Cornwallis’s greatest achievement in India was the reorganization of the land taxation, known as the Permanent Settlement of 1793. Agricultural land in Bengal was cultivated by a large number of small farmers, who paid rent to a group of zamindars (landowners). Under the Mughals, the government had collected taxes from the zamindars. The East India Company, however, had tried to set aside the zamindars, and collect land taxes either directly through company officials, or through revenue-farmers, who collected the rent from peasants and paid a lump sum to the government.
Separation of revenue and justice administration, European subjects were brought under jurisdiction. Government servants were made accountable to civil courts for action done in their official capacity. The principle of rule of law was emphasized and imposed.
Cornwallis was the first Governor General to bring an organized Civil service into existence. He tried to check corruption through these measures: He raised salaries of Company’s servants.He strictly enforced rules against any private trade. He prohibited the civil servants from taking presents and gifts. He enforced the criteria of seniority to promote the employees of the Company.
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