district police and a power of summary punishment. The collector’s office
was to be the great executive office of local government, controlling in firm
subordination, the whole inferior executive arm.
Zamindari or Permanent Settlement
One of Lord Cornwallis’ major achievements was the Permanent Settlement
(1793) of land revenue in Bengal. For a quarter century after the grant (1765)
of Diwani Rights to the John Company, the revenue settlement had been on
an annual basis, though a permanent system was also anticipated.
    On 10 February 1790, the Governor General announced a decennial
settlement. Three years later it was approved by the Court of Directors and
made permanent as of 22 March 1793. It constituted Regulation I in the series
of regulations passed by the Calcutta Supreme Council on 1 May and
collectively known as the Cornwallis Code.
    Under the new dispensation, the zamindars were recognized as
proprietors of land. Land revenue was to be fixed, there being no
enhancement of dues to the government, nor could the zamindar in return
expect any remissions or postponement of dues.
    Cornwallis argued that these measures would encourage landlords to
obtain the maximum produce as well as reclaim waste land, ensure a
permanent income to the government, and save time and effort hitherto
wasted on annual settlements. By accepting the hereditary status of
zamindars, however, the settlement completely ignored the interests of
cultivators who were thus thrown to the mercies of big landlords.
    The Governor General’s views were opposed by most of his advisors,
including John Shore and Charles Grant. Shore wanted a proper survey to be
carried out before a perpetual assessment was made; Grant was doubtful
about the zamindars’ proprietary rights to the land without an exhaustive
study of the records. Ironically, Shore who succeeded Cornwallis was to bear
witness to the first results of the Permanent Settlement he had so steadfastly
    The changes it brought about proved to be more of social disorders. The
loss of rights of peasants, growth of sub-infeudation, conflicts between old
and new houses, absenteeism, pressure of the sale laws, inadequate law