What were the differences among the major land revenue systems in British India ie Zamindari, Ryotwari and Mahalwari?
For UPSC, Land Revenue Systems in British India is always a hot topic for Prelims and Mains.
As per the new syllabus ‘land reforms in India’ is specifically mentioned for GS Mains, and the relevance just got multiplied.
Now let’s have a quick look at the different methods of land revenue collection systems that existed in India.
Land Revenue Systems Before British Rule
Tax from the land was a major source of revenue for the kings and emperors from ancient times. But the ownership pattern of land had witnessed changes over centuries.
During Kingship, the land was divided into Jagirs, Jagirs were alloted to Jagirdars, these Jagirdars split the land they got and allocated to sub-ordinate Zamindars.
Zamindars made peasants cultivate the land, in return collected part of their revenue as tax.
Land Revenue Systems in British India :
Three major systems of land revenue collection existed in India. They were – Zamindari, Ryotwari and Mahalwari.
1. Zamindari System (Permanent Land Revenue Settlement)
- Zamindari System was introduced by Cornwallis in 1793 through the Permanent Settlement Act.
- It was introduced in the provinces of Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Varanasi.
- Also known as Permanent Settlement System.
- Zamindars were recognized as the owner of the lands. Zamindars were given the rights to collect the rent from the peasants.
- While the zamindars became the owners of the land, the actual farmers became tenants.
- The tax was to be paid even at the time of poor yield.
- The tax was to be paid in cash. Before introducing this system, the tax could be paid in kind.
- The realized amount would be divided into 11 parts. 1/11 of the share belongs to Zamindars and 10/11 of the share belongs to East India Company.
2. Ryotwari System
- Ryotwari System was introduced by Thomas Munro in 1820.
- This was the primary land revenue system in South India.
- Major areas of introduction include Madras, Bombay, parts of Assam and Coorg provinces of British India.
- In Ryotwari System the ownership rights were handed over to the peasants. British Government collected taxes directly from the peasants.
- The revenue rates of the Ryotwari System were 50% where the lands were dry and 60% in irrigated land.
- Though ownership of land was vested with the farmers, excessive tax impoverished them. Furthermore, the tax rates were frequently increased.
3. Mahalwari System
- Mahalwari system was introduced in 1822 by Holt Mackenzie. Later, the system was reformed during the period of William Bentick (1833).
- This was the primary land revenue system in North-West India.
- It was introduced in Central Province, North-West Frontier, Agra, Punjab, Gangetic Valley, etc of British India.
- In this system, the land was divided into Mahals. Each Mahal comprises one or more villages.
- The entire village (Mahal) was considered as a single unit for tax collection.
- The village headman or villages committee was assigned the responsibility to collect tax.
- Ownership rights were vested with the peasants.
- The tax rate was excessive in this system too.
- The Mahalwari system had many provisions of both the Zamindari System and Ryotwari System.
Problems created by the British Land Revenue Policies
The land revenue policies implemented by the British affected the agricultural sector.
When the farmers were unable to pay tax in the form of money before the deadline, they had to take a loan from moneylenders at a high rate of interest. The loans were obtained by mortgaging
agricultural land. The agricultural land of the farmers, who could not pay back the loan and interest, was seized by the money lenders.
Land Reforms in India After Independence
Zamindari Abolition Act was passed by UP, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, etc. Surplus lands were confiscated from zamindars.
Later Land Ceilings Act was passed by different states, fixing an upper limit for private landholdings.
Land reforms in India are discussed in detail in the highlighted link. For extra reading on Land Revenue Systems refer Zamindari System – Hubpages.
Grateful for your important information.
Thankyou , it really helped me a lot
Thank you, really good very useful
the land was owned bu zamibdaris this is cleared
The farmers took loan from money lenders to pay tax for farming or we can call as rent too .if the money failed to pay the money back money lenders takes away the land from farmers this is not cleared becz the owners were not the farmers the owners were zamindars
NCERT class 12, History part 3 book says that as per the definition in Permanent settlement, Zamindar was not a land owner in the village but a revenue collector (Pg. 259). However, here it is mentioned Zamindars were recognized as owner of the lands. Please clarify Sir.
Before the british time zamidar was lived with peasants in villages, after the permanent sattlement they replaced by corrupted zamidars , they were not own the land and not lived in village
Abdul bari says
EEC is the owner of the land. Here in india zamindar is the intermediate under EEC but Z have full power upon peasant in land through Z’ became owner of land to Peasant but not to EEC
In England Zamindar is the owner of the land in relation to state and Tennant
shiv kumar paliwal says
The right word here should be, zamindar should be deemed to be the owner of the land not the permanent owner of the land.
as per Ncert. but most of the institutes showing here zamindars were the actual owner of land, not ryot(kisaan).
Pallavi kumari says
I think you should check once class 8 history book too , there all the types of settlement is explained very well .
A THIRSTY CROW says
The zamindari system was introduced by Lord Cornwallis in 1793 through Permanent Settlement that fixed the land rights of the members in perpetuity (Zamindars) without any provision for fixed rent or occupancy right for actual cultivators (peasants).
PushpJeet S Koushik says
True ! Zamindars were never the Owners of the land rather merely the rent collectors of the British Co.
ryotwari system was introduced by thomas munro..?it was Alexander Reid and was continued by thomas munro… mentioned in 10th sst text book cbse syllabus plz varify..
Mansi Jain says
Ryotwari system introduced by sir Thomas munro in 1820 based on system administered by Captain Alexander Reid in the baramahal district.
But it was developed by munro
Athira Nair says
The themes in India history by Raghunath Rai says “the zamindars who collected the land revenue were made the owners of the land” page 204
Very informative and easy 2 temember
Malik Ishfaq says
By the Permanent Settlement Act of 1793, the Zamindars power of keeping the armed forces were taken back and they remained just the tax collectors of the land.
Shraddha vyas says
Mahalwari system introduced by holt mackenzie and continued by bentick .
Please mention the consequences of all three
Raj Kumar sahu says
The Ryotwari experiment started by Alexander reed .
thanks to give such type of grate ful information
Shivam Gupta says
Good. Precise notes but according to NCERT book of history of class VIII mahalwari was introduced in 1822 (Marques of Hasting) instead of 1933 Please clarify.
NITESH Rai says
The government of William Bentinck made a thorough revision of the act of 1823, and thus the Mahalwari System was introduced.
The mahalwari system of land revenue was introduced by Holt Mackenzie and Robert Merttins Bird.
The Mahalwari system of land revenue worked under the scheme of 1833 was completed under the administration of James Thompson.
Hrishikesh Neog says
Most helpful, improve it’s upcoming future
What type of land revenue is collected by district collector?
Prem M says
mahalwari system was introduced in 1822 not in 1833
But why they introduced different types of land revenue system in different part??
thanks very much
It was Munro and Charles Reed, who recommended it.
Emilly stilletoria says
Thanks History geneous!!! great article!!!!!
A good website for history project
dayanand Prasad says
1945 me jamin ka patta adhik se adhik kitne rupees tak likhata tha
Shahab kalim says
Yeah it is Warren Hasting you Are correct
Can u also state when it was abolished in India?
Mahalwari system was introduced by Holt Mackenzie
Dipanjan das says
Mahalwari system was introduced by elfinston in the year 1822
Both Reed and Munro recommended
KAMAL CHETRY says
do include Sunset policy
Boss, bich m na bol 😊 says
Easily understand to read this.. It’s a crucial site…… Thnku vm Clearias
RAHUL DEB NATH says
Thanks its very helpful
Nasar Usmani says
You have given an excellent account of East India Company land reforms, thank you indeed
Did the Mughals had any sort of reforms at all?
What reforms were introduced after 1857 when India was taken over by the Crown?
And why these reforms were not suited by the two republics after partition?
Ashish Mishra says
Which one system is related with zabti system
Aayush Mãúryã says
It was Holt makazie who introduced mahalwari system
Please give detail explanation sir
Rohan Jose says
Coorgh provinces of British India. What u mean the word coorgh ?
Mahalwari system of land revenue in 1833.this same information provided by India’s largest online platform Byju’s also.
Flying owl says
Not even 1 percent is left to peasants kya in Zamindari system??
Pranay NA Kamble says
Can we trust your information because there are some facts where you make typing error?
Souvik Ghosh says
Splendid work, indeed
Tq sir for your valuable and important history explained to us
idiot you are
Sameer sihote says
Saraswati: Indian Economic Development by Dr. Deepashree , book of class XI CBSE, on page no. 1.9 says “The actual collections by Zamindars was much higher than what they had to pay to the Government”. And you said “The realized amount would be divided into 11 parts. 1/11 of the share belongs to Zamindars and 10/11 of the share belongs to East India Company.”
The ceilings act placed a limit on private ownership for an “individual” not “family”.
So much confusion in the comment section.
thanks for info