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Modern History / British Administration

Land Revenue System in British India

The land revenue system in British India was different in different regions of India. The main land revenue systems that were in force under British rule in India were Zamindari or Permanent Settlement system, Ryotwari system and Mahalwari system.

Permanent Settlement or Zamindari System

  • Lord Cornwallis introduced Permanent settlement or Zamindari system, which was devised by John Shore.

  • In Zamindari system, villages (estates) along with property rights were assigned to Zamindars.

  • In the capacity of ownership, rent was collected by Zamindars from tenants. But the rent was not a fixed one.

  • In the rent, Zamindar's share was 1/11th and Government's share was 10/11th.

  • Initially, it was a decennial settlement, that is for every 10 years there was renewal. But later it got converted into permanent.

  • In Zamindari system, hereditary rights were also given.

Ryotwari System

  • Thomas Munro and Captain Alexander Read introduced Ryotwari system.

  • Under Ryotwari system in British India, Ryots (farmers) were given property rights.

  • Revenue collections were directly collected through revenue department.

  • Ryotwari system had the major share in the land revenue system in India comprising of more than 50% of the total area that was under British rule.

  • Every Ryot was a unit of revenue collection.

Mahalwari System

  • Mahalwari system is a hybrid system integrating both Ryotwari and Zamindari systems. Holt Mackenzie and R.M. Bird introduced Mahalwari system.

  • In this system, lands were divided into estates. One estate comprises of one village. If a village is small, two to three villages were combined.

  • Tax was decided for the whole estate. Tax was collected by the Gram Panchayat (Village Committee). The amount was divided among the villagers as per the land holdings.

  • It was somewhat close to Zamindari system. But property rights were enjoyed by peasants (Ryotwari feature).

Brief Description of Land Revenue System

Name of the Revenue System Year of Introduction Regions Percentage of Area Officers (who devised) Name of Governor General
Zamindari or Permanent Settlement 1793 Bihar, Bengal, Odisha, Varanasi 19% of total British India John Shore Lord Cornwallis
Ryotwari Settlement 1820 Madras, Bombay, Assam, Coorg 52% Thomas Munro and Captain Alexander Read Lord Hastings
Mahalwari Settlement 1833 Agra, Central Province, Punjab, North West Frontier Province 29% Holt Mackenzie and R.M. Bird William Bentinck