory ; for each household pays a poll-tax to the Chief, and the Chief cannot afford to lose this money. In some Provinces the English found the lower classes of husbandmen attached like serfs to the soil. Our officers in South-Eastern Bengal almost raised a rebellion by their efforts to liberate the rural slaves. The descendants of the old serfs still survive ; but they are now freemen. Fourfold Division of the People.— European writers for- merly divided the Indian population into two races, — the Hindus and the Muhammadans. But when we look more closely at the people, we find that they consist of four elements. These are — First, the Non-Aryan Tribes, called the Aborigines, who num- bered in 1872 (when the first Census of India was taken) about 18 millions in the British Provinces.* Second, the descendants of the Aryan or Sanskrit-speaking Race, now called Brah- mans and Rajputs, who numbered in 1872 about 16 millions. Third, the great Mixed Population, generally known as the Hindus, which has grown out of the Aryan and non-Aryan elements (chiefly from the latter), and numbered in 1872 about 121 millions. Fourth, the Muhammadans, who began to come to India about 1000 a.d., and who numbered in 1872 over

  • For the new system of classification adopted by the Census of 1S81 and

1 891 see post, p. 50.