One of India’s three main systems of land tenure prior to Independence was the Mahalwari System. The Ryotwari System and the Permanent Settlement or Zamindari System were the other two systems. The only aspect of these three systems that varied was the land revenue and method of payment. The Ryotwari and Zamindari systems were represented in the Mahalwari town.
The Mahalwari method was created by Holt Mackenzie in 1822 and was revised in 1833 by Lord William Bentinck. Agra, North-West Frontier, Punjab, Central Province, and Gangetic Valley were its first introduced locations.
Read More: Partition of Bengal
What is the Mahalwari System?
In the North-Western Provinces of Bengal in the year 1822, the Englishman Holt Mackenzie introduced the Mahalwari System. Later, it spread throughout British India’s Central Province, Agra, Punjab, Gangetic Valley, North-West Frontier, etc. after being popularised by Lord William Bentick in Agra and Awadg. The Zamindari System was somewhat modified to become the Mahalwari System. It contained both Ryotwari System and Zamindari System provisions. Under this system, the village chief would collect money from farmers on behalf of the entire village.
Read More: Non Cooperation Movement
Mahalwari System Features
The land was divided up into Mahals, each of which corresponded to one or more villages, according to the Mahalwari System. According to the evaluation of crop yield, the Mahal’s revenue was set. Thus, updates to the Mahalwari system were made routinely.
Under the Mahalwari system, each individual farmer received a portion of that set revenue, which was collected by the village head or leader. In the Mahalwari settlement, the state received 66% part of the rental value over a 30-year period. Following the deployment of this system, government revenue increased.
Read More: Round Table Conferences
Mahalwari System Drawbacks
The system mandated that the rights of farmers, zamindars, and other landowners be recorded and that the tax owed on each plot of land be determined. The collectors typically modified the official estimates to increase the amount of money owed to the government because they were frequently inaccurate and frequently relied upon guesswork.
It had no positive effects on village communities; in fact, by imposing excessive tax assessments that could not be met, it actually accomplished the opposite and destroyed them. Large expanses of land were sold to moneylenders and merchants who either evicted the old cultivating proprietors or made them tenants because they couldn’t pay the tax rates.
Read More: Battle of Plassey
Mahalwari System Importance
Under the Mahalwari system, the town headmen collected land income from ranchers in the interest of the entire town (and not the zamindar). The entire town was transformed into a single, larger unit known as a “Mahal,” and was treated as such for the purposes of the land income payment.
The Mahalwari structure required that the revenue be periodically reviewed and not set in stone. The town headman or town chiefs were in charge of collecting the money, while the workers effectively held the proprietorship rights. The settlement was agreed upon for a long time, and the governmental portion of the income was 66% of the rental value. The concept of typical rents for various classes and types of soils was introduced by the Mahalwari framework.
The British entire land income structure had disastrous effects. The land became a charge age object in the first place. The land started to resemble a secret asset that had never been treated as such. Due to the high costs, the ranchers relied on creating money crops rather than food crops.
Food shortages and hunger resulted from this. Additionally, because fees had to be paid in actual money, ranchers were forced to turn to moneylenders, leaving landowners as the only other choice. Additionally, this led to ranchers hiring more help. At the end, when India achieved autonomy, only 7% of the natives, or “zamindars,” retained 75% of the land.
During the British administration, the ryotwari and zamindari frameworks and the Mahalwari framework were the other two land residency income structures. The word Mahal, which means “home, house, or place,” is where the phrase “Mahalwari” originates.
Read More: Doctrine of Lapse
Mahalwari System Impact on the Peasants
Due to the shortcomings of the Mahalwari system, the burden of interest payments on the peasantry was significant near the end of colonialism, and the rent and debt totalled about 14,200 million. The farmers or labourers received loans from the zamindars in exchange for free labour. As a result, farmers or workers might demand pay.
The land was governed by the upper cast. Wealthy farmers could spend their money on seeds, fertiliser, and other farming supplies. However, because they didn’t receive agricultural support, individuals of lower castes suffered greatly. All of these factors contributed to the decline of agriculture during the final days of colonialism. Most farmers have little left over to reinvest in their businesses. Taxes were paid with the majority of their income.
Read More: Subsidiary Alliance System
Mahalwari System Issues
Farmers were required to pay taxes under the Mahalwari system even when there was a drought. The survey’s flawed underlying assumptions provided room for fraud and deception. The business occasionally spent more on collection than it did on sales. The money leaders would confiscate the land if the farmers didn’t pay their dues. Later, the Mahalwari System failed as a result of its flawed policies.
Read More: Quit India Movement
Mahalwari System UPSC
Both the UPSC Prelims and Mains contain questions on the Mahalwari System, a crucial topic in contemporary history. To achieve the most possible scores on the Modern History subject, candidates must concentrate on the Mahalwari System UPSC. Candidates can study the subject from NCERT or UPSC books. Candidates can use UPSC Previous Year Question Papers to review and analyse the material after they have finished it.
Read More: Dandi March
Mahalwari System FAQs
Q) What are the main features of Mahalwari system?
Ans. Features of Mahalwari System are like the land was considered to be owned by the village community. The cultivator was the sole owner of the land. Each farmer paid his or her fair share of the tax.
Q) Why did the Mahalwari system fail?
Ans. At times the company spent more on the collection than the collected revenue. If the farmers failed to pay revenue, then the money leaders seized the land. Mahalwari System failed later due to its incomplete policies.
Q) What was the effect of Mahalwari system?
Ans. The mahalwari system destroyed the economical base of village economy carried out by the village community. This system forced the peasantry to grow commercial crops because the rental demand of the state realized in cash.
Q) Who ended Mahalwari system?
Ans. The Mahalwari system of land revenue under the scheme of 1833 was completed under the administration of James Thompson.
Q) Why is it called Mahalwari system?
Ans. Mahalwari system is one of the three main revenue systems of land tenure in British India, the other two being the zamindar and ryotwari systems.