Chapter 6 – Peasants and Farmers

Peasants and Farmers



Complete NCERT Book Page wise Solution Class 9th as per Latest CBSE Syllabus

History India and the Contemporary World I 

 Chapter- 6 Peasants and Farmers

The following page provides you NCERT book solutions for class 9 social science, social science class 9 notes in pdf are also available in the related links between the texts.

Peasants and Farmers

Question 1. Explain briefly what the open field system meant to rural people in eighteenth- century England.

Look at the system from the point of view of :

(i).A rich farmer

Answer : (i)As the prices of wool increased, rich farmers wanted to increase its production. Therefore, they began to privatise the best parts of the common land and open fields for themselves. This was done to ensure that their sheep would get good fodder. They also began to drive out poorer farmers, disallowing them from using common land for grazing.

(ii).A labourer

Answer : (ii)For the poor labourers, the common lands were essential for survival. They used to live with landowners, doing a number of odd jobs for them in return for board and

lodging and a small pay. However, when the open field system began to disappear, labourers were paid wages and employed only at harvest time. This left them at the mercy of rich landowners and farmers.

(iii) A peasant woman

Answer : (iii)For peasant women, the open field system was a good way of community living wherein everything was shared between the rich and the poor. They would use the common lands for grazing their cattle, gathering fruits and collecting firewood. However, all these activities were negatively affected because of the disappearance of open fields.

Question 2. Explain briefly the factors which led to the enclosures in England. Answer: The factors which led to the enclosures in England were:

? Increasing population and due to it increasing demand of food grains and other things led to the enclosure in England.

? The rising prices of agricultural products such as wool, wheat, milk, fruits etc. laso played role as a factor in promoting enclosures in England.

? Industrialisation and war needs made foodgrain prices soar, making it necessary to take steps to increase its production.

? In the ninteenth century enclosure were seen necessary to mak long term investment on land and plan crop rotations to improve the soil.

? Enclosures also allowed the richer landowners to expand the land under their control and produce for the market

Increase in Prices of Wool In the 16th century, the price of wool in the international market went up so the rich farmers wanted to expand wool production to earn higher profits. They were eager to improve their sheep breeds and keen on controlling large areas of land in compact blocks to allow improved breeding so they started building hedges around their holdings to separate their property from that of others.

Increased Demand for Grain From the mid 18th century, the population of England expanded rapidly, more people were living in the cities and working In the factories. As urban population grew, demand for food grams Increased and food grain prices rose.

Because of the war with France, trade was disrupted and import of grain from Europe declined, increasing prices of foodgrains in England This encouraged landowners to enclose land and enlarge areas under grain cultivation, leading to the second enclosure movement.

Question 3. Why were threshing machines opposed by the poor in England?

Answer :Threshing machines were opposed by the poor in England because they thought that these machines would deprive workmen of their livelihood. They believed that with the help of machines the richer farmers and big landlords would encourage enclosure movement. The commons would be distributed among rich farmers, and poor farmers, labourers, peasants women would have to- struggle for their jobs and they would be jobless.

Question 4. Who was Captain Swing? What did the name symbolise or represent?

Answer : Captain Swing was a mythical name used in the threatening letters written by the poor labourers in rural England to the rich farmers telling them to stop using threshing machines or face the consequences The rich farmers had Introduced threshing machines, due to which demand for labour decreased which caused the labourers to become agitated.
The name Captain Swing symbolised or represented the anger of the poor labourers in rural England who wanted return to the pre machine days when human labour was used.

Question 5. What was the impact of the westward expansion of settlers in the USA?

Answer : The westward expansion of settlers in the USA led to a complete annihilation of

American Indians who were pushed westwards, down the Mississippi river, and then further west beyond that. They fought back, but were defeated; their villages were burnt and cattle destroyed. Also, with the cultivation of land for agricultural purposes, all grass and trees were razed. This led to terrible dust storms and blizzards in the 1930s, causing much death and destruction.

White Americans had moved westward and established control upto the West coast. displacing local tribes and carving out the entire landscape into different agricultural belts.

USA came to dominate the world market in agricultural produce. The local American Indians were driven out from their homeland. Many wars were fought in which Indians were massacred and their villages burnt. Gradually, the whole of America was taken over by the white settlers.

Question 6. What were the advantages and disadvantages of the use of mechanical harvesting machines in the USA?

Answer : The advantages of the use of mechanical harvesting machines in the USA were:

?The price of wheat was high and demand limitless. These new machinesallowed farmers to quickly clear tracts, break up the soil, remove the grass and prepare theground for cultivation.

? The work could be done within a shorter time period and with a lesser number of labourers.

? With power-driven machinery, four men could plough, seed and harvest 2,000 to 4,000 acres of wheat in a season.

However there were some disadvantages for the poorer farmers too: Unemployment

Introduction of machines reduced the need for labour leading to unemployment on a large scale.

Unpaid Debts

Many poor farmers in USA had bought machines by taking loans from banks, but due to increased production there was surplus of food grains and storehouses overflowed. Prices fell, export collapsed, leading to an agrarian depression. due to which the farmers could not pay back the bank loans. So, they deserted their farms and looked for jobs elsewhere.

Dust Bowl

To expand cultivation, tractors had turned the soil over and broken the sod into dust. Over a period of time, overuse turned the whole region into a dust bowl, leading to terrifying dust storms called ‘black blizzards’ which blinded and choked the people; the animals were suffocated to death. The rivers were coated with dust and the fish died. The machinery was clogged with dust, and there was a huge damage to lite and property.

Question 7. What lessons can we draw from the conversion of the countryside in the USA from a bread basket to a dust bowl?

Answer : The expansion of wheat agriculture in the Great Plains created the Dust Bowl. The Americandream of a land of plenty had turned into a nightmare.

We need to learn a lesson from this. Use of land is good but overuse of land is bad. We  needto realise that land is a precious natural resource which needs to be preserved and conserved.It serves as warning signagainst the exploitative use of land for commercial purposes onlyleads to degradation and depletion.This gives rise to serious consequences. We must realise that we need to respect the ecologicalconditions of each region and work towards sustainable development and look after our earth.

Question 8. Write a paragraph on why the British insisted on farmers growing opium in India.

Answer : In the late 18th century, the east India Company was buying tea and silk from China for sale in England. As tea became a popular English drink, trade in tea became important,

moving upto 50 million pounds in value. This created a problem because England at this time produced nothing that could be sold in China. The Chinese were suspicious of foreign goods and Chinese rulers did not allow foreign goods to enter China, so payment could be made only in silver coins or bullion which was unacceptable to the British because it would impoverish the nation. The British insisted on farmers growing opium in India to balance their trade with China.Tea became extremely popular in England, and by 1830, over 30 million pounds of tea was being imported from China.The British could buy tea from China only by paying in bullion.Hence, there was nothing that England could offer to the Chinese in exchange for tea, except money.Opium was used in Chinese medicine, but was banned for use due to its addictive qualities. The British started an illegal opium trade, and by 1839,  there were an estimated 12 million opium smokers in China. All the supplied opium came from India and it formed an easy, cheap way to pay for the tea imported from China.

Question 9. Why were Indian farmers reluctant to grow opium?

Answer : The Indian farmers were reluctant to grow opium due to:

?The crop had to be grown on the best land, on fields that lay near the villages and were well manured.

? This land was usually used for growing pulses. If opium was grown on fertile and well manured land then pulses would have to be grown on less fertile land and yield would not be good in quality as well as quantity.

? The cultivation of opium was difficult and time-consuming as the plants required looking after. As a consequence, the cultivators would not have time to look after their other produce.

? The farmers had to pay the rent for their land to the landlords. This rent was very high.The cultivators owned no land.

? Finally, the price the government paid for the opium produce was very low and would provide the farmers with no profits.

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