William Wilson Hunter.

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brother of the last Raja, and sole surviving male descendant of Seo
Rao Bhao. As the new prince was of weak intellect, it was determined
to carry on the administration by British agency, and to allow the Raja
a fixed pension, on the understanding that the administration should
be restored to him as soon as the principality was relieved from the
state of disorder into which it had fallen. A Superintendent was
appointed, under whom the revenue immediately rose to double its
previous amount. In 1842, the management was restored to Ganga-
dhar Rao, whose administration, judged by a native standard, proved
satisfactory. The assessments, however, were high, and although not^
unfairly collected, pressed heavily on the people. The Raja hmi-'
self granted some partial remissions in years of scarcity, and was
personally popular. Gangadhar Rao died childless in 1853, and his
territories lapsed to the British Government. The Jhansi State, with
Jalaun and Chanderi Districts, were then formed into a Superinten-
dency, while a pension was granted to the Rani or widow of the late
Raja. The Rani, however, considered herself aggrieved, both because
she was not allowed to adopt an heir, and because the slaughter of
cattle was permitted in the Jhansi territory. Reports were spread
which excited the rehgious prejudices of the Hindus.

The events of 1857 accordingly found Jhansi ripe for rebellion. In
^lay, it was known that the troops were disaffected ; and on the 5th
of June, a few men of the 12th Native Infantry seized the fort contain-
ing the treasure and magazine. Many European officers were shot the
same day. The remainder, who had taken refuge in a fort, capitulated
a few days after, and were massacred with their families to the number
of 66 persons, in spite of a promise of protection sworn on the Kuran
and Ganges water. The Rani then attempted to seize the supreme
authority ; but the usual anarchic quarrels arose between the rebels,
during which the Orchha leaders laid siege to Jhansi, and plundered
the country mercilessly. Numbers of the cultivators were hopelessly
impoverished at this time, and it will be long before the damage then
inflicted can be repaired. On the 5th of April 1858, the fort and town



220 JHANSI DISTRICT.

were recovered by Sir Hugh Rose, who marched on to Kalpi without !
being able to leave a garrison at Jhansi. After his departure, the |
rebellion broke out afresh, only the Giirsarai chieftain in the north
remaining faithful to the British cause. On the nth August, a flying
column under Colonel Liddell cleared out the rebels from Mau
(Mhow); and, after a series of sharp contests with various guerilla
leaders, the work of re-organization was fairly set on foot in November.
The Rani herself had previously fled with Tantia Topi, and finally fell
in battle at the foot of the rock fortress of Gwalior. Since that time,
Jhansi has remained a British District, and famines and floods alone
have disturbed the course of the civil administration.

Jhansi forms an unfortunate example of an Indian District which
has suffered alike from the calamities of nature, and from the results
of native misrule. Its uncertain rainfall, with the sudden floods and
protracted droughts to which it is subject, will be referred to here-
after in the proper sections of this article. The pressure of high
assessments under its Maratha rulers and Rajas reduced the petty
landholders and the peasantry to a very low standard of living.
Occasional outbursts of furious misgovernment by half-insane debauchees
intensified the general misery. Jhansi was one of our most recently-
acquired Districts in the North-Western Provinces, and when it lapsed
to the British in 1853, it was in an impoverished state. The whole
agricultural population was in debt to the village money-lenders.
Under the native system, such debts went on from father to son ; but
the creditor could seldom sell up or utterly ruin the debtor, as the
latter process would drive the ruined man off the land, and so deprive
the Raja of a rent-paying unit. The introduction of British rule brought
with it the law of sale for debt, and the disorders of 1857-58 still
further increased the wretchedness of the people. Famines and floods
have also contributed to their misery, and the British Government had at
length to face the fact that Jhansi was a bankrupt District. After a series
of attempted palliatives, the Jhansi Encumbered Estates Act was passed
in 1882. This Act practically amounts to a rural Insolvency Law for
the District. It accepts the fact that a large number of the landholders
cannot pay their debts, and it provides a procedure for an inquiry into
the character of their Habilities, for a reduction of the same in cases
where exorbitant interest has been taken, and for the ultimate discharge
of the debtor. This procedure is worked by a special judge appointed
for the purpose. Besides the equitable reduction of his debts, it pro-
vides a system of Government loans at low interest to the insolvent
debtor, and eventually for the purchase of the encumbered estate by
Government if no other course will suffice to meet the case of the
insolvent. The Act has not yet been in force for a sufficient length
of time to render it safe to offer an opinion here as to its ultimate



J H ANSI DISTRICT. 2 2 1

consequences. Meanwhile, as will be hereafter mentioned, the
Government assessment on the land has been fixed at a low rate.

ropidation, — No District in the plains of the North- Western Pro-
vinces, with the exception of Lalitpur, is so sparsely inhabited as
Jhansi ; and the population, though considerably increased since the
introduction of British rule, has declined slightly under the pressure of
famine in late years. The total number of inhabitants in 1865 was
returned at 357,442; in 1872, it had fallen to 317,826, showing a
decrease in eight years of 39,616 persons, or it '08 per cent. In i88t,
the population had slightly increased to 333,227, although it was still
24,215 below the figures for 1855. The area in 1881 w^as computed at
1567 square miles : the number of towns and villages was returned as
625, and the number of houses at 54,404- These figures yield the
following averages : — Persons per square mile, 212 ; villages per square
mile, 0-39; houses per square mile, 347; persons per village, 531;
persons per house, 6-i. The sparseness of the population must be set
down to the numerous misfortunes which have befallen Jhansi in recent
times. Excessive taxation, depredations by the mutineers in 1857-58,
the growth oikdns grass, famine, floods, and epidemics caused thousands
to emigrate, besides the direct loss of life. But even under these
unfavourable conditions, the population has increased since the days
of native rule. The estimates formed in 1832 gave a population of
286,000 for 2922 square miles, then included in Jhansi. The jurisdic-
tion has been reduced to 1567 square miles, and the population in 1881
had increased even in this smaller area to 333,227 persons. Classified
according to sex, there were, in 1 881— males 172,884, and females
160,343; percentage of riiales to total population, 51-9. Classified
according to age, there were, under 15 years — males 63,409, and
females 54,259; total children, 117,668, or 35-21 percent. : 15 years
and upwards — males 109,475, and females 106,084; total adults,
215,559, or 6479 percent.

As regards religious distinctions, the District is essentially Hindu,
and the practice of killing cattle for food is one of the grievances com-
plained of under British rule. Hinduism is professed by 316,429 persons,
or 94-96 per cent, of the inhabitants. There are 13,758 Musalmans, or
4-1 per cent., who hold only 4 villages, and possess no social or political
importance. Jains number 2288; Sikhs, 70; and Parsis, 7. The
Brahma Samaj has formed no settlement in the District. There is
a Christian population of 675, consisting almost entirely of troops
in the cantonment of Mau, besides the European civil officers at
the head-quarters station. Europeans number 621; Eurasians, 20;
and Native Christians, 34.

With regard to distinctions of caste among the Hindus, there
are 35,073 Brahmans, the most numerous class in the District except



222 JHANSI DISTRICT.

the Chamars; and they hold 102 villages, being a greater number than
any other body, except the Ahirs. The Rajputs number 16,591, and
hold 66 villages. Their most numerous clan is that of the Bundelas,
the old dominant race, who, however, like many others included in the
above total, are not held to be of pure Rajput blood. The Kayasths,
or writer caste, number 6580. The Baniyas, or trading classes, number
10,763. But the mass of the Hindu population is composed of Siidras
and those classified as ' other castes ' in the Census Report, who amount
in the aggregate to 247,422 persons, or four-fifths of the total Hindu
inhabitants. Amongst them, the Chamars are the largest body, being
returned at 44,390 persons ; but they hold only one village. Next
come the Kachhis, who number 30,149, and hold seven villages. The
Koris are reckoned at 20,191, but hold no villages, being chiefly
employed as weavers in the larger towns. The Ahirs, who number
23,853, are the most important of the lower castes, owning as many as
107 villages. Other leading tribes are the Lodhis, with 25,066 persons
and 68 villages; and the Kurmis, with 13,087 persons and 44 villages.
Aboriginal tribes number 1809, but in the religious classification of the
Census they are returned as Hindus.

Jhansi District contains five towns with a population exceeding five
thousand in 1881, namely, Mau (Mhow), 15,981 ; Ranipur, 6846 ;
GuRSARAi, 6528 ; Barwa Sagar, 6315 j and Bhander, 5665. Jhansi,
the head-quarters station, although a military cantonment and a muni-
cipality, contains a population of only 2473. Total urban population,
43,748, or 13-2 per cent, of the District population. Of the 625
towns and villages comprising the District in 1881, 196 contained
less than two hundred inhabitants ; 193 from two to five hundred ; 166
from five hundred to a thousand ; 57 from one to two thousand ; 4 from
two to three thousand ; 4 from three to five thousand ; 4 from five to
ten thousand; and i upwards of fifteen thousand inhabitants. As
regards occupation, the Census classified the male population under the
following six main headings : — Class (i) Professional, including all mili-
tary and civil servants of Government, and the learned professions,
5429 : (2) domestic servants, inn and lodging-house keepers, etc., 1009;
(3) commercial, including merchants, traders, carriers, etc., 2898; (4)
agricultural and pastoral, including gardeners, 73,462 ; (5) industrial,
including all manufacturers and artisans, 29,258 ; (6) indefinite and non-
productive, comprising general labourers, male children, etc., 60,828.

Agriculture. — Jhansi, in the nature of its soil, the character of its
people, the poor means of irrigation, and the want of good communica-
tions, is perhaps worse off than any other District in the North- Western
Provinces, except its still more unfortunate neighbour, Lalitpur. In
the best seasons, its produce is only just sufiicient to feed its scanty and
scattered population, and droughts or floods expose it to the greatest



JHANSI DISTRICT. 223

hardships. Out of a total area of 1,002,734 acres, only 428,348 acres
were under cultivation in 1866, and 450,560 acres in 1S81, the assessed
cultivated area being 41 1,584 acres. The year is divided into the usual
rain and cold-weather seasons. The principal kharif or rain crops are—
;Wr (millet), which in 1881 occupied 93,975 ^'^cres ; cotton, grown on
34,074 acres ; and bdjra (another millet), on 10,893 acres. There were
also 21,400 acres under ///, an oil-seed, and 21,300 acres under a kind
of pulse known as kodo. The total area of the rain crops was 232,054
acres, of which 26,080 acres were devoted to fibres, dye-stuffs, and oil-
seeds. The rabi or cold-weather crops covered an area of 182,058 acres,
of which 3228 acres were cultivated with oil-seeds. The chief rabi pro-
ducts were— wheat, 113,779 acres; gram, 45,348 acres; and barley, 1374
acres. There were also 8882 acres employed in raising the dl dye, pro-
cured from the root of the Morinda citrifolia, a rain crop, which is only
dug up every third year. It is commercially the most important product,
and is grown on the best land. The town of Mauranipur has long
been famous for the manufacture of a red cloth called kharud, which is
dyed from this root. The colour imparted by dl is fixed by alum, and
is permanent. In Jhansi, as in other parts of Bundelkhand, the dl is
really what enables the cultivators in certain villages to pay their rent ;
and in many years food w^ould be scarce but for the importation of
grain in return for the exports of the dye. The destructive kdns
grass formerly proved as great a pest here as elsewhere in Bundelkhand,
but it has now been almost eradicated. Although the ordinary food
production of Jhansi is barely adequate to the necessities of the people,
the District has occasional years of exceptionally favourable rainfall, in
which a considerable exportation of grain takes place.

Irrigation is little practised. There are, indeed, some channels in
connection with the artificial lakes before mentioned, but these are in a
ruinous state, and water very little land in comparison with their original
capacities. I^Iost of them leak, and they require thorough renovation
before they can be employed to any good purpose. Improvements,
however, have been commenced, and will doubtless succeed in greatly
benefiting the District. A scheme for restoring some of the most useful
tanks, and for enlarging others, has been sanctioned, and work com-
menced. The construction of the Betwa Canal has also been commenced
as a part of the Bundelkhand irrigation scheme. The larger half of the
land is held by proprietors or tenants having occupancy rights. The
landowners themselves cultivate 40-87 per cent, of the tilled land ;
tenants paying by lump sum not liable to enhancement, 16-5 per cent.;
tenants liable to enhancement, 10-9 per cent. : and tenants-at-will, 32-6
per cent. The native governments acknowledged no proprietary rights ;
and there have been great difficulties accordingly in settling what
persons should be regarded as tenants and landowners respectively.



224 J H ANSI DISTRICT.

The male adult agriculturists in i88r, including agricultural labourers,
numbered 70,630, cultivating an average of 6J acres each. The total
population, however, dependent on the soil was 201,488, or 60-47 per
cent. The total male and female adult agriculturists numbered 122,084,
of whom 18,439 were landholders, 224 estate agents, 67,769 cultivators,
and 35,652 agricultural labourers. A holding of 50 acres would be con-
sidered as an unusually large farm for a single family; one of 25 acres
as a very comfortable one, and one of 10 acres as small. A holding of
5 acres does not yield more than Rs. 3, or 6s. a month to the cultivator.
As a rule, the cultivators, whether they have occupancy rights or are
mere tenants-at-will, are very poor, living from hand to mouth, and
unable to meet the loss of a single season's crop, especially in the
tract between the Betwa and the Dhasan, which is specially liable
to droughts and blights. The people are in a state of hereditary
indebtedness to the village banker, the result of the frequent calamities
of nature which afflict the District, together with the excessive rates of
assessment imposed by the native Rajas, and carried out by their
British successors until the true state of the District was forced upon
the knowledge of the Government. Total cultivated area, 704
square miles, of which 643 "i square miles are assessed for Govern-
ment revenue, which in 1881 amounted (including local rates and
cesses paid on the land) to ;£"52, 410, or an average of 2s. 6jd. per
cultivated acre. Total rental paid by the cultivator, ^113,583, or
an average of 5s. o^-d. per cultivated acre. The rates of rent vary
from 2s. I id. for the worst soils, to 9s. 4d. for the best. Wages
have approximately doubled of late years. The present rates are as
follows: — First-class carpenters, 9d. to is. in towns, 7-Jd. in villages ;
second-class ditto, 3d. to 6d. ; blacksmiths, 3d. to 7id. ; first-class
masons, 4|d. to 6d. ; first-class coolies, 3|d. ; second-class, 3d. ; boys,
i7|d. Prices ruled as follows on the ist January 1883 : — Wheat,



20J sers the rupee, or 5s. 4jd. per cwt. ; gram, 31 J sers the rupee, or
3s. 6|d. per cwt.; bcijra^ 27 sers the rupee, or 4s. 2d. per q.\\\.. \ jodr^
31^ sers the rupee, or 3s. 6fd. per cwt.

Natural Calamities. — Jhansi is specially exposed to blights, droughts,
floods, hailstorms, epidemics, and their natural consequence, famine.
Even in favourable years, the consumption of the District is esti-
mated to exceed its production by one-fifth. This estimate represents
the fact that the food produce of Jhansi in ordinary seasons scarcely
exceeds the food demand, while it is considered that scarcity may
be feared every five years on an average. The famines of 1783, 1833,
1837, and 1847 were particularly severe. The famine of 1868-69 was
also felt very heavily in Jhansi. The autumn of 1868 had been a period
of drought, during which the whole kharif oxo^ was destroyed; and it
was succeeded by torrents of rain in the subsequent year, by which the



JHANSI DISTRICT. 225

rahi was reduced to half its usual quantity. In July 1869. the bridges
and roads were broken down by floods, and the whole country rendered
impassable. Through the failure of the crops and the cutting off of
communications, an absolute lack of food occurred. So long as the
roads remained open, grain was imported in considerable quantities,
under Government direction, from Cawnpur and Sagar; but after July
1869, the roads became useless, owing to the floods, and epidemics
burst out among the starving people. Small-pox and sun-stroke carried
off thousands of the enfeebled poor, while cholera and fever appeared
with the rainy season. The number of deaths recorded rose from 3180
in t868, to 20,331 in the succeeding year.

Relief measures were early adopted, and poorhouses were opened at
Jhansi in September 1858, at Mau and Ranipur in December, and at
Barwa Sagar in February 1869. Thirteen famine works were also
undertaken, in the shape of roads, bridges, and irrigation embankments.
The daily average of persons relieved for thirteen months was 4494, of
whom 2284 obtained gratuitous aid at poorhouses, and 2210 were
employed on relief works. The total cost amounted to ;^t5.o32.
The famine began to abate towards the end of 1869, but the District
long continued to bear marks of distress. From 10 to 20 per cent, of
land was thrown out of cultivation, partly owing to the loss of 150,000
head of cattle — one-half the total stock — and partly to the spread of
kdns grass, induced by the floods. Again in 1879, the failure of the
rabi crops induced a partial famine, chiefly confined Xo pargana IMoth.
Relief works were opened, on which from one to two thousand persons
were employed. A seasonable rainfall, however, soon relieved the
distress. Famine rates are reached when the better grains sell at 10,
and the poorer at 12, sers the rupee, or iis. 2jd. and 9s. 4d. per cwt.
respectively. The means of communication are insufficient, especially
in that portion of the District which lies between the Betwa and
the Dhasan, where absolute failure of supplies may be expected in
years of drought or flood. The intermixture of villages belonging
to Native States renders the organization of relief a task of great
difficulty.

Commerce and Trade. — As the District is not able to supply its own
wants in the matter of food-stuffs, it imports instead of exporting grain.
In return, it gives the dl dye and cotton. There are no manufactures,
except a little dyed cloth. A large transport trade, however, is con-
ducted via Mau, between Central India and the Doab. The District
has no railway station within or adjoining its limits. The chief road is
that from Jhansi through Kalpi to Cawnpur, having a length within the
District of 41 miles, well bridged and metalled. The other roads are
not good, and are liable to be cut off in times of flood. Total length
of District roads, 701 miles. The District contains no printing press,

VOL. VII. P



226 JHANSI DISTRICT.

but there are two lithographic presses in the native city of Jhansi, just
outside the borders, where work is executed in Urdu and Hindi.

AdmiJiistratwn. — ln i860, the revenue of Jhansi amounted to
;^95,99o, of which ^77,146, or more than three - fourths, was con-
tributed by the land-tax. The expenditure at the same date reached
the sum of ^49,551, or little more than one-half the revenue. In 1870,
the total receipts had been reduced to ^87,987, of which sum only
;^56,o85 was contributed by the land-tax. The decrease, however, is
partly due to the cession of ihxQQ pargands to Gwalior in 1861. At
the same time, the expenditure in 187 1 had increased to ^59,112.
The District revenue, however, continued steadily to decrease, and in
1881 amounted to only ^60,669, the land-tax having been reduced to
^^44,076. The expenditure in 1881 was ^18,741, the decrease
being largely due to the abolition of the inland customs staff. The
present assessments of land revenue are intentionally very light, in
order that the country may have time to recover itself. The land-tax
as shown in this paragraph, is little more than one-half (^44,076 in
1881) of what it was shortly after the District passed under British rule
(p^77»u6 in 1860).

The District is administered on the non-regulation system, under
which civil, criminal, and fiscal functions vest in the same officer. Its
affairs are managed by a Deputy Commissioner, two Assistant Commis-
sioners, three extra-Assistant Commissioners, and four tahsilddrs. The
Commissioner for the Jhansi Division is also stationed at Jhansi
Naoabad. There are 10 magisterial and 10 civil courts. The regular
police numbered, in 1882, 577 men, maintained at a cost of ;£7287,
of which sum ;£6i2 was paid from local sources. The village watch-
men or <f/z(2z//(7V<:?Vi- numbered 723 men, at an annual cost of ^£"2602.
The whole machinery, therefore, for the protection of person and
property consisted of 1300 men, or i in every 252 inhabitants and
every 1*30 square miles, at a cost of ^^9889, or 7d. per inhabitant.
The total number of persons convicted of any offence was 881 in 1871,
and 1870 in 1882, or i in every 180 of the population. Ihe immense
majority of convictions are for theft and housebreaking. There is one
jail in the District, at the head-quarters station, besides a lock-up at
Mau, the daily average number of prisoners in which was 234 in 1870,
and 172 in 1882.

Education unfortunately shares in the general backwardness of
Jhansi. Instead of progressing, it has steadily retrograded during
the years i860 to 1870. In the first-named year there were 173
schools in the District, with 3764 pupils, maintained at a cost of
;£957; in 1870, while the expenditure, chiefly borne by the State,
had increased t0;^i247, the number of schools had declined to no,
and the jnipils numbered only 2235; in 1882, the State-inspected



J H ANSI TAHSIL. 227

schools numbered only 63, and the pupils 1988. There are, however,
a number of indigenous uninspected private schools ; and the Census
Report of 1 88 1 returned 3015 boys and 56 girls as under instruction,
besides 10,876 males and 140 females able to read and write, but
not under instruction. The District is divided into 4 fiscal divisions
{pargamis), containing 623 estates; average land revenue paid by each
estate in 1882, ^70, is. 7d. The District contains 2 municipali-
ties, Mau with Ranipur, and Jhansi Naoabad. In 1875-76, their
joint income amounted to ^1785, and their expenditure to ^1845.
Municipal revenue in 1882-83, ;,^i6i8 ; expenditure, pf 21 17 ; incidence
of municipal taxation, is. o|d. per head of their population (25,300).
The head-quarters station has a population of only 2473, ^"^^ i^ i^
inconveniently close to the foreign city of Jhdnsi, in Gwalior State,
which contains 26,772 inhabitants. Negotiations have several times
been commenced for such exchanges of territory with the neighbouring
native principalities as would render this straggling District more com-
pact and more easily administered, but hitherto they have met with little
success.

Medical Aspects.— The climate of Jhansi, like that of Bundelkhand



Online LibraryWilliam Wilson HunterThe imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 7) → online text (page 27 of 57)