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Ganj


Ganj (chauk, hat, bazar) a pre-modern concept of an advantageously located place where sellers, buyers and middlemen conglomerated periodically for transactions in grains and manufactures of both local and non-local origins. Its closest institutions are chauk, hat and bazar that offer more or less the same rights and obligations to buyers and sellers as the ganj, though in strict sense there are contextual differences in them. In the muhgalrecords we find two categories of ganjes: khas or government and private. Ganjes formed important source of revenue for the government. Private ganjes were mostly established by zamindars and taluqdars. Zamindars were required to pay a percentage of their income from ganjes to government as sayer. Many ganjes were lakheraj or exempt from sayer tax. Lakheraj ganjes were granted as a privilege to ranking persons and as compensatory rewards to pensioners.

The early east india company government's records indicate that many of the ranking people including members of the nawab's harem were on the list of people owning important ganjes in Bengal. For example, Naib-Nazim reza khan (1765-1790) owned Bairamganj as a lakheraj ganj. munni begum owned Babuganj and jagat sheth owned Mahtabganj and son on. Toll collection in these ganjes was a customary fact, which was universally accepted by the native traders and merchants, but the Europeans, particularly the English East India Company hated to pay taxes on the ground that they were legally permitted by imperial farmans to trade without any inland tax. In fact, toll collections in the ganjes contributed a great deal to the deteriorating relations between the nawab's government and the company.

In the absence of urbanisation and consequent concentration of business activities in the rural areas, these great ganjes served as the centres of production and distribution. There were general ganjes where all sorts of merchandise were transacted, and there were specialised ganjes where only particular items of trade and commerce were transacted. Thus, there were special ganjes for cattle, textiles, boats, slaves, furniture etc. [Sirajul Islam]