- When the Zamindari System as well as the Ryotwari System failed to come up to the expectations of the policymakers, they decided to introduce the third system known as the Mahalwari Settlement.
- Mahalwari System was introduced in 1822 by Holt Mackenzie. Over-assessment and other difficulties led to vital changes in the system. Later, the system was reformed during the period of William Bentick in 1833.
- The system was implemented in the western part of the United Provinces, Punjab and some parts of Central Provinces (first adopted in Agra and Awadh).
- Under this system, the settlement was not made with individual landlords, but with the village as such. The villagers as a whole, both collectively and individually, became responsible for the payment of revenue for the whole village. The village headman, known as the lambardar, on behalf of the entire village, stipulated to pay the fixed sum to the government.
|General Characteristics of Mahalwari System:|
(1) Proprietory rights in land were created.
(2) Rent or revenue was fixed (either permanent or for long periods) irrespective of the produce of the land.
(3) Till 1822 no relief was given to the peasants.
(4) The share of the state was very high.
(5)The traditional right of the cultivators viz; grazing, fishing etc. were abolished.
(6) Commercialization of agriculture; the middlemen exploited the peasants.
(7) Money transaction led to rural indebtedness.
(8) Tenancy Reform Acts were insufficient. Initially, the state took 80%of the gross rental but later it was reduced to 66%.
(9) The settlement was made for thirty years and in some places for twenty years.
Even the 66% rental demand formula proved to be harsh and unworkable. Consequently, Lord Dalhousie revised it and the state demand was limited to 50% of the rental value. Unfortunately, the Settlement Officers evaded the new rules in practice. Thus, the system fell heavily on the agricultural classes.
- There were certain shortcomings in the Mahalwari System. The Lambardar and the village Headmen enjoyed privileges that they misused for their self-interest. The Lambardar and Headmen acted as intermediaries between the Government and the villagers. The result was that small tenants were reduced to an inferior position and very often oppressed by powerful Headmen. They were used as cultivators for their lands. The subordinate cultivators “actually got just a subsistence remuneration and the rest of the produce went into the hands of the big owners”.