Reasons for the failure of Permanent Settlement

Reasons for the failure of Permanent Settlement

What were the reasons for the failure of Permanent Settlement?

Permanent Settlement - It was an agreement between the East India Company and the landlords of Bengal to fix the revenue obtained from their land to a certain amount. It was sealed in 1793 by the Company administration which was led by Charles, Earl Cornwallis. Three parties involved in this settlement were the ryots (peasants), the Zamindars (landlords) and the Government. The landlords acted as mediators between the other two i.e. they had to pay a fixed amount to the government.

Basic Features of Permanent settlement:

• The Company's share in the revenue was fixed with the Zamindars.

• Zamindars were made hereditary with total control over their lands.

• State had no direct contact with the ryots i.e. the the peasants.


Fixed income: The Government became free from fixing revenue each year. It gave a stable revenue income to the company..

Political support: The Government gained the loyalty of the Zamindars who stood loyal during the 1857 mutiny too.

No undue gain: The Government could not claim its illegitimate share in any increase of the revenue.

Demerits (Reasons for failure):

Complete responsibility on Zamindars: In case a Zamindar could not pay the fixed revenue amount, the loss was compensated by selling a portion of the Zamindar's land.

Class distinction: It created a class distinction in the villages with two classes: Zamindars and tenants.

Oppressed peasants: Peasants were left entirely at the mercy of landlords. This was a grave mistake on the part of Cornwallis as the cultivators were deprived of the ownership of the land.

High revenue demand: The fixed revenue demand was high as the Government was not supposed to take its share in any increase of revenue.

Zamindars' authority diminished: The troops of the Zamindars were dispersed and their custom duties were abolished. The Zamindars started losing their power whereas the collectorate became an alternative center of power.

Emergence of Jotedars: By the end of 18th century Jotedars had acquired a vast area of land by buying the auctioned lands of Zamindars. So Zamindars started losing power.

Facts and Figures

- In Burdwan, there were around 30,000 pending cases related to rent payment in 1798.

- Tejchand was the Raja of Burdwan when the Permanent Settlement was imposed.
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