Check sibling questions

Discuss why the colonial Government in India brought in the following laws. In each case, explain how the law changed the lives of the pastoralists.

1. Wasteland Rules

2. Forest Acts

3. Criminal Tribes Act

4. Grazing Tax



Answer to be written

A. Waste Land rules:  

  1. For colonial officials, all uncultivated land was unproductive because it produced neither revenue nor agricultural produce . It was seen as a ‘wasteland’ that needed to be brought under cultivation .
  2. So, from the mid-nineteenth century, Waste Land Rules were enacted in various parts of the country. 
  3. By these Rules, uncultivated lands were taken over and given to select individuals . These individuals were granted various concessions and encouraged to settle these lands. Some of them were made headmen of villages in the newly cleared areas.
  4. In most areas, the lands taken over were grazing tracts used regularly by pastoralists . So the expansion of cultivation was a problem for pastoralists as it meant the decline of pastures .

B. Forest Acts:

  1. By the mid-nineteenth century, various Forest Acts were enacted in different provinces .
  2. Through these acts, some forests which produced commercially valuable timber like deodar or sal were declared ‘Reserved’ .
  3. Pastoralist was not allowed access to these forests
  4. Other forests were classified as ‘Protected’ .
  5. In these, some customary grazing rights of pastoralists were granted but their movements were severely restricted .
  6. These Forest Acts changed the lives of pastoralists . They were not allowed to enter many forests that had earlier provided valuable forage for their cattle.
  7. Even in the areas , they were allowed to enter , their movements were regulated .
  8. They needed a permit for entry . Their entry and departure timing was fixed , and the number of days they could spend in the forest was limited .

C. Criminal Tribes Act:

  1. In 1871 , the colonial government in India passed the Criminal Tribes Act . This act classified many communities of craftsmen, traders and pastoralists as Criminal Tribes .
  2. They were stated to be criminals by nature and birth
  3. Once this act came into force, these communities were expected to live only in notified village settlements . They were not allowed to move out without a permit . The village police kept a continuous watch on them.

D. Grazing Tax:

  1. In the mid-nineteenth century, a grazing tax was introduced in most pastoral tracts of India .
  2. The colonial government looked for every possible source of taxation to expand its revenue income so they imposed a tax on land , canal water , salt , trade goods , and animals .
  3. Pastoralists had to pay tax on every animal they grazed on the pastures
  4. The tax per head of cattle went up rapidly and the system of the collection was made increasingly efficient .
  5. In the decades between the 1850s and 1880s , the right to collect the tax was auctioned out to contractors
  6. These contractors tried to extract as high tax as they could to recover the money they had paid to the state and earn as much profit as they could within the year. 
  7. By the 1880s the government began collecting taxes directly from the pastoralists
  8. Each was given a pass .
  9. To enter a grazing tract , a cattle herder had to show the pass and pay the tax .
  10. The number of cattle heads he had and the amount of tax he paid were entered on the pass.

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Davneet Singh

Davneet Singh has done his B.Tech from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He has been teaching from the past 13 years. He provides courses for Maths, Science, Social Science, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science at Teachoo.