Abstract

The 1857 uprising, by shattering many of Britain's most cherished beliefs about India, introduced a decade of controversy and reappraisal in many fields. At the center of this controversy stood land policy, for the land revenue was the heart of the administrative system, and the form through which outside events made their influence felt most strongly upon the structure of society. In collecting the land revenue, the Government had of necessity to settle responsibility for its payment on some person, and in so doing to define the rights in land of the various classes of society. This had a profound effect on the distribution of power within Indian society. Whichever class obtained the land settlement, and the rights and privileges it entailed, was in effect proprietor of the land, able to reduce all others to dependence upon its generosity. The British could insure the dominance of either peasant or landlord simply by manipulating the Record of Rights and assessment rolls.

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