Bengali Intelligentsias Attitudes to the Permanent Settlement
IN THIS ARTICLE, the term 'intelligentsia' is used in a typical Bengali sense: besides the English-educated, it covers those who acquired knowledge through classical learning among Hindus and Muslims of the upper and middle classes and constituted the core of the educated community. For various reasons Hindus became dominant in these strata.
While Cornwallis introduced the Permanent Settlement in 1793 he ^could not get the ancient zamindars, who had already been broken, to toe his line." So he created a new class of landholders who,
unhampered by tradition or conscience (^roots that clutch5), could be ruthless, with whom he could mortgage the future of agricultural development for all time; who, he fondly hoped, would, with time, which was not in an hour-glass, but in perpetuity, eventually transform itself into a squirearchy, and whom he could trust to reduce the country to an agricultural land and to draw more and more people away from indigenous trade, commerce and industry and leave the spheres so abandoned to be filled up by manufactured imports from England and abroad.1
With this object in view ^the zamindars were given full proprietary rights over the estates/' Both economic and political considerations had influenced Cornwallis to go ahead with this scheme.