the agriculturist. He now produced for the Indian and world market, and so he
became subject to all vicissitudes of even the erratic market. He had to
compete with formidable international rivals like the big agrarian trusts of
America, Europe and Australia which produced on a mass scale by means of
all modern agricultural machinery, while he himself cultivated his small strip
of land by means of the labour power of bullocks and the primitive plough.
Further, the commercialisation made him dependent, for the sale of his
product, on the middlemen, the merchants. The merchant by his superior
economic position took full advantage of the poverty ,of the peasant. The
poor peasant had to sell his product to the middleman at the harvest time to
meet the revenue claims of the state and also the claims of the moneylender.
This transaction originating in sheer necessity brought a less amount to the
peasant than it would have if he waited. The middleman thus appropriated a
very large share of the profit.
Causes of the impoverishment and indebtedness of the peasantry were:
Impoverishment of the peasantry in zamindari areas due to the oppression of
the peasants by the zamindars.
Their impoverishment in ryotwari and mahalwari areas due to the excessive
revenue demand of the government.
Very little investment by the government to improve agriculture.
Rigid manner of revenue collection.
The impoverished peasant was driven then to borrow money at high rates of
interest from the moneylender. And this further worsened his economic
position and finally he was deprived of his land.
Magnitude of Rural Indebtedness By the early 20th century, rural
indebtedness grew unprecedentedly. The total rural debt of India at the
beginning of the 20th century was Rs. 300 crores. But, according to the
Central Banking Enquiry Committee of 1929, the magnitude of rural
indebtedness was about Rs. 900 crores. Following the Great Depression, the