Municipal Government and Muslim Separatism in the United Provinces, 1883 to 1916

'British rule cut down Muslim power in the United Provinces. Between 1868 and 1916, municipalities and councils acts tempered the rule of officials, many of whom were Muslims, with the rule of the
people, few of whom were Muslims. Up to 1916, Muslims felt this loss of power most severely in the towns. But, because the municipalities were electorates for the provincial councils, this decline of Muslim power in the towns was reflected in the province as a whole.'
Interesting read, this. Holds several significant lessons.
Will tweet more on it tomorrow.
"In the late nineteenth century, government began to bring increasing numbers of non-official Indians into the administration of the towns. It had to do so in order to finance improvements or even to remain solvent. Between 1868 and 1883, elected municipal boards were given
powers to tax, to spend, and to make bye-laws. Since government had a real impact upon the towns, non-official Indians were winning a real influence over local life"
"Religion was particularly affected. The new-found influence of municipal commissioners over an increasing number of regulations, partic- ularly concerning sanitation, bore increasingly on religious susceptibili- ties in the towns. Before the institution of the municipal board,
control over such regulations had been in the hands of the kotwal, whose word was law. Now they were in the hands of the chairman of the municipal board whose task, in principle, was to give effect to the wishes of the majority party. Under the hygienic management of
slaughter houses and kebab shops, therefore, Hindus could defend the cow...for Muslims, the maintenance of their right to slaughter cows and eat them could become a symbol of their ability to protect their religion and culture"
Under Muslim rule very often the Kotwal was a Muslim who wielded considerable power but all this changed during the British rule.
In east UP and Oudh, the coming of the railway destroyed the wealth of the riverine trade marts. The massive commerce of Benares, once the entrepot of upper India, became largely local and the merchants of the city switched their capital from trade to banking. Money-lending firms
deserted Mirzapur, commercial capital of Bundelkhand, and Fyzabad, Ghazipur and Jaunpur were all in decline. The railways, however, did develop two new trade centres, Gorakhpur and Lucknow, at the hub of a road and rail network serving Oudh. Elsewhere in east UP and Oudh, trade
was not a major source of wealth.
In west UP and Doab, the picture was very different. The railway brought wealth to towns from Cawnpore to Saharanpur, from Chandpur to Shahjahanpur. Cawnpore's imports grew twenty times. West UP and Doab had less than half the province's
population but nearly threequarters of its trade. Cawnpore became the great entrepot of northern India and the largest manufacturing centre in India outside the Presidency capitals.
There was, a connection between changes in the distribution of trade (and fortunes) and the transfer of land. Some traders were also money- lenders, and some money-lenders engaged in trade. After the Mutiny, money-lenders pursued property with vigour.
In east UP and Oudh, money-lenders added little to their holdings except in the vicinity of the large cities. Around Lucknow and Benares traders were prominent in the landed markets.They did best in Unnao. Outside these places they wer.e, if anything, being dispossessed by landed
magnates. In Oudh, talukdars, well protected by the law of primogeniture and by the Court of Wards, were successful in retaining their property and in buying zamindari and pattidari estates coming under the hammer.
Therefore, land tended to circulate within the landed community rather than to be transferred from Rajputs and Muslims to Banias and Khattris. In the land market of east UP and Oudh the money-lender was no match for the landlord.
In west UP and Doab, the contrast is were doing well in land. The purchasers were mainly Banias, Khattris, Kalwars and Brahmins. 'Among castes Vaishyas now occupy the first place holding nearly a quarter of the district', wrote the settlement officer of
Muzaffarnagar. The dispossessed were mainly Muslims and Rajputs. In 1909, a commentator on Cawnpore noticed that:
'. . . nothing is more striking in the general history of the district than the disappearance of the old estates, especially those of the Rajputs ' In 1919, the
settlement officer of Bulandshahr remarked that 'The money-lending class (Vaishyas, Khattris and Bohras) hold a large area, about 11 per cent of the whole district, and have gained distinctly since the last settlement. The principal losers, however, seem to have been Pathans,
Saiyids and Kayasths, who have lost no doubt through
debt and extravagance'
A few more tweets on this tomorrow.
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