Chapter : 10

What Are Colonialism And The Countryside ?

  • In the conflict in Supa, the ryots from many surrounding areas gathered and attacked the shopkeepers. The ryots demanded the bahi khatas (account books) and debt bonds from the shopkeepers.
  • The British decided to introduce new revenue settlements because the prices of the agricultural produce rose significantly which enhanced the income of the zamindars significantly.
  • On the other hand, the revenue demand was fixed under the Permanent Settlement Act due to which the British could not increase their share of the revenue.
  • To increase their share of income, the British decided to introduce a new revenue system in parts other than Bengal.
  • The new revenue system came to be known as the Ryotwari system.
  • The Ryotwari system was first introduced in Bombay. In this revenue system, the rent was directly collected from the ryots. Under this system, the government analyse the average income from different types of soils.
  • The lands were periodically resurveyed at an interval of thirty years and then the adjustments in the revenue were made.
  • Ryotwari system changed the practice of fixed revenue and made it flexible according to several distinct factors.
  • The American Civil war led to the reduction of the supplies of raw cotton for Britain significantly. Due to this reason, the cotton merchants in India encouraged the production of cotton in the countryside.
  • The export merchants gave money to the urban sahukars as they wanted to have a continuous supply of raw cotton for exporting it to Britain. The Sahukars gave advances to the moneylenders in the cotton villages who has promised an uninterrupted supply of cotton to them.
  • The moneylenders gave loans to the ryots to increase the cultivation of cotton. This way the credit flowed from the top level to the bottom.
  • After the end of the American Civil War, the Indian exports of raw cotton to Britain started declining steadily.
  • The cotton merchants and sahukars became reluctant in extending credit to the ryots for the production of cotton.
  • The merchants close down their operations of extending credit and demanded the repayment of the outstanding debts from the cotton peasants.
  • The ryots were unable to pay their outstanding debts as they did not have sufficient resources and even the moneylenders refused to extend credit to them.
  • The moneylenders outrightly refused to extend the loans to the ryots during the time of their crisis after the end of the Civil war in America.
  • The ryots got deeper into debt and were completely dependent on the moneylenders for their survival. However, the moneylenders showed an insensitive attitude towards their plight.
  • The ryots felt that the moneylenders were violating the customary rule of the countryside. There was a norm that the interest charged on the principal could not be more than that. However, this norm was broken down and the moneylenders charged very high rates of interest. All these reasons made the ryots angry with the moneylenders.
  • Due to these reasons, the conflict between the ryots and moneylenders took place in Bombay Deccan.
  • The Deccan Riots Commission was formed to hold an enquiry about the riots caused in Bombay by the ryots.
  • The Commission produced a report and submitted it to the British Parliament in 1878.
  • This report acted as the source of information for historians to study the causes and nature of the Deccan riots. The Commission held several enquiries in the region where the riots took place.
  • The commission also recorded the statements of a number of ryots, sahukars and moneylenders and other eyewitnesses of the riots.