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

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Telangana Chief Minister Makes Cornwallis Turn in His Grave

K Chandrasekhar Rao has increased the number of districts in Telangana from 11 to 31 ostensibly to improve administration. But, the move seems aimed at consolidating his party's support base.

An earlier version of this article appeared in the Web Exclusive section in the EPW digital edition.

Charles Cornwallis, who became commander-in-chief of British ­India in 1786, was said to have been instrumental in initiating reforms in civil administration and land management practices for the country’s colonial rulers. Lord Cornwallis is today turning in his grave. Two hundred and thirty-one years after he brought in the Permanent Settlement in the dominions of the East India Company and set up a new system of administration of India, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) has taken it on himself to dismantle the system irreparably. He may not realise what he is doing to an administrative system that has lasted for centuries.

For those who came in late, Cornwallis, with the main objective of collecting of taxes for the rapacious East India Company, created the concept of a district—a nomenclature for a contiguous piece of land from where taxes could be collectedeffi ciently—and with it, its administrative head, the district collector (DC). Most of the revenue collections would be from taxes on land. Since many farmers could refuse to pay the harsh taxes, ­especially in times of drought, a law and order machinery was set up under the collector to ensure that nothing went out of hand. Thus came into the being the office of the superintendent of police (SP) reporting directly to the DC, who was also the district magistrate. This was the bulwark of the Indian administration system that stood the British in good stead till they left India.

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