Textbook solutions.

1 . Match the following:-

a . Ryot           _.              Village.

b . Mahal.     _.               Peasant.

c . Nij.           _.               Cultivation on ryot’s land.

d . Ryoti.      _.               Cultivation on planter’s own land.


a . Ryot.         _.                   Peasant.

b . Mahal.    _.                   Village.

c . Nij.          _.                    Cultivation on planter’s own land.

d . Ryoti.    _.                     Cultivation on ryot’s land.

2 . Fill in the blanks:-

a . Growers of wood in Europe saw _______ as a crop which would provide competition to their earnings.

ANSWER : indigo.

b . The demand of indigo increased in late 18th century in Britain because of _________.

ANSWER : expansion of cotton production.

c . The international demand for indigo was affected by discovery of __________.

ANSWER : synthetic dyes.

d . The Champaran movement was against _________.

ANSWER : indigo planters.

3 . Describe the main features of permanent settlement.

ANSWER : After considering the huge loss in the Indian economy , Charles Cornwallis in 1793 introduced the Permanent Settlement. The company ordered rajas and taluqdars (also called zamindars) to collect land revenue from the peasants and submit it to them . The features of permanent settlement were as follows:-

  •  The Company had fixed a permanent amount which the zamindars had to pay as a land revenue.
  •  The land revenue set by the Company was very high which the peasants were unable to give to the Zamindars.
  •  If the zamindars were unable to pay the revenue at a given time limit, then they had to give their lands to the company as a punishment.
  • It became almost impossible for the peasants to pay such high amount as land revenue to the zamindars. It led them into indebtness.
  • The company ordered the zamindars to invest for improving the quality of their land . The company thought that this would be an assurance of a regular flow of tax which would benefit the Company and help them in improving and flourishing their trade.

4 . How was the mahalwari system different from the permanent settlement?

ANSWER :  Mahalwari system is different from permanent settlement in the following ways:-

  •   North-western provinces of Bengal introduced MAHALWARI SYSTEM by Holt Mackenzie in 1822 whereas Lord Cornwillis in 1973 devised the permanent settlement.
  • Permanent Settlement was an assurance for the East India Company of getting a permanent revenue from the zamindars whereas Mahalwari system was an alternate way of permanent settlement.
  • The head of the village were assigned to collect the revenue whereas in permanent settlement the company gave the responsibility to the zamindars to collect the land revenue.
  • In Mahalwari system the revenue to be paid to the company was not fixed and could be changed periodically,  which increased day by day whereas in permanent settlement the revenue was  fixed  by the company which was unreasonably very high.

5 . Give two problems which arose with the new Munro system of fixing land revenue.

ANSWER : In South India, Captain Alexander Read introduced a system of ryotwar which was almost similar to the permanent settlement. He started this system only on those states which were conquered by the Company after the defeat of Tipu Sultan.

Then, Thomas Munro decided to expand the system in South India and named it as Munro system. Read and Munro decided that they would collect the revenue directly from the cultivators and not from the zamindars as in South India there were no proper zamindars.

Munro thought by the introduction of this system the British would protect the ryots under their charges but this did not happen. There were many problems arising from these systems. Two of the major problems are as follows:-

  •  The British officials had setup a very high land revenue which was almost impossible for the peasants to pay and led them to indebtness. The peasants were unwilling to pay such high revenue to the company.
  •  The cultivators saw no profit and hence they moved from the countryside as a result many villages became empty of people.

6 . Why were the ryots reluctant to grow indigo?

ANSWER : There was a high demand of indigo in Europe. So, the Company tried many ways in extending the indigo cultivation in India. By the end of 18th century the indigo cultivation of Bengal flourished . Only 25-30 percent indigo was imported to Britain by 1788 from India but it increased up to 90-95 percent by 1810. Many officials, Englishmen came to India for investing on indigo cultivation.

Many of them came to India and started cultivating  indigo because of its  high profits.The ryots , under the ryoti system faced many problems in growing indigo. The ryots were forced to sign agreements in which they had to grow indigo on 25 percent of their percent.

By the end, the ryots became reluctant in cultivating indigo as they did not see any profit in cultivating indigo. They were not well-paid and also they did not have any profit as indigo was profitable for the East India Company.

Moreover, the indigo plant has a deep root system. After the cultivation of indigo , it would destroy the fertility of the soil and the ryots were unable to cultivate any other crop on the same land.The Company also ill-treated the indigo cultivators .

The peasants were pressurized to grow only indigo in their land. If the peasants would grow any other crop except indigo then, the Company used to destroy their crops and take away all their cattle as a punishment. These made the ryots furious and extremely reluctant in growing indigo.

7 . What were the circumstances which led to eventual collapse of indigo production in Bengal?

ANSWER : Indigo was very popular and in high demand in Europe. By seeing the rapid increase in indigo cultivation in Bengal , the East India Company forced the ryots to grow only indigo in their land. They were not well-paid and they did not see any profit in growing indigo. Moreover , the Company ill-treated the indigo cultivators and this made them extremely furious. For this ill-treatment , in March 1859, most of the peasants in Bengal refused to cultivate indigo in their lands .

The peasants became so furious that they attacked many indigo factories established by the company in Bengal . They also did not pay any rents to the planters. There was a great unity among the ryots.

They boycotted the peasants those who were still willing to work for the planters. The sources of planters who came to collect the revenue were badly beaten up. Women also played a major role. They also attacked the planters with the kitchen appliances. The ryots decided that they were not ready to get tortured by the planters any more.

The ryots became so furious that the company had to appoint special military forces for the protection of the planters.Finally this mass uprising led to the setup of Indigo Commission . This proved the planters guilty.

This commission also gave rights to the ryots that if they were asked to grow indigo they could easily refuse to grow them. After this mass movement, the cultivation of indigo collapsed in Bengal.

8 . Find out more about Champaran movement and Mahatma Gandhi’s role in it.

ANSWER : After the collapse of indigo cultivation in Bengal, the planters now moved towards Bihar for cultivation of indigo. The indigo cultivators of Champaran were treated very rudely by the planters.

The peasants were forced to cultivate indigo on half of their lands for the benefit of the Company and had to sell them to the Company at a price fixed by them which was most of the time not profitable for the ryots.  

This made the farmer extremely furious which led to the an uprising called Champaran movement or Champaran Satyagraha in 1917. Mahatma Gandhi’s role in Champaran movement is very crucial. When Gandhiji returned to India in 1915 from South Africa, the peasants invited Gandhiji to take a stand for them . He then offered Champaran Satyagraha to the peasants.

This movement gave the youth a direction for the struggle of freedom. Gandhiji was restricted to enter Champaran by the authorities but soon on 10th April 1917, Gandhiji arrived in Champaran and started the movement after a week that is on 17th April 1917.

He established a team of lawyers which included Rajendra Prasad, Anugrah Naryan Sinha etc. to take a survey on the matter. Gandhiji’s Champaran Satyagraha forced the authorities to conduct an inquiry to the conditions of the indigo cultivators which helped a lot in the betterment of the condition of the indigo cultivators.

9 . Look at the history of either tea or coffee plantations in India . See how the life of workers in these plantations was similar to or different from that of the workers in indigo plantations.

ANSWER : In India, tea was first discovered under the British rule. Scotsman Robert Bruce discovered the local variety of tea plant that is Camellia sinensis in 1823 in the state of Assam . Robert Bruce was introduced to the Singpho people by a local merchant.

They were having a drink which was almost similar to tea found in China. The Singpho used to pluck the leaf , dry them under sunlight ,  exposed it to the night dew for at least two to three days and smoked it till the flavor developed.

Bruce found it to be similar to tea of China after sampling it. After research, it was discovered that it was not the same variety as found in China, so they named it as “Assamica”. The East India Company made efforts to produce tea in India as they found that the soil was applicable for the cultivation of tea plant.

The tea industry in India was finally established in 1840 and tea planting started in Darjeeling in 1841. After the departure of British , the tea cultivators continued planting tea and has been growing it ever since today.In India, coffee was first recorded in 1670 before the arrival of East India Company. It was brought by Sufi saint Baba Budan to Chikmagalur , a town in South India.

No one had any idea about how those beans were cultivated. Later on , in 18th century the British officials established coffee plantations in India and by the end of 19th century coffee was exported to Europe. Now, coffee is grown in three regions of South India – Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. These are known as the traditional regions.

The non-traditional regions include Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. It is also cultivated in the states of Assam, Meghalaya , Tripura etc.There was a much similarities in the life of tea or coffee cultivators with the life of indigo cultivators. Both of them were very low paid instead of their hard work.

The tea or coffee cultivators were given the waste lands so they had to make extra efforts for better cultivation. The laborers had to stay long time in the garden. Both the cultivators we’re tortured and did not have any independence in growing any other crops in their land. Moreover, the profits were taken by the Company and the cultivators were not given any help in developing the agricultural lands.

Extra questions with answers.

1 . State whether the following statements are true or false:-

a . Holt Mackenzie devised the Mahalwari system.

ANSWER : true.

b . There was no increase in proportion of indigo cultivation in Bengal since 1788.

ANSWER : false.

 c . Gandhiji led the Champaran movement.

ANSWER : true.

d . After the “Blue rebellion” indigo production still continued in Bengal.

ANSWER : false.

e . The planters did not allow the indigo cultivators to grow any other crop except indigo.

ANSWER : true.

2 . Fill in the blanks:-

a . The two main systems of Indigo cultivation were _______ and ______.

ANSWER : nij and ryoti .

b . ____________ introduced the permanent settlement in 1793.

ANSWER : Charles Cornwallis.

c . On __________ the East India Company was appointed as Diwan of Bengal.

ANSWER : 12 August , 1765.

d . By the late 18th century the company was trying to establish _______ and _______ cultivation.

ANSWER : opium and indigo.

e . The planters shifted to _______ after the collapse of indigo production in Bengal.

ANSWER : Bihar.

3. Give an account of the “Blue Rebellion act”.

ANSWER : The peasants of Bengal were forced to cultivate indigo on half of their lands by the planter’s. They were very low paid instead of their hard labor. Except indigo no other crop was allowed to be cultivated .

The peasants did not see any profit in indigo cultivation but still, they were forcibly made to cultivate indigo. The frustrated and furious cultivators in 1859 led a mass uprising movement in which the peasants of Bengal refused to grow indigo in their lands.

With time, the peasants also refused to pay land revenue imposed on them. They became so violent that they attacked and destroyed many indigo factories established in Bengal. Not only men but also women played an important role .

They used the kitchen appliances to attack the planters. The planters got beaten up badly when they demanded the revenue.In 1859, the zamindars whose lands were taken forcibly by the planters supported the ryots. After the uprising of 1857, the Company was not ready for another uprising movement. After seeing the rebellion magistrate Ashley Eden declared that indigo need not be cultivated as stated by Queen Victoria.

The government never saw such an uprising after the uprising of 1857. The government appointed special military forces to protect the planters. When the situation went out of control , the Company introduced the Indigo Commission.

It clearly declared that the ryots can refuse to cultivate indigo as it was not profitable for them. After this rebellion indigo cultivation collapsed in Bengal but it moved towards Bihar where the same situation arrived which led to the Champaran movement in 1917.

4 . What were the problems with nij cultivation?

ANSWER : Nij cultivation is the way of cultivation in which the planters can grow indigo in those lands which were under his control . They could heir ryots for the indigo cultivation. But there were many problems with the nij cultivation those are as follows:-

  • Indigo cultivation needed a vast area with fertile soil. The planters found it very difficult to find such large area for cultivation.
  • Indigo cultivation needed many laborers but they were busy in cultivation of rice so they did not want themselves to get indulged in indigo cultivation.
  • Moreover nij cultivation needed a number of ploughs and  bullock . For example two bigha of land needed four ploughs that is double the number. Maintenance of ploughs was a big issue.
  • Bullocks were  not available as the peasants engaged them in rice cultivation.

So , only 25 percent of the land was utilized under nij cultivation for the production of indigo.