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Malabar Manual Vol 1 CHAPTER IV. THE LAND
William Logan!

Necessity for the summary: 224. Before proceeding to deal with the subsequent measures taken for adjusting the land revenue, it will be as well to summarise retrospectively the measures already described, so as to bring, as far as possible within one view, the position of affairs as existing in the year 1805-6.

Method adopted for working it out: 225. Before giving the results of this proposed retrospect, it will be necessary to describe the method in which it is proposed to work them out.

Mr. Rickards' plan for establishing principles of assessment: 226. The year 1805-6 has been selected as a convenient point-of-time for doing this, because, following on the insurrection of 1803 (consequent on Major Macleod’s ill-advised innovations), Mr Rickards' the Principal Collector, with a view to remedying the extreme inequalities of assessment as well as to establish some fixed principles on which to base a new assessment, was at considerable pains to ascertain from the chief Janmis what mode of sharing the produce of the land would be most acceptable to them. Having ascertained this (29th June 1803), he recommended the scheme for adoption (1st July 1803), and it was sanctioned by Government (Board of Revenue to Principal Collector, 5th May 1804) and embodied in a proclamation and published throughout the district. (21st July 1805)—see Appendix No. XV.

The shares of produce thus sanctioned: 226a. The shares of the produce thus ascertained as being acceptable to the chief Janmis were as follows:-

Wet Lands

Deduct from the gross produce the seed and a similar quantity for expenses of cultivation, allot one-third of the balance to the cultivator for profit, divide the remainder in the proportions of 60 per cent, and 10 per cent, between the Government and the Janmi respectively, and commute the Government share into money “under a consideration to local value of the several articles in the different districts."

Garden Lands

Cocoanuts and Arecas. -The pattam (rent) was to be divided between the Government and the Janmi half to each, the Government share being commuted into money at local rates.



Gross produce 100

Deduct cultivator's one-third share 331/3

Remainder, being the share available as pattam (rent) or

two-thirds gross produce 662/3

50 per cent, to Government 331/3

50 per cent, to Janmi 331/3

............ 662/3

Jacks —the same principle was adopted as in the case of other garden produce, namely, 50 per cent of the pattam (rent) was to go to Government and the remaining 50 per cent, to the Janmi but the pattam (rent) stated in money was not fixed at any prescribed share of the gross or of the net produce.

Pepper- It is unnecessary to state what the sanctioned shares of the pepper produce were as the assessment was in 1806-7 taken off the land and an export duty levied instead.

The sanctioned standard shares of Government in the produce: 266b. The standard shares of Government in standard shares of the, produce, that is, the revenue assessments, were therefore fixed at-

60 per cent, of the pattam (rent ) for wet lands.

60 do. do. do. garden lands.

The pattam was calculated on a peculiar plan, hence styled Vilachchal meni pattam: 227. But this pattam (rent) was, it will be observed to be calculated in peculiar methods, whence it got its name of the Vilchchal meni pattam, that is, in the case of wet lands two-thirds ot the net produce to be ascertained in a certain manner ; and, in the case of cocoanuts and arcea-nuls, two-thirds of the gross produce in nuts only. In the case of jacks no estimate ol produce was to be made, but the money pattam (rent) was to be ascertained. How this was usually done will be alluded to presently when considering Verumpattam.

The Vilachchal meni pattam distinguished from: 228. And here it will be as well, before going further, to elucidate and distinguish this Vilachchal meni pattam from the other two kinds of rent (pattam) alluded to by Mr. Graeme and differently determined. And there is all the more reason for this, because in the foregoing account no distinction has been drawn between the different kinds of rent (pattam) referred to, when treating of the various Nads. The three kinds of rent (pattam) alluded to in Mr. Graeme’s report are-

I. Vilachchal meni pattam which has just been described.

(a). the Verumpattam: II Verumpattam or actual rent received by Janmis from Ryots, Mr. Graeme was most unfortunately prevented (paragraph 1131 of his report) from pursuing detailed inquiries into the ratios which the Verumpattam (actual rent) bore to gross produce or to net produce. He was consequently obliged to have recourse to the statements submitted to Mr. Warden, the Principal Collector, by Janmis in the year 981 (1805-6).

These statements were found by him on examination to give in most cases grossly false accounts of the rent (pattam) receivable by Janmis, so they served very little purpose beyond furnishing facts to show how false they were on this point. It. will be seen in the sequel that lack of precise information as to what the actual rents were, not only vitiated Mr. Graeme's proposals in regard to wet lands and diverted his attention away from points in regard to the position of subtenants, to which the Court of Directors had turned their earnest attention, but precipitated the collision between the parties interested in the land, and indirectly led to the Mappilla fanatical outrages and other evils (Section A of this Chapter).

The general information on which he relied was defective, because it did not enable him to distinguish between rent paid by intermediaries and rent paid to intermediaries by sub-tenants. Whether, therefore, the facts which follow relate to rents paid direct by the Ryots to the Janmis or by intermediary Kanakkar to the Janmis, it is now impossible to say.

The general information he received was to the following effect:—

On wet lands the Verumpattam varied from 10 per cent, of the “average available gross produce:” in particular planes, where accidents were liable to happen from wild beasts, etc., to 33 and 45 per cent, of the same ; and "even as high as 50 per cent, of the same when the settlement with the tenant is only for one year.”

By this use of the word “available” reference was made to the customary deduction of 20 per cent, of the gross produce for the expenses of reaping, threshing and winnowing, and for fees to carpenters, smiths, and other petty proprietors, who, like the Janmi himself, had Janmam rights in the land. This deduction of 20 percent, did not in Mr. Graeme's time, and, it may be noted in passing, does not even now in many cases enter into any calculations of gross produce.

Garden lands.-In the case of coccanuts and areca-nuts, the Verumpattam was the balance of the produce1 in nuts after deducting for the cultivator’s share 20 per cent, of the same in North Malabar, and 331/3 per cent, of the same in South Malabar ; but as the customary commutation rates were respectively Rs. 10 and Rs. 7-8-0 in the two divisions, the real customary shares of the cultivators were as Rs. 202 and Rs. 252 respectively on every 10,000 nuts.

NOTEs: 1. 1 The gross produce wns taken to be the whole number of nuts of all sizes on the trees at one time, less one-third for accidents, loss by rats, windfalls, etc. ; but see also “Koyilmeni” in the Glossary, Appendix XIII.

2. Take two gardens in North and South Malabar, respectively producing each 10,000 nuts gross produce ; then--

In North Malabar the cultivator’s share of produce is 2,000 nuts, which, at Rs. 10 per mille, the customary rate, are worth Rs. 20.

In South Malabar the cultivator’s share is 3,333½ nuts, which, at Rs. 7-8-0 per mille, are worth Rs. 25. END OF NOTEs

This leaves out of account, the other produce of these gardens, such as cocoanut husks, from which coir fibre is made, leaves for thatching, branches, wood, etc., all of which fell to the cultivator’s share for profit (labham), and was excluded from any estimate of produce in fixing the Verumpattam.

Moreover these shares, Mr. Graeme noted, were sufficient remuneration to the cultivator only when the gardens were fully planted up and in bearing, but they were insufficient remuneration if the garden was not in full bearing, and would not enable the cultivator to keep up the garden in good style. These remarks, which still continue true, have a most important bearing on the relations between Janmis and Ryots of garden lands.

In the case of Jack trees it has never been customary to estimate the produce (either gross or net) except at its money value, and its money value depends entirely on whether there is a market for the product or not within reasonable distance. The fruit, from its bulkiness, is not easily carried to any great distance and it readily spoils. The money value of the produce is determined in a rough sort of way upon inspection.

So many of the trees — having regard to quality and distance from a market—are judged to be capable of yielding one fanum of pattam (rent). In some places where the trees are in bad order, or the market is distant, a great number of trees may be required to yield one fanam of pattam (rent), and in other places any number of trees would be insufficient, the trees not being capable of bearing even one fanam of pattam (rent) from the lack of demand for the produce.

Under such circumstances the customary Verumpattam was probably, as in the case of cocos and arecas, one-third of the gross produce ; but, unlike cocos and arecas, estimated in money at no fixed rate per fixed quantity of produce.

(b) The Mysorean Niguti pattam: III. The Niguti Pattam.—Mr. Graeme found, on proceeding to inquire into details, that the divisional (Hobali) accounts specified in the case of each wet land what the number of paras (each 10 seers) of Niguti Vittu (assessed seed) (paragraph 129) was, but they were silent (as already noticed, paragraph 128) in regard to the proportion which the Niguti Vittu (assessed seed) bore to the gross or to the net produce.

Under these circumstances Mr. Graeme resorted to information from “the principal inhabitants,” and learning from them, first in the case of the Calicut Taluk Nads (Nos. XII, XIII, XIV) and afterwards in the case of the other Nads in South Malabar, as they were taken up one by one, what proportion the Niguti Vittu (assessed seed) bore to the pattam (rent) shown in the accounts sent by Sirdar Khan to Seringapatam, he worked back in this way to a pattam (rent) which, to distinguish it from the others just above described, he called the Niguti pattam, or pattam on which the assessment (Niguti) was fixed.

Moreover the people, on being questioned, readily admitted that the pattam shown in the accounts sent to Seringapatam by Sirdar Khan was incorrect. The Verumpattam or actual rent was, they continued, in some places concealed, and in other places understated with the connivance of the Mysorean officers owing to favour, intrigue, or local causes.

This third kind of pattam extended only to the Nads in which the Huzzur Niguti (see paragraphs 128, 131) was in force, and in them it extended to all lands, both wet and garden, it will be seen from what has been stated that it represented no fixed share of the produce in kind, but the share in kind, whatever it was, was commuted into money at fixed rates.

What pattam regulated the assessments in what Nads in 1805-6: 229. Now, on referring back to the historical details given in the preceding narrative, it will be seen that in the year 1805-6 the revenue assessments were regulated in the various Nads in the following manner :

(a) On both wet lands and garden lands in Nads I, V and VI, partly by the Vilachchal meni pattam and partly by the verumpattam;

(b) On both wet lands and garden lands in Nads II, III, IV, and VII, and on wet lands only in Nads XXIII, XXIV, XXV, XXVII and XXVIII, by the verumpattam; and

(c) On both wet lands and garden lands in Nads VIII to XXII and XXVI, and on garden lands only in Nads XXVII and XXVIII, by the Niguti pattam.

The garden land assessments in Nads XXIII, XXIV and XXV have, for purposes of comparison in the foregoing narrative, been taken as shares of the Vilachchalmeni pattam, though, of course, that pattam was not a standard in force anywhere at the time (1801-2).

The actual assessment, shares of produce will be compared with the standard assessment shares of produce, and the comparison will be extended (in the inverse ratio) to the actual commutation rates so as to obtain a fair approximation to the actual incidence of the assessments in the various Nads in1805-6

280. Bearing in mind, then, the differences which existed between these various pattams (rents), it will be found possible to compare the standard rates of assessment (viz., 60 per cent, of pattam on wet lands and 50 per cent, of pattam on garden lands, paragraph 220) with the actual rates originally assessed and afterwards more or less modified in the respective Nads, and this comparison will, when extended to the commutation rates for produce (in the inverse ratios, of course), give a fair approximation to the comparative incidence as in 1805-6 of the assessments on the respective Nads. The approximation will, of course, be more or less unreliable as between Nads in which different standards of pattam prevailed, but nothing more precise is available. An example will best illustrate what is intended:

In Nads XII, XIII, XIV the percentages of Niguti pattam taken as revenue on wet lands were 30 and 25, at commutation rates of Rs. 50 and Rs. 60 per 1,000 Macleod seers respectively (paragraph 129).

After deducting from these commutation rates 20 per cent, for Arshad Beg Khan’s reduction (paragraph 130), and after adding 12½ per cent, for Tippu’s increase by the substitution of Sultani fanams for old Viray fanams (paragraph 130), and after adding 10 per cent, for establishment charges imposed under the Honourable Company's Government (paragraph 132), the sequence of these events being in the order in which they have been placed, the commutation rates come out at Rs. 49-8-0 and Rs. 59-6-44/5 per 1,000 Macleod seers respectively.

Then, in order to ascertain the equivalents of these rates at the 60 percentage standard assessment the following calculation has to be made :—

That is to say, the equivalent of 30 per cent, of the Niguti pattam. (rent) at a commutation rate of Rs. 49-8-0 and of 25 per cent, of the Niguti pattam at a commutation rate of Rs. 59 - 6 - 44/5 is at 60 per cent, of the Niguti pattam, a commutation rate of Rs. 24-12-0. It will thus be seen that although different- percentages of pattam (rent) were taken as revenue assessments in different parts of these Nads, still the actual result, was that the money assessment imposed was uniform throughout.

The sub-joined table shows: 231. Worked out in the method above described the following table has been prepared. It shows:

(a) The actual assessments, as in 1805-6 [varying percentages of pattam (rent) commuted into money at varying rates], worked out to their equivalents in the standard assessments [60 per cent, of pattam (rent) on wet lands and 50 per cent, of pattam (rent) on garden lands, see paragraph 226b] at the commutation rates which appear in columns 2, 4, 6 and 8, and

b) The commutation rates for produce by adopted after full inquiry by Mr. Graeme in 1822, there being no earlier figures available

Miscellaneous Lands.

Mr. Rickards did not fix any principles to regulate the assessments on miscellaneous lands in 1803-5, but as the comparison will be useful the following table has been prepared, the standard share of produce adopted being 20 per cent, of the gross produce.

232. No agreement was come to in 1803- 5 regarding the proper mode of sharing the produce of lands not permanently assessed to revenue, that is to say, Puttada or Modan, Punam and EIlu lands (see paragraphs 33, 31, 35) ; but, as most of the materials are available, it will be useful to institute a comparison similar in the above in respect of such assessments also as for the year 1805—6. And the assessment share of produce with which they may most suitably be compared is that which prevailed generally both under the Mysore and under the Honourable Company’s Governments in South Malabar, and which Mr. Graeme subsequently recommended for adoption (paragraph 1273 of his report), viz., 20 per cent, of the gross produce.

NB.—Graeme’s commutation rates for low ground paddy produce have been taken as the market prices for Modan and Punam paddy, although, as a rule, these grains do not fetch so much in the market.

233. These figures confirm what had always been recognised as a fact, viz., that the assessments in North Malabar were heavier than those in the south.

This was why the 10 per cent, establishment cess was not extended to the north.

Caution as to Arshad Beg Khan's remission of 20 per cent.

233. These figures confirm what had all along been recognised as a fact, viz., that the assessments (especially on wet and miscellaneous lands) in North Malabar were comparatively heavier than those in South Malabar. This fact had influenced the Supravisor, and afterwards the second Commissioners, not to extend to North Malabar the 10 per cent, establishment cess (paragraph 120) which they imposed on lands in the south. At the same time, it should be noticed that in the calculations made in preparing these tables, the full deduction has been allowed for Arshad Beg Khan's remission of 20 per cent, all round ; while, as matter of fact, it is extremely doubtful (as already noticed, paragraph 117) if any such deduction ever really took place. The remission probably went into the pockets of the officials. This fact must be constantly borne in mind when comparing the assessments of South Malabar with those of the north.

234. But at the same time the northern assessments were less oppressive individually than those of the south.

Reasons for this.

234. Whilst, however, the assessments were comparatively heavier in the north, they were at the same time less oppressive individually, that is to say, the burden was more evenly divided. This is to be accounted for, first, by the fact that the assessments in the north were based on the Vilachchal meni pattam and on the Verumpattam, that is to say, on certain fixed proportions of the gross or net produce; and secondly, by the fact that the assessments were made by the chieftains themselves, who, as tributaries first of Mysore and afterwards of the Honourable Company, were not easily deceived as to the capabilities of the land, and who had every inducement to make the assessments heavy on all lands but their own ; whereas, in the south, the assessment was chiefly the work of Mysorean officials, who, as strangers to the province, were more easily imposed upon, and who were, perhaps, more ready to be complacent or severe according as inducements were held out to them or refused. The result of course was that, in the south the Niguti pattam represented no certain share either of the net or of the gross produce (paragraph. 228) and individual assessments were very unequal.

The Niguti puttam of the south represented no certain share either of the net or of the gross produce.


For example, in Nads VIII, IX. X and XI, Mr. Graeme found that in one instance the garden assessment was 4,085 per cent of the pattam, in two instances over 2,000 per cent., in three instances over 1,000 per cent., and in other instances less than 1,000 per cent., but far in excess of the proper proportion of the pattam.

Wet Lands

235. The actual assessment commutation rates of 1805-6 are, with three exceptions, higher than the market rates adopted by Mr. Graeme in 1822, and the excess is a measure of the excess of actual assessments over the standard assessment.

235. An examination of the figures discloses the following fact in regard to wet lands :—It is not to be presumed that the market prices of produce should have fallen between 1805-6 and 1822, and yet Mr. Graeme’s rates, adopted in 1822, are (with three exceptions occurring within the territory administered by the Honourable Company’s Factors at Tellicherry) below the assessment commutation rates prevalent in 1805-6. The extent to which the rates of 1805-6 exceed, as noticed, the rates of 1822 is the measure of the extent to which the actual assessment in 1805-6 exceeded the standard assessment of 60 per cent., of the pattam (rent) if it is assumed that the market prices did not vary meanwhile. If, on the other hand, the market, prices were rising between 1895-6 and 1822 (as may safely be assumed to have been the case under regular British rule), the actual assessments of 1805-6 must have still more exceeded the standard assessment of 60 per cent.

Garden Lands

236. Similarly, the cocoanut garden assessments exceeded the standard assessments, but arecas seem to have been exceptionally favoured in many places.

236. Similar remarks to the above occur under garden lands but more particularly as regards cocoanut trees. It was in the territory lying round the Tellicherry factory that the cocoanut tree rates of 1805-6 approximated to and in one instance ran lower than, Mr. Graeme's rates of 1822. The cocoanut tree rates generally were much too high. Arecanut trees seem to have been less severely taxed than other produce in the district generally, for in many of the Nads, Mr. Graeme’s rates of 1822 are higher than the assessment rates of 1805-6.

While, on the other hand, jacks were too highly assessed nearly everywhere.

As regards jack trees, the assessments seem to have been, with a few exceptions, too high. It is unnecessary, however, to go into more detail regarding the garden assessments, because the garden land assessments were subsequently revised throughout the district.

Miscellaneous Lands

237. The assessments were very severe in the north, but the fact probably was that there was a large concealment of produce. This is why Modan and Ellu are so little cultivated in the north, and why Punam is more extensively cultivated there.

In the south, though the rates were more moderate, they were still too high.

237. The Modan, Punam and Ellu rates were excessive in the north ; indeed, it is difficult to understand how even an approximation could be made towards levying them. It is quite certain that if they had been rigorously exacted the cultivation must have ceased to exist. The fact seems to have been that a large portion of the produce was concealed, an end easily to be attained through the difficulty, in the case of these fugitive modes of cultivation, of checking what was the actual produce.

Even at the present day, Modan and Ellu crops, which, being, cultivated in the open country, are better capable of being properly assessed, are of far less extent in the north than in the south; while on the other hand, Punam crops, cultivated in the jungle country, where the cultivation is not so easily checked, is still one of the principal crops in the north, while it is comparatively of small extent in the south. These facts are easily accounted for on examining the commutation rates in force in 1805-6. In South Malabar, the rates, though more moderate than in the north, were still too high for those days. These assessments have all since been revised, so it is unnecessary to enter into more detail.

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