Exploring the Origin of Feudalism and How It Continues to Reflect Society in Modern Times

Story Highlights
  • Zamindari
  • Mahalwari
  • Ryotwari

The feudal system has practically faded from the face of the globe, yet it persists in Pakistan. The culture of the feudal lordship system is fundamentally contrary to Islamic principles, values, and democracy. In Pakistan, feudalism is characterized by a few powerful families’ ownership of vast tracts of land. It indicates that a small number of people control thousands of acres of land. This system, therefore, hampers growth and abolishes social integration, which is vital for the construction of the community. 

Especially in rural areas of Sindh, southern Punjab, and even some of Balochistan, the feudal system is still alive and well in Pakistani culture. One segment of our culture reaches new depths of depravity and sorrow, while another savors the pinnacle of decadence and excess. 

The British occupiers of the Indian Subcontinent relied heavily on land acquisition; thus, they developed the Zamindari, Mahalwari, and Ryotwari systems to help them profit.


As part of the Permanent Settlement Act of 1793, Lord Cornwallis instituted this system in the Indian states of Bihar, Orissa, Benaras, and Bengal. Under this land governance system, taxation was the exclusive responsibility of the landlord (the person to whom the property had been granted by the British). One-eleventh of the sum collected would go to the Zamindar, while the remaining would be sent to the East India Company. As a result, the peasants never dealt directly with the British authorities.


During the time of William Bentinck (1833), it was spread throughout the western section of the Subcontinent, including the present-day countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Northern and Western Frontiers. The land was distributed to the most influential villagers for agricultural use.


Thomas Munro spread the Ryotwari system around 1820, mostly to the contemporary Indian states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, and others in the southern part of the country. This system of peasant-proprietorship was established when the British gave farmers complete titles to their land. Therefore, all tax money came straight from the farmers who worked and owned the land.

Although the British invaders have fled, this parasitic plague lingers here to exploit lesser rungs of society.

Because of the political instability, inflation, and poor governance it engenders, this system is the true barrier to progress. This malignant cell must be eliminated to make Pakistan great politically and economically. Until the abolition of this system, we, as a country, cannot foresee a wealthy economy and a real working judicial system in Pakistan.

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