Ryotwari System: About India’s Agricultural Past

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Ryotwari System

The tradition of collecting land revenue existed in India since ancient times. It was one of the most prominent sources of income for kings. However, the advent of British rule in India introduced different land revenue systems such as the infamous Ryotwari System. It is a significant chapter in India’s agrarian history which had a profound impact on the prevailing agricultural practices and landownership rules. In this blog, we will discuss what it actually is, the salient features, and the inevitable drawbacks.  

About the Ryotwari System

The Ryotwari System, also known as the Munro System, was one of the most famous land revenue systems in British India. It was introduced by Captain Alexander Read and Thomas Munro in the year 1820. Initially, the system was used in the Madras Presidency, present-day Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and some parts of Karnataka. It marked a shift from the earlier land revenue systems such as Zamindari and Mahalwari. 

In this settlement, farmers were given complete ownership of land. Therefore, the government could directly deal with the farmers to collect revenue. According to Sir Thomas Munro’s statement, taxes were imposed on land by the government which had to be paid by the farmers or peasants. 

Also Read – Jagirdari System: Origin, Features, Impact and More

Features Of the Ryotwari System

The Ryotwari System of British India changed the paradigm of the land revenue system. Here are a few salient features:

  • The infamous Ryotwari System was initially practised in the states of Madras, Assam, and Bombay.
  • It eliminated the need for intermediaries as the government was now able to communicate with the farmers directly. 
  • The absence of intermediaries led to fewer exploitation cases of peasants. 
  • In this system, individual cultivators were known as ryots. 
  • The amount of revenue to be collected was directly proportional to the amount of yield produced by the farmer.
  • Farmers or peasants who were the land owners in this system also had the right to buy, sell, or mortgage the land.
  • Taxes or rates under the Munro system depended on the type of land.
  • A great advantage of this system was that it recognized the rights of individual cultivators which gave them a sense of security. 
Sir Thomas Munro

Difference between the Ryotwari System and the Mahalwari System

Here are a few noteworthy differences between the Ryotwari system and the Mahalwari System. 

Ryotwari SystemMahalwari System
Peasants owned the land.The land was owned by a village or community. 
There was no middleman in this system.There was a lambardar or village head acting as the intermediary. 
The taxes were collected by the government. The village head or zamindar collected the revenue. 

Disadvantages of the Ryotwari System

Although the Ryotwari System came with numerous advantages for the farmers, it also had its fair share of disadvantages. Here are a few drawbacks of the system:

  • The interest rates of the Ryotwari System were higher than the cultivation capacity of the land. Therefore, farmers were left with a small amount of money. 
  • It was a rigid method of collecting land revenue which left little to no gap for adjustments for the poor farmers.
  • Farmers who failed to pay the required revenue were eventually tortured and evicted.
  • It is also worth mentioning that this system resulted in an unanticipated increase in bribery. 


#1. The Ryotwari System was introduced by?

#2. The Ryotwari System was introduced in which year?

#3. In the Ryotwari System, ____ owned the land.

Widow Remarriage ActIshwar Chandra Vidyasagar
Indira GandhiSwaraj Party
Peasant MovementsKiran Bedi
Prarthana SamajArya Samaj
Bengal PartitionBirsa Munda

There is no doubt that the Ryotwari System of the British colonial administration brought numerous changes in land ownership, revenue collection, and agricultural practices. This blog was all about the Ryotwari System. If you want to read more such informative stuff, check out our dedicated page on famous personalities

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