Ryotwari System

Ryotwari System was initially introduced by Shershah Suri. He had surveyed the entire land under cultivation of his territory and fixed per bigha due on the basis of average of three rates representing good, middle and low soils under continuous cultivation (Polaj) and temporary out of cultivation (Parauti). This average rate was called “Rai” and the cultivator was called Ryot. The Rai system was initially adopted by Akbar.

In the East India Company territories, the Ryotwari system was introduced by Thomas Munroe and Captain Reed first in Madras presidency. It was later extended to Bombay, Parts of Bengal, Assam, Coorg etc. This system was exactly opposite to the Zamindari system. In this system, peasants were given the ownership and proprietorship and they would make direct payment to state as 55% of produce. But the system was such that whatever government calculated was faulty and exploitive. Thus, excessive rate of revenue made the agriculture unprofitable.  Then, the ways of collecting revenue were so harsh and rigid that the peasants would like to handover their ryots to some money lenders.

It is not that uniformly all the tillers were recognized as proprietors. Under the Ryotwari settlement system, the company recognized mirasidars as the sole proprietors of land, dismissing tenants’ rights completely. Only in villages where no mirasidars system existed, were the villagers holding permanent occupancy rights recognized as landholders responsible for the payment of land revenue. The impacts were more visible such as

  • the supply side of land increased and land prices fell
  • Interest rates increased. The rates were so high that the cultivator was at best could pay only interest.
Assessment of Ryotwari System

Ryotwari system of land tenure was introduced early in the nineteenth century in Presidencies of Bombay and Madras. Under this system the settlement was made by the government directly with the cultivator (ryot) who thus was the proprietor, but only for a period  of time. This time was fixed for thirty years after which it was subject to re-assessment and re-settlement on new terms. The government share was fixed at 55% of the produce, which was highest ever share. Though the cultivator got security of tenure but was subject to a very heavy duty, thus leaving no motivation for cultivation.