Floud Commission was a land revenue commission set up by the Bengal Government in 1938 under the chairmanship of Francis Floud. The Commission was set up to assess the problems of the land revenue system.
In 1929, 18 members of the Bengal Legislative Council, including A. K. Fazlul Huq, founded the All Bengal Tenants Association, which became known as the Praja Party. Through the Government of India Act of 1935, dyarchy was replaced by provincial autonomy in 1935, with the first general elections held in 1937.
To contest the 1937 Indian Provincial elections, the Praja Party took the name of ‘Krishak Praja Party‘ in 1936, intending to appeal to a broad rural base. A. K. Fazlul Huq, popularly known as Sher-e-Bangla (Lion of Bengal), was committed to abolishing the zamindari system and restoring the rights of the peasants. This commitment was one of the main items of the Krishak Praja Party’s 21-point manifesto for the general elections of 1937.
Also, the Indian National Congress and the Indian Muslim League were sympathetic to the peasantry. However, this sympathy was politically grounded on the fact that the peasant vote would be the deciding factor in ensuring general elections in which the peasant section of voters constituted the absolute majority.
In the 1937 Indian Provincial elections, the Krishak Praja Party won 36 seats in the Bengal Legislative Assembly. A. K. Fazlul Huq formed a coalition government in Bengal with the support of the Muslim League and other parliamentary groups.
Establishment of Floud Commission
A. K Fazlul Huq became the first Prime Minister of Bengal in 1937. He was under pressure to take necessary measures to abolish the Zamindari system (or Permanent Settlement) in Bengal. To end this, the Government of Bengal formed a commission headed by Sir Francis Floud to look into the problems of the land revenue administration. In particular, this Land Revenue Commission was set up to examine the question of the abolition of the zamindari system.
Recommendations of Floud Commission
The Bengal Land Revenue Commission, popularly known as Floud Commission, submitted its report on 2 March 1940, which suggests several reforms. Among its recommendations were the abolition of Permanent Settlement and the end of rent-receiving interests of all forms. Along with other suggestions, the Commission also proposed that the sharecroppers should retain a two-third share of the total crops.
The recommendations of the Floud Commission galvanised the peasants. Bengal Provincial Kisan Sabha (BPKS) took up the issue and began mobilising the sharecroppers. At the fourth conference of the Provincial Kisan Sabha held in Panjia of Jessore district in June 1940, the call was given to reduce the rent rate (or landlord share) to one-third (Tebhaga). However, the start of the Second World War and the Great Famine of 1943 delayed the Tebhaga (sharing by thirds) Movement.
Floud Commission’s suggestions were strongly supported by the Administrative Inquiry Committee of 1944. But the Government could do little towards the implementation of these recommendations. The main obstacles were political instability, communal unrest, the politics of partitioning India, and the Great Famine of 1943.
In September 1946, the Bengal Provincial Kisan Sabha gave the call to the peasants/sharecroppers to implement the Floud Commission’s recommendations to reduce the rent rate to one-third so that the sharecroppers should retain a two-third share of the total crops. Thus, Tebhaga Movement started in 1946. The Movement slowly disappeared after the Bengal Bargadars Temporary Regulation Bill was passed in 1950.