With the establishment of the Company rule in Bengal from the mid-1760s, all of its activities and dealings were closely monitored and discussed in England. Different groups had different opinions on the Company rule in India. Many private business houses were not happy with the monopoly that the East India Company had over trade in India and China. Because of the popular contempt and the allegations about the rampant corruption by the officials of the company, the British Parliament had passed a series of acts and rulings in the late 18th century to regulate and control the Company rule. Thus the Company had to present detailed and regular reports on the administration of India. The crown had the power to appointed committees to inquire into the affairs of the Company.
The fifth report was a detailed report prepared by a Select Committee to analyse the changes in the countryside in the late 18th century. It gave a detailed idea about the default in the payment of revenue by the zamindars, auction of their estates and the rise of the jotedars. It was submitted to the British Parliament in 1813.
It was the fifth one in the series of reports about the management and undertakings of the East India Company in India. The report had over 1002 pages, out of which over 800 pages were appendices of the petitions of zamindars and ryots, reports of collectors from different districts, statistical data on revenue collected and notes on the revenue and judicial administration of Bengal and Madras.
A concrete idea on the issues in the countryside during the relevant period is obtained from the report. But the proof and data in the Fifth Report cannot be completely accepted. The Fifth Report has over-exaggerated the collapse of traditional zamindari power and authority. It has also overestimated the number of zamindaris that were auctioned. But the important fact that even though the zamindars lost their estates, still they were not completely displaced is not mentioned in the report.
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