B. Lewis (Benjamin Lewis) Rice.

Mysore: a gazetteer compiled for government (Volume 1) online

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umblis, the whole having been resumed by Purnaiya, but there is no
doubt that they possessed the best lands, and managed to keep them
assessed much under their real value. The ryots of the higher castes


who were not patois, and happened (which was very seldom) not to be
related to any of them, still acknowledged their superiority, and yielded
them obedience.

The Dhers, Bedars and others, who have been classed as the Plebeian
population, were almost universally the servants or slaves of the Patrician
classes, and but little difference existed between the free servant and
the slave. The latter were termed Hale-makkalu or old sons. They
were fed from their master's table. They were clothed by him.
They were married at his expense. They were feasted and received
presents at his festivals. They mourned as members of the family
when deaths occurred in it. They performed all menial offices,
whether domestic or agricultural. They were sometimes (but appar-
ently not necessarily) disposed of with the family estate. If purchased
separately, they were liable to be resold, but the sale of slaves
separately from the land was never, it appears, of very frequent

Slavery now ceased to exist, inasmuch as no interference on the part
of the Government servants to compel a slave to serve his master was
permitted, and any complaint of a slave against his master was investi-
gated and decided as if both parties were equally independent. But
at no period would it appear (as far as can be ascertained) that
slavery in Balam was invested with the more revolting features so
common to it in Africa and America. The sway of the master seems
generally to have partaken more of a paternal character than the terms
" owner and slave " would indicate, and frequently as it had been
inquired of those who still considered themselves bondsmen, whether
they would not wish to change their lot, never yet was met one who
acknowledged that he repined at it. Probably there had not for many
years been any very great difference in the condition of the slave and
free labourer ; the latter being generally paid with food and clothing of
nearly the same quality afforded to the former. Nor was it the custom
for the free labourer any more than the slave to employ his children with
any other than his own master, unless the master should have given his
consent, and in cases where the marriage expenses of the free labourer
had been defrayed by the master, he could not leave his service till the
amount was refunded.

The people considered a proprietary right in the land to have been
conveyed by the rulers of Vijayanagar to the dififerent families of emi-
o-rants w^ho located shortly after the subversion of the Halebid dynasty
in 1326. The existing gaudas and ryots who claimed to be paldars or
shareholders of the dififerent villages, professed to be the descendants
of these emigrants, and declared that their right to the land had never


been disputed, and was strictly respected, till the appointment of
Amildars by Purnaiya and the Raja, since which time many old pro-
prietors had been forcibly dispossessed of their lands, which had been
rented to others.

Sales of paluvantige land do not seem to have been frecjuent, but the
right to sell and mortgage it was universally admitted. The deeds of
sale assimilated with those used in Mysore, more than those existing in
Canara. The kraya patra, which included in the transfer house, land,
back-yard, dung-heap, and kulvadi,^ was the most perfect conveyance
that could be made, and it was considered to alienate all village rights
in perpetuity, as well as the land. A patel selling his land, but
retaining his house, back-yard and dung-heap, retained with them his
village rights and precedence. This land was generally considered
recoverable by his heirs, at however remote a period, on their repaying
its price ; provided always that they had retained possession of the
house and back-yard.

Sdyar. — At the time of the assumption of the country, the sayar was
found to be mostly farmed out, and it was ne.xt to impossible to ascer-
tain the extent of its resources, the number and the nature of the
strangely miscellaneous articles it included, or how far it was susceptible
of improvement. The accounts of the Sarkar gave the nominal, not the
real, settlements, and those furnished by the contractors themselves
were of course not to be relied on. As immediate reform thus became
impracticable without risk of serious error, the only thing to be done
was to w-atch the renters narrowly, and to set about collecting the
required information in every possible way. In addition to this, the
revenues of the State were in a most reduced condition, with a heavy
load of arrears of uncertain amount to be cleared off, and it was
considered better, therefore, in every branch of the administration, to
proceed gradually and with caution, grappling with the most glaring
grievances, and correcting the others one after another as the state of
the finances improved, and acquaintance with the real state of the
country advanced.

In this way many duties were allowed for a time to remain which
can be justified by no abstract principles of political economy, but
which the state of commerce and other local circumstances rendered it
advisable to retain, for a time, at least, if not permanently. The rules,
however, under which these were levied were purged of all ambiguity,
and being expressed in the simplest terms, were intelligible to the
meanest trader ; and the sayar may very early be said to have been

' It would appear liy this, the kulvadi was formerly considered the slave of the
proprietor of the land.


collected without a wrangle. But down to the year 1854 no less than
769 items of Sayar taxation were gradually swept away, amounting in
the aggregate to the annual value of 10^ lakhs of rupees.'

Bearing heavily as these taxes must have done, it may safely be
assumed that they were not so much detested by the people on account
of the money they took from their pockets, as on account of the
iniquitous use which was made by the izardars and their myrmidons of
the police powers with which it was a necessary part of the system to
invest them. What these police powers must have been, and of the
generally vexatious nature of the taxes, an idea may be best formed by
selection of a few specimens.

In certain places, and in particular castes, taxes were levied on marriage,
on taking a concubine, and on incontinency ; on a female of the family
attaining puberty ; on a child being born, on its being given a name, and on
its head being shaved ; on the death of a member of the household, and on
the subsequent purification ceremonies. Umbrellas were taxed, and so
were individuals who passed a particular spot in Nagar without keeping
their arms close to their sides. There was one village whose inhabitants
had to pay a tax because their ancestors had failed to find the stray horse
of an ancient pdlegar ; and there was a caste of Sudras who were mulcted
for the privilege of cutting off the first joint of one of their fingers in
sacrifice. Fees were levied from bankrupt Government contractors for
permission to beg (it is not stated what classes were likely to bestow alms
upon them) ; and taxes were demanded from individuals who went to live in
new houses, or who listened to the reading of the new year's calendar. To
this may be added the fact, that the daring climbers who robbed the nests
of the myriads of wild pigeons that build against the perpendicular sides of
the vast ravine into which the Gersoppa river precipitates itself, were made
to pay a percentage on the grain which they thus collected at the daily risk
of their necks.

Each of these items had its own particular name, under which it was
formally entered on the records of government as among the resources
of the State. In some places capable of producing certain articles to an
unlimited extent, the local rates became so exorbitant as literally to
prevent their production. An instance of the manner in which the
tobacco tax was levied in one taluq will suffice to show what oppor-
tunities existed for oppression and extortion, as well as the impediments
which existed to the facilities or freedom of trade.

Every ryot in Kadur who wished to sell his tobacco, had to send for the

' The following are the particulars : —

No. Head. Amount. | No. Head. Amount.

42 Revenue Rs. 1,57,758 187 ChiUar Bab Rs. 79,9SS

482 Sayar 8,24,625 I 18 Mohatarfii 4,166

39 Abkari 7*289 l Amrayi 78


Government gumasta, who first took a \ maund, called incile, on account of
Government ; then another \ maund, called kai male ; then the heap was
weighed ; then so much, called patninii, was charged on each maund ; then
another tax, called siaika ; and lastly another, called Diai pamiiiti, was levied ;
and then it had to be taken to the nearest katte, where it paid transit duty :
when it was free to start, and run the gauntlet of the kattes along the road
to the town or market for which it was intended.

As regards the Halat or H^sil on areca-nut, the three great contractors
for the Ilakhas of the Nagar Division and the principal merchants used to
meet annually at a place called Arga, and then fix, according to quality and
locality of production, the price to be given for areca-nut throughout the
Division ; and every ryot in the country was obliged to submit to the
arrangements then decided upon or have the produce of his garden left
upon his hands, for the whole system was so complicated, and all the
subordinates so thoroughly and entirely under the control and authority of
these confederates, that no man could export for himself ; the difficulties he
had to contend against being such as are now scarcely credible. All
producers, almost without exception, were obliged to sell to these great
monopolists, who exported at the minimum rate which they themselves
fixed, and who, profiting by their position, their knowledge of the rules in
force, and their power to act with impunity at a distance from all control,
made immense fortunes and allowed the ryot only the smallest possible
amount of profit or remuneration. Their advantages did not end here.
They had also the privilege of exporting their goods without paying down
the h^lat or transit dues, which they were permitted to adjust at a
subseciuent period, to allow, as it were, of their selling the article and
realizing the price previously to being called upon for the full demands of
the Sarkar. This gave rise to arrears to a most serious extent. They also
possessed another immense advantage over the outside trader, — having the
monopoly entirely in their hands, they never paid the ryots in cash. At
first only sufficient money was given to enable the cultivator to pay his kist
to Government, the rest remaining to be adjusted at a subsequent period,
when a portion only was paid in cash, the balance always to a great extent
being made good by cloths, valued at the maximum price, and brought l)ack
by the merchant or an agent from the great marts of Bangalore, Walla-
jabad, &c.

The number of articles upon which duties were remitted in the
Niigar Division was 2 48, and the total annual value of remissions made
since the assumption of the country was Rs. 2,04,925-10-2.

In 1832-3 and 1833-4 all duties on grain were abolished. In 1834-5 the
information collected was sufficient to justify the Commissioner in taking
the sdyar under amdni in all but four taluqs ; which were also taken under
the same management very shortly afterwards. In 1837-8 all internal
duties were taken off iron, steel and cattle ; and nine other items, oppres-
sive, but of little value, were likewise struck off. In 1842-3 all transit
duties were taken off iron, steel and cattle, and nine other items struck off.

u u


In the same year, all transit duties were taken off supari, pepper and
cardamoms ; and in 1843-4 the duty was taken off sheep's wool and coffee
in transit. In 1844-5 vexatious duties were taken off tobacco, and the con-
tract abolished.' At the same time all unequal privileges as to rates of payment
were done away with, and a uniform standard having been fixed instead of
the former interminable variations, the trade in supari, pepper and carda-
moms began to take its own natural course throughout the country. As a
substitute for the abolished tobacco contract, a hdlat of one rupee per
maund was fixed on all produced in Nagar, and an import duty of i| on
tobacco imported for consumption. A full drawback was given for all
imported tobacco on re-exportation. The above changes were followed in
1847-8 by the final abolition of all remaining transit duties, so that nothing
remained of the original system excepting some small dues on a few minor
articles, to be removed at the first convenient opportunity.

To make up for the considerable loss of revenue sustained by these
reductions, an additional halat was put upon cardamoms, and on the
first sort of supari, while a reduction was made on the second and third
sorts of that article, and on pepper. This step was not taken without
consultation wnth merchants concerned in the trade, and with their
full consent. These merchants expressed themselves fully sensible of
the weight of exaction and loss by detention from which they had been

In the Ashtagram Division., from the period of the assumption,
the duties on 152 articles were struck off of the annual value of
3,09,863-4-7 rupees.

In 1832-3 and 1833-4 were struck off the whole of the duties on grain.
In 1835-6 the transit duty on horses was abolished. In 1836-7 duties
ceased to be levied on firewood, old timber, European articles, sandalwood oil,
and vegetables on entering the town of Mysore. Many minor duties of the
same kind were also struck off, among them the Mahant rusum {see p. 627).
And in 1837-S fruit, plantain leaves and straw were added to the articles
allowed to pass free. In 1838-9 and 1839-40 the tax on stalls erected for
the sale of parched grain, paddy, husked rice, and buttermilk was struck off.
An item called pasige, which was a fee in kind exacted by the renter on
almost all smaller articles offered for sale, was discontinued, as was also the

' As the effect of this the revenue under the head of tobacco rose immediately
30 per cent. The mere withdrawal of the contractors made the true state of affairs
at once fully apparent. On the trade becoming free, the producers found that they
were able to obtain for their whole stock Rs. 3J the maund, instead of R. \\, which
was all the contractors gave, and all that they could obtain under the previous system,
as they could sell to no one else. And the extortion of the contractors will be still
more fully appreciated when it is mentioned that the retail price at once fell from
Rs. 6 to Rs. 5. Thus it will appear that the consumer, the producer, and the
Government all gained by the abolition of the contract system, and that the profit of
a contractor was scarcely less than 300 per cent.


duty on butter. The tax on blacksmiths' forges was hkewise aboHshed.
This last only formed part of an extended measure of relief granted to the
manufacturers of iron throughout the country, the greater part of whose
heavy burthens were brought to account under the head of land revenue.
In 1 840- 1 was abolished a most vexatious transit duty on cattle, which
had been made to extend to cows and bullocks sent from the town to graze
on country pastures, and an item termed diikdn pasiira was struck off.
It consisted in a fee levied from certain poor people for the privilege of
sitting down in the street to sell parched grain and other things from their

Up to this time no more had been done than has been here detailed,
except that the renters had been deprived of all police power, and their
proceedings in other respects been most narrowly watched. Sufficient
insight, however, had by this time been gained into the working of the
system to justify further steps. At the close of 1 841-2, therefore, the
accounts underwent a most searching scrutiny, and all items not properly
belonging to the land customs were transferred to their proper heads ; and
amongst them all those which constituted the Pattadi Sdyar were removed
from the books.

Even after this it was found that many abuses still existed in the system,
which it was impossible to arrive at from the falsified accounts of the
renters, and it was therefore resolved that the .Sdyar and Panch-bab of the
Mysore taluq for the year 1842-3 should be taken under amdni manage-
ment as an experiment. The above experiment having answered beyond
expectation, permission was granted to extend the amdni system in 1843-4
to ten more taluqs. Orders were also issued for the immediate abolition of
many kattes in those taluqs, and for sweeping away the remaining transit
duties in the taluq of Mysore, where their effects had been found to be
more pernicious to trade than elsewhere. In 1844-5, ^^ sayar and abkari
in all the remaining taluqs were brought under Sarkar management, and
transit duties were everywhere abolished. A most vexatious impost, called
daiundr, was also discontinued. It consisted in the exaction of a fee of one
Kanthiraya fanam on every cow or bullock sold, no matter whether by the
breeder to a lyot, or by one ryot to another. As the price of the small
cattle of the country was generally about ten or twelve fanams, this
apparently trifling fee, levied as it was on every transfer, became a really
heavy burthen.

In the Bani^a/orc Division, from the period of the assumption, the
duties on 312 articles were struck off, including grain, of the annual
value of Rs. 3,73,208-6-10.

It is of course needless to mention that in this Division the grain duties
had been swept away, and a vast number of items expunged from the tariff
as in the other Divisions. But notwithstanding that a total reform was
needed in the Bangalore Division only less than in the others, yet, as the
sdyar made up a very large item of the revenue, caution was required in
disturbing it. As a first step, the whole was taken out of the hands of the

U U 2


izardars or renters, and put, in the year 1846-7, under Sarkar management ,-
and the duties were levied avowedly on the old rules and system, the
better, by acquirinj^ a practical knowledg-e of those old rules, to reform and
improve them afterwards. The result of that year's arrangements was an'
increase of nearly 48-| per cent, in this item of revenue over that of former
years under the renters, and an assurance that a fair and equitable method
of collecting these duties might be devised without any very gi-eat loss to
the Sarkar.

The first modification of the old sdyar system in this Division was
commenced in July 1847. It was simply the levying an ad valorem duty
of 4 per cent, on all articles at the place of export or despatch : and at the
frontier kattes on all articles entering the Division. To this general rule
there were but three exceptions : ist, raw silk, on which an ad valorem
duty of 2 per cent, only was imposed ; 2nd, tobacco was rated in three
classes : — i. 12 Kanthiraya fanams per maund ; ii. choora or fibres, 9
fanams ; iii. kaddi or scraps, 6 fanams per maund ; and 3rdly, betel-leaf for
the consumption of the Bangalore town was charged \\ cash per bundle.
The above were the rates fixed upon the tobacco entering the Bangalore
taluq, but in all other parts of the Division it came under the general rulie
of 4 per cent, ad valorem. This arrangement obtained for five months, till
December 1847, when the rules were revised in order that they might be
adapted to act in concert with the sayar rules which were being simul-
taneously modified in the other Divisions, and the revision thus made was
as follows : — Articles merely passing through the Division, to or from other
parts of Mysore, to or from the Company's districts, or from one part of the
Company's territories to others, were exempt from duty. Articles imported
from the Company's territories, and consumed in this Division, were
charged 4 per cent, ad valorem ; also articles exported to the Company's
territories from the Division. An ad valorem duty of 2 per cent, only was
leviable on articles exported to, or imported from, the other Divisions of
Mysore. On certain articles produced and consumed in this Division, an
ad valorem duty of 2 per cent, was leviable at the place of production, and
the same at the place of consumption. The duty on raw silk, tobacco and
betel-leaf was the same as stated above. All sugar and saccharine produce
was exported free of duty ; but sugar, &c., consumed in this Division paid'
duty the same as other ai'ticles.

In Chitaldroog there was, as in other Divisions, no regular system or
fixed principle of taxation under the former administration ; but the
practice was to tax every article, whether of home or foreign produce >
the amount of each tax was undefined and arbitrary. The tables of
rates which were in the sdyar kattes were never acted on, either before
or subsequent to the assumption of the country. In practice ever7
village and every custom house had its own rates, and these varied so-
much that the classification of them was impracticable. All disputes
relative to these taxes were decided bv mamul or local usage. The


sayar duties were divided into bhara iiuirg and chillar mdrg (transit on
high and cross roads) ; sihal bharti (duties on exports or productions) ;
and karag padi (town duties), with other local taxes included under
the head of sayar. ^\'hile taxation was thus general as respects things,
there were privileged classes and persons who were altogether exempt
from duties. The sayar was generally rented by taluqs, but for somt
years the whole faujdari of Chitaldroog was rented to one individual
The renting system was continued till 1S45-6, and in the following
year the sayar was placed under the management of the public

Since the assumption of the country, however, many taxes levied on caste
and domestic customs and institutions of vexatious character were gradually
remitted. In 1832-3 and 1833-4 duty upon grain was abolished. In 1835-6
the duty was taken off china articles. In 1837-8 duty upon vegetables,
fruit, plantain and jungle leaves, and on horses, was discontinued. In
1838-9 duty upon firewood, grass, milk, sweetmeats, parched rice, butter-
milk, elephants, and fowls, was remitted. In 1841-2 an item termed bazar
pasgi, which was a collection in kind, from the renters of grain and other
articles, for erecting stalls on market days, was abolished. In 1845-6 the
duty upon cattle was abolished, and in 1847-8 duties on silk, on cotton, on
all saccharine produce, and all transit duties, were abolished.

The following rules for the collection of siiyar were established in this
Division. The sayar duties on all but thirty-eight articles were abolished.
■Of the above thirty-eight articles, six were made subject to an ad valorem
duty, as follows : — Sthal bharti or export duty of 6 per cent, was levied on
supari of inferior quality, produced in the Division and exported, besides
the karag, or town duty, on what was retained or consumed. Sthal bharti
duty of 20 per cent, was levied on dry cocoanut, besides the consumption
duty on it, which was also to be levied according to the existing miimul. A
bharti duty of 5 per cent, was levied on date jaggory, besides the karag, or
town duty, according to mdmul. A bharti of i a rupee per maund was
levied on all tobacco the produce of the Division, excepting in the taluqs
bordering on the Bellary District, where only two annas were to be levied,
the produce being inferior in quality. Half a rupee consumption duty on
tobacco imported into the Division. A bharti duty of one rupee pcrnuumd
was levied on silk manufactured in the Division, both the transit and con-
sumption duties being abolished. The silk of the other Divisions was
allowed to pass free from duty. But if such silk was retained in the Division
beyond a limited time, it was subject to duty.

The total annual value of the remissions made in this Division under
the head of sayar was Rs. 1,85,907-0-5.

Judicial System. — When the Governor-General of India resolved
that the territories of the Raja of Mysore should be governed until
further orders by a sole Commissioner and four I-2uropean Super-

Online LibraryB. Lewis (Benjamin Lewis) RiceMysore: a gazetteer compiled for government (Volume 1) → online text (page 78 of 98)