Get summary, textual answers, solutions, notes, extras, PDF to NBSE Class 12 (Arts) History (Themes in Indian History) chapter 10 “Colonialism and Rural Society: Evidence from Official Reports”. However, the educational materials should only be used for reference and students are encouraged to make necessary changes.
The British colonial rule in India had a profound impact on the economic landscape of the country, particularly in the realm of agriculture and land revenue. As the British East India Company sought to expand its territories, it heavily relied on land revenue and taxes imposed on Indian peasants to fund its ventures. These revenue policies had significant implications for the Indian society, as they determined wealth distribution, land ownership, and access to resources. Peasants, who were the primary contributors to land revenue, often found themselves facing financial hardships, which in turn influenced their actions and reactions to the imposed laws. The dynamics between the colonizers and the colonized, as well as the outcomes of the British revenue policies, can be better understood by examining historical documents such as revenue records, surveys, journals, and reports from government commissions. These sources provide valuable insights into the experiences of rural society under British rule, revealing the complexity and multifaceted consequences of colonial economic policies on India’s development.
Textual questions and answers
I. Very Short Answer Questions
1. Why did the Government pressurise the Bombay province to appoint Deccan Riots Commission?
Answer: The Government appointed the Deccan Riots Commission in 1875 to inquire into the nature and causes of the Deccan riots. The poverty and consequent indebtedness of the cultivators were the chief causes of the riots.
2. When was the Deccan Riots Commission report submitted to the British Parliament?
Answer: The Deccan Riots Commission report was presented to the British Parliament in 1878 AD.
3. What is Commercial Crop?
Answer: Commercial crops are crops that are grown for sale in the market, rather than for personal consumption.
4. In which year did Santhal rebellion take place?
Answer: The Santhal Rebellion took place in 1855-56.
5. What is fifth report?
Answer: The Fifth Report was a report on the administration and activities of the East India Company that was submitted to the British Parliament. It reproduced petitions of the Zamindars and ryots, reports of collectors from different districts, statistical tables on revenue and judicial administration of Bengal and Madras. It became the basis of parliamentary debates on the affairs of the Company in India.
6. By which treaty did English East India Company acquire Diwani of Bengal?
Answer: The English East India Company acquired the Diwani or the right of collecting the revenue of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa through the Treaty of Allahabad in 1765.
7. Which act was passed in British Parliament to regulate the activities of the east India company?
Answer: The British Parliament passed various acts in the late 18th century to regulate and control the administration of the East India Company in India.
II. Multiple Choice Questions
(i) The term ‘raiyat’ used to designate:
Answer: (i) Peasants
(ii) One who acted the role of both moneylender and trader is called:
Answer: (ii) Rentier
(iii) Which one of the following films was shot in Andul Raj Palace:
Answer: (i) Pather Panchali
(iv) Who was Buchanan?
Answer: (iv) None of above
(v) Damin-i-koh declared the land of Santhal in:
Answer: (iii) 1892
(vi) Deccan revolt occurred in:
Answer: (ii) 1875
III. Short Answer Type Questions-I
1. What is the meaning of land settlement?
Answer: The process by which the government officials determine the amount of land revenue payable is called the land settlement. The land settlement consists in the determination of (a) the share of the produce or the rental to which the state is entitled, (b) the person or the persons who are liable to pay, and (c) the records of all private rights and interests in the land.
2. Who started a new system of land settlement in Bengal in 1793?
Answer: Lord Cornwallis, the Governor General, introduced a new system of land settlement in Bengal in 1793 known as the Permanent Settlement of Bengal.
3. Give any two features of permanent settlement in Bengal.
Answer: The two features of the Permanent Settlement in Bengal are:
i. The Zamindars who collected the land revenue were made the owners of the land.
ii. The revenue demand on the Zamindars was fixed permanently and could not be increased in the future.
4. Give two instances of financial loss to the East India Company due to the permanent settlement.
Answer: Two instances of financial loss to the East India Company due to the Permanent Settlement were:
i. Fictitious transactions and sales: Zamindars devised ways to avoid paying the full revenue demand to the East India Company. They engaged in fictitious sales, transferring their estates to other family members or conducting benami purchases through their agents. This led to repeated auctions, exhausting the state and ultimately resulting in the estate being sold back to the Zamindar at a lower price.
ii. Unrecovered unpaid balances: The Zamindars would often withhold the demand of the Company, allowing the payment of unpaid balances to accumulate. When the state officials auctioned a part of the estate, the Zamindar’s agents bought the property but subsequently refused to pay the purchase money, leading to multiple reselling attempts. This process rarely allowed the Company to recover the unpaid balances that had accumulated, resulting in a significant financial loss.
9. What were the two main aims of peasants unions?
Answer: The two main aims of peasant unions were:
i. To protect the interests of the cultivators, tenants, and agricultural laborers by fighting against rural indebtedness, exploitative practices of moneylenders, and unfair landholding systems.
ii. To participate actively in the freedom struggle against the imperialist and feudal forces, advocating for the rights and welfare of the peasant community in the larger context of India’s independence movement.
10. What were the main causes of peasants’ revolt according to the official records?
Answer: According to the official records, there were several causes of the peasants’ revolt. These included the burden of land revenue and taxes on daily needs, the state monopoly on forests leading to a shortage of cow dung for manure, high expenses on religious and social ceremonies, and increasing indebtedness to moneylenders due to new revenue laws. The peasants’ growing indebtedness led to the loss of their land and property, which intensified their misery. Despite the government’s efforts to pass laws and establish cooperative credit societies, the problem of rural indebtedness remained unsolved, leading to the establishment of peasant committees and unions to fight for their demands.
IV. Short Answer Type Questions-II
1. Describe the life of the peasants and craftsmen in the 18th century in India.
Answer: Before the establishment of British rule in India, the majority of people lived in villages which were economically self-sufficient. The agricultural produce of the village was used to fulfill the needs of the people. The cultivators paid the land revenue to the state and the government officials did not interfere in the affairs of the villages. Besides the farmers, every village had a carpenter, blacksmith, weaver, cobbler, washerman, hairdresser, etc. All these craftsmen fulfilled the needs of the villagers.
2. Why was the Jotedar a powerful figure in many areas of Bengal?
Answer: The Jotedars were a powerful figure in many areas of Bengal because they were rich peasants who had consolidated their position in the villages by becoming the owners of vast areas of land. They were moneylenders, controlled trade, and exercised immense powers over the poor cultivators of the region. They resisted forcefully efforts of the Zamindars to increase the Jama (revenue demand) of the village. They prevented Zamindar’s officials from performing their duties and mobilised ryots who were dependent on them. The Jotedars also deliberately delayed payment of revenue to the Zamindar.
3. Describe the main features of the permanent settlement of Bengal introduced by Cornwallis.
Answer: The main features of the Permanent Settlement of Bengal introduced by Lord Cornwallis in 1793 were as follows:
i. The Zamindars who collected the land revenue were made the owners of the land.
ii. The Zamindars had to pay a fixed amount of revenue to the Company. It could neither be increased nor decreased later.
iii. It was decided that the Government would have claim to the 10/11 of the gross revenue, the balance being kept by the Zamindars. The Government assured the Zamindars that except the land revenue, they would not have to pay any other tax or give any gift or nazrana to the Government.
iv. In case, any Zamindar failed to pay the fixed amount of revenue, the Government had the right to confiscate some part of his land holding to recover the amount due.
v. The farmers or the ryots were made the tenants of the Zamindars.
vi. The Zamindars were deprived of their administrative and judicial powers.
vii. The government assured the Zamindars that it would not interfere with their traditions.
4. How did Zamindars manage to retain their control over their Zamindaris?
Answer: The Zamindars retained their control over their Zamindaris by using various tactics to resist the high revenue demands of the state and possible auction of their estates. They made fictitious sales, manipulated auctions, and deliberately withheld the demand of the Company to exhaust the state and the auction. They also circumvented displacement by attacking the agents of outsiders who bought an estate at an auction and by using loyal ryots to resist the entry of the outsiders. The depression in prices in the early nineteenth century also helped the Zamindars to consolidate their power, and the state made the rules of revenue payment somewhat flexible. These developments strengthened the position of the Zamindars until the economic depression of 1929-31, when they finally collapsed, and the Jotedars became powerful in the countryside.
5. Write a note on Ryotwari system of land settlement.
Answer: According to this system, there was individual ownership of land and each landlord was responsible for the payment of land revenue to the government. There was no settlement between the state and the peasants who owned the land and cultivated it. Secondly, an accurate survey of each village was made and a village map with a description of all holdings was prepared. Thirdly, The land was classified according to the productive capacity. The land revenue was fixed in terms of money. Fourthly, the rate of land revenue could be changed from time to time. Fifth, the cultivators could sell or mortgage their lands to raise loans in times of bad harvest in case of default the government could auction the land.
The Ryotwari system of land settlement was introduced by the British in the Bombay Deccan region. Under this system, each individual farmer had ownership of their land and was responsible for paying land revenue directly to the government. The government conducted an accurate survey of each village and classified the land according to its productive capacity. The land revenue was fixed in terms of money and could be changed from time to time. The cultivators had the freedom to sell or mortgage their lands to raise loans in times of bad harvest, but in case of default, the government had the power to auction the land. Unlike the Permanent Settlement system, there was no settlement between the state and the peasants who owned and cultivated the land. This system benefitted the government and the moneylenders, but the cultivators faced high revenue demands and debt.
8. Why did the Santhals rebel against British rule?
Answer: The Santhals rebelled against British rule in 1855-56 because they were facing heavy taxes on their lands, exorbitant rates of interest from moneylenders, and control by the Zamindars. They wanted to create an ideal world of their own where they would rule. The rebellion was an attempt to resist the loss of their land and control over their forests and livelihood.
V. Long Answer Type Questions-I
1. In what way was the livelihood of the Paharias different from that of the Santhals?
Answer: The Paharias and the Santhals had different ways of life and livelihood. The Paharias, who lived in the Rajmahal hills, were known for their shifting cultivation, which was symbolized by the hoe they used. Shifting cultivation is a form of agriculture where farmers clear a patch of land, grow crops for a few years, and then move on to a new patch of land once the soil is exhausted. This way of life allowed the Paharias to maintain a sustainable relationship with their environment and natural resources.
On the other hand, the Santhals were settlers who came to represent the power of the plough. They cleared forests, ploughed the land, and grew crops such as rice and cotton. The Santhals were good settlers and were able to expand cultivation, which led to an increase in the amount of revenue that went to the Company’s exchequer.
The difference in livelihood between the Paharias and the Santhals can be attributed to their different ways of interacting with their environment. The Paharias relied on shifting cultivation, which allowed them to maintain a sustainable relationship with their environment, while the Santhals relied on settled agriculture, which required them to clear forests and plough the land.
The Santhals’ settled agriculture also allowed them to cultivate commercial crops, which gave them an advantage over the Paharias. The Paharias were dependent on the ability of the hewers to acquire newer lands, which were naturally fertile, but the most fertile soils had become a part of the Daman-i-Koh, which was given to the Santhals. This severely affected the lives of the Paharias and made them poorer.
2. What changes came in the condition of agriculture in India in the 19th century?
Answer: The British economic policies gave a severe blow to the village economy in India in the 19th century. Before the establishment of British rule, India had its traditional economic system where the majority of the people lived in the villages which were economically self-sufficient. The agricultural produce of the village was used to fulfil the needs of the people. The cultivators paid the land revenue to the state, and the government officials did not interfere in the affairs of the villages.
However, under the British rule, the farmers had to pay a fixed amount of land revenue to the Company in cash. The farmers had to produce crops not only to fulfil their own needs but had to produce new types of crops to sell in the market. Now the farmer’s objective was to earn money so that he might be able to pay the land revenue to the government at the fixed time. Sometimes he had to raise a loan to pay the land revenue. Consequently, the new tradition of commercialisation of agriculture came into existence.
The peasants began to raise commercial crops like cotton, jute, sugarcane and wheat which could be sold in the markets. There was great demand for these goods in the market and could be a great source of income for the farmers. However, this led to a shift from subsistence farming to commercial farming. The farmers started to focus more on cash crops rather than food crops, which resulted in a shortage of food grains. This led to famines in different parts of India, and the peasants were unable to fulfil their basic needs.
Moreover, the British policies led to the exploitation of the farmers. The land revenue was fixed at a high rate, which was difficult for the farmers to pay. They had to take loans from moneylenders at high-interest rates to pay the land revenue, which led to a cycle of debt. The British also introduced the Zamindari system, which led to the exploitation of the peasants by the Zamindars. The Zamindars were intermediaries between the farmers and the British government, and they extracted a large share of the produce from the farmers.
7. How did the American Civil war affect the lives of ryots in India?
Answer: The American Civil War had a significant impact on the lives of ryots in India. The British textile manufacturers were heavily dependent on American supplies for their textile industry, and the prospect of losing this supply due to the Civil War worried them. As a result, they looked for alternative sources of supply, and India was identified as a potential supplier of cotton.
In 1857, the British founded the Cotton Supply Association, and in 1859, the Manchester Cotton Company was established. The British government realized that India could supply cotton to Lancashire, in case the American supply dried up. When the Civil War broke out in America in 1860, the American supplies fell to less than three per cent of the normal, from over 2,000,000 bales in 1861 to 55,000 bales in 1861-62. The British government sent urgent messages to India to increase cotton exports to Britain.
The Bombay cotton merchants went to the cotton districts to secure as much cotton as possible to meet the British demand. They gave advances to urban Sahukars, who in turn extended credit to those rural moneylenders who promised to secure the produce. These developments had a great impact on the Deccan countryside. The ryots in the Deccan villages were advanced loans liberally by the Sahukars to plant cotton.
During the American crisis, cotton production in Bombay Deccan expanded. Between 1860 and 1864, the land under cotton cultivation doubled. By 1862, more than ninety per cent of cotton imports into Britain were coming from India. However, the boom in cotton production benefitted only some rich merchants, and for the large majority of peasants, cotton expansion meant heavier debt.
As the Civil War ended in 1865, the cotton boom ended, and credit dried up. This had a significant impact on the lives of ryots in India. They were left with heavy debts and no means to repay them. The situation was made worse by the fact that the British Land Revenue Policy in India was defective, and rural indebtedness was already a significant problem in the country. The ryots were left to face the consequences of the cotton boom and the subsequent credit crunch, which had a devastating impact on their lives.
8. What were the causes of rural indebtedness in India? What measures were taken by the government to ameliorate the condition of the peasants?
Answer: The causes of rural indebtedness in India during the British rule were:
i. High rate of land revenue: The British charged excessive land revenue, which was one of the major causes of the growth of poverty, indebtedness, and deterioration of agriculture during the 19th century.
ii. Fragmentation of land holdings: Land partition among family members led to the fragmentation of holdings, making the landholdings very small and uneconomical to cultivate.
iii. Rigid methods of collection of land revenue: Peasants had to pay land revenue promptly on fixed dates even if harvests were low or had failed completely. Failure to pay could result in the sale of their land.
iv. Additional taxes: Peasants had to pay taxes on daily essentials like sugar, salt, kerosene oil, etc., which further impoverished them.
v. Monopoly of forests by the state: Farmers had to buy firewood for cooking, leading to the use of cow dung as fuel and creating a shortage of manure for agriculture.
vi. Expenditure on religious practices and ceremonies: Peasants spent large amounts of money on religious practices, death, and marriage ceremonies, which often led them to take loans they could not repay.
vii. Increasing indebtedness to moneylenders: Moneylenders and rich merchants took advantage of new revenue laws and the expensive litigation process to seize land and property from debtor peasants.
viii. Natural calamities: Droughts, famines, floods, and epidemics exacerbated the poor peasants’ conditions, forcing them to rely on moneylenders for their survival.
Measures taken by the British government to ameliorate the condition of the peasants:
i. Tenancy Acts: The government passed Tenancy Acts to safeguard the interests of the peasants.
ii. Cooperative Credit Societies: These societies were established to advance loans to farmers at low interest rates.
iii. Prohibition of land sale to non-agriculturists: The government prohibited the sale of land by cultivators to non-agriculturists to protect their interests.
Despite these measures, the problem of rural indebtedness remained unsolved, and the economic condition of the peasants continued to worsen. It was only after India achieved independence that the problem of rural indebtedness was addressed to a great extent, and the condition of the farmers improved significantly.
VI. Long Answer Type Questions-II
1. Describe the ways in which the Jotedars resisted the authority of the Zamindars.
Answer: The Jotedars resisted the authority of the Zamindars in various ways:
i. Living in villages: Unlike the Zamindars, who often lived in urban areas, the Jotedars lived in the villages and exercised direct control over a large section of the poor villagers. This enabled them to have a stronger influence on the local population compared to the Zamindars.
ii. Resisting increase in revenue demand: The Jotedars forcefully resisted any efforts by the Zamindars to increase the Jama (revenue demand) of the village, challenging their authority.
iii. Interfering with Zamindar’s officials: They prevented the Zamindar’s officials from performing their duties, further undermining their authority in the villages.
iv. Mobilizing ryots: The Jotedars mobilized ryots who were dependent on them to defy the Zamindars and their demands.
v. Deliberately delaying payment of revenue: The Jotedars would intentionally delay payment of revenue to the Zamindar, putting them in financial trouble.
vi. Purchasing auctioned estates: In case the estates of the Zamindars were auctioned for failure to make payments, the Jotedars were often the purchasers. This allowed them to further consolidate their power and control over the land and resources.
2. What does Buchanan’s description tell us about his ideas of development? Illustrate your argument by quoting from the excerpts.
Answer: Buchanan’s description suggests that his ideas of development were based on the modern western notions of progress, which prioritized commercial interests and the conversion of forests into agricultural lands. He was tasked by the British East India Company to survey the areas under their jurisdiction and assess what was necessary for their commercial interests. Buchanan’s observations and recordings focused on the minerals and stones of commercial value, local methods of salt-making and mining iron ore, and the different strata and layers of the soil.
Furthermore, Buchanan critically observed the lifestyle of forest dwellers and felt that forests had to be turned into agricultural lands. This is evident in the following excerpt from the knowledge base: “He [Buchanan] carefully observed the local methods of salt-making and mining iron ore. Buchanan made assessment of what was necessary for the commercial interests of the Company according to the modern western notions of what constituted progress. He critically observed the lifestyle of forest dwellers and felt that forests had to be turned into agricultural lands.”
Buchanan’s focus on commercial interests and the conversion of forests into agricultural lands reflects the colonial ideology of development, which aimed to transform India into a modern, industrialized society that could serve the interests of the British Empire. This approach to development often ignored the needs and perspectives of the local population, resulting in the displacement of forest dwellers and the destruction of traditional ways of life.
Buchanan’s description suggests that his ideas of development were shaped by the colonial ideology of progress, which prioritized commercial interests and the conversion of forests into agricultural lands. This approach to development often ignored the needs and perspectives of the local population, reflecting the exploitative nature of colonialism.
4. Why did the fifth report become the basis of intense debate in England? Explain.
Answer: The Fifth Report, also known as the report on the administration and activities of the East India Company, was submitted to the British Parliament and became the basis of intense debate in England. The report reproduced petitions of the Zamindars and ryots, reports of collectors from different districts, statistical tables on revenue and judicial administration of Bengal and Madras. Since the mid-1760s, the activities of the East India Company had been debated in the British Parliament, with many groups opposing the Company’s monopoly of trade. Some groups in the Parliament argued that the conquest of Bengal was benefiting the East India Company but not the British nation as a whole. The incidents of greed and corruption of the officials of the Company were frequently published by the press, adding to the controversy.
The British Parliament passed various acts in the late 18th century to regulate and control the administration of the Company in India. It also ordered the Company to submit regular reports on the administration of India and appointed committees to inquire into the affairs of the Company. The Fifth Report was one such report that became the basis of parliamentary debates on the affairs of the Company in India.
However, some scholars are of the view that the Fifth Report exaggerated the collapse of traditional Zamindari power and over-estimated the scale on which Zamindars were being dispossessed of lands. It is seen that even when the Zamindaris were auctioned, Zamindars were not always displaced, as they used various tricks to retain their Zamindaris.
Thus, the Fifth Report became the basis of intense debate in England because it highlighted the activities of the East India Company in India and the defects in their land revenue policy. The controversy surrounding the Company’s monopoly of trade, incidents of greed and corruption, and the impact of their policies on the Indian society added to the debate. The British Parliament’s efforts to regulate and control the Company’s administration in India and the scholarly criticism of the report also contributed to the discussions.
Extra/additional questions and answers
1. What were the main sources of income for the British East India Company in India?
Answer: The main sources of income for the British East India Company in India were the land revenue and taxes on the peasantry.
2. What is the meaning of “land settlement”?
Answer: Land settlement refers to the process by which the government officials determine the amount of land revenue payable. It consists of determining (a) the share of the produce or the rental to which the state is entitled, (b) the person or the persons who are liable to pay, and (c) the records of all private rights and interests in the land.
3. What was the Ijaradari or Contract System of Revenue Collection?
Answer: The Ijaradari or Contract System of Revenue Collection was introduced in 1765 by the Treaty of Allahabad, when the East India Company acquired the Diwani or the right to collect the revenue of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa. Initially, the Company continued the system of revenue collection through the landlords or Zamindars. In 1772, Lord Warren Hastings decided to manage the land revenue system directly, authorizing the right to collect revenue to the highest bidder. However, this system was not successful, introducing uncertainty in the Company’s revenues and leading to neglect of agriculture by cultivators and Zamindars.
4. Explain the main features of the Permanent Settlement of Bengal introduced by Lord Cornwallis.
Answer: The main features of the Permanent Settlement of Bengal introduced by Lord Cornwallis in 1793 were:
- The Zamindars who collected the land revenue were made the owners of the land.
- The Zamindars had to pay a fixed amount of revenue to the Company, which could neither be increased nor decreased later.
- The Government would have a claim to 10/11 of the gross revenue, with the balance kept by the Zamindars.
- In case a Zamindar failed to pay the fixed amount of revenue, the Government had the right to confiscate some part of his landholding to recover the amount due.
- The farmers or the ryots were made the tenants of the Zamindars.
- The Zamindars were deprived of their administrative and judicial powers.
- The government assured the Zamindars that it would not interfere with their traditions.
33. How did the peasants fight for their rights and demands?
Answer: The peasants established committees in the villages to protect their interests, linked with big peasant unions, and participated in the establishment of organizations such as the Agricultural Labour Union, Central Farmers Union, and All India Kisan Sabha. They started a vigorous movement against imperialist and feudal forces, took part in the freedom struggle, and only after India’s independence was the problem of rural indebtedness solved to a great extent, leading to improvement in their conditions.
1. Which treaty granted the British East India Company the right to collect revenue in Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa?
A. Treaty of Allahabad B. Treaty of Amritsar C. Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle D. Treaty of Bassein
Answer: A. Treaty of Allahabad
2. Who introduced the Ijaradari or Contract System of Revenue Collection?
A. Lord Cornwallis B. Lord Warren Hastings C. Lord Curzon D. Lord Clive
Answer: B. Lord Warren Hastings
3. In which year was the Permanent Settlement of Bengal introduced?
A. 1765 B. 1772 C. 1789 D. 1793
Answer: D. 1793
5. Who introduced the Permanent Settlement of Bengal?
A. Lord Cornwallis B. Lord Warren Hastings C. Lord Curzon D. Lord Clive
Answer: A. Lord Cornwallis
6. Under the Permanent Settlement, what fraction of the gross revenue was claimed by the Government?
A. 1/11 B. 10/11 C. 9/11 D. 1/2
Answer: B. 10/11
65. What was the estimated total rural debt in India in 1911?
A. 100 crore B. 300 crore C. 500 crore D. 1000 crore
Answer: B. 300 crore
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