ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Logan s Legacy

P Radhakrishnan William Logan: A Study in the Agrarian Relations of Malabar by K K N Kurup; Sandhya Publications, Calicut, 1981; pp x + 128; THIS slender vllume, an excellent study of the nineteenth century agrarian history of Malabar in the colonial context, presents a perceptive analysis of the pathetic wreck of the happy harmony of customary agrarian relations in Malabar wrought by the 'revenue- hungry' British administration, and of the reports of the numerous commissions appointed by the same British government to suggest palliatives to the consequent agrarian discontent. According to the author, prior to the second half of the eighteenth century, each taravad (matrilineal family organisation of the Nayars) was a unit of land-control, by virtue of which it was also a political unit and administrative office having hereditary jurisdiction and administrative functions over a territorial unit. However, the right over the land under its control was not the proprietary right as in the Roman concept of dominium or proprietas. For, "when an office of taravad and other dignities attached to a desavazhi {ruler of a desam or a territorial unit) were sold .. the purchaser had to recognise the inferior rights of the persons involved in the land transactions". In other words, the customary rights in land of persons holding the inferior rights, such as kanakkar (intermediary or supervisory tenants), verumpatta- kkar (simple or cultivating tenants) cherujanmakkar (small birth-right or Janmam-holders .such as artisan and service castes), hutment-dwellers, slaves and so on, remained unchanged no matter which 'aravad formed the unit of land-control, and no matter whether the land was sold or purchased. The purchaser was entitled only to a fixed shire of the produce of the soil plus of course the customary dignities and privileges attached to the unit of land-control, in his capacity as a " taravad i or tamvattu- karan or desawazhi'.

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