Land Revenue Rigidity, Revisions and Non-remission
In earlier chapters, it has been argued that poor Ahmednagar peasants’ chronic struggle was not fully appreciated by the upper echelons of the colonial state. Their struggle was often exacerbated, particularly through the ryotwari land revenue system, with which this chapter is concerned. It has been suggested that this put pressure on cultivators to take both exploitative loans and unwanted risks. Thus the fiscal interests of the state came into open conflict with smallholders’ attempts to maintain their food security. It cannot be said that the weight of the land revenue was solely responsible for famine. However, in examining whether the relationship between peasants and the state enhanced or mitigated their vulnerability, it is important to focus on its most direct aspect. The land revenue system was at the heart of British administration in the countryside. District officers were, after all, called collectors. With the exception, perhaps, of the civil courts, the revenue administration was the peasants’ only point of contact with the colonial state. Baden-Powell suggested that the ryotwari system required ‘The administration … to take a sort of paternal or “lord of the manor” interest in the whole range of agricultural conditions.’1 While this philosophy was not much in evidence in the 1870s, the impact of the revenue system was considerable on the agrarian political economy from its conception.
KeywordsColonial State Revenue Loss Annual Demand Civil Court North West Province
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