Mountstuart Elphinstone.

Selections from the minutes and other official writings of the Honourable Mountstuart Elphinstone, governor of Bombay. With an introductory memoir online

. (page 34 of 41)
Online LibraryMountstuart ElphinstoneSelections from the minutes and other official writings of the Honourable Mountstuart Elphinstone, governor of Bombay. With an introductory memoir → online text (page 34 of 41)
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Vol. III. pp. G77— 697.


Vol. III. pp. 077— G'J7.


1. Each of these collectorates contains two sorts of
villages, Khalsa and Girdsia. The former are directly
under the Government ; the latter are held by a
Girasia chief, to whom the Government looks for
revenue, and formerly looked for maintaining order.
The most striking division of the Girasia villages is
those held by liajputs, or Girasias properly so called,
and those held by Kolis, generally termed Melivds.
The former, though foreigners, were in possession of
Gujarat when the Mussalmans invaded it. They re-
tained some Talukas and villages at that time, and they
recovered others by encroachment on the final weak-
ness of the Mogals. They are at once a more civi-
lized and a more warlike race than the Kolis ; and it is
perhaps owing to those circumstances, as well as to
their having more recently possessed the government of
the province, that their claims appear to be much more
respected than those of the Kolis. The latter, though
probably the aborigines, seem generally to be con-
sidered as rebellious, or at least refractory villagers,

* The original is, in many places, obscure and defective.


who liave, from the weakness of former governments,
ehicled or resisted the just claims of the Sarkar. Both
pay a sum to Government, which Government appears
to have had the right to increase. It was not usual to
interfere with the internal management of their villages,
or to examine the state of their receipts. Our Govern-
ment has asserted the right, without always assuming
the exercise of internal interference ; but it is only of
late that it has begun to inquire into the collections, by
establishing Talatis in Girasia and Melivas villages.
The whole of the Pargana of Dhandhuka, Eanpur, and
Gogha, except the Kasbas (or chief towns), are in the
hands of Girasia Rajputs, as is a considerable part of
Dholka. There were a few also in Viramgam, which
have been swallowed up during the exactions of the
Marathas. The Kasbatis of Dholka, though Mussal-
mans, and the chief of Patri, though a Kanbi, and
though both differ from the others in the nature of their
tenure, may yet be reckoned in this class ; but by far
the greater number are Piajputs. They resemble their
neighbours and brethren in Jalawad, but are more intel-
ligent and respectable. The chiefs of Limdi and Bhav-
nagar are among the number of our subjects in those
districts, though they have large possessions elsewhere.
They are quiet and obedient. Talatis have been intro-
duced into the villages of those of Dholka, and all their
revenue but 20 per cent, of their own share, after
deducting that of the Piayats, is now levied by Govern-
ment. The police, also, has either been committed to
Mukhi Patels, in a manner independent of their autho-
rity, or left in their own hands, subject to all restric-
tions of that humble officer of the police. The others
are still on their former footing as to revenue ; but
they are under the Adalat, and are either themselves


agents of the magistrate or are superseded by their
Patels. The principal Mevasis are the KoHs of Choval
and those of Prautej, Harsol, and Modasa districts.
The former are quite reduced, have received Talatis,
and pay all their revenue but 25 per cent. ; but the
latter maintain their independence, and in some in-
stances their rebellious and predatory spirit.

2. The land of villages immediately under the
Sarkar is divided into Nakaru, Salami, and Talpad.
The Nakaru is, or has been, rent-free ; the Salami pays
a quit-rent, increasing with the prosperity of the held,
but no specific share of the produce ; the Talpad is that
which pays a fixed proportion of the produce to the

3. The principal divisions of Nakaru and Salami
are — 1st. Vanta ; 2nd. Vazifa ; 3rd. Pasaitu ; 4th.
Vechan ; 5th. Garaniu ; 6th. Haria, Eanvatia, and
Palio ; 7th. Giras ; 8tli. Pagia, Baria, and Koliapa ;
9tli. Koitar, Pasaitu; lOtli. Malik Nakru ; lltli. Sir
Jamin; 12th. Dabania.

1st. Vanta was originally a fourth of the land of
each village left or restored by the Mogal Government
to the Girasia, who was originally proprietor of the
whole. It is now reduced by sale, mortgages, and
encroachments of the Patels and of the Government
officers, until it has ceased to bear anything like its
original proportion to the Talpad. It is sometimes
managed by the proprietor, who pays a quit-rent to
Government ; but it is very often managed by the
Patel, who pays a pecuniary amount to the proprietor.

4. 2nd. Vazifa, though strictly an allowance to
religious persons of the Mohammedan faith, seems here
to be extended to all grants by the kings to individuals,
whether from charity, favour, or reward for services.


Many of the lands held by this tenure have been trans-
ferred by gift or sale, lost by encroachment, or subjected to
assessment, so as to lose their character of rent-free lands.

5. 3rd. Pasaitu includes the lands assigned to district
and village officers, and likewise the lands allotted by
any besides the kings to Brahmans, Bhats, and other
Hindu religionists, as well as to temples, mosques, and

6. 4th. Vechan are lands sold; and 5th, Garaniu,
lands mortgaged by Patels, to enable them to pay the
revenue and other expenses of the villages or of their
own. Both Vechan and Garaniu may be Nakaru or
Salami, as they are made over entirely free or subject
to the payment of a quit-rent, or as they may have
been subjected to the last payment by the encroach-
ments of the Sarkar. Garaniu may be, (1) Simple
Garaniu, where the property is to be held till the debt
be paid ; (2) Valaldania Garaniu, where the produce is
given up to the mortgagee until the debt be paid with
interest ; (3) Udara, where the land is only to be held
for a fixed period; (4) San Garaniu, where the land is
not to be taken possession of until the mortgagor has
failed in his stipulated payment.

7. 6th. Haria is land granted to persons whose
estates have fallen in defence of the village, Kanvatia to
those who have fallen in attacking others, and Pullio to
Bhats, or others who have died by traga in its cause.

7th. Giras is a sum paid to a powerful neighbour or
turbulent inhabitant of the villaf^e, as the price of for-
bearance, protection, and assistance.

8. 8th. Pagia, Baria, and Koliapa, are lands held
by Kolis, similar to the Vanta held by Eajputs ; but it
is til ought that most of them are usurpations on the
timidity of the Patels, clothed under the respectable
semblance of Vanta.


9th. Koitar is land granted rent-free, or for a Salami,
to a person who has dug a well.

10th. Malik Nakru, a favourable tenure of the MaUks
of Thasra alone.

11th. Sir Jamin, land granted by an owner of Vanta
to his wife, and still held by her descendants, though
the rest of the Vanta has escheated to Government,

12th. Dabania, usurpations. Almost all these classes
may be Nakru or Salami, according as the grant is full,
or with the reservation of a quit-rent.

9. The rest of the lands of every village are Ta.lpad,
or the property of Government. This land is cultivated
by Kayats, who hold it on different tenures, pay their
revenues in different modes, and are under different
forms of village government. The commonest tenure
here is that which is also commonest throughout India.
The Kayat holds his land on a general understanding
that he is not to be dispossessed as long as he pays his
rent, which though not fixed, is regulated by the custom
of the village. He receives a portion of each of the
three different classes into which the land is divided,
according to its fertility ; and he is obliged to cultivate
the bad, as the condition of retaining the good land.
This is almost the only tenure in Ahmedabad, and it is
very common in Kaira likewise ; but in many villages
in the latter Zilla there is a more complicated tenure,
called Khatabandi. Each Eayat receives a perpetual
lease of a portion of the best land, which is called his
Yeheta, and which is assessed much above its value ;
along with this he receives a portion of inferior land, at
a favourable rate. The Yeheta varies from one to four
Bighas, and the other land bears a proportion to the
extent of the Yeheta. All cesses fall on this Yeheta ;
and so completely is it the scale for regulating the
payments of the Eayats, that he is compelled to


increase it if his circumstances improve, and allowed
to diminish it if his means fall off. Should he throw
it up entirely, he must sink into a common labourer,
and would not, while he remained in the village, be
permitted to cultivate on his own account rent-free
land, or even land belonging to another village. These
tenures greatly resemble that used in the southern
Maratha country, when the Veheta is called Chali.
Jamin, a third practice, is for a Eayat to take out a
written lease (called Ganot), generally engaging the
land for a year at a rate specified in the lease. It
seldom extends above one year. This is not uncommon
in the Kaira Zilla ; but in that of Ahmedabad no Eayat
takes a writing, unless when he has obtained an
increasing lease for the purpose of digging a well or
making some similar improvement. These are the
differences in tenures ; unless it be considered as one
that Mussaimans, Rajputs, Kolis, and all the classes
who are less skilful in cultivation than their neigh-
bours pay a lighter rent.

10. The modes in which the land revenue is usually
paid are two : in kind, by a division of the produce,
which is called Bh/igbatai ; or by a money rent, regu-
lated by the value of the land, and likewise by the
nature of the article cultivated : this is called Bighoti.
The shares of Government and the Eayats on the
Bhagbatai plan vary in different places ; but in general
it is thought Government is entitled to one-half of the
crop cultivated during the rainy season, and from one-
tliird to one-fifth of that cultivated in the dry weather,
if raised by irrigation ; if not irrigated, a larger portion
is taken. The land paying Bighoti is divided into
three classes, according to its fertility, and it pays a
higher or a lower rent, as it may belong to the first or
to an inferior class. But as this classification has not


been found sufficiently minute, the rent further varies
in some villages according to the species of produce
cultivated on the land. Thus in one district Bajri and
Juvar pay on the first sort of ground 4 rupees per
Bigha; on the second, 3 rupees; and on the third,
1^ rupee. Sugar-cane pays on the first sort 20
rupees per Bigha ; on the second, 17 rupees; and on
the third, 10 rupees. Some circumstances raise the
Bighoti, such as the use of well-water and manure ;
and others diminish it, such as the distance of the land
from the village : but the proportion between the
different kinds of land and of produce is still kept up.

11. The Bighoti also varies in different villages,
and this justly ; for many circumstances, such as the
distance of the market, etc., greatly alter the value of
the produce of a Bigha of land of equal fertility. In
some villages the three classes of land were subdivided
on the same principle, and there the land pays accord-
ing to its fertility and other advantages, without refer-
ence to the produce. This last is the case in almost
all the villages of the Kaira district. Even in villages
of Kaira, where there is a reference to the produce, it
is only in lands watered from wells. In some villages
inhabited by Kolis, Mohammedans, and other bad culti-
vators, every Bigha pays the same rent without refer-
ence to its fertility, produce, or situation. This mode
of payment is called Fata Cluis. In every poor village
uninhabited by Kolis, Rayats sometimes pay a fixed
sum for the whole land they cultivated, without refer-
ence to the quality or number of Biglias. This is
called Udhar Sah'imi.

12. Besides the land-tax there are many Yeras or
taxes, some bearing on the land, as those of ploughs,
carts, cattle, horses ; that called Kliot Vera, intended
to make up for defalcations; and some on the person


or property, as those on shops, trades, houses, hearths ;
and that on persons of the military caste, called
Dharala. The former were often imposed by the
farmers under the Marathas to each of the holders of
rent-free lands ; while to prevent their bearing too hard
on the tenant of land paying revenue, he often received
an abatement of his revenue exactly equal to the amount
levied as a Vera. The others are useful, as drawing
a revenue from persons who do not cultivate land at all.

13. There are other more direct ways of making the
rent-free land contribute : 1st, by a Salami or quit-
rent, which is a certain sum per Bigha, imposed with-
out reference to the produce ; 2nd, a Swadea, or tax,
on the Sarkar Rayats, who cultivate the lands of rent-
free proprietors. This is also fixed without reference
to the produce, and it, in fact, differs only in name
from the other, since the more the Eayat pays to
Government the less he can pay to the proprietor. All
Kolis are the Sarkar Eayats, and Kolis and other castes
are far inferior husbandmen. The Swadea was not so
often employed by the Maratha as the Salami ; there is
no fixed rate for either.

14. The forms of village government, and conse-
quently the channels through which the revenue is
collected, are four.

15. The form which has been most in use in
Gujarat, since the introduction at least of the Maratha
rule, is for the Patel to engage annually for the pay-
ment of a certain sum to Government, which he is to
realize according to the established rates and customs of
the village. Any profit that may be derived from the
goodness of the season or from new cultivation is his,
and he is to bear any loss that may accrue from
opposite causes. The rights of the owners of alienated
land, of all descriptions of Rayats, remain unaffected


by this arrangement, which only transfers to the Patel
the rights of the Government.

IG. As long as a village remained in this state it was
called Senja, or entire ; but it sometimes happens that
the Patel is incapable of undertaking this responsibility
alone, or that all the different branches of the Patel' s
family are desirous of having their separate shares of
the power and profit of the office. In such cases, they
proceed exactly as they would partition an estate by the
Hindu laws of inheritance : they ascend to their
common ancestor, and divide the village into as many
portions as he had sons. These portions are called
Bhags, and each is made over to the progeny of one of
the sons, who divides it into as many shares as
there are individuals in that branch of the family.
The head of the branch is called Bhagdar : he acts as
Patel (as far as Patel is required on this system), and
shares with the other Bhagdars the lands and allowances
attached to the Patel's office ; but he has no larger share
than any of the younger members of the same branch,
and each has full power to manage as he pleases with
his own share. The Piayats fall under the individual
to whose share the land belongs, and are called his
A'samis ; but they retain the same privileges as if the
village had been farmed by the Patel. It often happens
that the Patel's descendants are so numerous as to
cultivate nearly the whole land of the village : in that
case, of course, there are few or no Eayats. On the
other hand, it sometimes happens that the Patel's family
has not had time to branch out, and that there is only
a single number for each Bhag, all the lands being
cultivated by common Piayats. The minor shares are
called Pattis, and the holders Patidars. The whole
association is answerable to Government for the revenue ;
but each Bhag is answerable for the revenue due


by each of its Patidars, and the defalcations occa-
sioned by a few individuals do not fall on the other
Bhags unless it is entirely beyond the power of the one
to which they belong to make them good. Pattis are
saleable, and thus persons not of the Patel's family are
sometimes introduced as Patidars into villages. The
partition, in many places, did not take in all the land
of a village : whatever remained, which was always the
moist land, was called Majmu, and was managed by the
Bhagdars on account of Government. No stranger can
cultivate it, because (even if he were disposed to settle
where his presence was so unwelcome) he could not get
a house, the whole site of the village being partitioned
among the Patidars.

17. A village thus managed is termed Narva. The
system is founded on that of leasing the village to the
Patel, and is, in fact, nothing more than dividing the
lease among his relations. The number of persons
interested, and the advantage of their mutual responsi-
bility, has made it more permanent, and it appears to
have stood its ground wherever the assessment was at
all moderate. It has been swept away by long oppres-
sion in the Ahmedabad district, but it still remains in
many of the villages under Kaira.

18. Two other modes of village management seem
rather to have been occasionally resorted to than uni-
formly adopted. The first was to farm the village to any
stranger who might be willing to agree to higher terms
than the Patel ; and the other, to keep it in the hands
of Government, the Patel, or a person deputed for the
purpose by the Government, settling with the Eayats
and collecting their revenue, without any avowed profit
or any responsibility for the amount. The first of these
plans is called Ijara ; and in the second a village is said
to bo held Kacha. Both are applicable either to Senja


or Narva villages. If a Senja village is held Kacha, it is
exactly a Kayatwar settlement.

19. In cases of Ijara the farmer steps into the place
of Government. If a Narva village be Ka^ha, the
Government sets aside the Bhagdars, collects from eacli
Patidar, and manages its own Majmun, but leaves the
Patidars to settle with the Rayats as formerly. If it
bo held Ijara, the farmer may either settle with the
Bhagdars or hold the village Kacha, and in either case
his sole profit must be derived from the Majmun lands,
the rest being in effect already ftirmed to the Patidars.
The village establishments seem the same here as in
most parts of India. The Patel, however, has no land,
and few allowances ; and the Talati, till lately, had
almost become a cipher.

20. The villages are, as usual, classed into par-
ganas, which have each a Desai or Majmudar, and an
Amin Patel. These officers are hereditary ; each mem-
ber of the family is competent to discharge their
functions. They are paid by a Dasturi, or fee, on each
village, part of which is divided among the family and
part given mider the name of Sukri, at the discretion of
the collector, to the person who does the duty. The
business of the Desai was to superintend all the Patels,
to furnish every sort of local information which could
assist in settling the revenue, and to adjust disputes
among villages, especially about land. The Majmudars
kept all the accounts of the Pargana, and served both
to inform the Kamavisdar of what was usual, and to
check him by recording his pecuniary transactions.

21. The Amin was formerty a kind of assistant to
the Desai, but he has within these two years nearly
superseded his principal, and the Desais are scarcely
ever now employed, while all local examinations of
the state of produce fall on the Amin.


22. The Desais are still not without their use as
checks on the Kamavisdar, whom they always look on
as an intruder, and against whom they are always
ready to bring forward or to instigate information.

23. The Majmudar has still much employment, as
he is at the head of all the Talatis, keeps all their
accounts, and frames for them the general accounts of
the Pargana.

24. The division into Parganas is in some respects
set aside by the distribution of the country into districts
under Kamavisdars, w^hich may or may not correspond
in extent with the Parganas. The functions of the
Kamavisdar need not be explained. It is well known
that he is the instrument of the collector, and that it is
through him that all the settlements are made and all
collections realized ; it is from him, also, that the
collector should expect most of his information, and on
his honesty and intelligence the prosperity of the dis-
trict must greatly depend.

25. This view of the revenue system will now enable
me to explain the steps we have hitherto adopted, both
towards the Girasias and our other dependents, and
towards the villages immediately under the Government,
and to offer some observations on the course to be here-
after pursued.

20. The most striking circumstances in the progress
of our government are the extraordinary obstacles that
existed to introducing order, and the surprising success
with which they have been overcome. The continual
intermixture of our territories with tliose of the Gaikwar,
the Pcsliwa, the Nawab of Cambay, and the unsettled
tril)utaries of Kathiawar and Main Kantha, the number
of half-subdued Girasias and Mevasis within our own
limits, the numerous and ill-defined tenures in almost
every village, and the turbulent and jiredatory character


of a large proportion of the people, combined to make
the country beyond the Main more difficult to manage
than any part of the Company's territories ; yet by the
caution of Government and the judgment and temper of
the local officers, our authority and our system have
been established with the utmost tranquillity, without
either irritating our subjects or embarrassing ourselves
by any sudden or violent changes. Of late years our
innovations have been proceeding with accelerated pro-
gress ; and although the danger of hasty improvement
is now diminished, it may still be necessary to retard
their advance, or at least to fix the limit beyond which
it is not designed they should extend.

27. When we first obtained the Parganas forming the
old Kaira collectorsliip, the whole were put in charge
of Colonel Walker, and managed by his assistants.
Everything was left entirely on its old footing, and
nothing was done but to gain some information regarding
the actual condition of things. When regular collectors
were appointed, the same system was for a long time

28. The only change in the revenue department
attempted among the Girasias was the increase to their
tribute, to which they were at all times liable ; but the
principle of a tribute was observed as long as they were
under Kaira, and with the single and temporary excep-
tion of Bapu Mij'a Kasbati of Dliolka, no scrutiny was
attempted into their resources or management.

29. The introduction of the judicial regulations was
certainly a great innovation, and was very early adopted;
but it seems doubtful whether the efi'ect was soon felt.
It is not likely that many of the inhabitants of the
Girasia villages came to our courts to complain ; and
where the plaintiff belonged to a Khalsa village, it would
bo thought natural and proper for Government to inter-
fere in his behalf.




30. The first changes that were much felt were pro-
duced by the regulations for the appointment of Mukhi
Patels and of Talatis, particularly the latter. The
Girasias, who held more villages than one, were com-
pelled to appoint Mukhi Patels, who from the time of
their appointment become responsible to the magistrate
alone. Those who had one village were themselves
appointed Mukhi Patels : in other cases they were
obliged to nominate another person for each village, who
was responsible to the magistrate and not to the Girasias.
Talatis w^re introduced into all the villages of the
Girasias of Dholka, and it was proposed to introduce
them into all the Girasia villages in Dhandhuka, Ranpur,
and Gogha. A further change has taken place in the
alteration of the principle of the Dholka payments, from
a tribute paid to Government to a certain proportion of
the produce left to the Girasias, and that proportion is
only 20 per cent, of the Government share, from which

Online LibraryMountstuart ElphinstoneSelections from the minutes and other official writings of the Honourable Mountstuart Elphinstone, governor of Bombay. With an introductory memoir → online text (page 34 of 41)