property aristocracy and the raj by ranjit sen

Property Aristocracy and The Raj

Rs. 403.00

Guaranteed safe checkout

amazon paymentsapple paybitcoingoogle paypaypalvisa
Property Aristocracy and The Raj
- +

This book is a social and agrarian history combined into one. Its main focus is on Bengal but at times it takes other parts of India as its area of study. The period is essentially the colonial period-the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when great changes took place in the social structure of the country, particularly in the countryside. With the coming of the English in power the land revenue system of the country changed. Traditional aristocrats went down and a new elite emerged. In Bengal, the traditional Mughal elite was a power elite represented by a Raj Ballabh or a Nanda Kumar, an Alam Chand, or a Reza Khan. Trade had never been their business. They had space in the structure of governance and revenue assignment was their source of living and affluence. As the English East India Company rose to power these men sank. They were replaced by a set of base Indians who collaborated with the English in their effort to rip up the interior in search of wealth. They were not entrepreneurs but compradors who acted as the go-betweens between the incoming rulers and the Indian society. To this group belonged a host of new men, one Raja Nabakrishna, one Kantu Babu i.e. Krishna Kanta Nandi or Gokul Ghosal. They eventually became the founders of the new Raj. Thus Raja Nabakrishna set up the Shova Bazaar Raj, Kantu Babu the Murshidabad Kandi and the Calcutta Paikpara Raj, and Gokul Ghosal the Khidirpur Bhukailash Raj. This is the story of a new transformation and the whole first chapter of the book deals with this.

When changes of a great magnitude were shuffling the upper strata of the society what happened to the most down-trodden-the peasants and the sharecroppers of the interior of the country-the villages? A class of rich peasants emerged in the countryside and the middle-grade and lower-grade cultivators who could not withstand the pressure of rack rent became impoverished. Thus the emergence of a class of rich peasants balanced the marginalization of the rest of the peasant society. This was a tremendous dichotomy in the rural world with which the British rule began in Bengal and eastern India.

How was this done? Certainly with the instrument of a land charter called the Permanent Settlement. But changes were taking place in Bengal’s economy and society for a long time. What the English did was hasten the pace and to some extent the direction of the change. The English tried to create a concept and also a structure of property in Bengal which they thought did not exist in the country and was never allowed to grow under the Mughal rule. Their aim was to create a prototype of the English landlord who could effectively act as the leader of the interior by harnessing rural wealth for agricultural improvement. In this, they were guided by the principles of Physiocracy and Mercantilism that were reigning in Europe towards the end of the eighteenth century. But in doing that they somewhat wrongly applied the theory of rent which was emerging in Europe as a new blast for property improvement. All this has been discussed and detailed in the rest of the chapters of the book.

It is worth noting that the book is at once a textbook for history students at the BA and MA levels and a reference tool for higher research in the subject. It is written without jargon mainly addressing itself to lay readers.

 

About The Author

Ranjit Sen, M.A., Ph., D., D. Litt is currently the Professor and previously Head Department of Islamic History and Culture, University of Calcutta. He was the President, Modern History Section, Paschim Banga Itihas Sansad in 1992. He presided over the modem history section of the Indian History Congress at Patiala in 1998. He wrote more than Two Hundred and Fifty researched articles over and above innumerable lay articles in English and Bengali language.

Preface

In March 2005, I was invited by Visva-Bharti the University at Santiniketan, to deliver a course of lecture as a visiting professor in the Department of History. My subject was Eighteenth Century Bengal. The focus of my lectures was social changes in Bengal with special reference to the growth of the concept of property that was guaranteed by the promulgation of the Permanent Settlement in 1793. The Permanent Settlement was to be discussed in the context of the subsequent agrarian settlements in different parts of India. A study of the agrarian structures covered by the settlements automatically involved an analysis of the rural stratification, particularly the rise of rich peasants in Bengal which eventually led to the emergence of the jotedars in the country. The jotedar question has been left out of the present study because the rise of jotedars was not strictly an event of eighteenth-century Bengal. In studying the eighteenth century no authoritative viewpoint has been assumed in the book. With all humility, I tried to present before my students of Post-Graduate classes the fruits of modem research in the subject. A part of the discussion was drawn from my speech as the Sectional President in the Modem Indian History Section in the Indian History Congress at Patiala, Punjab, in 1998. The rest has been an output of my recent and past research. The agrarian history of India is a very complex history. I tried to present a part of it in a simple and lucid way. If students and researchers benefit from it the mission of my writing will be rewarded. Students and teachers of Visva-Bharati University attended my lectures and tried to influence them with their erudition and understanding. To them, this book is dedicated.

Introduction
An Anatomy of perspectives

Let us start with the question: What is the book about? This book is an anatomy of two institutions, property, and aristocracy, which grew in Bengal toward the end of the eighteenth century and which in their Bengal forms were denied further extension in any other part of India except at Awadh in a small way under special circumstances after the revolt of 1857. This book is thus a social and agrarian history combined into one. Its main focus is on Bengal but at times it takes other parts of India as its area of study. The period is essentially the colonial period-the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when great changes took place in the social structure of the country, particularly in the countryside. With the coming of the English in power the land revenue system of the country changed. Traditional aristocrats went down and a new elite emerged. In Bengal the traditional Mughal elite was power elite represented by a Raj Ballabh or a Nanda Kumar, an Alam Chand, or a Reza Khan. Trade had never been their business. They had space in the structure of governance and revenue assignment was their source of living and affluence. As the English East India Company rose to power these men sank. They were replaced by a set of base Indians who collaborated with the English in their effort to rip up the interior in search of wealth. They were not entrepreneurs but compradors who acted as the go-betweens between the incoming rulers and the Indian society. To these groups belonged a host of new men, one Raja Nabakrishna, one Kantu Babu i.e. Krishna Kanta Nandi, or a Gokul Ghosal. They eventually became the founders of the new Raj. Thus Raja Nabakrishna set up the Shova Bazaar Raj, Kantu Babu the Murshidabad Kandi and the Calcutta Paikpara Raj, and Gokul Ghosal the Khidirpur Bhukailash Raj. This is the story of a new transformation and this has been adequately studied in the book.

When changes of a great magnitude were shuffling the upper strata of the society what happened to the most downtrodden- the peasants and the sharecroppers of the interior of the country? A class of rich peasants emerged in the countryside and the middle-grade and lower-grade cultivators who could not withstand the pressure of rack rent became impoverished. Thus the emergence of a class of rich peasants balanced the marginalization of the rest of the peasant society. This was a tremendous dichotomy in the rural world with which the British rule began in Bengal and eastern India. The rich peasants and the new aristocracy, the two social icons created by the post- Palais transformations, eventually served as the two prefixed structures facilitating the entrance of the new landlord after 1793.

A landlord is redundant without property and therefore property and landlord came as two organically attached phenomena of agrarian economics of Bengal. Things were moving toward this for a long time. What the English administrators did in 1793 was to hasten the pace of the change. They worked under the conviction that the concept of property did not exist in India, for it was never allowed to grow under the Mughals. Their model was the English landlord who was exercising masterly supervision over mechanized agriculture. But Bengal’s agriculture was not mechanized and large farms were not available in Bengal. These points went missing in the intellectual understanding of the property framers in Bengal. For this, the whole scheme fell through. Property and aristocracy thus became two imperial paradigms marred by inexperience and unredeemed by time.

The book is all about this. Functioning as a paradigm-scanner it takes a three-dimensional approach to events in which man, institution, and ideas make up the corporate existence of a moment that mirrors history in the ecstasy of its fulfillment.

A Content Analysis

‘Who owns the land?’ This was the question which remained unresolved in Bengal till the end of the eighteenth century. The answer came late in the century- the zamindar. He was one figure who then stood at the crossroads of change. A patriarch of the interior he had command over three powers in the past - fiscal, police, and judicial. This was because he was the master of the three at the village level. With these three in hand, he was the middle point where the challenges of the state met the response of the people. In 1793 this majesty was shaken. With the introduction of the Permanent Settlement the police and judicial powers of the zamindar were withdrawn and he was stripped of the majesty that he enjoyed for generations. He was made simply a landlord a position innovated by the British. As a landlord, he now owned all lands including ponds and forests that constituted his zamindari. A one-time lord of the interior he now became simply a manager of the interior wealth, master of the agrarian resources of the country. In that capacity he now represented the greatest paradox of the time, a cipher flanked all around by unproductive affluence, a functioning superior turned into a truncated mobilizer of the village society. He was destined henceforth to remain under the thumb of two new officers, the Collector, and the Magistrate. He had access to revenue, the source of affluence but he ceased to be the coercive arm of the state. His forts were demolished. His militia was disbanded. His glamour as a warlord collapsed. He could now at best preside over the caste cutcheries but village justice slipped out of his hands. As a landlord, he was now simply an overseer of revenue whose life was now anchored in idleness and affluence.

With all these a great change came over in the rural world. As a landlord, a zamindar was under the obligation of passing on to the State a stipulated tribute in the form of revenue the quantum of which was permanently fixed. Towards the fulfillment of this, he was given two things- ample unassessed waste lands the revenue of which he had no obligation to share with the state, and vast authority to rack-rent peasants who till 1859 had no defense against his oppressions. Why was this? Was this only to create the property and a propertied class in the land? The apparent answer would be ‘yes’. But there were deeper and more compelling motivations that were concomitant to empire-building. Bengal, a riverine country was blessed with nature’s bounty and its plentiful agricultural resources had to be properly harnessed before it was lost through the rapacity of the Company’s servants and their amlas. To do this an effective managing agency was needed. In Bengal, there was only one class of people that could manage such an agency and it was the zamindar class. In the first quarter of the eighteenth century, Murshid Quli Khan found this class to be an indolent one but could not eradicate them. He placed amils, i.e. supervisors on their heads and made them function as contractor-collectors of revenue in the fashion of fermiers-generale of France.. Thus zamindars had been suspects from the beginning and this suspicion about the most formidable elements in the agrarian society continued till the year 1790 when they were finally accepted as the ineradicable part of the village life and recognized legally as the only adequate and invariable agency that could supply leadership to the interior of the country. In 1790 the fanners or revenue-bidders were discarded once and for all. They were introduced in the 24-Parganas for the first time in 1757 when on the assumption of the zamindari of the district the Company’s government instituted the outcry system with the idea that the zamindars in order to save their ancient possessions would outbid other speculators and in the process would open the hidden sources of their wealth. The outcry system was eventually extended to other parts of the country and by 1772 speculators from Calcutta flooded the countryside to take over the management of zamindaris. This was the farming system, the universal form of the outcry system.

In 1790 thus two things happened. Land speculators were removed. Supervisors of all kinds were driven out and the field was cleared to be taken over by the zamindar, the unshakable country lords who braved the revolutions of time and remained firm in their stations. The second thing that happened was that the basis of the permanent settlement was laid. Ever since the take-over of the country by the Company zamindars were made to operate in a condition of competition with speculators who had no attachment with the soil. They functioned without any hope for their future or any incentive for their present. In 1790 their stations were crowned with public acceptance. A settlement with Zamindars was made for ten years. Three years later it was declared permanent.



CONTENTS
Introduction i-xx
Chapter-I Creation of a Pre-Permanent Settlement Aristocracy in Bengal 1-28
Chapter-2 Rich Peasants and Share Croppers: The Agrarian Dichotomy 29-44
Chapter-3 Creation of the Imperial Paradigm: Property 45-64
Chapter-4 Flight from the Bengal Model 65-78
Chapter-5 Colonial Antecedents of the Rent Question 79-88
Chapter-6 The Rent Question and the Colonial Property Experiments 89-101
Chapter-7 Conclusion 103-125
Appendix 127-131
Bibliography 133-143
Index 145-150







Delivery and Shipping Policy

  • INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING
    • Rs.1000-1100/kg
    • ESTD. Delivery Time: 2-3 weeks (depending on location)
    • Bubble Wrapped with Extra Padding

 

  • NATIONAL SHIPPING
    • NCR: Rs. 30/half kg
    • Standard: Rs. 80/half kg
    • Express shipments also available on Request
    • ESTD. Delivery Time: Ranging from 1-4 days up to 7 business days (Depending on your choice of Delivery)

 

  • TRACKING
    • All orders; national or international, will be provided with a Tracking ID to check the status of their respective orders
    • Depending on the Shipping Service, Tracking ID may be used on their respective tracking portals

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Domestic Shipping: 3-4 Days (after shipping)

International Shipping: 1-2 weeks (based on your location)

You will receive an email once your order has been shipped or you can email us if you didn't receive tracking details (info@mlbd.co.in)

Every book that we sell is the latest edition except all the rare books

Yes, we do provide free shipping, only on domestic orders (within India) above Rs.1500

Translation missing: en.general.search.loading

All Rating

  • 5

  • 4

  • 3

  • 2

  • 1

    Collected by EpicApp for Reviews
    • Product Review Image
    product Review Image