During his tenure as Governor-General in 1793, Lord Cornwallis instituted the concept of permanent settlement. The British East India Company and the landlords of Bengal signed an agreement there that fixed the land revenue, and it was also known as the permanent settlement of Bengal. It is well known that the corporation relied heavily on land revenue to levy taxes on the Indian population.
Similar to the Mahalwari System, which existed in many different forms, the Ryotwari System was one of a kind. A permanent settlement system was first established in Bengal, then Bihar, and afterwards in the states of Madras and Varanasi. After considering a comparable system in England, where landlords were the landowners and collected rent from the peasants while keeping their interests in mind, Lord Cornwallis had the idea for a permanent settlement.
Therefore, it can also be said that Lord Cornwallis had in mind the zamindari system, which was the nation’s hereditary class of landlord system. For UPSC Preparation, read the entire article on a permanent settlement.
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Permanent Settlement History
The zamindars of Bengal, Odisha, and Bihar used to collect the land revenues on behalf of the Mughals as their delegates prior to the entrance of the British East India Company in India. Following the Battle of Buxar in 1764, the East India Company was given Deewani of Bengal. However, there were many farmers in the rural area who were unable to contact them. Additionally, they were unfamiliar with the local laws and customs.
Due to the company’s neglect, the catastrophic Bengal famine took place later in 1770. Warren Hastings then instituted a reform that included a five-year inspection schedule. The person who could pledge and place the highest offer at the auction would receive the revenue collection.
Due to its potentially harmful consequences and repercussions, Hastings also experimented with the annual land settlement, but this did not assist to improve the situation. Under the direction of William Fit, the country’s then-prime minister, Lord Cornwallis later 1786 implemented the permanent settlement system. In 1793, the law was implemented by the passing of the Permanent Settlement Act.
Main Features of the Permanent Settlement
The landowners, or zamindars, who had been granted the authority of hereditary succession rights, owned the lands. These zamindars were free to transfer or sell the land to whomever they pleased. The zamindars were required to pay a specific amount of revenue to the government on the specified date in order to keep their ownership; failure to do so could result in the seizure of their rights to the existing land. The land would then either be auctioned off or taken back by the firm.
The corporation established the amount that the landlords were required to pay with the understanding that it would not change going forward; as a result, it was a permanent one. 10/11 of the revenue went to the government, while only one-tenth went to the zamindars. These rates were significantly higher than those in England.
The tenants were also expected to receive a patta from the zamindars, which contained information on the lands they owned and the total sum they were required to pay the landlord. The Zamindars were considered to be able to access remote areas of the region and comprehend local cultures because of their land-based Heritage system. Everyone felt protected by the permanent settlement because it seemed like a permanent system that wouldn’t undergo any significant change anytime soon.
The corporation knew how much they would make from sales and land revenues as the landlord was well aware of the amount. The permanent land revenue settlement established property ownership as a perpetual entitlement to the owners. The guidelines said that they might keep 11% of the total earnings for themselves while paying 89% of it to the state.
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Permanent Settlement Impacts
1. Permanent Settlement Impacts on Peasants
For the peasants, the system of permanent settlement was extremely domineering. This is due to the fact that they made up a crucial element of the system but received neither adequate care nor attention for their lands.
Regarding the distribution of revenue payments to the peasants, the landowners were not at all forgiving. When sales were very strong, they occasionally had to borrow money from moneylenders, who then exploited it to further their own agendas. In the worst situation, if they don’t pay the revenue, they risk being evicted from their land.
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2. Permanent Settlement Impacts on Zamindar
The introduction of the permanent settlement system had an effect on zamindars as well since, despite receiving a fixed income from the British, they profited from the increased production from the land, which ultimately benefited both the British and the zamindars. For zamindars, the permanent settlement system’s huge fixed revenues made settlements challenging.
The British seized their properties after they stopped paying their debts. Zamindars frequently sublet their properties and relocated to urban areas. Thus, the middleman served as a link between the zamindars and the farmers. The zamindar was the go-between for various things in addition to acting as broker for British politics.
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3. Permanent Settlement Impacts on Company
The permanent settlement system of 1793 made guaranteed the business had a steady stream of cash. One of the primary objectives of the Permanent Settlement Act was to increase production in agriculture. The zamindars had no desire to enhance the land, even though they did nothing about it. During the first decade of the 19th century, both prices and cultivation increased. This led to a larger income for zamindars due to the predetermined revenue level, but no profit for the business.
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Permanent Settlement Merits
The Indian landowner was now in charge of caring for and protecting the farmers. This is because, as a result of their regional roots, they were able to travel to remote areas of the region and gain an understanding of its traditions.
The fact that the system was enduring gave all the farmers and peasants a sense of security. The business was certain of the amount of revenue it would receive thanks to this permanent feature. The landlords shared the confidence of the Company regarding the guaranteed sum they would receive.
Furthermore, rather than worrying about pattas, the farmers also knew how much rent they had to pay. The Zamindars would take better care of the land and increase their revenue because the settlement was permanent.
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Permanent Settlement Demerits
The permanent settlement method had a significant flaw in that the zamindars’ personalities affect how effective it was. That is to say, they took excellent care of the interests of farmers and the land when conditions were good, and they also changed the land as needed so that everyone involved would benefit. On the other side, a terrible landlord would be careless about the state of the farmers’ lands.
The upper aristocracy of society was formed by the hereditary landowner class, who lived opulent and extravagant lifestyles. Zamindar backed the British government even when the country was fighting for independence. Lands weren’t assessed, and even the revenues were arbitrarily set for both profitable and unproductive lands. For the farmers, who had infertile or unproductive land, this was a significant difficulty.
Because the system’s income was so large, the zamindars quickly got corrupted, which quickly turned out to be a terrible decision. A thorough land survey was necessary, according to the British administration, before a permanent settlement could be made.
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Permanent Settlement UPSC
Aspirants are recommended to read the pertinent information about the Permanent Settlement under the GS-I section of the UPSC Syllabus since this is a key topic for the IAS Exam.
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Permanent Settlement FAQs
Q) What means Permanent Settlement?
Ans. Permanent Settlement is the settlement of land in accordance with the Act and these Rules with an individual or group who has contracted with the District Council to pay land tax and to whom a Certificate of Land Settlement as specified in Appendix “A” of these Rules is issued.
Q) Who introduced Permanent Settlement?
Ans. In 1786, Lord Cornwallis developed the Permanent Settlement system under the guidance of William Pitt, the British Prime Minister at the time. The Permanent Settlement Act of 1793 gave effect to this in that year.
Q) What is Permanent Settlement 1793?
Ans. In Bengal, Lord Cornwallis established the Permanent Settlement of 1793. Land income was gathered by zamindars, who were acknowledged as the land’s owners.
Q) What was the result of the Permanent Settlement of Bengal?
Ans. The East India Company and Bengali landlords came to an agreement as a result of the Permanent Settlement of Bengal to establish the revenues to be produced from land, which had significant ramifications for both agricultural practices and production throughout the entire British Empire.
Q) What were the main features of the Permanent Settlement of Bengal?
Ans. The main features of the Permanent Settlement of Bengal:
- Landlords or zamindars were acknowledged as the property owners.
- The lands that were under their control passed to them intestate.
- The sum that the landlords must pay was set.
- Everyone concurred that this will not rise in the future (permanent in nature).