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hosts of minor instruments-the land measurers, the appraisers, the buttai-dars, "et hoc genus omne," let loose like destructive locusts on the country? Not one of the frauds practised by these myrmidons could have escaped undetected under the former Government; but the new race of officials soon discovered their safety in the ignorance and inexperience of their European masters. The accounts too were unchecked, and the receipts regulated by the pleasure and caprice of the Kardars. Under the Amírs, a certain month saw the accounts of each season closed; but now those of one season remained unadjusted, long af ter the crops of the following season were off the ground. During this period, we might, not un-faithfully, describe the system adopted, as the retention of all that was oppressive or evil in the old system, the discarding of all that was useful, and adding much evil of our own; whilst experience and honesty were exchanged for inexperience in the superintendence, and fraud and oppression in the subordinate branches. However, a change was looked for, and it was not long coming. Sir Charles Napier, on his return from the Hill Campaign to Kurra. chí, summoned thither his three Collectors to frame the rules, which were to regulate the future revenue proceedings of the province. One of these Collectors had accompanied Sir Charles on his late campaign, and had had a few months' experience only of civil duties; the other two had made scarcely more progress in their new studies. The Council met, and wasted several months at Kurrachí in organizing their system, which was at length given to the world, or rather to a portion of it: and, in the autumn, the members returned to their posts to carry it out. The documents commenced thus-" The Governor, in commu'nication with the three Collectors (Shikarpúr, Hyderabad, and 'Kurrachí) has determined," &c. &c. The first article was the abolishment, "in toto," of the kasagi mode of assessment. This was a judicious measure: for, complicated and liable to abuse even under the former Government, the Kasagì was still more so under our own; and its abolition was advantageous to all parties. The second clause declared, that two modes of assessment were henceforth to be adopted, at the option of the farmers themselves, who were to sign engagements to pay their revenue in one or other of those modes for seven years. The Buttai rate was fixed all round, and in both seasons, at 3 of the produce, and a fee of four kasahs per karwar; and the cash rents, in Upper Scinde, at 1-8 per bigah in the khuríf* and
* The inundation takes place in the Khurif season, i. e. between May and September; but it benefits in the Rubbi, or next spring crop, sown after the receding of the waters.
2-8 per bigah in the rubbí; and in Lower Scinde "vice versâ"; together with a fee of six per cent. No distinction was made between the nature of the soil, and the capabilities of the different villages: all were to pay alike. The difference, observable in the cash rates between Upper and Lower Scinde, was caused by the circumstance, that, in the former, a much larger portion of the land is subject to inundation than in the latter; and the expenses of cultivating such land were very trifling, in comparison to those incurred in cultivating the higher land. It was a just argument on the part of the Upper Scinde Collector, that such lands could afford to pay at a higher rate than the lands not subject to inundation. But, said the Lower Scinde Collector, "the Khuríf in my district is of far greater extent than the Rubbi: and although the same arguments hold good regarding the greater facilities and benefits to the farmer in the cultivation of inundated lands, yet my revenues will be less than his." We are not surprised at such arguments being advanced; but we are surprised at "the Governor determining" to be guided by them. If it was determined to make but two broad distinctions between all lands in their assessment, the rules for Upper Scinde, founded on good sense and sound principles, should have been extended to Lower Scinde. As it is, it comes just to this-that, of inundated and un-inundated lands, those should be assessed at the highest rate, which were most extensive, and would therefore, by being so assessed, yield the largest revenue to the State! With regard to the rates themselves, we do not remember meeting with any so high in the whole of India:* for it must be remembered, that the measurements of, and payments for, lands, were made every harvest, and that the above rates are not annual. We have it not in our power to state which of these modes was most universally adopted: but neither was received with satisfaction, though the cash rate was advantageous to those, who cultivated tobacco, sugar, and vegetables, which formerly paid cash at higher rates. These sowings however were of small extent. The great error of this assessment was the placing all lands upon an equality, whatever might be their respective capabilities; whilst, on the other hand, it had the advantage of abolishing the former system of taxing the land with reference to the crops produced but perhaps the advantage was not equivalent to the disadvantage, inasmuch as the nature of the crop produced was in very many cases a tolerably correct criterion of the quality of the land. It is true that the Collectors had the power of
The Napierian bigah was fixed at 2,500 square yards, or 22,500 square feet. The Bengal bigah varies from 14,400 to 16,000 square feet.
recommending "pottahs" for waste land brought under cultivation, granting them rent free for two years, and also of recommending an increased rate, where the vicinity to market towns, or other causes, gave the cultivators superior advantages. In this proclamation was also contained a permission for the purchase of the fee simple of land, for a term of 7, 14, or 21 years, at such rates, as the Collector might think just to both parties.
A species of Licinian Law followed, declaring that no man should hold more than a certain number of bigahs of land; that what he could not cultivate in excess, might be cultivated by any applicant, whose property it should then become ! This decree was attempted to be justified by a reference to the evils caused by an overgrown landed aristrocracy in Europe: in fact, it was an anticipation of the 'coming man'-M. Prudhon. The document concluded by a request to the Collector to introduce the Ryotwari system, so beneficially adopted by Sir Thomas Munro in the Madras Presidency, in order to avert the evils which had befallen Ireland through middlemen. Now both these last decrees showed either an utter contempt, or a total ignorance, of the local institutions and landed tenures, not only of Scinde in particular, but of India in general. As might be expected, both remained a dead letter ;-not that the Collectors considered them unadvisable innovations, but because they were partially unfeasible. With regard to the first, it is an undoubted fact, that there are vast tracts of uncultivated land in Scinde, for the most part the hereditary property of individuals: but it was not the latter circumstance merely, that served to keep those lands uncultivated :—it was the want of population. The uncultivated land might be cultivated by any party desirous of doing so, on the payment of a proprietary fee to the Zemindar, the amount of which was in all cases fixed by local custom, and was in no instance so exorbitant, as to act as a preventive to their cultivation. It must also be borne in mind, that the irrigation in Scinde is artificial, in all tracts beyond the influence of the annual inundation; and that consequently the uncultivated lands of villages require a large outlay to place them in a culturable state. Supposing a Zemindar, A, to have expended considerable capital in bringing a watercourse through his estate, and carrying it on half a mile beyond the cultivated portion of it, in the expectation of extending his cultivation as opportunity offered ;-in the next generation, the estate is in the united possession of B, C, and D, his sons. foreigner, F, taking advantage of the new law, comes and settles at the outskirts of their cultivation; and, to bring the land under cultivation, he must continue the watercourse. The conse
quence of this would be, that the original lands would receive in many years an inadequate supply of water, and in all less than formerly. But would this be fair to those, who had expended their capital upon it? Would it not be to benefit, at their expense, a new settler? Now supposing F to have gone in the first instance to B, C, and D, and applied for the land, on the usual terms of the village; he would have received land more advantageously situated, besides saving himself much outlay. If it were necessary to extend the watercourse, the Zemindars would have an equal interest with himself in prosecuting the work, and, according as the one party or the other took the lead therein, the rent would be fixed. Further, the men, who would avail themselves of this law, would be men of capital. Besides, all the capital available to agriculturists would be expended on their own lands, and on the extension of them by purchase: such men would not remove to a distance to expend it. On the other hand, Hindus would rarely be found willing to lay out their capital in the cultivation of land on their own account. They might, indeed, by making advances at an exorbitant interest, settle cultivators upon it: but what would be the advantage to Government of placing land in such a condition? Here indeed would be middlemen-and no mistake. Nor could it be supposed that the country would ever be apportioned amongst a class of overgrown landed proprietors. The laws of inheritance were sufficient guarantees against such a result. They are not those of England or Ireland.
With regard to the last decree, it is difficult to understand what was intended by the "introduction of the Ryotwarí system," or by "middlemen." The latter did not exist in Scinde. It could surely not be applicable to the Zemindars. A man, who is held responsible for, and personally transacts all business connected with the management of his hereditary possessions, cannot be denominated a middleman." There was no right, hereditary or other, in Scinde, which gave the superintendence of estates, singly or in batches, to the class of men, known under various names in other parts of India, as talukdars, tokdars, &c. &c. It is needless to enter at any length into the nature of the tenures of that country, for they are in principle the same as exist in most part of the countries of the Bengal Presidency. Local customs there are, which do not affect the general principles, either of landed rights, or the laws of inheritance. We find then the bona fide Zemindar, the Biswadar, the hereditary cultivator, and the tenant at will, with all the village officers, and uniting bonds between all classes. But the intention appears to have been, to render the
cultivators independent of the Zemindars-the nucleus of the anticipated" overgrown landed proprietors." This was in fact to change with one stroke of the pen all existing rights, and to substitute those, which must inevitably have led to violence, fraud, and the eventual ruin of the country. What can be thought of a proposition, which practically would be tantamount to making over to the cultivator that portion of the rent payable to his landlord, which remained after payment of the revenue? This would be the assumption of an absolute proprietary right on the part of Government, which no argument can justify. But, as we have above observed, this decree remained a dead letter. Its import was not understood: and it was certainly too much to expect from inexperienced revenue officers, that they could carry out measures connected with such weighty and important subjects, and comprehend at once what has taken the most able men many years to obtain any insight into. At the same time, no steps were taken to record or define existing rights, which must ever be the first duty of Government in a newly acquired country, whatever mode of assessment it may adopt. Rights and customs, which have existed uninterrupted for centuries, must have some features, which are congenial to the habits, tastes, and wants of the people, and cannot be supplanted by chimerical theories. To record, define, and protect those rights should be the object of Government, and not to change them. No further rules ever existed for the Collectors: a few circulars, bearing on certain points, were indeed occasionally issued; but these were not of any general application.
We have said that the option was given to the landholders between the above two modes of assessment; but even in this, there was much error. In the first place, time was not allowed to the parties affected to examine a question of such importance to them, and which was rendered still more urgent, when it was stated to them, that all the lands of one village must be assessed in the same way, and that all must choose the same. Now & part of the land might have been so situated, as to have rendered a Buttai assessment advantageous; and the rest, cash rent. these lands were held by one and the same party, to have adopted either the one, or the other, mode would have been injurious to him; but, where they were possessed by different parties, how was the case to be settled? Why the weakest must go to the wall. Nothing like cutting the knot! So thought the incipient Munros.
Whilst this change was taking place, no alteration occurred amongst the European officers. The Province continued to be divided into three collectorates, each collectorate being sup