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varying in shade in different Districts. The chief caste or tribe among
them is the agricultural Kunbi, a name identical with the Kiirmis of
Northern India. Sivaji himself belonged to the fighting class of the
Kunbi peasantry j and though the Kunbis are regarded by the Brahman s
as mere Siidras, they themselves claim to rank with Kshattriyas or
Rajputs. Altogether the Marathas acknowledge upwards of 200 castes,
including 34 septs of Brahmans. A comparatively high status is
awarded to those castes who work in metal.

The inhabitants of Gujarat include a somewhat larger Muhammadan
element, although the Hindus among them are characterized by a strong
religious feeling, which has taken shape in the popular development of
the Vallabhdchariya sect of Vaishnavas. The three superior castes of
Brahmans, Rajputs, and Vaisyas are numerously represented. The
Gujarathi Brahmans are sub-divided into no fewer than 160 different
septs. The Rajput clans are specially numerous in Kathiawar, where
they have given names to the local divisions of the country, and con-
tinue to be the ruling caste. The Vaisyas, whether Hindus or Jains,
have attained under the common denomination of Baniyas a high
degree of prosperity as shopkeepers, money-lenders, and wholesale
merchants. Their trading operations extend to the coasts of Arabia
and Africa. The chief tribes forming the mass of the Gujarat popu-
lation are the Kulambis and Ahfrs ; while the aboriginal race of Kulis
is rapidly rising in the scale of civilisation.

The people of the outlying Province of Sind are almost all
Muhammadans by religion, as their country was the earliest field of
Musalmdn conquest in India. But their preservation of a dialect
derived from the Sanskrit, although with a large infusion of Arabic and
Persian words, indicates that they are descended from the early Hindu
inhabitants of the Province, who are said to have been converted in
a body during the reign of the Beni-Umayyih Khalifs. The Sind
Muhammadans of foreign origin include Sayyids, Afghans, Baluchis,
Memons, and Khojahs. The Brihmans of Sind are connected with
their caste-fellows of the Punjab. Among the trading castes the Lohanis
deserve mention, as conducting the greater part of the trade that passes
through Khelat and Afghanistan.

In Kanara and the adjoining tracts the population shares in the
general characteristics of the Karnatic. The Brahmans form a more
homogeneous body than in the rest of the Presidency, but their general
influence is perhaps less, owing to the degree to which sect is sub-
stituted for caste among all Dravidians. The Lingdyats, or worshippers
of Siva under the form of the linga, are an especially influential body,
though of comparatively late origin.


Religion. — The religious classification in the Census Report of the
i6| millions within the British Districts shows the following results :—
Hindus (as loosely grouped together for religious purposes), 12,308,582,
or 74-9 per cent, of the total population; Muhammadans, 3,021,131,
or 18*36 per cent; Jains, 216,224, or 1*31 per cent.; Christians,
138,317, or 0-84 per cent.; Parsis, 72,065; Sikhs, 127,100 ; Jews,
7952; aborigines, 562,678. The proportion of Hindus is highest in
the Deccan. Of the total number of Muhammadans, as many as
1,887,204 are found in Sind, where they form 78*10 of the population;
only 78,531 are returned as Shias, and 178 as Wahabis, the rest be-
longing to the Sunni sect. The Muhammadans are again divided into
the following sects and nationalities: — Sayyids, 108,950; Shaikhs,
658,739; Pathans, 105,034; Baluchi's, 409,200; Sindhis, 1,275,038;
other Muhammadans, 464,170. The sect of Shias is represented chiefly
by two or three classes of traders and merchants. The largest of these
is the Borah, and perhaps the best known is the Khojah ; in addition
to these are a few Mughals. The Shia element is strongest at the
capital, where the trading class is most numerous. The centre of the
Borah class is in Surat, the residence of their chief priest. The leader
of the main body of the Khoja community is the Persian prince Aga
Ali Shah, whose predecessor, the well-known Aga Khan, was long a
resident of Bombay, after the troubles that drove him from Persia.
The Khojahs are converts from Hinduism, and acknowledge as their
spiritual head the Imam of the Ismaili sect, who are supposed to
represent the Assassins (Hashisheir) of the Crusaders. They are
especially numerous in the Peninsula of Kathiawar. They have also
established trading colonies along the east coast of Africa. Among
the Christians are included 28,859 Protestants, 35 Armenians, 21
Greeks, and 109,470 Roman Catholics. Of the whole number of
Christians, 23,596 are European, 2893 Eurasian, and 111,840 Native.
The great majority of the Christians are found in Bombay city and
Thana District, where the Indo - Portuguese element is strongly
represented. The Parsis number 72,065, of whom two-thirds are
found in Bombay city, and a large portion of the remainder in Surat
District. The Sikhs number 127,100, chiefly in Sind; and the Jews,

795 2 -

Houses, etc. — The total number of houses returned by the Census

of 1881 was 3,605,812, of which 2,822,741 were occupied. The total

number of towns and villages was 24,598, with an average of 669 persons

to each. There were altogether 167 towns, each with more than 5000

inhabitants. The total population of these 167 towns in 1881 was

2,925,190, or 17*65 per cent, of the population of the Presidency. In

1880-81, there were altogether 164 municipalities, including Bombay, of

which n were city and 150 town municipalities, while the remaining 3


were temporary municipalities, established for the purpose of providing
the necessary sanitary arrangements at large fairs or gatherings of pil-
grims at particular seasons. The aggregate population within municipal
limits was 2,488,587, or 15-12 per cent, of the total. In that year the
total gross municipal income, including Bombay city, was j£597> 82 °>
the average incidence of municipal taxation being 4s. 4! d. per head.
The following six towns each have a population exceeding 50,000 : —
Bombay City and Island, 773,196; Poona, 99,622 city, 30,129
cantonment; Ahmadabad, 127,621; Surat, 109,844; Karachi
(Kurrachee), 73,560; Sholapur, 61,281.

Agriculture. — The wide extent and the varied configuration of the
Bombay Presidency permit great variations in agriculture. The two
most important food-crops are bdjrd or great millet (Sorghum vulgare)
and jodrl or spiked millet (Holcus spicatus), which are especially
cultivated in the Deccan. Rice is chiefly grown in the low lands of
the Konkan. Wheat is extensively cultivated in parts of Gujarat and
in Sind, and barley is grown in the same localities to a smaller extent.
The aboriginal tribes mainly support themselves on inferior cereals,
such as ndchani (Eleusine corocana) and kodra (Paspalum scrobicula-
tum), which they plant in patches of cultivation amid the primeval
jungle that clothes the hill-sides. The most important kinds of pulse
are gram or chick-pea (Cicer arietinum), tur (Cajanus indicus), kulthi
(Dolichos biflorus), and mug (Phaseolus mungo). The oil-seeds are
mustard, linseed (of which the fibres are not utilized as flax), castor-oil,
til (Sesamum orientale), which yields the gingelly oil of commerce, and
kasumba or safflower (Carthamus tinctorius). Among fibres, cotton
holds by far the chief place, both in the Deccan and in Gujarat ; ambdri
or Deccan hemp (Hibiscus cannabinus) and san or Konkani hemp
(Crotolaria juncea) are also grown. The miscellaneous crops include
tobacco, of which the finest quality is produced in Kaira District ;
sugar-cane, which requires a rich soil and a perennial water supply ;
potatoes, grown in the hill country near Poona ; red pepper, turmeric,
other spices, and indigo. It will be observed that this list leaves few
staples available for export, besides cotton, oil-seeds, and wheat.

The revenue system of Bombay, based upon a cadastral survey oi
every cultivated field, favours the collection of agricultural statistics.
Commencing from the village as the revenue unit, and rising through
the tdluks or Sub-divisions up to the District organization, the minutest
particulars affecting the administration of the land are recorded year by
year. The following are the statistics of cultivation for the year
1880-81, excluding certain Districts to which the system of the
revenue survey has not yet been extended: — Exclusive of Sind, the
total area of cultivable lands liable to Government assessment was
returned at 24,839,908 acres; total area actually under cultivation.


21,869,643, of which 20,418,867 acres are classified as dry-crop lands,
and 1,041,648 as rice lands. In Sind, the cultivated land during the
kharif season was returned at 1,956,787 acres, the unoccupied at
704,688 acres, the fallow at 650,601 acres; during the rabi season
the figures were 293,399 acres under cultivation, 136,883 acres
unoccupied, and 100,537 acres lying fallow. The chief crops in
1880-81 were thus distributed over an aggregate area of 20,426,966
acres: barley, 28,875; maize, 81,761; jodri, 6,047,829; bdjra,
3> 8o 5>474; other cereals, 2,259,158; rice, 1,757,161; wheat, 1,579,961;
pulses, 1,631,944; oil-seeds, 1,086,410; cotton, 1,826,407; tobacco,
55,156; sugar-cane, 51,329; garden produce, 86,427; condiments,
spices, and drugs, 116,099; dyes, 12,975; the sums advanced by
Government during the season to agriculturists for purchase of seed
and stock amounted to ^3946, including a sum of ^421 for per-
manent improvements. At the close of the year 1881, there were 78
Government stallions for the improvement of horse-breeding and stock,
at various places in the Presidency. The number of mares covered in
that year was 2185. The stallions were in greatest request at Sirur,
Poona (Puna), Ahmadnagar, and Jacobabad, and in Khandesh District
and Kathiawar.

Cotton. — The cultivation of the great export staple of cotton is suffi-
ciently important to deserve special mention. Even before the close
of the last century, India exported a considerable amount of raw cotton
to England, but this was mainly grown in Bundelkhand, collected at
Ghizfpur, and shipped from Calcutta The trade was fostered by the
East India Company ; but it does not appear to have been of a profitable
nature, and the totals despatched fluctuated greatly year by year. Bombay
appears not to have entered into the business until about 1825. For
many years afterwards the shipments of cotton were liable to great
vicissitudes, depending chiefly upon the yield of the American crop.
But the Indian cultivators found their opportunity when the war between
the North and South in the United States cut off the supplies of the
English manufacturer, and caused the ' cotton famine ' among the mill
operatives in Lancashire. During the five years ending with 1853-54,
the export of cotton from Bombay had averaged under 180 million lbs.,
valued at 2J millions sterling; in the five years ending 1868-69, the
average quantity had risen to 424 million lbs., and the average value to
nearly 20 millions sterling. In the single year 1864-65, the value was
as high as ^30,370,482. This period of extraordinary prosperity led to
much wild speculation. The collapse came in 1865, on tne termination
of the American war. The bubble schemes and financial companies in
Bombay city burst one after the other, and brought down in the general
ruin the ^waj/'-official Bank of Bombay. Meanwhile, the cultivators had
turned the excessive profits of a few years, into the solid form of gold


and silver ornaments. Prices have fallen very heavily, but the quantity
of cotton grown is maintained. In 1875-76, the amount exported was
3,722,436 cwts., valued at ^"10,209,389, or nearly as large a quantity
as when speculation was at its height, though the value is diminished to
one-third. In 1880-81, the extent of land under cotton in the whole
Presidency, including Sind and the Native States, was returned at
4,193,074 acres. Of this area, 3,450,503 acres were planted with indi-
genous, and 742,571 with exotic cotton. The quantity exported in the
same year from the Presidency was returned at 3,220,308 cwts., valued
at .£9,779,049 from Bombay, and 104,605 cwts., valued at ,£285,776,
from Sind. In the same year the total number of steam gins was
2430. Much has been done of late years to improve the quality of the
cotton grown in the Presidency. American varieties have been intro-
duced successfully into Dharwar and other parts of the South Maratha
country. In Khandesh the indigenous plant, from which one of the
lowest classes in the Bombay market took its name, has now been
almost superseded by the Hinganghat variety from the Central Pro-
vinces, under the trade name Amraoti ('Oomrawutty'). Agricultural
experiments in cotton as well as in other crops are made at three State
Model Farms, at Hala in Sind, in Khandesh, and in Dharwar. Though
these experiments have not resulted in pecuniary profit, much valuable
information has been gained.

Irrigation. — Except in Sind, where the annual rainfall is insignificant,
and the crops are entirely dependent upon artificial supplies of w T ater
drawn from the Indus by a network of canals, irrigation is not generally
practised in the Bombay Presidency. In bad seasons every advantage
is taken of the water that is available for use in river-beds, tanks, or
wells, but there are no irrigation works constructed on a scale suffi-
ciently large to give permanent benefit to wide areas of country. Within
the last few years some steps have been taken in this direction, but
the broken character of the greater part of the country does not readily
lend itself to such schemes. In the year 1880-81, out of a total area
of 24,839,908 acres of cultivable land, excluding Sind, the area under
irrigation was thus classified: irrigated garden lands, 409,1 2 7 acres;
rice lands irrigated from tanks and watercourses, 147*55* acres;
total irrigated, 556,678 acres. The irrigation system of Sind will be
described in the separate article on that Province. The most important
works which have been already carried out, and which are in progress,
in Bombay Proper are the following : — The Kistna (Krishna) Canal in
Satara District, formed by throwing a masonry dam across the bed of
the river ; the Hathmati Canal in Ahmadabad District ; the improve-
ment of the Khari river irrigation ; the works for the water supply
of the Government saltworks at Kharagora near the Rann of Cutch ;
works for the purpose of increasing the efficiency of the Palkher Canal


in Nasik District ; the works at the Waghar tank in the same
District; the works at the Bhadalvari tank in Poona District; the
works at the Ashti tank in Sholapur District ; the Sholapur municipal
waterworks ; the works at the Nira and Mhasmad tanks in Satara
District; a canal in Belgaum District; the Ekruk Tank in Sholapur,
formed by an earthen dam across the entire valley of the Adela ; and
the waterworks at Kharakwasla, destined to irrigate the surrounding
fields as well as to supply water to the city of Poona. The severe
famine of 1877 has drawn increased attention to this important subject,
and plans have been prepared for the construction of irrigation works
in all parts of the Presidency, to be commenced as funds permit. In
1880-81, the total expenditure on irrigation works through the Public
Works Department was ^23 2,830. Of this sum, ^2 11,869 was con-
tributed from Imperial revenue, ;£ 19,613 from Native States, private
individuals, and municipalities, and ^1349 from local funds. The
direct revenue from irrigation during the same period was ,£26,726.
The 24 irrigation works constructed by the Public Works Department
in Gujarat and the Deccan command an area of 224,000 acres of
irrigable land, though the area actually irrigated in 1880-81 was only
34,444 acres.

The land revenue system of Bombay is based upon the principle of
measuring every field separately, and assessing it at a sum fixed for a term
of thirty years, the amount of assessment being determined by the quality
of the soil and the crop. This plan was first introduced in 1836, in the
case of the Indapur taluk of Poona District, and has since been
gradually extended over the greater part of the Presidency. It differs
from the method adopted in the North- Western Provinces, in that the
assessment is made direct with the individual cultivators, and not with
the village community ; and it differs from the rayatwdri system of
Madras, by not requiring a modification of the assessment every year.
Prior to the introduction of the revenue survey, general anarchy pre-
vailed, both with regard to the rights possessed by different parties in
the soil, and also with regard to the proportion of the produce payable
to Government. The immediate result of the change was to improve
the condition of the cultivator. He has received a right of occupancy
in his holding, on the condition of payment of the Government
revenue. This right of occupancy, commonly known as 'the survey
tenure,' has been described as 'a transferable and heritable property
continuable without question at the expiration of a settlement lease, on
the occupier's consenting to the revised rate.' The average rates of
assessment are — Rs. o. 12. 7 or is. 7d. per acre on dry crops; Rs. 3.
it. 4 or 7s. 5d. on garden lands ; and Rs. 3. 9. 5 or 7s. 2d. on rice land.
The maximum on dry-crop lands is Rs. 2. 3. 4 or 4s. 5d. per acre
in the rich black country of Gujarat, and the minimum is Rs. o. 6. 6


or ojd. in the barren hill-tracts of the Konkan. Within the last few
years the terms of assessment in the Districts earliest settled have
begun to fall in, and consequently a revision of the assessment has
become necessary ; and this is now being carried on in the Districts of
Ndsik, Ahmadnagar, Poona, Sholapur, Belgium, Dhanvar, and Kaladgi.

In the course of the inquiries it has been discovered that the culti-
vator has not reaped all the advantages that had been hoped from the
simplicity of the system. His chronic condition of indebtedness to the
village money-lender has produced consequences not dissimilar to those
caused by the zaminddri system in Bengal. No intermediate rights in
the soil have been suffered to grow up between the cultivator and the
State; but the personal obligations under which the cultivator has
placed himself towards his money-lender enable the latter to appropriate
to himself the unearned increment as completely as if he were a landlord.
The system, although framed with the best intentions, put the machinery
of our Courts at the disposal of the astute creditors as against an
ignorant peasantry. During some years, the cultivators were sold off
the land without mercy ; agrarian outrages took place ; and the Legis-
lature was at length compelled to interfere in favour of the tillers of the
soil. The Deccan Agriculturists' Relief Acts have placed them under a
modified procedure for the recovery of debts ; protected their holdings
from sale ; and endeavoured to work out a plan which would satisfy as
far as possible the dues of the creditor from the yearly produce of the
debtor's fields without altogether driving the debtor off the land. The
rigidity of our revenue system, and its want of elasticity in the Deccan
Districts, which are peculiarly exposed to the vicissitudes of the rain-
fall, are also said to bear heavily on the peasantry. The increase of
revenue resulting from the resettlement operations in the Districts
named above, up to 1881-82, is returned at ,£1,023,503.

Side by side with the survey tenure, there exist various forms of
landholding which have come down from the days of native rule,
though none of them are now prevalent to a wide extent. Among
these the tdlnkddri, wdnta, narwdddri and mdleki tenures in
Gujarat deserve mention. In the Districts of the Southern Konkan,
the survey has not yet been introduced. The land is there held
by a class of petty landlords called khbts, whose rights as against
the Government have not yet been finally determined. The non-
regulation Province of Sind enjoys a modified land system of its own.
The greater part of the land is cultivated by peasant proprietors. The
rates of assessment depend to a large extent on a steady but not
excessive overflow from the Indus, and payment in cash has been
substituted for the old practice of an actual division of the crop.

The Famine of 1876-77 was felt throughout the Deccan and South
Maratha country, though less severely than in the adjoining Districts


of Madras (q.v.) and Mysore. The same set of meteorological causes
operated over all Southern India. The total rainfall of the year was
everywhere deficient, but the disastrous effect upon agriculture was
determined mainly by local variations. The harvest of 1875
had also been below the average, so that the pressure of high prices
fell upon a population already impoverished. In 1876 the summer
rains of the south-west monsoon, which commence in June, were
scanty. But the effects of this monsoon on cultivation are chiefly
confined to the Konkan and Malabar coast, where the normal rainfall
is so excessive that little injury was wrought by the deficiency. The
autumn rains of the north-east monsoon, upon which the table-land
behind the Ghats is mainly dependent, failed altogether. At Poona
the heavy rain, which usually falls continuously during September and
October, was represented by only two moderately wet days. The
result was a general failure in the winter crops, over an area in this
Presidency estimated at 39,000 square miles, with a population of
nearly six million souls. Serious distress began in November 1876,
and lasted for about twelve months. In April 1 8 7 7, the number of people
employed by Government on relief works was 287,000. In July of the
same year, the persons in the receipt of gratuitous relief numbered
160,000. The District most affected was Kaladgi, bordering on the
Nizam's dominions, where the relieved numbered 14 per cent, of the total
population. But these vague figures convey but an inadequate idea of
the general impoverishment produced by this disastrous year. The
statistics of the Bombay mint show in a decisive manner how even the
well-to-do portion of the population suffered. In the two years 1877
and 1878, the total value of silver ornaments and disused coin brought
into the mint as bullion exceeded 2 J millions sterling, against only
^4oco in the previous year. No interference with private trade was
attempted. The Government endeavoured to provide work for the
starving population. But notwithstanding the wages offered, and the
supplies of food brought into the Districts, the calamity proved beyond
the power of administrative control, and hundreds of thousands died
of starvation. The deaths in the two famine years 1877 and 1878 in
the Bombay Presidency, excluding Sind, are estimated to have been
800,000 in excess of the usual number. The opportunity was taken
to push on schemes of irrigation and other remunerative public works,
which had long previously been matured on paper.

Manufactures. — The two great manufactures carried on in this Presi-
dency are cotton goods and salt ; the latter is to a large extent manu-
factured departmentally. Indigo is made to some extent at Khairpur
in Sind. Apart from the new industry of cotton spinning and weaving by
means of steam machinery, the manufacture of coarse cotton cloth saris
andpagris in hand-looms is still conducted in almost every village through-


out Bombay. A curious distinction in this respect separates the
Gujarathi and Marathi speaking races. The former prefer their cotton
goods printed, while the latter wear only stuffs that have been dyed in
the thread. The decoration generally consists of a simple border, but
the more expensive articles are frequently finished off with silk, or with
gold and silver lace. Sind weavers are reckoned the most skilful. The
best saris or women's robes are printed at Ahmadabad and Surat.
Even to the present day the majority of the population wear home-spun
and home-woven goods ; but within the past few years, the twists and
yarns produced in the Bombay mills have found great favour with native
weavers. A peculiar mode of ornamenting cotton and silk goods,
known as chinddri, is common throughout the Presidency. The cloth,

Online LibraryWilliam Wilson HunterThe imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 3) → online text (page 7 of 56)