Ryotwari System – A revenue collection system by Britishers
Ryotwari was one of the main system to collect revenues from collectors of Agricultural land.The revenue system was directly applicable on the cultivators of the land (i.e. people who actually work on the land).
The name of the system comes from the word RYOT, meaning a peasant or cultivator.
Other systems in existence were
Permanent settlement of Bengal
Ryotwari system was introduced by Thomas Munro, who was appointed as Governor of Madras in 1820.
It was gradually extended to Mumbai area.
It was prominent in most of the southern India.
The tax was not based on the actual revenues from the produce of the land, but on the estimate of the potential of the soil to produce.
All holdings were measured and assessed according to crop potential and actual cultivation.
In most of the cases 50% of the gross revenue was demanded, but more than 50% of the taxes was also levied in some cases.
Thomas Munro gradually reduced the taxes from 50% to 1/3rd of the gross produce.
The following quote will see the system from the British perspective:
Under the Ryotwari System every registered holder of land is recognised as its proprietor, and pays direct to Government. He is at liberty to sublet his property, or to transfer it by gift, sale, or mortgage. He cannot be ejected by Government so long as he pays the fixed assessment, and has the option annually of increasing or diminishing his holding, or of entirely abandoning it. In unfavourable seasons remissions of assessment are granted for entire or partial loss of produce. The assessment is fixed in money, and does not vary from year to year, in those cases where water is drawn from a Government source of irrigation to convert dry land into wet, or into two-crop land, when an extra rent is paid to Government for the water so appropriated; nor is any addition made to the assessment for improvements effected at the Ryot’s own expense. The Ryot under this system is virtually a Proprietor on a simple and perfect title, and has all the benefits of a perpetual lease without its responsibilities, inasmuch as he can at any time throw up his lands, but cannot be ejected so long as he pays his dues; he receives assistance in difficult seasons, and is irresponsible for the payment of his neighbours. . . . The Annual Settlements under Ryotwari are often misunderstood, and it is necessary to explain that they are rendered necessary by the right accorded to the Ryot of diminishing or extending his cultivation from year to year. Their object is to determine how much of the assessment due on his holding the Ryot shall pay, and not to reassess the land. In these cases where no change occurs in the Ryots holding a fresh Potta or lease is not issued, and such parties are in no way affected by the Annual Settlement, which they are not required to attend.