|Regmi Research (Private) Ltd,
Kathmandu: December 1, 1979.
Regmi Research Series
Cumulative Index for Year 11, January-December 1979.
Munitions Production 1
The Budget System and the Ranas 7
Particulars of Birta and Guthi Lands
Abolished in A.D. 1805 8
Dharan Town 10
More Documents on the Battle of Nalapani 11, 23
Revenue Collection in Jumla 16
An Explanatory Note 17
The Bakyauta Tahasil Adda 18
The Hides and Skins Levy 21
Readings in Nepali Economic History 33, 77
Bondage and Enslavement 33
Regulations for Khumbu 40
The Unification of Nepal 40, 49
Sale of Slaves 50
Thak and Thini, 1811 52
Serma Tax Rates in Palchok 54
Brahmans and the Plow 55
Cash Emoluments of Bhardars, 1851 55
Miscellaneous Documents of Magh 1856 63
Notes on the Revenues System of Nepal
During the 19th Century 65
The Dharmadhikar 71, 93, 109, 123, 132, 173,
Jimmawals in the Baisi Region 76
Hulak Regulations, 1828 78
Monthly Salaries of Military
Personnel, 1910 A.D. 82
Hat-Bazars in the Rural Areas of Nepal 84
The Baise and Chaubise Principalities 88, 97, 113, 149
A Kipat Grant in the Tarai Region 97
Panchasayakhola, 1897 104
Selected Documents of 1856 Vikrama 105, 167
Cash Reward to Prime Minister
Chandra Shumshere 113
Kumarichok Employees, 1832 122
Ban on Birta Grants 122
Ban on Cow Slaughter, 1809 126
A Debtor's End in Jumla 129
Ban on Cow Slaughter in Sulukhumbu 129
Restriction on the Use of Opium, 1909 130
The Role of the Dharmadhikar 136
Notification Regarding Transport of
Electric Equipment from Bhimphedi, 1911 139
On Bicharis and Adalats 145
Preliminary Notes on the System of
Commercial Law in Ninetheenth-Century Nepal 148
Bara, Parsa, Rautahat, Sarlahi and Mahottari
Districts in 1948-49 153
Revenue Settlement in Tinthapaula, 1825 A.D. 157
Kathmahals in the Tarai and Inner Tarai
Regions at the end of the Nineteenth Century 160
A Supplementary Notes on the Ukhada System 161
Sair Duties 161
Situation in Kumaun, 1810 A.D. 177
The Kathmandu Valley Entrepot Trade 185
Regmi Research (Private) Ltd,
Kathmandul: January 1, 1979.
Regmi Research Series
Year 11, No. 1
Mahesh C. Regmi
1. Munitions Production 1
2. The Budget System and the Ranas 7
3. Particulars of Birta and Guthi Lands
abolished in A.D. 1805 8
5. Dharan Town 10
6. More Documents on the Battle of Nalapani 11
7. Revenue Collection in Jumla 16
Regmi Research (Private) Ltd
Lazimpat, Kathmandu, Nepal
Compiled by Regmi Research (Private) Ltd for private study and research. Not meant for public sale or display.
During the nineteenth century, Nepal depended wholly on indigenous production for supplies of arms and ammunition. The foundation of the indigenous munitions industry had been laid by Prithvi Narayan Shah in Nuwakot with technicians procured from India, bur production was too inadequate and the army depended on what it was able to seize during its victories encounters with the invading forces of the Nawab of Bengal and the East India Company, and on what it could smuggle from India.1. Consequently, one of the major aims of Gorkhali policy during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries was to procure arms from every possible source. In 1796, for instance, Subba Dinanath Upadhyaya was instructed to endorse the purchase of ''200 guns of god quality and two pieces of cannon, both of British manufacture'' by officials deputed from Kathmandu.2 In 1799, reports were received that at least seven companies. Khas, Ranabhim, Batukdal, Simhanad, Taradal, Devidatta, and Raka Sabuj, were short of guns. A sum of Rs 2,500 was sanctioned from revenues collected in the western hill region to purchase guns for their use.3 A few weeks later, Rs 2,750 was similarly sanctioned for the purchase of guns and bayonets for twelve other companies from revenues collected in Morang.4 Regulations promulgated in 1813 on the eve of the Nepal-British war for Bara, Parsa5, Saptari, and Mahottari districts6 empowered the local administrators to purchase ''flintlocks, steel, and flints'' whenever possible.
Munitions production on a systematic basis started in 1792, soon after the Nepal-China war, when a factory, later known as the Jangi Megjin, was opened in Kathmandu under the supervision of a French technician.7 its main function was to manufacture arms and equipment needed by the army.8 on the eve of the Nepal-British war, the factory was expanded and employed as many as 305 technicians and other workers.9 In 1851, Oldfield described the Jangi Megjin as ''the Government foundry for the manufacture of cannon, as well as of many other articles which are worked in the hard metals''.10 During the Rana period, the Jangi Megjin also manufactured nuts, bolts, hinges, etc. for the palaces of the Ranas.11
In October 1804, Kathmandu ended a seven-year lull in the campaign of territorial expansion by attacking Garhwal. The Gorkhali march toward the Sutlej region followed thereafter. The renewed campaign naturally led to a spurt in defense production. Local administrators in Majhkirat in the eastern hill region, the Marsyangdi-Pyuthan region in the west, and elsewhere were ordered to commander local ironsmiths, procure supplies of iron, and manufacture cannonballs.12 The quotas were fixed by Kathmandu: 30,000 balls from Majhkirat, and 50,000 balls from the Marsyangdi-Pyuthan region, within a month. A special officer was deputed to the Tarai districts in November 1805, one of his functions being to procure technicians from India and start munitions factories where possible.13‑
At the middle of the nineteenth century, the munitions industry appears to have been well established. Notwithstanding the derisive remarks of British observers about technicians and quality, the scale of production is truly impressive. In the words of Cavanagh:14
There is a foundry at Kathmandhoo and a large manufactory of fire arms at Peutana, about 15 marches distant. The guns are of brass (copper and zinc) and bored by machinery worked by water power…. The rifles and muskets in use with the Gorkha Army are of fair construction, but with rude flint looks. … It is supposed that in case of emergency, the government could supply muskets and accoutrements sufficient to equip upwards of 10,000 men.
Sir Richard Temple, who visited Kathmandu in May 1876, noted: ''In the vally near Kathmandu there are arsenals and magazines, with ordnance, including siege guns, stores, thousands of stands of arms, small arm and ammunition, and the like. It is remarkable that for all this they depend on indigenous manufactures.15 He also noted that ''there is large supply of ordnance of various calibers, also made in Nepal''.16
In Pyuthan, rifles of Enfield model were manufactured on a large scale. Production amounted to 501 rifles a year in 181117, which was subsequently raised to 2,101 rifles. After 1849, Prime Minister Jung Bahadur decided to operate it on a smaller scale to restore production to the previous figure.18
Around 1864, an attempt was made to manufacture rifles in Those, a rich iron-mining area in the hill region east of Kathmandu. Initially, local iron workers were commissioned to manufacture rifles in their own homes;19 a regular factory was opened for that purpose only in 1875. However, production was suspended in 1888 for about five years. In 1893, the factory was reopened20 and equipment was installed for the manufacture of nine rifles daily.21
If the scale of production was impressive, continuous experimentation and innovation were no less so. in 1851, Cavanagh noted that the manufacture of percussion caps for rifles ''is not likely to be introduced in Nepal''. 2 Less then fifteen years later, however, Daniel Wright noted that percussion caps were being manufactured in the arsenal at Kathmandu with machinery imported from England.23 Similarly, Cavanagh had mentioned that the Nepalis ''are in a great measure unacquainted with the art of manufacturing fuses''. He added that ''General Jung Bahadur has devoted much time and attention towards making experiments in order to ascertain the exact proportions of the ingredients used in preparing the composition, but hitherto with but little success''.24 However, there is evidence that fuses were manufactured on large scale at Sindhuli-Gadhi during the Nepal-Tibet war.25
Of perhaps greater interest were the innovations introduced to adapt munitions production to the exigencies of mountain warfare. Again according to Cavanagh:26
The Artillery attached to the Nepal Army numbers about 300 guns, of which 160 are retained at the capital… Those at Kathmandhoo are all in serviceable condition and well-adapted for mountain warfare, being chiefly of small caliber, from 2 to 6-pounders … .The government has lately made arrangements by separating the gun from the carriage, for transporting field pieces by means of elephants.
Munitions factories, no doubt, employed workers who were on the regular pay roll, in the term of cash salaries on jagir lands assignments.27 At the same time, the services of many workers, mostly unskilled, were impressed under the rakam systems. In other words, these workers worked in munitions factories without wages in fulfillment of their rakam obligations and received in return only a full or partial exemption from the payment of homestead taxes and protection from eviction from the rice-lands they tilled. The usual practice was to assign a number of adjoining villages to the factory; the inhabitants were then under obligations to provide such labor for porterage and other services. For instance, when the those munitions factory was reopened in 1893, a total of 314 families in nine adjoining villages were enrolled as porter for transporting its manufacture to the Nakhu magazine in Kathmandu.28 In 1812, the inhabitants of three villages in the Chisapani-Gadhi area were told:29
There is a severe shortage of iron in the munitions factory (in Kathmandu). It has become necessary to operate mines in Mahadev-Kharka, because there is a shortage of charcoal (to operate iron mines) in Ruping. You are, therefore, ordered to provide porterage services for the supply of 40 dharnis of copper every day by rotation. You are hereby exempted from forced labor obligations for other purposes.
In Pyuthan, the inhabitants of 28 villages were under obligations to pay their homestead and other taxes in the form of such materials required by the local munitions factory as sulphur and saltpeter. Because these supplies were not locally available, they had no alternative but to visit places as far as Nepalgunj, and sometimes even India, to purchase them.30 The large scale exaction of unpaid labor for munitions production in underscored by the following report which the government received from that district in 1889.31
The people (of Pyuthan district) are being employed in different capacities to meet the requirements of the local munitions factory. In some villages, people extract iron ore, while others transport
the iron to the factory. Still other people procure and supply timber, charcoal, hides and skins, peter, sulphur, borax, or salt. People are also employed to grind gunpowder, or construct factories and other government buildings, bridges, etc. Other obligations include the supply of stones, flints, sand, wax, baskets, oil, oil-cakes, oilseeds, etc. The people of this district have thus to remain in constant attendance at the factory all the twelve months of the year.
There is even evidence that occasionally force was to used unwilling or recalcitrant worker. In 1855, local authorities at Sindhuli-Madi were ordered to employ local people for the manufacture of fuses in chain gangs if necessary, if they did not offer their services voluntarily.32
In any case, there seems little doubt that unpaid-labor services in munitions factories imposed an onerous burden on the local peasantry. In December 1812, for instance, the inhabitants of Sharling village complained that they had not time to cultivate their lands because unpaid labor under the jhara system was exacted all the year round for work at the local sulphur mines.33
The efforts to modernize the munitions industry ran parallel to production of traditional weapons in the traditional manner. These included, according to Kirkpatrick, bows and arrows, ''Kohras, or hatchet swords,''34 and , of course, the Khukuri, ''the dagger, or knife worn by every Nepaulian.''35 These were the weapons, in addition to matchlocks, with which local ''irregular militia'' were equipped.36
Bows and arrows were employed by the regular army during the Nepal-British war.37 In 1813, on the eve of the war, local authorities and functionaries in the Chape/Marsyangdi-Bheri region were ordered to supply bows and poison-tipped arrows to General Amar Singh Thapa in Palpa.38 Often arrows were procured as part of the peasants' obligation under the jagir system.39
1. Baburam Acharya, Sri 5 Badamaharaja Prithvi Narayan Shah (The Great King Prithvi Narayan Shah). Kathmandu: His Majesty's Press Secretariat, Royal Palace, 2024-26 (1967-66), pt. 4, p. 722.
2. ''Royal Order to Subba Dinanath Upadhyaya,'' Aswin Badi 11, 1853 (September 1796). Regmi Research Collection, Vol. 23, p. 115.
3. ''Royal Order to Subba Dinanath Upadhyaya,'' Aswin Badi 5, 1853 (September 1796). Regmi Research Collection, Vol. 23, p. 115.
4. ''allocation of Ijara Revenues of Morang for Purchase of Guns.'' Aswin Sudi 5, 1866 (September 1799), RRC, Vo. 23, p. 416.
5. ''Administrative Regulations for Bara and Parsa District,'' Poush Sudi 14, 1869 (January 1813), Sec. 9, RRC, Vol. 41, p. 222.
6. ''Administrative Regulations for Saptari and Mahottari Districts,'' Poush Sudi 14, 1869 (January 1813), RRC, Sec. 9, Vol. 41, p. 214.
7. ''Royal Order to Michel Delpeche, ''Marga Sudi 3, 1850 (November 1793), in Yogi Naraharinath (ed.), Sandhipatra Sangraha (A collection of treaties and documents)
8. ''Royal Order Regarding Obligations of Mechanics of Army to work in munitions Factory.'' Kartik Sudi 6, 1866 (October 1809), RRC, Vol. 40, p. 110.
9. ''Appointment of Employees in Jagni Magjin,'' Marga Badi 2, 1868 (November 1811), RRC, Vol. 40, p. 299. The number was reduced to 203 in 1831. ''Land Assingments to employees of Munitions Factory.'' Baisakh Badi 6, 1888 (April 1831). RRC, Vol. 44, PP. 270-73. Regulations relating to the duties and privileges of these employees were promulgated on the same date. Ibid, pp. 252-69.
10. Henry Ambrose Oldfield, Sketches from Nipal (Reprint of 1880 ed.). Delhi: Cosmo Publications, 1974, p. 109.
11. ''Order Regarding Manufacture of Nute, Bolts, etc. for Commanding General Dhir Shumshere's House,'' Marga Sudi 6, 1921 (December 1864). RRC, Vol. 33, p. 707.
12. ''Royal Order to Subba Hemakarna Thapa in Chainpur,'' Marga Badi 7, 1862 (November 1805). RRC, Vol. 6, p. 658; ''Royal Order to Subedar Baka Khatri and Subedar Rajavarna Mahat in Majhkirat,'' Marga Badid 7, 1862 (November 1805), Ibid, Vol. 6, p. 658j.
13. ''Regulations in the Name of Babu Ram Bux Singh, ''Marga Badi 1, 1862 (November 1805), Sec. 7, RRC, Vol. 6, p. 653.
14. Orfeur Cavanagh, Rough Notes on the States of Nepal, Calcutta: W. Palmer, 1851, p. 17.
15. Richard Temple, Journals Kept in Hyderabad, Kashmir, Sikkim and Nepal. London: W. H. Allen, 1887, Vol. 2, p. 256.
16. Ibid, p. 258.
17. ''Appointment of Subedar Dharmaraj Khatri as Chief of Pyuthan Magazine,'' Chatra Badi 4, 1867 (March 1811). RRC, Vol. 4, p. 1.
18. ''Appropriate of Employees in Pyuthan Magazine, ''Marga Sudi 11, 1906 (November 1849). RRC, Vo. 49, p. 328; ''Cash Salaries and Land Assingments of Employees of Pyuthan Magazine,'' Chaitra Sudi 15, 1918 (March 1862). Ibid, p. 359.
19. ''Order Regarding Supply of Goodstuffs to Mechanics of Those Mines,'' Kartik Sudi 6, 1923 (October 1866), RRC, Vol. 63, p. 316.
20. ''Order Regarding Supply of Rakam Labor for Those Magazine, Jestha Sudi 2, 1854 (May 1897). RRC, Vol. 61, p. 688.
21. ''Order Regarding Manufacture of Rifles at Those Magazine,'' Jestha Sudi 3, 1854 (May 1897). Ibid., p. 732. This document notes that ''magnetic mechinary'' was installed there in A.D. 1893.
22. Cavanagh, op. cit. p. 17.
23. Danial Wright (ed.). History of Nepal (Reprint of 1877 ed.), Kathmandu: Nepal Antiquated Book Publishers, 1972. p. 49.
24. Cavanagh, op, cit. p. 15.
25. ''Order Regarding Manufacture of Fuses at Sindhuli-Gadhi,'' Ashadh Badi 5, 1912 (June 1855). RRC, Vol. 56, p. 437.
26. Cavanagh, op. cit, p. 15.
27. See No. 9 above.
28. See n. 26 above.
29. ''Order to inhabitants of Richok and other Villages'' Marga Sudi 4, 1869 (November 1812). RRC, Vol. 41, p. 167; ''Jestha Labor for Gunpowder Factory in Nuwakot,'' Baisakh Sudi 2, 1874 (April 1817). Ibid, p. 656.
30. ''Order Regarding Supply of Suphur and Saltpeter to the Pyuthan Gunpowder Factory,'' Jestha Badi 11, 1921 (May 1854). RRC, Vol. 49, p. 207.
31. Mahesh C. Regmi Thatched Huts and Stucco Palaces: Peasants and Landlords in 19th Century Nepal. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House (Private) Ltd, 1978, pp. 94-95.
32. See n. 23 above.
33. ''Complaints of Inhabitants of Sharlang Village,'' Poush Sudi 4, 1869 (January 1813). RRC, Vol. 41, p. 229.
34. We Kirkpatrick, An Account of the Kingdom of Nepaul (Reprinted of 1811 ed.), New Delhi: Manjusri Publishing House, 1969. p. 214.
35. Ibid, p. 113.
36. Ibid, p. 214.
37. Mahesh Raj Pant, ''Nepal-Angrej Yuddha, Nalapaniko Ladain'' (The battle of Nalapani during the Nepal-British War). Purnima, Year, 1, No. 3, Kartik 1, 2021 (October 17, 1964). English translations in Regmi Research Series, Year 10, No. 11, nove 1, 1978, p. 170.
38. ''Order Regarding Supply of Bows and Arrows from Chepe/Marsyangdi-Bheri Region,'' Bhadra Sudi 11, 1870 (September 1813), RRC, Vol. 41, p. 334).
39. ''Jagir Grant to Kaviraj Khadka for Supply of Arrows,'' Ashadh Sudi 2, 1853 (June 1796). RRC, Vol. 23, p. 110. see also pp. 350-57.
The Budget System and the Ranas
By Mahesh C. Regmi
The Rana rulers have been criticized for their failure to develop a sound system of fiscal administration. According to one study:1
No distinction was made between the personal treasury of Rana ruler and the treasury of the government, and government revenue in excess of administrative expenses was pocketed by the Rana ruler as private income. No budgets of the government's expenditures and revenues were ever made public.
Similarly, Subarna Shumshere J. B. Rana, Nepal's first Finance Minister after the political changes of 1951, declared in the course of his budget speech on February 3, 1952:2
During the Rana regime, the people had not hand in the affairs of state and nobody had any information about the revenue and expenditure of the country… No distinction was made between the public exchequer and the personal property of the Rana Prime Minister.
These facts cannot be disputed. Nevertheless, it will be unfair to criticize the Rana rulers for their failure to adopt a modern budget system well in advance of other contemporary states in Asia. Moreover, there is no evidence that nay distinction had been made between the public exchequer and the personal wealth of the rulers during the pre-Rana period.
The perception of the budget as the central instrument financial direction and central is a comperatively recent development. It was chiefly the outgrowth of the without their consent expressed through their representative assembly.3
During the nineteenth century, the budget system does not appear to have been adopted in any part of Asia, except Japan and British India, and definitely not in any of the princely states of India.
1. Bhuwal Lal Joshi and Leo. E. Rose, Democractic Political Acculturation. Barkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1966, p. 39.
2. Nepal Gazette Vol. 1, No. 26, Magh 21, 2008 (February 3, 1932), pp. 35-36.
3. S. [.] Eisenstadt, The Political System of Empires, New Delhi: Free Press, 1963, p. 40.
Particulars Birta and Guthi Landa Abolished in A.D.
Area of rice-lands in muris.
Region Birta Guthi Total Area
Kathmandu 6,543 695 7,238.
Patan 14,107 4,751 18,858.
Bhadgaun 2,763 4,331 7,094.
Total … 23,413 9,777 33,190.
Areas East of Kathmandu
and 9 other villages 7,157 x 7,157.
and 6 other
Villages 15,231 422 15,653.
Tamakosi region 12,883 x 12,833.
region 26,875 x 26,875.
(Majhkirat) 29,873 73 29,946.
Total… 91,969 495 92,464.
Areas West of Kathmandu
region (Lamidanda) 61,820 245 62,065.
Nuwakot, etc.) 26,441 230 26,671.
Trishuli-Gandi region 17,679 20 17,699.
Bhusundi region 19,159 372 19,528.
Chape/Marsyangdi region 36,479 120 36,599.
Total… 161,575 987 162,562.
Western Hill Districts
District Birta lands Guthi lands Birta lands Total
of Brahmans of Bhat, Jogi,
Lamjung 78,473 115 1,180 79,768.
Tanahu 91,106 x 1,390 92,496.
Kaski 62,616 20 1,123 63,759.
Parbat 39,885 65 511 40,461.
Paiyun 12,015 x 362 12,327.
Pallo-Nuwakot 21,156 20 1,282 22,458.
Garhun 25,624 10 463 26,097.
Gulkot 7,912 x 350 8,262.
Sataun 15,489 15 664 16,168.
Bhirkot 29,406 28 1,486 30,920.
Rising 2,378 72 x 2,450.
Ghiring 1,266 x x 1,266
Isma 1,003 x 95 1,098.
Musikot 2,420 x x 2,240.
Pallo-Dhading 498 x x 498
Total …. 391,247 345 8,906 400,498.
Palpa, Gulmi, Argha, and Khanchi
District Birta Bandha Guthi Total
Palpa 63,744 5,687 200 69,631.
Gulmi 5,714 358 x 6,072.
Argha 4,549 387 x 4,994.
Khanchi 4,167 492 14 4,673.