Triveni Journal

1927 | 11,233,916 words

Triveni is a journal dedicated to ancient Indian culture, history, philosophy, art, spirituality, music and all sorts of literature. Triveni was founded at Madras in 1927 and since that time various authors have donated their creativity in the form of articles, covering many aspects of public life....

The Northern Circars and The First Committee of Circuit

By Lanka Sundaram

The Northern Circars and

The First Committee of Circuit

BY LANKA SUNDARAM, M.A., F. R. Econ. S. (London)

THE COMMITTEE OF REVENUE

The Regulating Act of 1773 was responsible for a marked change in the conduct of the administration of the affairs of the East India Company. It made it obligatory on the part of the Presidencies of Bengal, Madras and Bombay to lay before the authorities at home a detailed analysis of their respective revenues. Not long after the receipt of orders from the Court of Directors, the President and Council at Madras resolved1 that "it appears that some inconveniences have arisen from blending . . . [‘the business of revenue’] with other proceedings of the Civil Department, that connection being frequently broken and interrupted, it is often necessary before a subject can be thoroughly understood, to make a great number of references which not only create trouble and loss of time, but it sometimes happens, notwithstanding the greatest care, that many little circumstances escape notice and occasion omissions which might be easily prevented by a more regular and connected method of conducting business". It was further resolved that the revenue business be conducted by a ‘Board of Revenue’2 and the Proceedings be entitled ‘Proceedings of the Board of Revenue’. To facilitate the smooth and efficient working of this scheme, a Committee of Four was elected by ballot and appointed to meet once a month or oftener to conduct the business of this department and to maintain an ‘Account Current Book’3 in order that the amounts of balances arising out of the transactions between the Company on the one hand and the Zemindars and renters on the other might be clearly exhibited. Henceforward, a continuity of policy and thoroughness of revenue administration with the attendant benefits to the renters and cultivators as were so far unknown might be expected.

The efforts of the Madras Council at this stage were beset with great difficulties. With a view to clear the ground for the Committee of Four, they reviewed the existing position of revenue affairs in the Northern Circars.4 The Company's possessions comprising of lands ‘held by them in absolute right’ were found to consist of the haveli lands, approximating to a certain extent to the ancient royal demesne and of Zemindari lands held by individuals with varying rights and status. In both these cases the Company entered into agreements with them on a mixed tributary and lease basis and as such no direct contact between the former and the actual cultivators was possible. The Zemindars were found to be of a puzzling type. Some of them were ‘hereditary landowners’, tracing their origin to comparatively remote periods. Others were self-created territorial proprietors who came into existence during the troublous times that followed the break up of the Bahamani Kingdom and the Mughal Empire. But both these classes were equally obstinate and "often refused obedience until compelled by force" which at times resulted in their expulsion from their Zemindaries. "The Government found the attachment of the people to the Zemindars so strong that they could seldom collect any part of the revenues and in general they rather chose to give the lands to one of the family than to annex them to the Crown." Forcible occupation was never contemplated. All that was done was to ‘secure a reasonable tribute’ settled with the individual Zemindars and the renters in general. The system of leases, generally for periods of three or five years, more often the former, was found convenient. A principle of gradation of annual payments in the ascending order was unconsciously adopted, and the ‘medium’5 was generally recognised as the standard for revenue transactions. This system, presumably, worked smoothly as far as it obtained, inasmuch as the lower initial payment was capable of being augmented considerably by the time the leases expired, on account of the possibility of an increased attention to and grasp of detail by the contracting parties of the agricultural conditions. This feature led to the unavoidable presence of balances outstanding in the Company's accounts, while the principle of continuity of management as seen in the convenient re-appointment of a renter was gradually instituted. The tentativearrangements recognising Hussain Ali Khan as the chief renter of the Company's southern possessions and allowing Sitarama Razu to mediate for the revenues of the Chicacole Zemindars were given up, and "the Board 6 thought it expedient to try the mode of settling with the Zemindars without the intervention of a renter, and the experiment succeeded beyond all expectations".

Paucity of material, in spite of the accounts of the subordinate settlements, hampered the activities of the Company "to prevent the people from being oppressed and to secure to them all their just rights and privileges, for industry is the natural effect of security’. To obviate this difficulty, the duties of the Committee of Four were clearly defined. They were to meet as frequently as occasion demanded. Something like an agricultural census was to be attempted. The Committee were directed to ascertain the value of the lands, their capacity for improvement, the mode of division of crops and the realisation of the assessment, and to "draw out an account of the several divisions of the home farms",7 specifying the chief towns and villages dependent on the various cusbas or chiefships, the number of houses, the nature of the soil, whether watered by tanks or pikotas,8the number of tanks and water courses, the expenses required to put them into proper condition, the prospective advantages to be derived from such constructive undertakings, the proportion of cultivated to uncultivated land, and the like. Likewise was an industrial census enjoined with a view to facilitate the commercial activities of the Company. Further, the Committee were asked to make an historical inquiry into the position of the srotriam and inam lands. A minute investigation was cautiously avoided, but the Chiefs and Councils of the subordinate settlements were instructed to furnish detailed accounts-current of revenue, with their views on the probable effects of a fragmentation of individual holdings under the management of renters from whose ‘want of responsibility’ the Company ‘frequently suffered’. Particular emphasis was laid upon the independent ‘further enquiries’ of the Company's servants in supplying this information explanatory to the accounts of the sheristadars, mujumdars, deshmukhs and the deshpandyas. All this was anticipatory of the terms of reference to the Committee of Circuit which was appointed a year later.

The Committee submitted its first report on 1st December 1774, which dealt with the accounts-current of the various districts belonging to the Company.9 After carefully comparing their information with the oral and written evidence and accounts of the Zemindars and renters, the Committee dilated upon the imperfections in the dealings of various subordinate Chiefs and Councils with the farmers of revenue in general. Extracts from this report were sent to the chiefships concerned for their explanation. This may be regarded as the first instance of a system of audit of the revenue accounts fully developed in the Madras Presidency at a considerably later date.

The inquiry, rather the survey ordered by the Madras Council occasioned a lot of suspicion on the part of the renters as well as the cultivators. The Committee were not satisfied with the accounts supplied by the Chief and Council of Masulipatam and deemed them "insufficient to enable us to judge of their real value,"l0 while they expressed their surprise at the fears of the inhabitants who "appear to be so much interested in every kind of improvement of the lands, that we cannot conceive why an enquiry of this kind should afford them any real grounds of suspicion."11 At this stage, George Mackay, a member of the Madras Council, submitted a reasoned minute deprecating short leases.12 He raised seven points dealing with the advisability of adopting a system of long leases, encouraging the Company's servants to rent lands, bringing Zemindari agreements into assonance with those relating to the haveli lands, and synchronising both for purposes of administrative convenience, prohibiting the acceptance of nazars on pain of suspension from office, issuing public advertisements in English and Telugu while calling in revenue offers scraping up inland duties and finally appointing a committee to circuit the Company's jagir13and the Northern Circars. All these proposals were approved with the exception of the last for which the existing conditions were deemed unpropitious.14 "Upon a comparative view of the affairs . . . the Board observe with concern that the offers for five years fall short of the late rents upwards of 7,000 pagodas per annum, and they observe also that the offers upon the increased term of eight and ten years even do not come up to those rents." This is evidently due to the reflex effects of the stir caused by the proposed inquiry. "The offers are in general inadequate to the value of the farms" and all except three, of which one was that of an European renter, were rejected. At the same time the farms for which the proposals were rejected were to be managed "immediately on . . . [the Company's] own account," until the results of the survey ordered to be conducted by Mr. Scott of the Masulipatam farms became available.

The Committee submitted its second report on 21st July 1775.15 As far as the Northern Circars were concerned, the findings of the Committee indicated a very unfavourable situation. Large balances were outstanding in the Company's accounts. Most of the renters and Zemindars under Vizagapatam who owed them were dispossessed of their lands. The balances under Masulipatam "appear to us very considerable and we therefore represent them to you that you may issue such orders as may appear to you necessary upon the occasion.

. . . For the regular keeping of the books account-current of the Zemindars and renters, it is necessary that it be the province of one person." The Madras Council circularised the Chiefs and Councils of Vizagapatam and Masulipatam with the above findings, while Mr. Hoissard was appointed to the charge of the accounts-current with the Zemindars and renters.

THE FIRST COMMITTEE OF CIRCUIT

The appointment of the Committee of Circuit is memorable in more ways than one. So far, matters relating to revenue were dealt with in the most casual manner possible. The subordinate chiefships conducted the revenue business at first in the public consultations and then in the military consultations and sometimes in both. It was not till 1774 that the revenue business was clearly separated from the military and commercial undertakings, and a series of revenue consultations started. The appointment of the Circuit Committee resulted in accelerating this attempt for a departmental organisation of the ever-increasing volume of the revenue business and not only provided for continuity of policy but also systematized the revenue methods.

Previous to the appointment of the Circuit Committee, the Chiefs and Councils of the subordinate settlements had not access to detailed and authentic local information necessary to give them a regular, definite and real grasp of the position of the agriculturists and the capacity of the country to yield an adequate and reasonable revenue for which there was an ever-growing demand on the part of the Company with their increased responsibility and enlarged field of activities. No wonder that they were at the mercy of the few who understood the English language and were entitled to their confidence. It was essentially an age of dubash tyranny. The cases of Kandregula Jogi Pantulu, Venkata Rayulu and Jaggappa on the one hand and of Bala Krishna Naidu on the other are instances in point. Next to these ‘interpreters’ came the select group of the landed aristocracy who had the wherewithal to parade their capacity to rent lands for a consideration. What the Company at this period wanted was an adequate security for the regular payment of the much needed revenue, and this the mixed type of landed proprietors, otherwise indifferently called Zemindars, were seen to provide roost often with the collateral security of soucar bills. But the dubash, by the nature of his appointment which was often coupled with that of a renter of the Company's haveli lands, was a potential instrument for double-dealing and oppression, while the demonstrations of some of the prospective renters were frequently deceptive. The latter fact may be illustrated by the enormous balances invariably remaining in the credit columns of the Company's accounts. Even the large estates, say of Vizianagaram and Pithapuram, were not sufficient guarantees for the regular payment of the Company's dues. The period prior to this important event was essentially one of revenue speculation, both on the part of the Company's servants and the prospective renters, inasmuch as neither of them had the means or the social standing sufficient to inspire confidence and obtain a specific knowledge of the condition of the husbandmen, the capacity of the land, the state of irrigational facilities, the effect of the seasons on the crops and the like, not to speak of the question of land tenures. The situation was worsened by the fact that most of the renters were privateers in the good books of the Company without possessing any local knowledge. What was looked for was the assurance of an agreement for an appreciable amount of revenue reinforced by a guarantee for its punctual payment. Obviously, such a variable mode of revenue speculation could not have produced a just system of revenue assessment and collection. The orders for the appointment of the Circuit Committee were conceived to relieve the disastrous effects of such a process susceptible of modulation from year to year.

The appointment of the Circuit Committee was ordered by the Court of Directors in their dispatch of 12th April 1775.16 It was to consist of ‘a committee of our Council’, meaning thereby the Madras Council, which was "to acquire a complete knowledge of the territories which have been granted to the Company on the Coast of Coramandel and to establish a judicious and permanent system for their future management". They were to "ascertain with all possible exactness the produce of the countries, the number of inhabitants, the state of manufactures, the fortified places, the gross amount of the revenues, the articles from which they arose, and the mode by which they are collected, the charges of collection, the specific proportion usually received by the Rajah or Zemindar, and that which custom or usage has allotted to the cultivator as reward of his labor . . They are particularly to enquire what security . . [the latter] has for his property, what courts there are for the administration of justice and how far similar regulations to those lately established at Bengal by our President and Council [there] may with propriety be introduced into the Northern Circars." "The impropriety of suffering any Zemindar to become a formidable neighbour or too powerful cannot admit of a doubt. . . . In order to enable us to strike at the root of this evil, the Committee of Circuit must take the most effectual means for ascertaining the strength of each Rajah, Zemindar or landholder in the Circars, the expense of his household and that of his troops, the means he may have of defraying such expenses, and the number of regular troops which it will be necessary for us to maintain in the respective districts in order to keep them in due subjection . . . [to maintain which, the] tribute remitted to our treasury at Fort St. George be nevertheless considerably increased. We are therefore resolved that every military man in the Circars shall be absolutely under our own command, obliged to serve us whenever he may be wanted." If any of the Zemindars "relinquish their hereditary claims, we have no objection to allow them such stipends as shall be found reasonable in lieu of the benefits arising from their Zemindaries". "It is by no means our wish to deprive the hereditary Rajahs or Zemindars of their annual incomes ; on the contrary, we mean to secure it to them without the necessity of keeping up an armed force to compel payment thereof and it is our earnest desire to deliver the inhabitants, so far as may be in our power, from undue exaction and oppression." Finally, the Committee were to lease out the lands for a period of years, at their own discretion, on the expiry of the existing agreements.

The unfortunate administration of Lord Pigot, which resulted in his ultimate imprisonment by the majority of the Madras Council, impeded the immediate appointment of the Circuit Committee so definitely insisted upon by the Court of Directors. Notwithstanding the spirited protest of Sir Robert Fletcher,17 the Obstinacy of Lord Pigot who pleaded the urgency of the Tanjore affairs and the impossibility of sparing senior servants to serve on the Committee, protracted the quarrels among the members of the Madras Council to a disgusting extent. During the course of this unfortunate affair,18 Francis Jourdan, a senior member of the Council who saw service to the northward, minuted 19: "I know of no other circumstance in the present situation of our affairs that can justify longer delay in carrying on these orders of the Company for the Circuit into execution; on the contrary, the rents of the farms are continued for one year and the mode tends evidently to distress the inhabitants in those districts. The Zemindars likewise must be managed in the same manner. The Zemindars will be discouraged from improvement in the apprehension of an increase of tribute and this mode, injurious as it may be, cannot be altered until the Committee obtain full and perfect information of the real value of the lands. The Circars are capable of great improvement.

. . . These are the objects of Government (sic) and which if well attended to will give confidence, wealth and happiness to the people and increase the revenues of the Government, and these are the objects entrusted to the, care of the Committee." Spurred to action by this spirited minute, the majority in Council,20 appointed the Committee of Circuit on 11th October 1776.21 Consisting of Samuel Johnson, Charles Floyer, John Hollond, Peter Perring and Quintin Craufurd, the Committee were ordered to investigate in the first instance the revenues of the Chicaeole pargana.22

DUTIES OF THE CIRCUIT COMMITTEE

Early during the disagreement between the members of the Madras Council, attempts were made to define the scope of the work of the Circuit Committee on the basis of the instructions of the Court of Directors. Alexander Dalrymple, the future author of the Oriental Repertory, then a member of the Council, prepared an elaborate list of the duties of, and the procedure to be adopted by, the Committee.23 His clear enunciation of the modus vivendi to be profitably adopted, which consisted of the detailing of individual members of the Committee assisted by junior servants to localise their investigations in the different parts of the Circars and after collating their work in committee to proceed with the leasing out of the lands, did not evoke the consideration it merited. Lord Pigot was suspended on 25th August 1776, and instructions were issued to the Circuit Committee on 31st October24 under the signature of George Stratton who was elected President by the majority in Council.

Put briefly, the Circuit Committee were ordered to investigate the best possible way of increasing the Company's revenues.25 To supply authentic and detailed information about the state of the existing affairs was a secondary charge. Not even a single point was missed. From the examination of the position of the formidable military strength of the Raja of Vizianagaram to an enquiry into the necessity of building a residence for the Paymaster of Aska, the Committee were to concern themselves with everything. Sufficient latitude of action was given to them and they were urged to conduct the inquiry "in the most expeditious and effectual manner possible". All the records of the Company's subordinate settlements were put at their disposal, and the persons employed in the survey of the lands were detailed to assist them in every way.

The Committee were asked to examine into the validity of the claims for an abatement of revenue by Jagannadha Razu and Jaggabandhu Chaudhari, renters of the Company's haveli lands in the Chicacole and Ichchapur parganas respectively and by Sitarama Razu diwan to and elder brother of the Raja of Vizianagaram. They were further to report on the advisability of converting the smaller and heavily encumbered Zemindaries into the Company's haveli with suitable jagirs provided for the maintenance of the sequestrated Zemindari families. But, "we do not mean upon any account to take away from the Zemindars their hereditary rights." Means were to be recommended for reducing the price of salt. Octroi and other Zemindari duties which were harmful to industry and commerce were to be minutely inquired into with a view to their total abolition, as well as the validity of the innumerable grants for lands in the possession of cultivators which exempted them from paying rent to the Company in some way or other. This practically amounted to an historical inquiry into the question of land tenures. Finally, the instructions were rounded off with the following remarkable passage26 "The increase of cultivation and of population, the increase of the wealth of individuals and of revenue to Government are so connected with each other, that in the investigation entrusted to you, every day will throw new light upon the information of the preceding day. We rely upon the exertion of your endeavours in the execution of this important business, and we shall therefore only add that much will depend on impressing the minds of the people with confidence in our Government and securing to the industrious the produce of their labour."

The appointment of the Circuit Committee did not immediately secure the avowed objects of the majority of the Council which shortly after arrested and imprisoned Lord Pigot, as they at once proceeded to abandon the principles on which they had appeared to fight. On the recommendation of the Masulipatam Council,27 they let the lands for a term of two years under the impression that such an act would not only allay popular apprehensions but also facilitate the Circuit Committee's work, and thus within less than a fortnight of the revolution, the policy which they so vigorously enunciated was completely reversed.

After the completion of preliminary investigations of the Vizagapatam records, the Circuit Committee requested28 for a copy of the report of the Bengal Committee of Circuit, which was appointed considerably earlier,29 with a view to inquire into precedents and assess their applicability to the conditions prevailing in the Northern Circars. The original Committee of Four still continued to function, and on 14th January 1777 they furnished a report30 based on a detailed analysis of the Company's revenues from the various parganas of the Northern Circars. This curious parallelism in the functions and investigations of the two Committees is not clearly explicable.

REPORTS OF THE CIRCUIT COMMITTEE

The Circuit Committee were compelled to plunge at once into the tangled morass of Vizianagaram politics which came to a climax at this period. The fraternal jealousies between Viziarama Razu, the Raja of Vizianagaram, and his aggrieved elder brother, Sitarama Razu, whose claims to the Zemindari had been overlooked, reached the point at which no orderly government of the vast tracts of land under their joint control was possible. Jagannadha Razu, the diwan of Viziarama Razu and the renter of the Company's haveli lands in the Chicacole Circar, was imprisoned by the Vizagapatam Council for his alleged contumacy in aiding Rajanna Dora, a rebel chief in the West Godavari District31 The Madras Government took strong exception to this and wrote to Vizagapatam32: "As we have already recommended to the Chiefs and Councils in the Circars to keep upon the best terms possible with the several Zemindars and to maintain them in their respective rights and privileges, we are much concerned at the steps you had taken to confine Jaggernautrauze without the charge being proved against him. For being Duan to Viziarama Razu he should have been imprisoned through him for the claim laid to his charge." Viziarama Razu protested at this obvious encroachment of his just rights and refused to proceed to Madras as was ordered by the Vizagapatam Council33 Instead, he rescued Jagannadha Razu from the custody of the Company's troops, arid not only made him a prisoner for a second time but also abetted his brother Sitarama Razu in imprisoning and torturing Jagga Rao, the Company's interpreter at Vizagapatam.34 Notwithstanding the protests of the Circuit Committee35 and the demand by the Madras Council for the release of Jagannadha Razu,36 he put Vizianagaram in a state of defence and collecting 25,000 troops threatened hostilities with a view to openly assert his rights.37 He was further believed to be in league with the Maharattas. 38 The disputes between the Vizagapatam Council and Capt. Murphy, the officer commanding the Company's troops in the Chicacole Circar, unnecessarily dragged on till 19th July 1777,39 when at the request of the former, reinforcements were sent under Capt. Collins from Masulipatam and Capt. Cheshyre from Ganjam.40 Roused at last to a sense of the gravity of the situation the incapable Viziarama Razu recalled the detachment of a thousand troops sent to the aid of Rajanna Dora, sent in teeps for Rs. 1,22,666 and promised to pay off the remaining balance to the Company in a short time. But Jagannadha Razu's life was still in danger, since by this time the ascendancy of Sitarama Razu over his weakling brother was supreme. Samuel Johnson, Chief of Vizagapatam, deputed Quintin Craufurd, a member of his Council, and the Company's dubash to conclude a speedy settlement with Viziarama Razu.41 Madras condemned this proceeding as calculated "to degrade the authority of the Company"42 while the mission itself failed in that Viziarama Razu refused to deliver Jagannadha Razu into the custody of the Company.43

Even though Jagannadha Razu was released almost immmediately afterwards,44 Sir Edward Hughes was asked to provide two ships to carry troops and stores to Vizagapatam;45 and on the minute of General Stuart the Madras Council resolved to garrison the fort of Vizianagaram.46 Jagannadha Razu still remained at large47, and ran the risk of being again kidnapped.48 Further reinforcements were ordered to Vizagapatam,49 Masulipatam was directed to defray the expenses of the expedition,50 and Col. Braithwaite placed in charge of the operations.51 Viziarama Razu was ordered52 to remove all his effects from Vizianagaram, to look to Madras for future instructions, to account for the "indignity and insult [offered] to this Government and for the impediments thrown in the way of the Circuit Committee,"53 to appoint with the consent of Sitarama Razu an heir to the Zemindari, to deliver the fort of Vizianagaram to Col. Braithwaite within twenty-four hours’ notice; and, finally, to proceed to Madras for a new revenue settlement. Viziarama Razu protested in vain against his ill-treatment by the Vizagapatam Council,54 and surrendered on 17th August 1777.55 Sitarama Razu fled from Vizianagaram the very next day, and the Vizagapatam Council recommended his imprisonment inasmuch as his flight with his family effects constituted an act of criminality and as "his ambition [could] only be equaled by his avarice".56 Communicating the whole transaction to Warren Hastings, the Whitehill Government observed57 that the preceding Stratton Government had taken such severe steps "thinking this a favourable opportunity for reducing the increased power of Vizeramrauze which has long been an object of jealousy to the Company".

It is clear from the preceding narrative that the action of the Madras Government was unnecessarily provocative and precipitate. No doubt, the Vizianagaram Zemindari had become more and more formidable ever since the battle of Kondur, and the Court of Directors and the Circuit Committee recommended its reduction. The difficulty lay in finding a suitable pretext for such an unprecedented act. The aggressive attitude of the Vizagapatam Council in imprisoning the diwan of Vizianagaram without the charges being proved against him and without the previous permission of his master was condemned with justice by the Stratton Government. But the righteous indignation of the vacillating Viziarama was exploited as offering a pretext for reducing the influence and wealth of the Vizianagaram family, and hence the precipitate proceedings. It is singular that the Court of Directors made no comment on these transactions although they strongly condemned the later proceedings of Sir Thomas Rumbold.

The first report of the Circuit Committee58 naturally comprised an account of the military strength of Viziarama Razu. It is impossible to credit this report with the responsibility for the reduction of the Vizianagaram Zemindari, since it was dated 16th August 1777, the day previous to, and was read in Madras revenue consultations ten days after, the actual surrender of Viziarama Razu. Equally impossible it is to say how far the investigations of the Committee during the nine months preceding the fall of the fort of Vizianagaram supplied the Madras Council with information sufficient to induce them to pursue such a forward policy. Hence, the doubtful value of the sections of this report dealing with the military position of the Zemindari. Yet, it throws a flood of light on the exact situation of the affairs in the Chicacole Circar and undoubtedly helped the Madras Council to formulate plans for the general demilitarisation of the Circar which was systematically carried out subsequently.

The accounts perused by the Committee ‘were broken and unfinished’ and their investigations were greatly handicapped by want of access to the village accountants. The revenues of Viziarama Razu were estimated at twenty lakhs of rupees a year. Of this, six or seven lakhs, or nearly a third of the gross revenues of the Zemindari, were generally expended on the maintenance of a regular force of eleven thousand sibbandi.59Sitarama Razu was "well known to be a man of great intrigue, abilities and persuation" and kept a constant correspondence with the other Zemindars awaiting an opportunity to take the field against the Company. The renters of the Chicacole and Kasimkota haveli lands were not entitled to any abatement of their rents.

The second report of the Circuit Committee60 throws a lot of light on the proprietary rights of the Zemindars, inamdars, renters and, finally, of the actual cultivators of the soil, even though some of their contentions and observations as to fact are questionable. The resolution of the Madras Council on this report is not of any real significance as Johnson and Perring who are signatories to the report happened to be members thereof when it came under their consideration.

"The Chicacole havelly is, in general, we understand, thinly populated and not sufficiently stocked with bullocks for cultivation and that on this account many spots capable of cultivation have been neglected for many years past." A succession of short leases entirely ruined the country as in a short lease the renter must necessarily be discouraged from launching out in (sic) any considerable improvements on account of the danger his property would be liable to from the failure of rains and as he can have no certainty of his expenses being reimbursed". "The computation of the produce being fixed too high in several villages where they (sic) fell, and partly as the price at which the Government's share was charged to the inhabitants being rated above the due medium of value", the cultivators were heavily indebted to the renters. Further, the Company sustained a loss of a lakh and a half rupees during the management of the haveli lands by Akkaji and Mir Sahib. The Vizianagaram family was aggressive in usurping the Kotapalem pargana61from its lawful Zemindar whose family first obtained possession of it from Hafiz-ud-Din, Nawab of Chicacole, as far as 1725, and of the Gunupuram and Nerumandalam parganas62which rightfully belonged to Jagannadha Deo, Raja of Kimedi. Sitarama Razu claimed illegally and enjoyed the revenues of certain haveli villages valued at Rs. 45,000.

The Committee did not approve of the appointment, according to the usual practice, of inexperienced tahsildars to collect the revenues of the lands of defaulting renters and Zemindars. With a view to obviate the existing undesirable features in the administration of the Chicacole Circar, as enumerated above, they recommended that the haveli lands be leased out to Padmanabha Razu for a period of ten years which would improve the revenue conditions to an astonishing extent. The improvement of the revenues being their primary charge, the Committee recommended that all the outstanding balances must be considered as revenue ‘whether received or not’ and inserted accordingly in the Company's accounts. Further, they thought it proper when preparing kowles "to insert such conditions in order to preclude all pretensions in the renter (sic) to deductions at the expiration of the term on the ground of former precedents." The Vizianagaram family was not entitled to the retention of the Kotapalem pargana and as such Timma Razu the rightfulowner should be restored to it on a reasonable rent. Likewise, the offer of Rs. 25,000 by Jagannadha Deo, Raja of Kimedi, for the Gunupuram and Nerumandalam parganas might be accepted and the countries delivered to his charge, as these were obtained by Sitarama Razu as lately as 1771. "We conceive the lands themselves are unalienable" and "it appears to us to be not only inconsistent with the submission due to the supremacy of the Company's Government that the Zemindars should privately alienate any part of the lands of their Zemindaries, but further the allowing of such a practice would be no less repugnant to principles of sound policy." As to the haveli villages, continued possession by Sitarama Razu had not created any legal right for him. They were first obtained by the Vizianagaram family in 1741 during the governorship of Jaffer Ali Khan, whose inefficient administration resulted in his removal and the appointment of Abdali Khan. Viziarama Razu the Great found means to arrange for the reappointment of Jaffer Ali and subsequently defeated the Hyderabad forces in 1752. Then followed the administration of De Bussey. The villages in question were never relinquished even during the management of Ibrahim Khan who was appointed as the French deputy in the Chicacole Circar when De Bussey finally left the Northern Circars. Finally no authentic sanads under the Hyderabad seal were produced by the Vizianagaram family. Even if there were any, "it cannot, we think, be doubted that the Company by the cession that was made them of the Circars by the Court of Delhi, became immediately possessed of all the rights over them, that resided in the Mogul Government." On all these grounds the Committee recommended that the haveli villages concerned be taken possession of by the Company and managed on their Own account.

The Committee reported that it was customary for the Company to realise the revenue from the inhabitants in specie and not in kind. When the grain was ripe the renter or his agents attended by the head inhabitants and the village conico-plies made a computation of the produce. In case of a disagreement, the fact that the grain was under the surveillance of the renter coerced the inhabitants into acquiescence. Attested copies of documents stating the quantity of the produce were deposited in the muzumdari office. The renter then ordered the inhabitants to gather the produce, and the price charged by the Government for its share was then established. There were no specific regulations observed in the fixation of the price, but it was incumbent on the Muhammadan nawabs or managers, to assemble all the sowcars (merchants), the principal inhabitants and the kazi of the village, and take their opinions in writing before the price was fixed. The Committee confessed its inability to assess the degree of security enjoyed by the cultivator in a transaction like this as there is "in this country no intermediate independent judicial power for him to appeal for the redress of his grievance". "It is hardly necessary for us to point out that in settling the computation of the produce of the harvests and establishing the standard price for regulating the Government collections, great openings are unavoidably given for fraud and abuse and that if in either case injustice be wilfully inflicted, the inhabitants having the whole weight of Government to contend with must necessarily be in a hopeless condition." The villages did not maintain any registers, and hence it was not possible for them to ascertain with accuracy the number of the inhabitants, and the modes of their occupation and the figures supplied by the renters of the haveli lands under these heads were untrustworthy.

The more significant part of this report deals with lands enjoyed mostly rent free under various and varying titles and rights. These include jagirs, inams, agraharams, srotriams and brahmani manyams.63The administration of the Chicacole nawabs and renters not only increased the number of these grants but also left undefined the respective rights of the individuals enjoying them. "Too rich and too well fortified with powerful connections to be exposed to any scrutiny at the Durbar, and consequently too little interested and concerned

with respect to the condition in which they might leave the public revenue, the Chicacole Nabobs seem not to have been very scrupulous in lavishing the Government possessions." A thorough and critical examination of these grants was not possible. "It is, however, difficult to get at the truth of an enquiry of this nature. The interests of the claimants, the frauds of the renters, the good nature of bystanders, being all considerable obstacles. Those Sunnuds which we have marked as appearing to us to be wholly admissible64 were granted, as you will observe, part of them by persons who could not have been authorised to perform such acts, and part of them were since the establishment of the Company's Government," and hence illegal without the confirmation of and recognition by the Company. The various grants may be classified under the following heads:

(1) Grants under the Hyderabad seal.

(2) Grants of nawabs of the Hyderabad Government confirmed by successive administrations to the time of the expulsion of Jaffer Ali Khan by Viziarama Razu the Great in 1752.

(3) Grants same as in No. 2, but not confirmed by successive Governments.

(4) Grants from the time of the expulsion of Jaffer Ali Khan to the conquest of the Circars from the French and further to the cession of them to the Company by the Mughal Government (1765).

(5) Grants for which the sanads are said to be lost, but without any attestation thereof and which have been continued under the orders of successive renters.

(6) Grants on account of offices which have become obsolete under the Company's administration.

(7) Grants since the conquest of the Circars from the French or cession of them by the Mughal Government.

The Committee deplored that the Company had not so far maintained a register of the grants enjoyed by various individuals besides those given to their subordinate servants. "Whichever of these grants, or denominations of grants, your honor & co. may judge proper to continue, they should, we think, be officially registered, and sunnuds for them expressing the quantity of ground, and the purposes for which it was bestowed should be given (sic) under the Company's seal." They further pointed to the fact that "no record has been kept in the accounts of the particular sums received by the several Inaumdars", and confessed that the block figure representing such receipts had not led them to any definite conclusions about them.

The Chicacole haveli lands must be freed from the deductions of the muzumdari office which constituted within itself "the superintending and controlling power over all village Conicoplies". This office was one of "considerarble trust and extent" under the Muhammadan Government, but was gradually limited to the haveli, lands,having been suppressed by the Zemindars with a view, to conceal the produce of their countries", and quite obsolete under the Company’s administration. As the muzumdar was never legally entitled to any grants in land, but only to one per cent. of the collections of revenue, the hereditary right to the jagir might be suppressed and Jagannadha Razu, the former diwan of the Vizianagaram Zemindari, appointed to that office on a monthly salary of a hundred and fifty pagodas.

With respect to the inams, agraharams and srotriams, various forms of charity lands, the Chicacole revenues suffered to the extent of Rs. 50,000 a year. All these lands were enjoyed under the grants of the renters who always had "a power of harassing and distressing" their beneficiaries. As the original sanads for these grants were not procurable, the Committee considered them counterfeit. "It will not, we think, be advisable under the arrangements it may be necessary to make with respect to this important article of alienation of revenue to neglect their priesthood or leave them unprovided for . . . It will undoubtedly be proper that their possession under our establishment should be restricted to some reasonable limit."

The immediate effect of this report was that the Chicacole pargana was leased out for ten years (1777-1787) by the temporary Government of John Whitehill, 65 to Sitarama Razu instead of Padmanabha Razu the nominee of the Circuit Committee. The Vizagapatam Council entertained serious misgivings at this decision which discarded an offer of Rs. 40,000 more from a man of outstanding integrity and requested for a reconsideration of the matter, in view of the ‘established custom’ of the subordinate settlements to recommend suitable persons for the rent of the Government lands.66 In this they had the support of the Court of Directors.67 Still, the offer from Sitarama Razu was demonstrably to the benefit of the Company inasmuch as the rent for 1776-7 (Rs. 1,70,000), which was gradually increased to Rs. 2,73,000 by 1786-7 was actually productive of a surplus of Rs. 7,60,000 in ten years. This, the Madras Government wrote to the Court, "is to be attributed mostly to the enquiries your honors had directed to be made by your Circuit Committee".68 The result of this decennial lease was to strengthen the position of Sitarama Razu and to complicate the Vizianagaram politics for an indefinite period of time.

At this stage, the Circuit Committee were reshuffled owing to the suspension of Floyer from the Company’s service and the promotion of Johnson and Perring to membership of the Madras Council.69 The reconstituted Committee70 consisted of John Holland, Quintin Craufurd, Edward Saunders, Robert Barclay and John Huddleston. The three members last named were junior servants of the Company. The Court of Directors acquiesced in these appointments even though their original orders were for the Committee of Circuit to consist of members of the Madras Council.71 The Whitehill Government were fully intent with the prosecution of the Committee's work and as early as 13th January 1778 admonished them for their inaction.72 But the Committee were definitely suspended by the Rumbold Government which shortly superseded It.73

1Rev. Cons. 18th August 1774, Vol. 17. p. 1.

2 This Board must not be confused with the Board of Revenue as such created on 1st August 1786 during the administration of Sir Archibald Campbell.

3 Idem. 26th August. p. 5.

4 Idem. pp. 5–25

5 The medium finds its parallel in Akbar's mahsul. See the present writer's brochure, Mughal Land Revenue System, p. 25. The Basheer Muslim Library, Woking, England. 1929.

6 The Board here referred to is the Madras Council which was customarily called by that name.

7 Corresponding to the Khalsa of the Muhammadan regime. Same as the haveli.

8 Pikota is one of the principal instruments in lift irrigation. See Maclean. S. V. Vol. III. p. 682.

9 Idem. pp.169 –177.

10 Masulipatam to Madras, 18th April 1775. Rev. Cons. 3rd May, Vol. 17-A. pp. 162-163. Again, Masulipatam wrote that "on account of the intricacy and excessive tediousness of the Elloreaccounts . . . it would not be in our power to perfect the enquiry you have directed" Same to same, 7th August, idem. 18th August, pp. 418.

11Idem. pp. 171-172.

12 Idem. pp. 167-170.

13 At this period the jagir consisted of the lands round Madras forming part of the present Chingleput District.

14 Rev. Cons. 6th June; Idem. pp. 200-218.

15Rev. Cons. 21st July idem. pp. 340-43.

16 Madras Dispatches, Vol. 6. pp. 372-98. It is quite probable that this measure of the Court of Directors was prompted by the decision of the Madras Council in appointing the Committee of Four, as there was sufficient time for the former to receive the Madras advices announcing the same before they proceeded with the appointment of the Circuit Committee.

17 Rev. Cons. 28th June 1776. Vol. 18. p. 162.

18 See idem. 26th July, 1st August, 2nd August, 5th August and 9th August idem. pp. 180-82; 206; 213; 217-218; 223-26; and 257-68 respectively. For a vivid narrative of Lord Pigot's career, see Love: Vestiges. III. pp. 84-122. For a narrative of the personal animosities between the members of the Madras Council see Lord Pigot's Narrative of the late Revolution in the Government of Madras, with marginal notes by Alexander Dalrymple. India Office Library. No. 4. D. 20.

19 Rev. Cons. 26th July. Vol. 18. pp. 180-82.

20 The majority minute was signed by George Stratton, Sir Thomas Fletcher, Charles Floyer, Henry Brooke, Archdale Palmer, Francis Jourdan and George Mackay.

21 Madras to Vizagapatam, 11th October. idem. p. 356.

22 The Committee originally named by the Court of Directors consisted of George Dawson, Claud Russel, Alexander Dalrymple, Samuel Johnson and George Mackay. See Madras Dispatches, (Revenue) 12 April 1775, para 35. Vol. 6. p. 397. But owing to official and personal difficulties, the original Committee as such could not proceed as a body. It is significant to note that the appointment of junior servants was mostly disastrous. Almost all of them were found guilty of peculation during later investigations. It is equally conspicuous to note that the members of the original Committee were exactly of the opposite character.

23Rev. Cons. 29th July. Vol. 18. pp. 191ff.

24 Madras to Circuit Committee, 31st October. Idem. pp. 375-82.

25 For a clear account of the duties of the Circuit Committee see Madras Letters Received (Revenue) 14th October 1775 (Wynch). Vol. 7. Complaining of the chaotic condition of the revenue affairs in the Circars, to rectify which the Circuit Committee were appointed, Madras

wrote home: "The rights of the Government have been sacrificed and the privileges of the inhabitants violently encroached upon." Idem. para 5.

26 Para 21 of the instructions Idem.

27 Masulipatam to Madras,21st November 1776. Rev. Cons. 4th December. Idem. pp. 430ff. Charles Floyer who was a member of the Circuit Committee and who later became notorious for his acts of misappropriation of public revenues, was the Chief of Masulipatam at this time. See also, Madras Letters Received (Revenue) 6th February 1777. 4. (Stratton). Vol. 8, pp. 244–45.

28 Circuit Committee to Madras, 20th December. Idem 31st December. p. 495.

29 The Bengal Report was not at all supplied to the Circuit Committee. See Report of the Circuit Committee 10th September 1777. para 24. Rev. Cons. 18th November. Idem. p. 653.

30 Interim Report signed by Brooke and Jourdon dated Fort St. George 14th January 1777. Rev. Cons. 17th January. Vol. 19. pp 14-17.

31 Vizagapatam to Madras, 27th February 1777. Milit. Cons. 10th March. Vol. 83. pp. 319–28. In this Jagannadha Razu was s~pposed to have had the support of his erstwhile enemy Sitarama Razu. The records for this period dealing with the Vizianagaram family seem to be very much confused. It was the same Jagannadha Razu who was later recommended by the Circuit Committee to the Muzumdari of the Chicacole Circar. See. Infra, p. 28.

32 Madras to Vizagapatam, 2nd May. Idem. pp. 655-56.

33 Vizagapatam to Madras, 17th April. Milit. Cons. 28th April Vol. 83. p. 635 and Vol. 84. p. 636.

34 Same to Same. 30th June and 1st July. Milit. Cons. 14th July. Vol. 84. pp. 995-98 and 999 respectively; see also same to same 5th June and 30th June. Rev. Cons. 17th July. Vol. 19. pp. 285-305. ; See further, Madras Letters Received, 18th September 1777 (Whitehill). paras 9-11. Vol. 8 pp. 363-65.

35 Circuit Committee to Viziarama Razu, dated Chicacole 28th June in Circuit Committee to Madras, 5th July. Rev. Cons. 1st August. vol. 19. pp. 480-82.

36 Madras to Vizagapatam, (military) 14th July. Vol 84. pp. 1013-14.

37 Vizagapatam to Madras, 8 and 9 July. Milit. Cons. 21 July. Idem. pp. 1030-32.

38 Idem

39 For the correspondence between the Vizagapatam Council and Capt. Murphy, over the powers of the Company's military officers in relation to those of the civil servants, see Milit. Cons. 21 July. Idem. pp. 1033-50.

40 See correspondence in Milit. Cons. 5th August. Idem. pp. 1139-60.

41Vizagapatam to Madras, 23 July. Milit. Cons. 5 August. Idem. pp. 1160 to 63.

42 Madras to Vizagapatam 5 August. Idem. pp. 1163 to 66.

43Vizagapatam to Madras, 28 July. Milit. Cons. 8 August. Idem. pp. 1178 to 80 and the enclosures pp. 1180 to 85.

44 Same to same, (supplemental) 28 July. Idem. p. 1186.

45 Idem. p. 1188.

46 He was supported by the President George Stratton, Charles Floyer and Francis Jourdan. Charles Mackay, who was former Chief of Vizagapatam, requested in vain for an inquiry into the conduct of the Vizagapatam Council and into the intrigues of a John Douglas and his dub ash (who was recently appointed the Company dubash at Vizagapatam in succession to Jagga Rao) in fomenting dissensions between the Vizagapatam Council and Viziarama Razu, and thus give the Raja an opportunity to justify his conduct. See. Millit. Cons. 11th August. Idem. pp. 1192 to 1204. Strangely enough, the Court of Directors approved the conduct of General Stuart. See Madras Dispatches. 14th April 1779. Vol. 8. pp. 368-77.

47 Vizagapatam to Madras, 19th July. Milit. Con. 11th August. Vol. 84. pp, 1209-12.

48 Vizagapatam to Madras (supplemental) 29th July, and of 31st July Milit. Cons. 11th August. Vol. 84. pp.1212-18.

49 Madras to Sir Edward Hughes, 11th August. Idem. pp. 1119-20.

50 Milit. Cons. 12th August. pp. 1121-22. Mackay again vainly pleaded for the postponement of aggressive measures.

51 Madras to Vizagapatam, 15th August. Idem. pp. 1225-31, and instructions Col. Braithwaite, Idem. pp. 1231-37.

52 Madras to Viziarama Razu, Idem. pp. 1237-44

53 The Circuit Committee strongly complained of the impediments thrown in the way of their inquiries by Viziarama Razu who refused them access to the village accountants. See Circuit Committee to Madras, 5th July. Rev. Cons. 1st August, Vol. 19. pp. 480-82.

54 Viziarama Razu to Madras in Milit. Cons. 18th August. Vol 85 p. 1274. The Razu's letter was not dated.

55 Vizagapatam to Madras, 20th August. Idem. 4th September pp. 1340-43, and enclosures, pp. 1344-57. A narrative of the incidents was supplied in same to same of 30th August. Idem. 9th September, pp. 1382-93, and the numerous enclosures which constitute Braithwaite's correspondence with the Vizagapatam council and contain copies of the sanads given by Viziarama Razu to Jagannadha Razu are to be found in pp. 1394-1427.

"In justice to Vizeramrauze", the Madras Government wrote home that he formally submitted to the Chief of Vizagapatam before the arrival of the European detachments. See Madras Letters Received, 15th October, para 3. (Whitehill). Vol. 8. pp. 432-33.

56 Loc. Cit.

57 Madras to Bengal (military) 19th September. Idem pp. 1446–69.

The Whitehill Government further wrote to the Court of Directors: "Viziaramrauze's power appears long to have been an object of apprehension to this Government, and his Jammabundyor tribute to the Company has on that account been rated much lower in proportion (sic) than that of the other Zemindars. To strike at the root of this evil without forcibly dispossessing him of his lands or involving the Company in the inconveniences of a war, was an act of moderation and prudence which cannot fail of operating (sic) to your advantage in whatever light it is considered." Madras Letters Received, 19th September 1777, para 11 Vol. 8. p. 365.

58 Circuit Committee to Madras, dated Chicacole 16 August. Rev. Cons. 27 August. Vol. 19. pp. 522-43.

59 Eight thousand troops were stationed at Vizianagaram. Two thousand three hundred of these were "sepoys with firelocks, of which eleven hundred are clothed and a thousand and seven hundred receive the same pay as the Company's".

60 Circuit Committee to Madras, 10 September. Rev. Cons. 18 November. Idem. pp. 628-64.

The observations on land tenures are fully utilised in the chapter on land tenures.

61 In the Chipurupallee taluk of the Vizagapatam district.

62 In the Gunupuram taluk of the Vizagapatam district. I am not able to identify the Nerumandalam pargana which word, in all probability, is not in current use.

63 These are fully dealt with by the writer elsewhere. Their validity alone is here discussed from the historical point of view.

64 It is to be regretted that the numerous enclosures to this important report were not preserved in the India Office Library.

65 Rev. Cons. 19th December. Idem pp. 800-805. See also Madras to Vizagapatam and to Ganjam, 24th and 27th December respectively, pp. 807 and 808.

66 Vizagapatam to Madras, 17th January 1778. Rev. Cons. 2nd February Vol. 20. p. 62.

67 Madras Dispatches, 10th January 1781, para 18, Vol. 9. p. 337. See also Appendix No. 153 to the Sec. Rep. It is significant to note that the Court of Directors waited for three years for a review of the proceedings of the Madras Government relative to the Circuit Committee and that only after definite steps were contemplated against Sir Thomas Rumbold.

68 Madras Letters Received, 5th February 1778 (Whitehill), para 28, Vol. 9, pp. 92-93.

69 Whitehill wrote a personal letter to the Court of Directors deploring the want of senior servants for the administration of the presidency. See, Whitehall to the Court, 15th October, in Madras Letters Received, Vol. S, pp. 433-45.

70 Rev. Cons. 5th December 1777, Vol. 19, pp. 745-48. See also App. No. 11 to the Sec. Rep. See further, Madras Letters Received (Revenue) 5th February 1778. (Whitehill), paras 29-30, Vol. 9; pp. 93-94.

71 Madras Dispatches, 10th January 1781. para 14, Vol. 9, pp. 331-32. See also Appendix No. 153 to the Sec. Rep.

72 Rev. Cons. 13th January 1778. Vol. 20, P.29.

73 See Madras Letters Received (Revenue) 4th March 1778. (Rumbold), wherein Madras intimated their desire to defer the measures of the Whitehill Government until they had time to inquire into the same. General Munro and Thomas Rumbold were primarily responsible for this resolution. Vol. 9, pp. 161-62.

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