Ruling the Countryside Class 8 Questions and Answers History Chapter 3
History Class 8 Chapter 3 NCERT Textbook Questions and Answers
Imagine a conversation between a planter and a peasant who is being forced to grew indigo. What reasons would the planters give to pursuade the peasant? What problems would the peasant point? Enact their conversation.
“I want you to grow Indigo for me only. Do not worry I will give you and your family enough work for the entire year. Do not worry about money, you will get enough. I will also admit your children in the school. You will also get medical facilities from me.”
“Sir, please don’t force me to grew Indigo only. How will we get rice, wheat and vegetables. After cultivation of Indigo, the soil will loose its fertility. We cannot grew any other crops on this soil again. Please allow us to cultivate other crops.”
Match the following :
|nij||cultivation of ryot’s lands|
|ryoti||cultivation of planter’s own land.|
|nij||cultivation of planter’s own land.|
|ryoti||cultivation of ryot’s lands|
Fill in the blanks :
(a) Growers of woad in Europe saw ……………… as a crop which would provide competition to their earnings.
(b) The demand for Indigo increased in late eighteenth century Britain became of ……………………. .
(c) The international demand for Indigo was affected by the discovery of ……………………. .
(d) The Champaran movement was against ……………… .
(b) Industrial revolution
Describe the main features of the Permanent Settlement.
The main features of the Permanent Settlement were :
- It took the place of the system of auctioning, which could not bring stability in income of the Company.
- This system was introduced in Bengal and Bihar. The Company decided to fix the land revenue on a permanent basis.
- It was introduced by Charles Cornwallis in 1793.
- According to it, the zamindar of an estate had to pay a fixed amount to the British Government every year within a specified period of time.
- This new system ensured to the Company regular income. It also created a new class of landlords which was loyal to the British.
- Assured to their ownership, many of these landlords stayed most of the time in towns from their estates and squeezed their tenants to the limit of the latter’s capacities.
- In 1799, they were empowered to exit the tenants and also to confiscate their property for non-payment of their due to the landlord.
- The Permanent Settlement was very useful to the zamindars. By Increasing the area under cultivation, their collection or rent went up, but the amount that they had to pay to the Government remained the same.
How was the Mahalwari System different from the Permanent Settlement?
- The Permanent Settlement was introduced first of all in Bengal and Bihar. Later on it was extended to Orissa, the coastal districts of Andhra and to Benaras. On the other hand, the system of mahalwari was introduced in western part of Uttar Pradesh, in Punjab and Delhi.
- It came into effect in 1822, while the Permanent Settlement was introduced in 1793.
- Under Mahalwari System a mahal or village was considered an important social institution and therefore, it was preserved.
- The government officials inspected the land from village to village, they measured the fields and recorded the customs and rights of different groups. They estimated revenue of each plot within a village and then this was added up to calculate the revenue that each village (mahal) had to pay.
- The demand of land-revenue was to be revised periodically, not permanent fixed.
- The charge of collecting the revenue and paying it to the Company was given to the village headman, rather than the zamindar.
Give two problems which arose with the new Munro System of fixing revenue.
The problems created by the Munro System of fixing revenue :
- Driven by the desire to increase the income from land, revenue officials (captain Alexander Read and Thomas Munro) fixed to high a revenue demand. Peasants were unable to pay, ryots fled the countryside, and villagers become deserted in several areas.
- Optimistic officials had imagined that the new systems would transform the peasants into rich enterprising farmers. But this did not happen.
Why were ryots reluctant to grow Indigo?
- In March, 1859 thousands of ryots in Bengal refused to grow Indigo because the Indigo system was intensely oppressive.
- The Indigo ryots felt that they had the support of the local zamindars and village headmen in their rebellion against the planters.
- In many villages, headmen who had been forced to sign Indigo contracts, mobilised the Indigo peasants and fought pitched battles with the lathiyals.
- In other places even the zamindars went around villagers using the ryots to resist the planters. These zamindars were happy with the increasing power of the planters and angry at being forced by the planters to give them land on long leases.
- Change in the policy and attitude of the Government :
(i) The Indigo peasants also imagined that the British Government would support them in their struggle against the planters.
(ii) After the Revolt of 1857, the British government was particularly worried about the possibility of another popular rebellion. When the news spread of a simmering revolt in the Indigo districts, the Lieutenant Governor toured the region in the winter of 1859. The ryots saw the tour as a sign of government sympathy for their plight.
(iii) When in Barasat, the magistrate Astley Eden issued a notice stating that ryots would not be compelled to accept Indigo contracts, word went around that Queen Victoria had declared that Indigo need not be sown.
Role of the Intellectuals :
As the rebellion spread, intellectuals from Calcutta rushed to the Indigo districts. They wrote the misery of the ryots, the tyranny of the planters and the horrors of the Indigo system.
What were the circumstances which led to the eventual collapse of Indigo production in Bengal?
Circumstances leading to the eventual collapse of Indigo production in Bengal :
- In March, 1859 thousands of ryots in Bengal refused to grow Indigo. As the rebellion spread, ryots refused to pay rents to the planters and attacked Indigo factories with armed swords and spears bows and arrows. Women turned up to fight with pots, pans and kitchen implements.
- Those who worked for the planters were socially boycotted and the gomasthas agents of planters who come to collect rent were beaten up. Ryots swore they would no longer take advances to sow Indigo nor be bullied by the planters’ lathiyals, the lathi wielding strongmen maintained by the planters.
- Worried by the rebellion, the government brought in the military to protect the planters from assult, and set up the Indigo Commission to enquire into the system of Indigo production. The commission held the planters guilty and criticised them for the coercive methods they used with Indigo cultivators.
- The Indigo Commission declared that Indigo production was not profitable for ryots. The Commission asked the ryots to fulfil their existing contracts but also told them that they could refuse to produce Indigo in future.
Find out more about the Champaran Movement and Mahatma Gandhi’s role in it.
After the Indigo production collapsed in Bengal, the European Indigo planters shifted their operation in Bihar. In the late nineteenth century their business was severely affected due to the discovery of synthetic dyes, but inspite of this they managed to expand production. When Mahatma Gandhi returned from South Africa, he visited Champaran to see the plight of the Indigo cultivation there.
Mahatma Gandhi’s role :
In 1917, the visit of Mahatma Gandhi, marked the beginning of the Champaran Movement against the Indigo planters. The European peasants oppressed the peasants and forced them to grow Indigo and sell their produce at cheaper rate. Gandhiji witnessed the miserable conditions of the peasants. When the District officials ordered him to leave Champaran, Gandhiji refused to leave and started the satyagraha. It was victory for Gandhiji. A Commission was appointed to examine the activities of the plantation owners in which Gandhiji was also kept as a member.
Look into the history of either tea or coffee plantations in India. See how the life of workers in these plantations was similar to or different from that of workers in Indigo plantation.
Hints: Life in Tea Plantations of Assam:
- Estate owners
Life in the Indigo Fields
- Cultivators or Zamindars were the owners.
- Generally, cultivators worked in fields themselves.
Why do you think Colebrook is concerned with the conditions of under ryots in Bengal? Read the preceding pages and suggest possible reasons.
In 1806, H.T. Colebrook described the conditions of these under tenants in Bengal. He is concerned with the miserable conditions of the under-ryots in Bengal because he could understand that the work of farming depended on them. The following source given in the Textbook clearly indicates that he urges about the Bengal ryot.
The under tenants depressed by an excessive rent in kind, and by unsurious returns for the cattle, seed and subsistence, advanced to them, can never extricate themselves from debt. In so object a state, they cannot labour in spirit, when they earn a scanty subsistence, without hope of bettering their situation.
Imagine that you a Company representative sending a report back to England about the conditions in rural areas under Company rule, What would you write?
Permanent settlement introduced in 1793. The rajas and taluqdars are recognised as zamindars. They were asked to collect revenue for the Company. Revenue is fixed permanently.
The revenue was very high. Zamindars found it difficult to pay. Anyone who failed to pay the revenue lost his zamindari.
The cultivator formed the system very oppressive. The rent was high and the land was insecure. To pay the rent he had often to take a loan from the moneylender, and when he failed to pay the rent he was evicted from the land he had cultivated for generations.
Under the Munro System, revenue officials fixed too high a revenue demand. Peasants were unable to pay, ryots fled the countryside and villages became deserted in many regions.
Imagine you are a witness giving evidence before the Indigo Commission. W.S. Seton Karr asks you “On what condition will ryots grow Indigo?” What will your answer be?
I would plainly say no for growing Indigo still if he urges me, I would simply tell him that if you want me to grew Indigo then please supply me a year’s ration in advance.