The role of the Zamindars in Bengal (1707-1772). release_tuw7slpyw5dfhcmwbajqjxufom

by Shirin Akhtar

Published by SOAS University of London.



This work is a study of the different roles of the zamindars in Bengal during the period 1707-1772., It reviews the operational aspects of the revenue, military, police and judicial administration of the Mughals in the province of Bengal and examines how the zamindars fitted into that structure and discharged their duties. The key issues and approaches have been studied against the background of (i) the Mughal political system at the zenith of its power, (ii) the declining days of the imperial authority when virtually an autonomous Nawabi was established in the province, and (iii) the emergence of the East India Company as a political force. The opening chapter deals with the peripheral aspects of the zamindari system which have some bearings on the role of the zamindars. It also attempts at a classification for better understanding of the institution as well as judging one category of zamindars against others of the same genre. Chapter II analyses the genesis of the zamindaris and the mobility within the traditional pattern of the zamindar class as a result of some historical forces at work. Chapter III dwells on the revenue management, which also embraces some allied responsibilities, such as the development of agriculture, reclamation of the waste lands and the maintenance of the roads, bridges and embankments. In Chapter IV, the military obligations of the zamindars with their attendant implications are discussed and the roles of the zamindars are evaluated in this context. Chapter V is devoted to the question of enforcing law and order in the territories of the zamindars and the role of the zamindars as the custodian of peace. The issue involved in enforcing law and order in turn prompts inquiries into the right to administer justice granted to the zamindars. Chapter VI is addressed to this problem and examines further the impact of the role of the zamindars as judge-magistrate on their subjects.
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