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The Village Accountant is an administrative government position found in rural parts of the Indian subcontinent.
The Patwar system was first introduced in the Indian subcontinent, during the short, but the eventful rule of Sher Shah Suri, and the system was further enhanced by Emperor Akbar. The British colonial era made minor amendments but continued the system.
In 1814, legislation was enacted requiring all villages to maintain an accountant (talati) as an official agent of the government. The Kulkarni Watan was abolished in 1918 and paid talatis from all castes were appointed to the new office of the Talati. In some cases, the talatis were the oppressed castes and the abolishing of the Kulkarni Watan system was viewed as a progressive move.
Talati is a word in the Gujarati and Marathi languages of India. It is used to denote the office of the Talati in rural parts of the Indian states of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka. The office and its holder are both called Talatis. Bearers of the office have adapted this as their family last name. The duties of a Talati include maintaining crop and land records (record of rights) of the village, collection of tax revenue, collection of irrigation dues. The post of the Talati replaced that of the Kulkarni which no longer exists in Gujarat and Maharashtra. The duties of a talati are performed in other states of India under a different title, for example the talati is called a Patwari in Telangana. Originally a land holding clerk, the talati is now a government appointed paid official. A Patil (Patel in the state of Gujarat) is from outside the village and assists the Talati in collecting revenue. It has been alleged that the records maintained by the talati do not reflect the actual position on the ground because the talati did not take into account the tribal custom of using the name of the adult male member of the family for land possession.
Amongst the administration, the talati has the closest connection with the village people. The talati is generally in charge of a group of villages called a saza and they are required to reside in that saza unless they get approval from the Collector to reside outside of the saza. However the majority of the talatis were found to be in violation of this rule. The talati belongs to the Brahmin caste in most cases and is generally looked up to in the villages because of being a representative of the government.
Duties of the Talati
In 1882, the Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency records the duty of the talati as that of a village accountant with a charge of about 8-10 villages. The talati's pay scale for this was £12 - £18 (Rs. 120 – Rs. 180) per year. The talati was supposed to live anywhere within these villages and was supposed to visit each village every month to understand people's needs. The talati then reported these needs to the sub-divisional manager in the sub-divisional office. Additionally, the Talati was also required to give each landholder an account showing the landholders dues. In August 1891 the pay of the talati is recorded as being poor.
In 1884, Elphinstone says that the duties of the talati are excellent in promoting the advantage of the government but they have a tendency to extinguish the authority of the Patel and recommends that care should be taken to bring talati's power within its natural bounds to remove interference from the duties of the Patel. The appointment of the talati was viewed negatively by village chiefs who felt he assumed the characteristic of a representative of the government, receiving complaints. The talati was appointed when the Kulkarni or Watandar, the hereditary accountant is absent from the village or district scene. The talati is also involved in collecting data related to census. This is an annual activity occurring after the Mrig each year.
Patwari or Patel are terms used in South Asia for a land record officer at sub-division or Tehsil level. As the lowest state functionary in the Revenue Collection system, his job encompasses visiting agricultural lands and maintaining a record of ownership and tilling (girdawary). The Government of India has developed a software system called Patwary Information System (PATIS) which was deployed in at least two districts as of 2005 with deployment at the Tehsil level underway. Patwary reports to Tehsildar or a chief clerk of Tehsils land records. The Government of Punjab (Pakistan) as well develop a Land Software with the name of Land Revenue Management Information System (LRMIS).
The Patwari can wield significant power and influence with even feudal lords seeking his favour. There have been cases of corrupt patwaris escaping punishment due to their position and political connections.
Duties of Patwari
A patwari has three chief duties:
- The maintenance of record of the crop grown at every harvest.
- The keeping of the record of rights up to date by the punctual record of mutations.
- The account of preparation of statistical returns embodying the information derived from the harvest inspections, register of mutation and record of rights.
Land and revenue terminology
Under the Indian land record system, Girdawary is the record of land cultivation. It records the crop and ownership of the crop. The record is maintained by the Patwari in Andhra Pradesh, by the Talati in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka and other similar title holders in other states of India. The Government of India has developed a software system called Patwari Information System (PATIS) that includes girdawary in its scope. PATIS was deployed in at least two districts as of 2005 with deployment at the Tehsil level underway.
Local landlords must ensure that Girdawary stays in their name, otherwise; if someone else is shown as cultivating the land for an extended period of time, they can claim possession of the land, resulting in a dispute of land ownership.
A jamabandi is a term used in India meaning "RECORD OF RIGHTS" and refers to land records.
These records are documents which are maintained for each village within its Tehsil. It contains the name of the owners, an area of cultivation/land, shares of owners and other Rights. It is revised after a certain period of time for e.g. every 5 years in the states such as Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan.
After it is prepared by Patwari (Govt. official who keeps and maintains RECORD OF RIGHTS) it is attested by Revenue Officer of that division. Two copies of jamabandi are made, one is kept in Government's Record room and other is kept with Patwari. All changes in title/interests of the revenue estate coming into the notice of Revenue Authorities are duly reflected in the Jamabandi according to set procedures.
In many states like Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Punjab land records have been computerised. In these states, Jamabandi is prepared using software, and it is later checked by the patwari for errors. After it is corrected or approved by the patwari, a final printout is taken which is later attested by the Revenue officer. In these states, Jamabandis are also made available on websites.
Lal Dora, is a term that introduced by British Raj in 1908, is a red line drawn on the maps delineating the village population from the nearby agricultural land in the revenue records and villagers can build houses without building by-laws without the mandatory change in land use (CLU) permission that would otherwise be needed to convert agricultural land to commercial or residential purpose.
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