STORY OF INDIA’S ECONOMIC DOWNFALL – 3 (Post No.8296)

WRITTEN BY R. NANJAPPA                        

Post No. 8296

Date uploaded in London – – – 6 July 2020   

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INDIA WAS NOT POOR

STORY OF INDIA’S ECONOMIC DOWNFALL – 3

R. Nanjappa

Tanjore’s misfortune!

Tanjore’s misfortune continued. The company somehow realised that wrong had been done to the Raja of Tanjore. A new Governor Mr.Pigot was appointed, and the Raja was restored to his seat on 30 March 1776. But trouble did not end, either for the Raja or for the Governor. There had been a petty official of the company, Paul Benfield, who had amassed wealth by lending for usury. He made a claim on Tanjore to the extent of 1,62, 000 sterling, for which he said he had assignments on the revenues of Tanjore, and another 72,000 on individuals in Tanjore. He claimed assignments on standing crops. This fellow was so resourceful, he made the company admit the claims after initial rejection, and when the Governor resisted, he had the Governor arrested and imprisoned by Colonel Stuart! The Governor died in confinement, before the company could free him! 


This was how Tanjore was ruined. People at least might have heard about the misdeeds of Warren Hastings vis a vis the Begums of Oudh, and others. But what happened in the south is not so well known. Region after region of India thus lost their prosperity.

Minutes of Sir Thomas Munro

One strength of Dutt is that he relies on testimony and records from Englishmen  themselves, and that too from official sources. He quotes extensively from the minutes of Sir Thomas Munro, one of the noblest British (Scottish) souls ever to grace the Indian 

scene.Some gems:  

  • The Ryot is the real proprietor, for whatever land does not belong to the Sovereign belongs to him.
  • Our books alone will do little or nothing; dry simple literature will never improve the character of a nation. to produce this effect, it must it must open the road to wealth and honour, and public employment.
  • Even if we could…conduct the whole affairs of the country…by means of Europeans, it ought not to be done, because it would be both politically and morally wrong.
  • It would certainly be more desirable that we should be expelled from the country altogether, than that the result of or system of government should be such a debasement of a whole people.
  • here, government …makes laws for the people who have no voice in the matter, and of whom it knows very little- it cannot adapt its laws to the circumstances of the people.
  • One of the greatest disadvantages of our Government in India is its tendency to lower or destroy the higher ranks of society, to bring them all too much to one level.

Sir Thomas Munro strove all his life to help the ryots, to have the ryotwari system with fixed land revenue as the standard. After some initial hope, the government office in England dashed it. But his zeal over the ryotwari system- the direct contact between the cultivator and the govt- had one undesirable consequence. It by passed and abolished all systems of local administration at the village level, which had been developed since ancient times. The ryot was left without a buffer against the government official. He became a tempting target and easy prey to the greedy official.

****                        To be continued

tags- economic downfall-3, Munro

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