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Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 4, p. 204.


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CHAPTER VII
LAND REVENUE
The sub- A SUBJECT more remote from the interests of the average
ject utterly Englishman than the land revenue of India can scarcely be
strange to
most conceived. In order to appreciate it in any way he must
English- translate himself into entirely new surroundings. He must
leave behind him his limited conception of a land where the
majority of the people live in big cities, where every one is depen-
dent on the town for subsistence and for luxuries, where urban
interests and urban wealth everywhere predominate. He must
look instead upon a vast country where the immense majority
of the people live by agriculture, where towns are exceedingly
few in number, and where town industries are comparatively
insignificant. In India the whole outlook is agricultural. The
normal landscape of a prosperous Indian district is represented
by some wide alluvial plain or slightly rolling upland where
almost every square yard is under the plough. Hedges and
walls are, as a rule, unknown; at harvest time the waving fields
of rice, wheat, or other food-grains reach almost without inter-
ruption to the horizon; and in the intervals between the harvests
an equally uninterrupted stretch of shimmering heat-baked soil
fades away into the haze. Every morning during the cultiva-
tion season the Indian peasant-the most frugal and patient in
the world-goes out to his fields with his cattle to work his
well or to plough his land: and every evening he returns to his
thatched cottage by the trees or his mud-built house -in the
closely packed village. His wants, such as they are, are met
by the local artisans and menials, whom he rewards with cus-
tomary contributions from his harvest. From this out-turn
every class is provided for: it is to this that the Government
looks for its revenue, the landlord (if there be one) for his rent,
the grain merchant for his profits, and the labourers and arti-
sans for their wages. To all these persons-and collectively
they represent nearly the whole of India-the harvest is the
centre of interest, and to most of them the state of the crops'
is no mere formal topic of conversation but the all-absorbing
question of life.



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