148. From 1874 up to 1905-06 a sum of about 2½ lakhs
had been advanced under the Land
Improvement Loans Act, but or
this about 1½ lakhs were given out in the famine of 1899-00 and Rs. 40,000 in the famine of 1896-97. Previous to this latter date the amounts advanced were insignificant, while in the five years since 1901 they have averaged about Rs. 5000 annually. Improvements are mainly in the nature of the construction of embankments on sloping land, the sinking of wells and the building of tanks in the rice tracts. During the 15 years ending 1904 a total of 216 sanads or certificates were issued for works of improvement. Of these 98 were given for the construction of wells, 15 for tanks and 103 for field embankments, and the total may be said to constitute a very good record for a period of 15 years. Their total cost is stated to be Rs. 92,000, but this is probably an under-estimate, including only actual outlay, while nothing is shown for supervision or for work done by the proprietors' own servants. And there were no doubt other improvements for which certificates were not given, such as small works costing less than Rs. 50 and maintenance and repairs. During the 30 years' settlement, the sums expended on improvements for the first fifteen years, 1864 to 1880, came to Rs. 1.18 lakhs and for the second fifteen years to Rs. 2.21 lakhs, thus showing a substantial advance during the later period of the settlement. [Settlement Report 1899, para. 103.] Mr. Craddock remarks on this subject:
'It is commonly said that the shortening of the term of settlement must operate to reduce improvements. I do not share this view.
believe that stability of tenure is the essential feature, and, for the rest, the enterprise of the individual is the determining factor. I do not see any Improvements in villages held on a perpetual muafi, or in villages purchased free of revenue, which cannot be matched or surpassed in malguzari villages. Indeed the improvements in the former are singularly few. Ensure a man possession, protect him from arbitrary, as distinguished from reasonable enhancement of his rent, and whether he improves his land or not will be determined solely by his personal characteristics and the custom of his neighbourhood. Moreover by granting sanads
for improvements, and exempting them from assessment, we are removing the
so-called obstacle to the expenditure of capital, which the opponents of
short-term settlements so loudly urge.
Advances under the Agriculturists' Loans Act are also comparatively small in
normal seasons. A total of Rs1.79 lakhs has been advanced between 1888 and 1905,
the bulk of which was given out during the bad years between 1896 and 1902.
During the last four years to 1906, the amount lent has only been about Rs. 3000
annually. Practically the whole sum due for repayment under both kinds of loans
has been recovered as it fell due and only insignificant amounts have been
149. Sir Richard Jenkins has left on record the rates of interest prevailing in 1827. At that
time the general rate for money lent on common security was 3 to 4 per cent. per month, and never less than 2 per cent. on the best security or on the pledge of valuables equivalent to the sum advanced. The rate of interest has therefore fallen very greatly at the present time. It is now 12 per cent. per annum for landowners of good position and from 12 to 24 per cent. for tenants. On grain loans the rate is usually 25 per cent. for the spring crops and 25 to 50 per cent. for the autumn crops and for oilseeds. Loans for seed-grain are
called bij and those for food while the crops are in the ground porga. As a general rule 2 per cent. is deducted from the principal sum for measuring fees which the borrower has to pay. Artisans and mechanics of the lower classes have usually to borrow on more unfavourable terms, because of the risk that they will abscond, and are charged three or four per cent. a month. Small moneychangers are known as Khurdias, and either trade for themselves or are employed by bankers and get a percentage on their transactions. They give copper and cowries for rupees and take every advantage of inexperienced or unwary clients. Weavers and other handicraftsmen who need advances have commonly to apply to them and are charged exorbitant rates of interest. Business loans are made on hundis or notes-of-hand, usually payable at 61 days. The minimum rate for these is 6 per cent. per annum. In Nagpur the bills are cashed by brokers who take commission at the rate of half an anna per 100 rupees.
Hundis or bills of exchange are issued on Calcutta and Bombay and the rate of discount varies from 5 annas to two rupees per Hundred in the busy season, while in the rains they often fetch a premium. Five annas is the bullion rate for
Bombay and when the discount rate exceeds this, it is cheaper to import cash. Very large sums of fifty thousand rupees or more will be brought by train in the custody of two servants of a native firm, while sums of some thousands of rupees will be entrusted to a single servant.
150. Nagpur has a branch of the Bank of Bengal. The
leading native firms are Raja Seth
Gokul Das or Jubbulpore and Diwan
Bahadur Seth Kasturchand of
Kamptee. The former has large estates in various parts of
the Province, but the latter does not acquire landed property
and confines his business usually to cashing bills and
making advances to merchants. His firm does the work of
the treasury for Government in several Districts. The
principal bankers of the agricultural classes are the firms
of Gopal Rao Buti and the late Vinayak Jageshwar Buti, who
are Charak Brahmans; Gangadhar Madho Chitnavis, a
Parbhu; Ganpat Rao Ghatate and Dhundiraj Atmaram,
Maratha Brahmans, the latter being of Parseoni; Motilal
Agyaram; Sam Rao Deshmukh of Mohpa and Narayan
Sridhar Naik of Umrer. Hiralal Johri, an Oswal Bania, is a
large jeweller; Jamna Das Potdar, Agarwal Bania, is the
broker of the Empress Mills; and Gulab Sao Lad Bania is
the largest cloth-merchant in Nagpur.
151. When proprietary rights were awarded to the
farmers and patels of villages at
the settlement of 1863, the body of
recipients was of a somewhat heterogeneous constitution. Priests and officials or court favourites had been granted villages as rewards for petty services or obsequiousness, as the case might be. Dependants or relations of the ruling family, legitimate or illegitimate, husbands of Bhonsla princesses, members of the Maratha nobility and others of less note had similarly acquired possession. Since the 30 years' settlement the constitution of the proprietary body has altered to a surprisingly small degree. The returns now show 2280 villages as against 2203 at last settlement and 2166 at the 30 years' settlement. Brahmans now own 741 villages or nearly a third of the total number, Kunbis 437, Marathas 259, Muhammadans 130, Banias 112, Rajputs 103 and Parbhus, Gosains, Kirars, Kalars and Telis between 50 and 70 each. Of the villages owned by Marathas, 143 belong to the Bhonsla family and their relatives; of those held by Muhammadans 20 are included in the Sansthanik estate of the Deogarh
Raj-Gond Rajas who have embraced Islam; while of the 67 villages belonging to Parbhus Mr. Gangadhar Rao Chitnavis has 50. Since the 30 years' settlement Brahmans have increased their property by 21 villages, Banias by 33, Telis by 24, Kalars by 33, Parbhus by 21 and Kirars by 17.
The Marathas have lost 24 villages, the Rajputs 27, and the Muhammadans 9, while Kunbis nave exactly one more village now than then. The moneylending classes, who may be taken to include Banias, Kalars and Parbhus, have thus gained a small proportion of villages, but nothing very substantial. The results appear to indicate that the proprietary class are in a stronger position in Nagpur than in most other Districts. A total of nearly 500 villages including shares are shown to have changed hands between 1894 and 1906, but the transfers must in many cases have been made to members of the agricultural castes. The land revenue assessed on this property was Rs. 1.73 lakhs or 16 per cent. of that of the District, and the consideration for the property amounted to ten times, the land revenue. During the last four years the consideration for landed property sold privately has been equivalent to a multiple of 20 times the land revenue, while for that sold by order of the Court it has varied between 16 and 41 times. According to this criterion the prices now realised are much better than in the years just before Mr. Craddock's settlement, and the small enhancement of revenue then imposed has had no effect whatever in depreciating the value of land.
152. Mr. Craddock describes the proprietary class as follows [This notice is compiled from remarks in the Nagpur Settlement Report and Annexures.]:— The landlords are an
exceedingly heterogeneous body,
both in class and means. Some of them are wealthy moneylenders, while among the co-sharers of a large proprietary body may be found men who watch their own crops. Outside the purely agricultural castes there are few proprietors who reside on their own estates unless these happen to include one of the large market villages. In Nagpur and Umrer tahsils the malguzars are generally Brahmans and Kunbis and they are well-to-do or rich. The majority of the Brahmans belong to the indifferant type. They seldom or never visit their villages and spend nothing in them, but at the same time they do not eject tenants nor enhance rents. The Kunbis look rather to the farming profits to be derived from a careful working of their demesne lands than to the surplus of the rental. Being resident in their villages they display more sympathy with their
tenantry than the absentee landlords, and are more subject to the influences of public opinion and less inclined to break away from the traditions of the past. The Marwari proprietors are not model landlords, though by no means so bad as many of their species. The large Marwari trader, who engages in commerce and banking, is a highly respectable and dignified member of society But the smaller man of humble origin, who came from his native deserts with a brass pot and loin-cloth and has made his way by petty trade and moneylending, is a veritable Shylock. But great or small they are absolutely unfitted by their natural instincts to be landlords, being unable to take a broad view of the duties of the position or to realise that rack-renting will not pay in the long run. The Telis are
an important caste who, in this District, are properly counted among agriculturists. As cultivators they rank below Kunbis, but their, business capacity and ability to make money in miscellaneous ways stand them in good stead, and as a body they surpass the Kunbis in prosperity. The Kalars have taken extensively to cultivation and money-lending. They show their Bania origin clearly and are without exception the most grasping of moneylenders and the hardest of landlords. They are found as cultivators chiefly in the
jungly tracts where they went to supply liquor to the Gonds, and they are now settled on the lands lost by the latter through the same love of liquor. Speaking generally, the malguzars are an extremely well-to-do body of persons with a high standard of comfort. The difficulties in which some of them are involved are generally due to present or past extravagance, except in a few cases of petty
shareholders where the proprietary body is numerous, and of men who are solely' dependent for their support on small and remote properties.
153. The principal caste of tenants are Kunbis, Brahmans,
Telis and Mahars. The Kunbis predominate, but Mahars are numerous and Mahar tenants are seldom very well off. The Brahmans are. often non-resident and are generally well-to-do. They either sublet their fields or manage them through hired servants. Telis are always strong cultivators and it is to this class that the most substantial tenants frequently belong. The bulk of the cultivators, however, do not rise above the average native standard of capacity, and they are rather a spiritless set and not self-helpful. That there is a very large amount of chronic debt among the cultivating classes is certainly true, and that there are not many cultivators who are quite free from all debt is also true, but a very considerable proportion of those who are indebted have simply borrowed on the security of their crops and will pay off and borrow again on that security. It is believed, however, that the cultivators are beginning to realise the tax which the payment of heavy interest for grain loans imposes on their industry, and that an increasing proportion of them try to preserve their own supply of seed-grain. This tendency is accentuated by the fact that they seldom get fair treatment at the hands of the moneylenders, and they are now getting intelligent enough to realise
this fact. An inquiry conducted into the circumstances of tenants at the time of
attestation for the settlement showed that a quarter of the whole number were
free from debt and in prosperous circumstances, and 60 per cent. owed a certain
amount but were not heavily involved and had not mortgaged their holdings. These
are the large class who borrow regularly for the expenses of seed-grain and
cultivation and make payment at harvest. Only 15 per cent. of the total number
were deeply involved or without cattle and in a condition of living from hand to mouth. The results of a similar inquiry given in the next paragraph shows that the position of the tenantry was distinctly better in 1907 than at Mr. Craddock's settlement.
154. The following note, on the condition of the people has been furnished by Mr.
F.Dewar:- 'Since the famine of 1897 the
Nagpur District has enjoyed an era of increasing prosperity, due chiefly to the development of the cotton industry but also in part to the opening of the manganese mines. The recurring epidemics of plague have at times checked progress, and the wave of prosperity has not carried all classes of the people equally far forward, but it may be safely stated that never before in history has the average material condition of the people in town and country been so high as it now is.
There has been a strong trend of the people to the towns and about one-fourth of the population now lives
in Nagpur City, Kamptee, Umrer, Ramtek and five other towns. In most of these places municipal taxation is now twice as heavy as it was ten or fifteen years ago, yet it is
still very light and is nowhere felt as an appreciable burden on any class. In Nagpur the water-rate has risen from Rs. 12,000 in 1891-92 to Rs. 42,000 in 1904-05, and the octroi tax on grain, Sugar, and drugs from Rs. 80,000 to Rs. 1,49,000. Public revenue from municipal land and buildings has also greatly improved and the general increase of income has permitted increased expenditure. Theresulting improvements in conservancy and drainage, in street-construction and street-lighting, in water-supply, and in the machinery for the collection of taxation, a most important department of local administration in India, have enormously increased the comfort of life in towns. Theresult has been a steady flow of population from the
country and from other parts of India. The richer classes of bankers, landlords, traders, industrialists, and professional men hare benefited very greatly by the general prosperity. Even plague has been to these classes rather a healthy stimulant than a disaster, since it has induced them to abandon their cramped and crowded city houses and to build airy and well-lighted suburban villas furnished comfortably in European style. Tradesmen of the middle class are moving in the same direction. The city, municipality has provided large suburban areas which are being taken up by private lessees for comfortable cottages. In two at least of the smaller towns the traders have seized their opportunity very quickly and are building' extensively. The artisan class reaps its full share of the general prosperity. These also, with doubled incomes, have doubled their comfort in housing, furniture, and clothing. It is generally agreed that, next to good sanitation, the improvement most conducive to general comfort and morality, in fact most civilising, is improvement in house-lighting. Ten years ago not one town house in twenty was more than very dimly lit, if lit at all, but the kerosine lamp is now common in the houses of all except the poorest class. Other articles besides those of ordinary furniture which one most frequently observes are clocks and watches, sewing-machines, and bicycles. The hand-loom weaver is less fortunate than other artisans, but he has hitherto been able to maintain successfully his struggle against machinery and he gets very good prices for his cloth. He is much handicapped in time of plague because he cannot readily evacuate the dwelling which is also his workshop. The labouring class in general is in demand everywhere, for the cotton mills and factories, for road, railway, and tank construction, for the manganese mines, and for agriculture. The ordinary wage for both men and women has more than doubled within a few years, and though the prices of necessaries have risen also, the balance is in favour of wages. Whether the material condition of this class has greatly improved is however a more difficult question to decide. That it has more spare money available is clear, but it is clear also that much of this is misspent on excessive stimulants, on cheap cigarettes, or sweet coloured drinks and on worthless trinkets. The labouring family which formerly lived in a country village, and earned only Rs. 7 or Rs. 8 per mensem, had at least a comfortable village house and small garden. It now earns from Rs. 15 to Rs. 20 per mensem
but lives too often in a wretched hut in one of the overcrowded quarters of the
city. It is true that in former days it suffered the privations of occasional
famine. From these it is now fairly secure, but it is exposed to the still
greater peril of plague. The crying need of the labouring class in the city and
in the larger towns is for better housing. For this the labourer is quite able
to pay, but hitherto private house-builders have not come forward to supply the
demand, possibly because plague epidemics render evacuation so frequently
necessary. But an important experiment has been undertaken by the management of
the Empress Mills with the object of housing its operatives. Should this succeed
it is possible that the city municipality may push the project further.
Meanwhile the labourer, though badly housed and much exposed to plague,
continues to concentrate in the industrial centres and to work and live there
with great apparent cheerfulness.
Three-fourths of the people of the District live in the villages and depend chiefly on agriculture. These have been affected closely by the great change in cropping which has occurred within ten years owing to the increased profits of cotton-growing. That crop has greatly extended at the expense of wheat and of all other crops except the juar millet. The change has benefited all classes of the agricultural community. The
non-resident landlord, it is true, seldom makes a large profit from his home farm and his rents are so much limited by Revenue law that they necessarily stagnate, but the value of his land has greatly increased. The resident landlord and the better class of tenant farmers have made small fortunes and almost all the smaller cultivators have improved their position. The following statistics about tenants are derived from a special enquiry instituted in the early part of 1907. The A class tenants form 8 per cent. of the farmers. They have no debts and each owns usually 20 cattle and one or two carts worth about Rs. 800, with 50 acres worth about Rs. 3400. They have also unknown stores of silver. The B class men number 19 per cent. and each has a debt of about Rs. 50 but possesses 14 cattle and a cart worth Rs. 500 and 36 acres worth Rs. 1350. A proportion of 56 per cent. of the cultivators come into the C class, each of whom, on an average calculation, has a debt of Rs. 100 but owns 5 cattle and a cart worth Rs.
110 and 18 acres worth Rs. 470. Only 17 per cent are distinctly poor men who have a debt of about Rs. 35 and 20 acres of poor land worth Rs. 440. The average net income of all classes from agriculture alone is from Rs. 25 to Rs. 30 per mensem, and even the poorest men are at present solvent. Many cultivators add to their incomes by the carting of cotton, timber, and manganese, but it is to be regretted that the improvement of the District roads has hitherto been slow. The only inconveniences generally felt by the farmers are the lack of labour and the difficulty of feeding stock now that the area under straw-growing crops has diminished. The general conditions of village life have improved. House-lighting is not so good as it is in towns, but it is much better than it was a few years ago. Very many new wells have been dug and though much remains to be done in sanitation the cleanliness and comfort of all but the largest and most crowded villages have improved. Plague does not affect
the villager so acutely as the townsman because the former finds little hardship in living out in his fields during the open season, and it may be noted that the richer men are beginning to abandon the crowded village sites and to build comfortable houses in the open among their fruit gardens. The tone of village life is very cheerful, especially in the western part of the District, the markets and festivals are largely attended at all seasons, and bullock-racing, the chief sport of the locality, has never been more popular.'