Village accountant


A village accountant, or patwar, is an administrative government position in rural areas of the Indian subcontinent. Introduced during the early 16th century, it was maintained by the British Raj. The accountant primarily tends to keeps agricultural records.


The patwar system, introduced to the Indian subcontinent during the rule of Sher Shah Suri, was further enhanced by the emperor Akbar. The British colonists made minor amendments, but maintained the system.[1] Known as lekhpal in Uttar Pradesh, the word is derived from the Sanskrit root tal (to accomplish a vow, to establish or to fix) and has the same meaning in Marathi.[2] It denotes the office of the talati in rural Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka. The office and its holder are known as Talatis, and holders of the office have adopted it as their family name. The duties of a talati include maintaining village crop and land records and collecting taxes and irrigation dues.[3][4][5] The talati replaced the kulkarni in Gujarat and Maharashtra.[6] The duties of a talati are performed under a different title in other Indian states; a talati is known as a patwari in Telangana.[6] Originally a land-holding clerk, the talati is now a paid, government-appointed official.[4][7] A patil (patel in Gujarat) is an outsider who assists the talati in collecting revenue. It has been alleged that records maintained by the talati do not reflect actual positions, because the talati did not take into account the tribal custom of using the name of the adult male family member for land possession.[8]

Among the administration, the talati has the closest connection with the villagers.[9] Generally in charge of a group of villages known as a saza, they are required to reside in the saza unless authorised by the Collector; however, most talatis were found to be in violation of the rule.[10] Part of the Brahmin caste in most cases,[5] the talati is generally considered a representative of the government.[11]


In 1814, duties of the Talati included preserving village records, monitoring daily activities, and gathering information about individuals (including mukhis and other village elites).[12] The 1882 Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency records the Talati as a village accountant, in charge of eight to ten villages, whose annual salary was £12-£18 (Rs. 120–180). The Talati was expected to live in one of the villages and visit each village every month to learn villagers needs and report them to the sub-divisional manager at the sub-divisional office. The Talati was also required to give each landholder an account with the landholder's dues.[9] In August 1891, a talati's salary was recorded as low.[13]

In 1884, Mountstuart Elphinstone was reported as saying that the talati promoted the government but reduced the authority of the patel; Elphinstone recommended minimising the interference.[11] The appointment of a talati was viewed negatively by village chiefs, who saw him as a government representative in the absence of a kulkarni or watandar.[14] The talati was also involved in collecting annual census data after Mrigashīrsha.[15] Talatis are known as patwari in Bengal, karnam in Andhra Pradesh and North India, and kanakku pillai in Tamil villages.[14]


Patwari (or patel) are terms used in South Asia for a land-records officer at the tehsil level. As the lowest state functionary in the revenue-collection system, their job encompasses visiting agricultural lands and maintaining a record of ownership and tilth. The government of India has developed a Patwary Information System (PATIS), software which was deployed in at least two districts by 2005; deployment at the tehsil level is underway.[16] A patwari reports to the tehsildar, a higher-level tax officer.[17] A patwari can wield significant power and influence,[18] and corrupt patwaris have escaped punishment due to their political connections.[19] They have three main duties:

  • Maintaining records of crops harvested
  • Recording land-rights changes
  • Accounting for the preparation of the above data[17]


The khewat number (Urdu کھیوٹ ) is assigned to village land, and changes when the land is sold. The Khatami number (Urdu کھتونی نمبر ), an additional number assigned to village land after the khewat number, also changes when the land is sold. Girdawary, the record of land cultivation (crops and ownership), is maintained by the patwari in Andhra Pradesh, by the Talati in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka, and similar officials in other Indian states.[16] If a non-owner cultivates the land for an extended period, they may claim possession of the land.[14]

In India and Pakistan, jamabandi are land records maintained for each village in a tehsil (township).[20][21] A jamabandi includes the name of the owners, the area of cultivation (or land), owner shares, and other rights. It is revised periodically. A jamabandi is prepared by a patwari, and certified by the division revenue officer. Two copies are made: one for the government's record room, and the other for the patwari. In a number of states, land records have been computerized and are available on the Internet.

Lal Dora, a term introduced by the British Raj in 1908, is a red line drawn on revenue maps that delineates the village population from nearby agricultural land. It enables villagers to build houses without the Change in Land Use (CLU) authorization which would otherwise be needed to convert agricultural land to commercial or residential use.[22]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Butt, Waseem Ashraf (2021-04-24). "Punjab revives old patwar system by replacing ARCs". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  2. ^ Monier-Williams, Sir Monier (1963). A Sanskrit-English dictionary. Motilal Banarasidas. p. 440. ISBN 81-208-3105-5.
  3. ^ Heredia, Susana (1972). A patriot for me: a biographical study of Sardar Patel. p. 239.
  4. ^ a b India Office of the Registrar General (1962). Census of India, 1961, Volume 5, Part 6, Issue 6. Vol. 5.
  5. ^ a b Fukutake, Tadashi; Ōuchi, Tsutomu; Nakane, Chie (1964). The socio-economic structure of the Indian village: surveys of villages in Gujarat and West Bengal. Institute of Asian Economic Affairs. pp. 76–77.
  6. ^ a b Shukla, J. D (1976). State and district administration in India. pp. xii, 63.
  7. ^ Ātre, Trimbaka Nārāyaṇa (2000). The village cart: translation of T.N. Atre's Gaav gada. pp. 65, 78. ISBN 978-81-7154-863-7.
  8. ^ Trivedi, Harshad R. Tribal land systems: land reform measures and development of tribals. p. 154.
  9. ^ a b Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency: Thana. Vol. VIII. 1882. p. 573.
  10. ^ Dantwala, Mohanlal Lalloobhai; Shah, C. H. (1971). Evaluation of Land Reforms: General report. pp. 167, 179–180.
  11. ^ a b Elphinstone, Mountstuart; Forrest, Sir G. W. (George William) (1884). Writings of Mountstuart Elphinstone. pp. 490, 479.
  12. ^ Chaturvedi, Vinayak (2007). Peasant pasts: history and memory in western India. University of California Press. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-520-25078-9.
  13. ^ Shelly, C. E. (1892). Transactions of the Seventh International Congress of Hygiene and Demography. Vol. 11. p. 116.
  14. ^ a b c Baden-Powell, Baden Henry (1896). The Indian village community: examined with reference to the physical, ethnographic, and historical condition of the provinces; chiefly on the basis of the revenue-settlement records and district manuals. pp. 598, 735–736.
  15. ^ Baines, J. A. (1882). Imperial census of 1881: Operations and results in the Presidency of Bombay including Sind. Vol. I. p. 260.
  16. ^ a b Habibullah, Wajahat; Ahuja, Manoj, eds. (2005). Land Reforms in India: Computerisation of Land Records. Vol. 10. Sage Publications India. pp. 42, 195, 197–198, 202. ISBN 978-0-7619-3347-2.
  17. ^ a b "District administration - Naib Tehsildar".
  18. ^ "Power of the patwary". Dawn. 14 January 2004. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  19. ^ "Corrupt Patwarys go scot-free : ACE helpless". Dawn. November 2007. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  20. ^ Jambandi Haryana, Haryana Revenue Department.
  21. ^ Belgaum Jamabandi.
  22. ^ What is Lal Dora, Daily Pioneer, 11 June 2013.

External linksEdit

  • Patwaris
  • 'Proposal to abolish 59 posts of Patwari' - News item- The Tribune