3. Man-Land Relations under Colonial Rule

Under colonial rule, man land relations like other policies were changed to serve the interests of the colonial powers. The intention to increase the efficiency of the tax system and, with it, the income of the colonial powers caused, in the course of time, fundamental changes in man-land relations. The most important one was the introduction of the concept of private property, unknown until then. Whoever was liable to pay taxes to the government was made "landlord" of the territory with alienable, rentable and heritable land rights. The actual cultivator became tenant, and tenancy in this process became a widespread phenomenon. By granting ownership rights to the land aristocracy, the colonial powers bought their loyalty in making their own and the colonialists' interests coincide.

The new landlord- tenant relation did not show negative effects in the beginning. It was in the landlords' interest to attract more tenants and bring additional land under cultivation, since this increased their own income. Only when population increase and economic changes caused more and more people to become tenants, did this change in the market forces on the tenancy market make it possible for landlords to increase the rent more and more. In addition to an extremely high rent, many cultivators became indebted to their landlords so that their dependence was of a multiple nature. Some of the young people had to leave the land and look for subsistence elsewhere. Thus, the colonialists' manpower requirements could be met.

On the one hand, because of the impoverished peasants, it proved impossible to increase production in line with the population increase, and food shortages became a feature of the agrarian economy. On the other hand, landlords found it easier to press the tenants for more rent than to increase productivity by making investments.

The Example of India:

The East India Company experienced difficulties in its trade with India because it was prohibited to export gold and silver from England to pay for Indian merchandise, while the market for British goods was insignificant. The company solved the problem by securing Indian money to pay for Indian goods: it collected taxes for the Indian rulers, after some time, for all the provinces of Orissa., Bihar and Bengal, against a fixed sum, while the amount to be collected from the peasants were left to them.

In its attempt to organize the tax system, after some time, Lord Cornwallis' 'Permanent Settlement" led to decisive changes in land tenure. The British registered the local tax collector as owner of the land in his district. These "zamindars" had to collect and deliver the taxes, the amount of which was fixed from the first and remained the same permanently (permanent settlement). As an incentive, they were free to decide how much to demand from the cultivators. The fixed lump sum was an incentive to bring more land under cultivation and thus have more tax payers in their district.

The right to the land conferred on the zamindar was alienable, rentable and heritable, a full ownership until then unknown in India. The cultivators acquired the status of "occupancy, tenants' which was inheritable and not tampered with as long as the holders paid their taxes. In contrast to those, the tenants who cultivated the tax collector's land were tenants-at-will, i.e. they could be evicted.

In the beginning, the changes caused no problems. In order to attract cultivators and increase the number of tax payers in their district (and thus their income, the difference between the revenue and the fixed amount they had to pay), the zamindars could not bleed the individual cultivator too much. Later on, changes in the demographic and economic situation in India led to detrimental consequences. After the industrial revolution in England, the East India Company wanted to sell English products, especially cheap textiles manufactured by mechanical looms. This led to a collapse of the Indian textile industry. Large numbers of weavers became unemployed, migrated to the rural areas and tried to rent land as a new basis of existence. This rapid increase in the demand for land changed the relationship between zamindars and tenants completely. It shifted power into the hands of the " zamindars" who started to extort more taxes as the demand for land increased. This led to indebtedness, and many tenants lost their occupancy rights.

The great discrepancy between the fixed amount of tax to be remitted by the zamindar and Increasing revenues made them wealthy. They no longer took the trouble of collecting the taxes themselves, but subleased this office. The sub assignees did the same and, after some time, 10- 20 intermediaries between government and cultivators were quite common.

In other parts of India, which came later under British control, other systems were introduced. In some provinces, the cultivator was brought in a direct tax relation with the government, and taxes were settled for 30 years only. In other areas, taxation was imposed on the village community, which had to distribute these taxes among the cultivators. Despite these different systems, the conditions for cultivators deteriorated constantly. Taxes were high, farms became smaller and smaller due to the inheritance system, and increasing indebtedness brought more and more land into the hands of moneylenders, often better off farmers from the same village. In time, these well- off farmers subleased their land and led a leisurely life on the basis of their rental income. As the population and the demand for land increased, rents became higher and higher.

Thus, after 150 years of colonial rule, many cultivators had lost their valid hereditary land rights and gone down to the status of unprotected tenants or labourers. At the same time, the tax collector became a landlord and large landowner. A stratum of functionless intermediaries developed, and much land passed into the hands of moneylenders. The changes in the land tenure system caused an enormous differentiation in financial conditions, whereby the mass of peasants lived in abject poverty. Under this system of rental feudalism, few investments in agriculture were effected. The cultivators were too poor, and the landlords tried to increase their income by skimming off as much rent as possible, instead of increasing production by means of investments. It soon proved difficult to feed the increasing population.

The Example of Korea:

After the annexation, the Japanese administration immediately started a land survey to establish the land value as tax basis and to clarfy existing rights on land. In addition, private ownership of land was established by the so called reporting system. Whoever reported himself as owner was acknowledged as such. This system announced in the Japanese language was known only to the Japanese and some members of the Korean upper class. They took advantage of it and the land thus came into the hands of the Japanese and some Koreans loyal to them. For the first time in Korea, this regulation established full private property of land.

As a result, members of the Japanese and Korean feudal ruling class became landowners, usually absentees, while the hereditary tillers on the land became tenants. This relation was often exploited, the rent increased and gifts were requested in addition. As the prices of products deteriorated in relation to input prices, the tenants became indebted. Many of them lost their rights, became labourers or migrated to other countries. Under such conditions, all the attempts to increase the rice production failed as well as the attempt to reclaim more land. Landlords found it easier to exact higher rent from the tenants than take the risk of investing in land clearing. When more food was extracted from Korea during the war, the peasants misery increased.