Either under British occupation or after the independence of India Dr. Ambedkar thoroughly remained vocal for the interest of oppressed Indians. His concern for farmers are well known to people. He was doing his best to promote the interest of the agricultural masses that labored under unbearable advantages. In fact, he was the first person to introduce the bill for the abolition of the serfdom of agricultural tenants. On 17-9-1937 he introduced a bill to abolish the Khoti system of land tenure which originated in Konkan.
However, the government postponed the issue and Ambedkar could not move the bill. Later after 1947, it was abolished by various land revenue abolition Acts.
Why Ambedkar wanted to abolish Khoti system?
Khoti system was originated in the Konkan region during the British Empire. The hierarchical system floated by Britishers to collect the tax by granting huge power to a powerful person of a locality which were titled as Khots. With the time Khots emerges as a powerful and influential middleman who were brutally trained to collect land revenues for the empire. The cruel nature of Khots made the system highly exploitative that often turned bloody in nature.
In Ratnagiri district, the Khots were given sanads and were treated as hereditary farmers of revenue with certain defined rights over their subordinate rayats. The Khoti tenure in the district was governed by the provisions of the Bombay Khoti Settlement Act of 1880, which was enacted on the basis of the recommendations of the Khoti Commission appointed in 1874.
Read below Ambedkar’s speech while introducing ‘XX OF 1937 TO Abolish the Khoti System’
Sir, I rise to move for leave to introduce a Bill to abolish the Khoti system. The brief statement which you have directed us to make in support of the motion will, in my case, consist of nothing more than a reference to the statement of objects and reasons. And before I do so, I would point out, Mr. Speaker, that this is the shortest statement of objects and reasons ever drafted to a Bill which is so important as the abolition of the Khoti system.
The Khoti system is one of the minor land tenures in the Bombay Presidency. It is found mostly in the Ratnagiri district and in some parts of the Kolaba and Thane districts.
The terms of the Khoti tenure are in some cases regulated by law, in some by custom and usage and in the rest of the grant. In the Ratnagiri district the terms are regulated by Bombay Act I of 1880, in the Kolaba district the terms are regulated by custom and usage, and in the Thana district by the grant.
The Khoti tenure differs from the ordinary Rayatwari tenure inasmuch as in the latter the Government collects revenue directly from those who are in occupation of the land while in the former the Government is required to employ the services of the Khot for the purpose of collecting revenue.
The system of Khoti tenure, while it binds the Khot to pay revenue to the Government, leaves him free to do what he likes to the inferior holders, and this freedom has been so grossly abused by the Khots that the inferior holders are not only subjected to all kinds of exactions but they have been reduced to a state of abject slavery. In recent years, the inferior holders have been carrying on a great agitation against the Khots and have been demanding the abolition of the Khoti system. The relations between the Khots and the inferior holders have been so strained that three Khots were murdered by them.
While the Khoti tenure may have the advantage of facilitating the collection of revenue, its disadvantages are so great that the tenure cannot be allowed to continue hereafter without causing grave disturbance to the peace and tranquillity of the Presidency. It is therefore imperative to abolish the system.
The Bill aims (1) to abolish the Khoti system and to establish a direct relationship between Government and those who, are in possession or occupation of the land which is under the management or beneficial enjoyment of the Khot, (2) to make provision for the payment of reasonable compensation to the Khot for the loss of his rights, and (3) to give those inferior holders who are in actual occupation of the land the status of occupants within the meaning of the Land Revenue Code, and (4) to provide for other incidental purposes.
With these words, Sir, I beg to leave the House to introduce the Bill.
Dr. Ambedkar titled the Bill as “The Khoti Abolition Act, 1937.” And wanted to enact this Bill in entire Bombay Presidency. His intention was to establish a direct relationship between the government and the taxpayers. However, his idea about land ownership was very clear. He through a bill proposed to grant ownership right to that laborer who was liable to pay taxes for specific lands.
The Khoti system binds Khot to pay government certain amount after that they were free to do anything against the inferior holders. The system of Khoti tenure made Khots abuser and reduced inferior holders to the subject of slavery.
Although the Khoti system was not spread all over the British controlled India but the coastal region of Maharashtra, Goa, and Karnataka. But throughout the India, there were almost similar oppressive were imposed. However, Ambedkar always committed himself to stand for the oppressed despite any odds or unfavorable situation.
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