How did the class of sowcar or mahajan emerge during the British rule? How were peasants oppressed by them? Why was land fragmented under the British? How were the peasants adversely affected by it? – Answered
a. Sowcars and Mahajans:
The mahajans or the sowcars emerged as a new class of people due to the economic policy of the British government in India.
The British introduced the system of paying revenue in cash which was unknown in pre-British days.
The peasants were forced to sell their product at a lower price to the mahajan as the latter also provided cash money to the peasants in times of their need.
b. The Peasants Oppressed:
The sowcars often exploited the peasantry. While the mahajans purchased the crops from the peasantry at a lower price they also used to lend money to the peasants.
Taking advantage of the ignorance of the peasants the mahajans manipulated the paper in such a way that it was impossible for the peasants to come out of the debt trap.
Thus once the peasants loaned money from the mahajans were surely to be ruined.
c. Land Fragmented:
As a consequence of the deindustrialization many people who were previously associated with the artisan industry or crafts were thrown out of employment.
The result was that these persons having lost their employment joined the ancestral agricultural profession.
d. Distressed Peasantry:
With the introduction of private property in land there appeared centrifugal tendencies among the members of the family who previously held the land jointly.
Each member of the family now wanted to have his own share of land individually, which he could dispose at his pleasure.
The result was the division of the joint family land among the members.
The fragmentation of land was a cause of distress for the peasantry. The increasing fragmentation also hit hard the agricultural production.