The Permanent Settlement came into being in 1793, the British fixed certain revenues that each zamindar had to pay, if not paid their land was put for auction. The officials believed that a fixed revenue demand would provide security and assure improvement of estates by the zamindars. But in the early decades after the Permanent Settlement, the zamindars regularly failed to pay the revenue demand due to several factors:
• Initial demand was high, it was felt that because the demand was fixed, then the Company would never be able to claim a share of increased income from land when prices rose and cultivation expanded.
• The Permanent Settlement was introduced in 1790’s when agricultural produce was depressed. This made it difficult for ryots to pay their dues to zamindars. So, zamindars were unable to pay revenue to the Company.
• The revenue had to be paid punctually and can’t vary regardless of the harvest produced. And the Sunset law made it more difficult, according to which if the revenue was not paid by the sunset of a particular date, the land of the zamindar would be auctioned.
• It reduced the power of zamindar to collect rent from the ryot.
The hill folks living around the Rajmahal Hills were known as the Paharias. They depended on forest produce and practised shifting cultivation. They harvested one patch of land by cutting bushes and burning the undergrowth. And then used the potash from the ash to enrich the soil and grow pulses and millets for consumption. They use that area till it loses its fertility and then move to a new area. They collect mahua(a flower) for food, silk cocoon for sale and wood for charcoal. The patches of grass covering the land provide pasture for the cattle.
Paharias were very apprehensive of the outsiders. The Santhals came pouring in Bengal in 1780s, hired by zamindars to reclaim their lands. The Santhals started cutting forests and ploughing land, growing cotton and rice and cutting timber in the lower slopes of Rajmahal hills. As the Santhals took over the lower slopes of the hills, Paharias started settling deeper in the Rajmahal hills as they refused to cut forest, touch plough and resisted the turbulence.
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