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Malabar Manual Vol 1 CHAPTER IV. THE LAND
William Logan!
Sub-Section VII.—Final Summary and General Conclusions.

Recapitulation of the objects set forth in paragraph 1 of this paper.

312. The objects necessitating the preparation of this paper were thus set forth in paragraph 1:

(a) To ascertain, first, by reference to the past revenue history of Malabar the proportions which the land revenue assessments bear to the fund available out of the net produce of the land for paying a rent to the Janmi and an assessment to Government.

(b) To discover, in the second place, whether these proportions are anywhere so oppressive at the present time, as to take from the Ryots more of the produce than by the fixed principles regulating the assessments the Government intended to take.

How far have these been attained?It now becomes possible to ascertain how far these objects have been attained.Details set forth for every part of the district and focussed (so to speak) in paragraphs 231, 232, 291, 307.313. The proportions which the various assessments bear to the rent and revenue fund, have been set forth in detail for every district for which details were required in the foregoing narrative.

And these details have already been focussed (so to speak) in the figures to be found for the bulk of the low country in paragraphs 231, 232, as for the year 1805-6, and for the rest of the district in paragraphs 291 and 307, as for the present time.Further general observations.314. The following further general remarks observations. seem to be required:- :How far has Mr. Rickards' scheme of distribution been carried out?

1. From the time of Lord William Bentinck's Minute (22nd April 1804) there has been no doubt regarding the proportion of the produce of the soil the Government intended to take from wet lands and gardens. Mr. Rickards’ scheme of distribution was then approved (paragraph 226), and the extent to which it has been carried out, and the extent to which departures from it have occurred, will here be briefly recapitulated.

Wet Lands

Mr. Rickards' scheme has not been fully carried out. Mr. Graeme’s alternative plan provod abortive.

The assessments are in much the same status as in 1805-6, and are based on four kinds of pattam.Mr. Rickards’ scheme of distribution depended on the ascertainment of an arbitrary pattam (rent), which has been called the Vilachchal meni pattam. It may be gathered from the foregoing narrative that his scheme has never been fully carried out. Mr. Graeme proposed, for reasons which have been already explained in paragraph 264, an equivalent scheme of his own (see in particular Sir Thomas Munro’s Minute of 16th July 1822, paragraph 9, Revenue Selections, Vol. Ill, p. 558), founded on the Verumpattam or actual rent, but Mr. Graeme’s scheme proved abortive, and so the wet land assessments are in much the same state as in 1805-6. The basis of them rests on four different kinds of pattam (rent), viz.

(a) Verumpattam (actual rent).

(b) Nikuti pattam (the Mysorean assessment rent).

(c) Vilachchal meni pattam (Mr. Rickards').

These three regulate the proportion of produce in the low country to the extent shown in detail in paragraph 229, and the fourth, viz.,

(d) Warden pattam is in operation only in the Wynad.

Caution as to the figures in the tables at paragraphs 231, 291 and 307.These pattams of course, vary greatly among themselves, and the figures in paragraphs 231, 291 and 307 are not to be taken as the exact equivalents of the assessments in the various Nads reduced to one common fixed standard, but only as the nearest approximations which circumstances will permit, towards the attainment of such a standard. Where, however, one of these pattams is the basis of the assessment in more than one Nad, the figures represent the exact proportions which the assessments bear to each other in those respective Nads.One departure from the intention of Lord William Bentinck's Government founded on a mistake.There has, however, been one departure from the intentions of Lord William Bentinck’s Government.

The details will be found in paragraphs 254, 272 and 306. The mistake made by Mr. Clementson of taking 65 per cent, of the Vilachchal meni pattam as equivalent to 65 per cent of the Verumpattam was apparently unnoticed then, and it has been perpetuated down to the present time. It affects all wet lands recently brought under cultivation in the low country and the accounts of all the wet lands in Cochin.

Garden Lands

Mr. Rickards' scheme fully and successfully carried out by Graeme.Mr. Rickards’ scheme for the distribution of the produce in this class of lands was based on the actual prevailing customary pattam in South Malabar only. Graeme’s proposals did not necessitate any departure from that scheme except to the extent noted in paragraph 254. This was hardly a departure from the original scheme, because it left the North Malabar custom as to pattam intact. So that in regard to gardens (and excluding coffee, paragraphs 293, 296, as a recently introduced industry) the intentions of Lord William Bentinch’s Government have been fully carried out, and most successfully.

Miscellaneous Land

Mr. Rickards’ scheme did not affect the miscellaneous lands. Uncertainty in consequence. The standard adopted by Mr. Sheffield was afterwards overlooked in I860. The disadvantage of one single fixed rate per acre. Too heavy on poor, too light on good land.

II. As regards miscellaneous lands, Mr. Rickards’ scheme provided no rules for the distribution of the produce. There has consequently been some uncertainty in regard to the assessments. The standard adopted, for reasons stated in paragraph 232, was adhered to by Mr. Sheffield in regulating the Modan and Ellu assessments in the low country, but it was overlooked in regard to Punam. And when the low country assessments on these crops came again under revision in 1860, the standard in regard to Modan and Ellu was in its turn lost sight of, although practically its principles were to some extent preserved in the rates per acre then sanctioned (paragraphs 276, 277). The disadvantage of these fixed rates per acre is that no distinction is drawn between good, bad, and indifferent land. Mr. Sheffield had arranged the Modan lands in three classes, with outturn multiples varying from 29/64 to 618/64 and it is clear that one uniform average assessment must fall too heavily on the poor, and too lightly on the good lands.

314a. To illustrate this section thirteen maps of the district have been prepared and are here inserted, showing the different portions of the district in which the various descriptions of cultivation principally occur.

Are the rates anywhere oppressive? High prices of produce are like a high flood-tide, submerging all inequalities. When the tide recedes the rocks lie bare. Since 1831-32 a high flood of prices has set in, and shows no sign of ebbing.315. Turning lastly to the most important point of all, the oppressiveness or otherwise of the Government shares produce at the Government commutation rate it may be remarked in the first place that high prices of produce are like a high flood-tide, submerging all inequalities of assessments, as rocks are submerged by the tidal wave. It is only when the tide recedes that the rocks are laid bare. Since 1832 a high flood of prices has set in which as yet shows no sign of ebbing. The rise most marked in and just after, the five years ending 1856-57.315.

The district records show that prices ran very low in 1828-31 so much so that there was in 1830-31 some fear that Mr. Graeme’s commutation rates for garden produce would prove too high. Mr. Hudleston the Principal Collector, in 1830-31 had to give no less than Rs. 69,31 as remissions on gardens. This, however, was the turning point.

The flood of high prices began after the setting in of the rains in 1831-32, and with some intermissions it has continued ever since. Perhaps the greatest permanent increase since 1822 took place in, and just after, the five years ending 1856-57. The following table exhibits such details as can be found of this time:-

The garce referred to in this table is about three times the standard quantity used in the tables at paragraphs 231 232 291 307.

These high prices are compared in the following table with actual commutation rates as fixed by the principles of the assessment.

316. In Appendices XVI to XIX will be found such details as can be had regarding the prices of produce current in recent years. In the following table these prices are compared with the commutation rates equivalent, at the standard Government shares of the produce (adopted in the figures at paragraphs 231, 232, 276, 277, 278, 291, 307), to the actual commutation rates of the existing assessment; and the map showing “Modern Taluks” will serve to show in what particular parts of the country these different rates prevail.

















Some doubt as to whether Mr. Graeme's commutation rates for garden produce were adhered to in North Malabar.

From a return recently prepared, there appears to be some doubt whether Mr. Graeme’s commutation rates for garden produce were implicitly followed when making some of the garden assessments, particularly in North Malabar. There is no doubt it was the intention of Mr. Graeme, who had from Government full authority in this matter, that they should be followed, and as they at all events are sufficiently approximate to existing rates to enable an opinion to be formed on the subject now in hand, they have been retained in the above table.

The above figures proof positive of the moderation of the assessments.

317. Very little more need be said than to refer to the figures in the above figures as proof positive that the land assessments are at the present time, and have been for many years, extremely moderate and well within the limits of the shares of produce which the Government has considered it politic to take.

The exceptional case of the Kottayam Taluk explained.

The only instance in which, to continue the simile used in paragraph 315, a rock may appear to stand above the flood prices, is in regard to the highest assessment on wet lands in the Kottayam Taluk. The commutation rate there comes out at Rs. 75 per per 1,000 Macleod seers. This, however, is an assessment on Government land, not on private land ; and the assessment has been taken at 100 percent, of the fund available for rent and assessment together. Converted into that standard of 100 per cent., the commutation rate comes out at Rs. 45 per 1,000 Macleod seers, which is well within the current price of the last twenty-one years. In this case the holders have no rent to pay to any one. They are not so well off, however, as the holders of Government wet land in Cochin for instance (see paragraph 307).

The assessments are nowhere oppressive, and the growing insolvent cottierism of the Malabar cultivators is not due to Government having taken more than its fair share of their produce.

Paradox. Had Government taken more, their position would have been better.

318. It is quite clear that the land assessments are nowhere oppressive, and that the growing insolvent cottierism of the great body of ryots in Malabar is not due to any action of Government in the direction of taking more than its fair share of the produce of the land. It may seem paradoxical to say so, but it is not far from the truth to assert that the action of Government has been too liberal, and that had the share of produce left to the ryot been less, his present position would have been better.



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