« PreviousContinue »
circumstances, was a judicious proceeding: but, even if otherwise, it could not be avoided, for nobody knew what was to be altered, or what to be substituted in its room. The changes of officers were most frequent during this period: the Governor himself, as we have seen, was absent on a campaign for a part of it and we may presume that a great portion of the time was occupied in making the primary arrangements, not only to secure the revenues, but also to place in working order all the other branches connected with the Judicial and Police departments. For this period, then, every thing was necessarily in the hands of the native officers. They sent in the accounts monthly in the old style to the collectors: and, as subordinate officers were appointed, translated abstracts were received from the district officers; but these were neither checks, nor guides in their then state of brevity and confusion. We have said that the assessment and mode of collection remained for two years" in statu quo:" and we must briefly describe both, in order that the state of affairs during that period may be understood, and that we. may refer to it, when we come to describe the alterations subsequently introduced.
Under the ex-Amírs, and for centuries before them, there were three modes of assessment-Buttaí, Kasagí, and Cash Rents.
The Buttai was a division of the produce between the farmers and the Government, the latter receiving its share in kind. This share varied from to; but was, in most instances, .
The Kasagi was also a mode of assessment, in which the Government share was taken in kind; but there was this material. difference, that, whereas with regard to lands paying by Buttai, the Government share was levied according to the produce of the season, without reference to the extent of land cultivated, on the other hand, with regard to lands paying Kasagi, it was levied according to the extent of land cultivated, without reference to the produce of the season. The word is derived from "kasah," the sixtieth part of a karwar.* The assessment
was so many kasahs per bigah. The average rate was seven kasahs and, as thirty kasahs were the usual produce of a bigah in ordinary seasons, the demand was equal to something less than 1.
The Cash Rents varied from three to five rupees according to the nature of the crop, and sometimes amounted to seven. These were principally levied on such remunerative crops, as
The revenues in kind, and most other grain transactions in Scinde, were by measurement, and not weight. The scale was 4 Chaotís 1 Patoí; 4 Patoís = 1 Toyah; 4 Toyahs = 1 Kasah; 60 Kasahs = 1 Karwar. For purposes of general calculation, the Karwar was employed ; but for actual measurement, the Toyah was invariably used.
tobacco, cotton, sugar, and vegetables, grown in small fields and enclosures. The cotton, grown extensively, paid by Buttai.
By one or other of these methods was the revenue fixed: but they varied in the different villages, and even in different lands of the same village, and in the lands of the same pro prietor. From the expressions made use of, it seems probable that one rate was originally fixed in each district or village but leases given to individuals or communities, on bringing waste land under cultivation, digging a well, or cutting a canal, gradually left but a small portion of the village lands assessable at the old rate. The frequency, with which these leases were changed by the Amírs themselves, or by the local Kardars, and the circumstance that the original puttahs remained in the possession of the grantee, copies only being appended as vouchers to the accounts, led, at the commencement of the British rule, and even at a later period, to much chicanery and imposition-puttahs being produced of an old date, which contained more favourable terms than those of a subsequent date. At this time too the alteration of old, and the giving of new, puttahs were vested in the several revenue officers, or, if not regularly vested, were, at all events, assumed to be so. The heterogeneous nature of such leases may easily be imagined. In some cases,lands, described as "waste for years," but which in reality had been under annual cultivation, were re-assessed for a term of years at a rate, at first nominal, and gradually increasing to the established rate of the village: but this of course greatly depended on the degree of interest possessed by the parties with the Kardars, whose report was to decide the merits of the case. Such were some of the eccentricities of these martial economists: but it would Occupy too many of our pages to dwell in detail on all the results, arising out of their ignorance and incapacity, and leading to much confusion and loss to Government.
Besides the amount, or share, at which the lands were assessed, several fees were also levied, varying in their nature according to circumstances in different districts, and frequently in different villages. They seem originally to have been very few; but their number eventually increased, as acts of extortion came to the notice of Government, on the part of the several officers and subordinates employed in the revenue collections. The sums, illegally demanded by them, and paid by the cultivator, were confiscated, and became thenceforth permanent fees levied by the Government. These were very complicated; and rendered the collection the cause of infinite petty vexation and interference on the part of the native officers. Their gross average on land, paying cash rents, was five annas per bigah, and
two annas per rupee on the amount of revenue paid; on lands paying by buttai, from two to three kasahs per karwar on the "gross produce;" and on lands paying kasagi, from twenty to twenty-five rupees per hundred bigahs. Besides this, before the grain was divided, a portion was set aside on no fixed scale for the payment of weighmen, field watchmen, &c. &c. We must not omit to mention here that the kasagídars frequently made their payments, not in kind, but in cash, at the half-yearly market value of the grain, estimated from the village records of certain fixed villages in the vicinity. The general rule appeared to be that all grain dues, not paid by a certain time, should be so commuted with a view to close the accounts.
From this brief statement of the modes and rates of assessment, let us turn to a consideration of the actual collections. The country was divided into divisions and districts, called per. gunnahs and tuppahs respectively. Over each division, or over two or three according to size and extent of cultivation, was placed a Sazáwul, or head collector, who exercised a general superintendence over the whole, and had an establishment, varying according to the extent of his charge, with a treasurer, eight or ten munshis, and a party of peons. Over each district, was a Kardar, with a small establishment of munshis and peons; and he exercised a general superintendance over his tuppah or district, under the Sazáwul of the division. These officers transacted all the revenue business of the country: and the men, selected as Sazáwuls, were men of ability and good familygenerally those who had been bred and born at the court of the Amir, whom they served. They were liberally paid, receiving nominally from three to five hundred per mensem, were treated with respect at court, and received numerous presents from their masters, and often gifts of land; whilst they had further ample means of providing for their immediate relatives. The Kardars were also men of respectability, and treated as such. Every season, an officer was sent by the Amír to take from the Sazáwuls their accounts, to inspect the districts, to correct abuses, and examine into complaints, who, for the time being, was vested with a general power over the local officers. He was usually one of the ministers, or sometimes a relative of the Amír. With regard to the granting of leases, when the question was one of importance, or required terms more favourable than those usually given, application was made to the Amir himself; but all ordinary pottahs were granted by the Sazáwuls and Kardars, who were the men most cognizant of the reasonableness, or otherwise, of the application. Arrangements were also made by these officers for the collection of the revenues, and the dispo
sal of the grain. With regard to lands paying by buttai, it was essential for the interests of Government that the crops should be watched, from the time of their commencing to ripen till the revenue was realized. A buttai-dar or two were appointed to each district for a season, whose first duty was to appoint and place watchmen over the crops of each village. These field-watchmen were paid both by the farmers and the Government. The former usually paid in kind, and the latter at the rate of two rupees per mensem. When the grain was cut, cleaned, and collected, it remained under the Government seal, and in charge of grain-watchmen, until the rounds of the buttai-dar brought him to the village. The division of grain, with all the fees, &c., was the final work: after which the Government share was made over to the grain factor, under whose responsibility it remained. A very general mode of disposing of it however was to grain merchants, who purchased it wholesale upon the ground, and, from an examination of the accounts of the former Government, it appears that very little grain remained on hand at the closing of the accounts, beyond what was required for advances for zemindars, charitable grants, and payment to labourers on canals, &c.
The kasagi collections were more complicated. This mode of assessment was computed originally with relation to the buttai of neighbouring crops; thus, if the Government share of the latter was, the equivalent kasagí rate under ordinary circumstances would be seven kasahs per bigah: if , twelve kasahs per bigah; and so on. Now, it is evident that in a bad season, when the crops partially or wholly failed, the Government demand would still be butor of the produce absolutely obtained; whereas in kasagí lands, the proprietor would pay alike in all seasons. As a remedy for this, the method of appraisement was adopted. When the crops were nearly ripe, appraisers were sent out to examine them, and estimate the portion of the crop which had failed. Their reports were sent in to the Kardars, who, in making up their accounts, calculated the extent of land to be assessed, after deduction of the number of bigahs estimated (by the amín or appraiser) to have failed: and that officer's report was the voucher. The measurement of the fields proceeded as usual; and the grain due was either paid, or commuted, as above mentioned.
The cash rents were paid in to the Kardars, after the measurement of the field.
As has been stated already the modes of assessment and of collection for the first two years after the conquest remained unaltered in principle: but a great change took place in the native officers. The Collectors at first were employed in ob
taining information, appointing and sending out the district officers, and examining the office records, which had come into their possession; and in these duties they were most ably seconded by the Sazáwuls and Kardars of the former rule, without whose help and instruction, they would have foundered, and eventually sunk in a sea of confusion. With proper treatment, these men would have been invaluable; but they were made use of, merely to be laid aside as soon as the newly fledged Collectors could see their way at all, or rather thought they could. The difference first observable was the appointment of an European Collector, in room of the deputy sent formerly by the court, to superintend the accounts and examine the state of the districts, and of a Deputy Collector in the room of the Sazáwul-the Sazáwul himself being retained as a mere head Kardar. These latter received no detailed instructions, but were instructed to continue in the exercise of their former functions till further orders, reporting and sending their accounts to the Deputy Collectors. But as usual, the first work was reduction. The former Sazáwuls were reduced to a salary of a hundred rupees per mensem, and their office altogether abolished; subsequently, their establishments, and those of the Kardars, were reduced onehalf; and the Kardars received, instead of fifty, only twentyfive rupees per mensem. They no longer possessed the confidence of their masters, and were no longer treated with respect, but denominated rogues from top to bottom. natural consequence was the retirement of all men of real respectability and experience, and the substitution in their room of a worthless set of scoundrels, who consented to receive diminished salaries, and, with much self-laudation, proceeded to occupy the posts of men, whom they had lately looked upon, and not without reason, as their superiors in every way. At the same time the sphere of their duties was enlarged, and, for the sake of economy, districts were amalgamated. No longer a respected class, but hated on account of their oppressive extortions, the people at first complained against the officials; but the inexperience and misunderstandings of their new masters prevented anything being proved against them: and the sufferers gradually adopted the only other method left, that of uniting themselves with their tenants, and, for a douceur, sharing in the general scramble and plunder of the Government.
Supposing the Collectors to have been the ablest men in India, such a state of affairs was inevitable, and cannot be laid at their door, but must be thrown upon the shoulders of those, who entrusted the welfare of thousands to inexperienced novices. If such were the Sazáwuls and Kardars, what could be expected of the