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388
[ADMINISTRATION
INDIA

found, to create substitutes out of enterprising contractors. The attempt resulted in failure in every case, except where the zamindars happened to be the representatives of ancient lines of powerful chiefs. Several of such chiefs exist in the extreme south and in the north of the presidency. Their estates have been guaranteed to them on payment of a peshkash or permanent tribute, and are saved by the custom of primogeniture from the usual fate of subdivision. Throughout the rest of Madras there are no zamindars either in name or fact. The influence of Sir Thomas Munro afterwards led to the adoption of the ryotwari system, which will always be associated with his name. According to this system, an assessment is made with the cultivating proprietor upon the land taken up for cultivation year by year. Neither zamindar nor village officer intervenes between the cultivator and the state, which takes directly upon its own shoulders all a landlord’s responsibility. The early ryotwari settlements in Madras were based upon insufficient experience. They were preceded by no survey, but adopted the crude estimates of native officials. Since 1858 a department of revenue survey has been organized, and the old assessments have been everywhere revised.

Nothing can be more complete in theory and more difficult of exposition than a Madras ryotwari settlement. First, the entire area of the district, whether cultivated or uncultivated, and of each field within the district is accurately measured. The next step is to calculate the estimated produce of each field, having regard to every kind of both natural and artificial advantage. Lastly, a rate is fixed upon every field, which may be regarded as roughly equal to one-third of the gross and one-half of the net produce. The elaborate nature of these inquiries and calculations may be inferred from the fact that as many as thirty-five different rates are sometimes struck for a single district, ranging from 6d. to £1, 4s. per acre. The rates thus ascertained are fixed for a term of thirty years; but during that period the aggregate rent-roll of a district is liable to be affected by several considerations. New land may be taken up for cultivation, or old land may be abandoned; and occasional remissions are permitted under no less than eighteen specified heads. Such matters are discussed and decided by the collector at the jamabandi or court held every year for definitely ascertaining the amount of revenue to be paid by each ryot for the current season. This annual inquiry has sometimes been mistaken by careless passers-by for an annual reassessment of each ryot’s holding. It is not, however, a change in the rates for the land which he already holds, but an inquiry into and record of the changes in his former holding or of any new land which he may wish to take up.

In the early days of British rule no system whatever prevailed throughout the Bombay presidency; and even at the present time there are tracts where something of the old confusion survives. The modern “survey tenure,” as it is called, dates from 1838, when it was first introduced into one of the tálukas of Poona district, and it has since been gradually extended over the greater part of the presidency. As its name implies, the settlement is preceded by survey. Each field is measured, and an assessment placed upon it according to the quality of the soil without any attempt to fix the actual average produce. This assessment holds good, without any possibility of modification, for a term of thirty years. The Famine Commission of 1901 suggested the following measures with a view to improving the position of the Bombay ryot: (1) A tenancy law to protect expropriated ryots, (2) a bankruptcy law, (3) the limitation of the right of transfer, in the interests of ryots who are still in possession of their land.

In the other provinces variations of the zamindari and ryotwari systems are found. In the United Provinces and the Punjab the ascertainment of the actual rents paid is the necessary preliminary to the land revenue demand. The other Provinces. In the Central Provinces, where the landlords (malguzars) derive their title from the revenue settlements made under British rule, the rents are actually fixed by the settlement officer for varying periods. In addition nearly every province has its own laws regulating the subject of tenancy; the tenancy laws of the United Provinces and of the Central Provinces were revised and amended during the decade 1891-1901.

The principles of the land revenue settlement and administration were reviewed by the government of India in a resolution presented to parliament in 1902, in which its policy is summarised as follows:—

Land Tenures and Settlements. “In the review of their land revenue policy which has now been brought to a close, the Government of India claim to have established the following propositions, which, for convenience’ sake, it may be desirable to summarize before concluding this Resolution:—

(1) That a Permanent Settlement, whether in Bengal or elsewhere, is no protection against the incidence and consequences of famine.

(2) That in areas where the State receives its land revenue from landlords, progressive moderation is the key-note of the policy of Government, and that the standard of 50% of the assets is one which is almost uniformly observed in practice, and is more often departed from on the side of deficiency than of excess.

(3) That in the same areas the State has not objected, and does not hesitate, to interfere by legislation to protect the interests of the tenants against oppression at the hands of the landlord.

(4) That in areas where the State takes the land revenue from the cultivators, the proposal to fix the assessment at one-fifth of the gross produce would result in the imposition of a greatly increased burden upon the people.

(5) That the policy of long term settlements is gradually being extended, the exceptions being justified by conditions of local development.

(6) That a simplification and cheapening of the proceedings connected with new settlements and an avoidance of the harassing invasion of an army of subordinate officials, are a part of the deliberate policy of Government.

(7) That the principle of exempting or allowing for improvements is one of general acceptance, but may be capable of further extension.

(8) That assessments have ceased to be made upon prospective assets.

(9) That local taxation as a whole, though susceptible of some redistribution, is neither immoderate nor burdensome.

(10) That over-assessment is not, as alleged, a general or widespread source of poverty and indebtedness in India, and that it cannot fairly be regarded as a contributory cause of famine.

The Government of India have further laid down liberal principles for future guidance and will be prepared, where the necessity is established, to make further advance in respect of:—

(11) The progressive and graduated imposition of large enhancements.

(12) Greater elasticity in the revenue collection, facilitating its adjustment to the variations of the seasons, and the circumstances of the people.

(13) A more general resort to reduction of assessments in cases of local deterioration, where such reduction cannot be claimed under the terms of settlement.”

In 1900-1901 the total land revenue realized from territory under British administration in India amounted to £17,325,000, the rate per cultivated acre varying from 3s. 1d. in Madras to 10d. in the Central Provinces. The general conclusion of the Famine Commission of 1901 was that “except in Bombay, where it is full, the incidence of land revenue is low to moderate in ordinary years, and it should in no way per se be the cause of indebtedness.”

Prior to the successive reductions of the salt duty in 1903, 1905 and 1907, next to land, salt contributed the largest share to the Indian revenue; and, where salt is locally manufactured, its supervision becomes an important part of Salt Administration. administrative duty. Up to within quite recent times the tax levied upon salt varied extremely in different parts of the country, and a strong preventive staff was required to be stationed along a continuous barrier hedge, which almost cut the peninsula into two fiscal sections. The reform of Sir J. Strachey in 1878, by which the higher rates were reduced and the lower rates raised, with a view to their ultimate equalization over the whole country, effectually abolished this old engine of oppression. Communication is now free; and it has been found that prices are absolutely lowered by thus bringing the consumer nearer to his market, even though the rate of taxation be increased. Broadly speaking the salt consumed in India is derived from four sources: (1) importation by sea, chiefly from England and the Red Sea and Aden; (2) solar evaporation in shallow tanks along the seaboard; (3) the salt lakes in Rajputana; (4) quarrying in the salt hills of the northern Punjab. The salt lakes in Rajputana have been leased by the government of India from the rulers of the native states in which they lie, and the huge salt deposits of the Salt Range