doing and ruled that further progress with zamindari settlement be stayed.
Later (1808), permission was accorded to experiment with village
panchayats, apart from the ryotwari system.
     The ryotwari system had a staunch champion in Munro. As a result of
earlier experiences in Tanjore, Hodgson, who was then powerful in the
Madras Board of Revenue, was keen on village panchayats. In 1808–9, the
ryotwari experiment was tried in most of the districts, but much to Hodgson’s
discomfiture reports regarding village leases were uniformly unfavourable.
     In Madras, by 1818, the suppression of landed aristocrats, the poligars,
the establishment of judicial courts and the improvement of the revenue
system had been ensured. However, in the bargain they had claimed a heavy
toll. As soon as Munro became Governor in May 1820 the system was
declared generally operative in all parts of the Madras Presidency, barring
areas already under the Permanent Settlement. As to the latter, every
opportunity was taken of getting back, on account of lapses or by means of
purchase, the zamindari mootahs and such other tenures as existed, with a
view to introducing the new system therein.
     The central characteristic of Munro’s system was that the government
demand on land was now permanently fixed and each cultivator could take or
reject the field he was offered ifhe thought its rent to be excessive. Munro
reduced the assessment from roughly half (45 or 50 or 55 per cent) to one-
third of the estimated produce; even so, in many cases the latter represented
the entire economic rent and was thus, by definition, oppressive.
     Two other factors impinged on the situation: first, the cultivator had to
pay a fixed sum of money irrespective of the actual yield or the prevalent
price; secondly, the rent was not calculated through local bodies, as in the
North-Western Provinces, but by low-paid agents who made unjust extortions
and used oppressive methods. It is to Munro’s credit that he strove all
through his seven-year administration to lower the assessments and keep the
evils of the system under constant check.
     In the Bombay area the Maratha system of farming out the revenue was
adopted to start with. The districts were farmed out to desais and later to
patels of villages. The Collector or his agent, the mamlatdar or kamavisdar,
had to make the best possible deal with the desai for the annual revenue and,
                                paid, kept out of the way as far as the desai:S
provided the amount was duly