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Zamindari Association, The

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Zamindari Association, The reckoned to be the first political association of modern India. Formally launched in Calcutta in March 1838, it was renamed the Landholders' Society shortly afterwards. Landed magnates like Raja radhakant dev, dwarkanath tagore, Prasanna Kumar Tagore, Rajkamal Sen and Bhabani Charan Mitra were its leading members. The promotion of landholders' interests through petitions to government and discreet persuasion of the bureaucracy was its professed object. Among its aims were securing a halt to the resumption of rent-free tenures and an extension of the permanent settlement of land all over India, including the grant of lease of waste land to their occupants. The demand for reform of the judiciary, the police and the revenue departments was also on its agenda.

To attain its aims and objectives, the Society maintained close contact with the bureaucracy in Calcutta, established links with the British India Society of London and appointed its President, George Thompson, the Landholders' Society's agent in London.

With its distinctive mark of loyalism, the Landholders' Society was an exclusive aristocratic club of native zamindars and compradors. Membership of the club was also extended to non-official Britons engaged in trade and commerce in Bengal. It was beyond the means of ordinary raiyats to become its members. The Landholders' Society failed to take root in areas outside the Bengal Presidency, where the Permanent Settlement was not in vogue. With its limited field and range of activity, its only achievement was the concession it had extracted from government in the form of exemption of Brahmottara (land donated for the services of Brahmins and temples), to the extent of ten bighas, from rent. The Landholders' Society may be said to have inaugurated the new course of modern institutional politics in India.

The Landholders' Society did not endure long. It became inactive around 1842, becoming almost moribund by 1843, although maintaining a precarious existence till 1850. It was superseded by the bengal british india society. [BR Khan]