This chapter summarizes two hundred years of history of land policies and their impacts on peasant life in pre-independence India. It begins with a synopsis of pre-colonial conditions, focusing on the land policies of the Mughals and the Marathas. The colonial period is broken into the Company Raj (1765–1857) and Crown Raj (1857–1947) phases and the focus is on how and why these regimes created different types of land markets, especially the zamindari system in the east and north and the raiyatwari system in the south and west. The material includes evidence on taxation rates on agricultural output, the commodification of land and its changing value, increasing fragmentation, and the relative insignificance of acquisition. The chapter ends with a discussion of the very long-term effects of pre-colonial and colonial land policies on the different regions of contemporary India.
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