III (2 c i) Earlier economic systems were based on customs, conventions and traditions.
C i).Balutedari System:
In olden days there existed the Barter system of exchange i.e. exchange of goods for goods. Money was not used. Individuals earned their money in the form of commodities and services.
Life in ancient India came to be centered round villages. Even at present there are more than 5 lakh villages.
Agriculture was the main occupation & necessary for subsistence. Therefore the farmer was the most important .person in the village around whom all activities revolved. Naturally along with the farmers, a number of people of different occupations settled in the village.
Villages followed the unique system of payment in kind which was known as the “Baluta system” in Maharashtra. This system was an integral part of the village organization which was self-supporting, self-sufficient and isolated.
Due to the lack of transport & communication villages were isolated economies & self-sufficient economy’s ie “produced what they consumed and consumed what they produced”.
The farmer undertook cultivation but he had to satisfy a number of other daily household wants eg. agricultural implements religious ceremonies etc. These services were provided by the village artists who were “the servants of the village”.
They received a fixed share in the land produce annually at harvest time for services rendered. This was known as “Baluta”. It was given according to the importance & quantity of work done.
It was received not as charity but as a matter of right from generation to generation. Those who received. it were known as Balutedars.
Their occupation was hereditary in nature therefore it strengthened the caste system. An imperfect division of labour based on customs traditions and status was adopted.
The main feature was while services were not fixed the Baluta was prefixed according to tradition. Since baluta was prefixed and given irrespective of the work done, the balutedars were the permanent resident of the village, & did not leave the village in search of jobs.
It is said that there were “twelve” or “Bara balutedars”. They were as follows-
i. The messangers received 40 bundles of thrashed corn.
ii. The blacksmith, executor & carpenter received 20 bundles of thrashed corn.
iii. The potter, cobbler, washerman and barbar received 12 bundles of thrashed corn.
iv. The priest school teacher temple servants and fisherman received 10 bundles of thrashed corn.
In addition to the Balutedars some artists in Maharashtra were known as the Alutedars eg. the oilpresser, musician, gardeners, weavers, goldsmiths, watchman, tailors, betal-leaf sellers, gatekeepers, market-officers etc. what they receive was known as the aluta.
While Baluta was prefixed Aluta was not.
Alutedars were the office bearers of the village and it is said that they were 18 in number.
The distinction between balutedars & alutedars however was not rigid.i.e.it differed from village to village.
Advantages of the balutari system:
This system was a simple method of payment in kind, it protected the std of living, provided security of income & occupation. It was suitable to the isolated, self-sufficient village economy. There was no competition in the market, i.e. was based on division of labour & was convenient to farmers because payment was made once a year at harvest time.
Disadvantages of the balutedari system
Due to security for all there was lack of ambition, economic stagnation due to isolation. It strengthened the caste system, restricted mobility of labour & has the other disadvantages of the barter system of trade.
Causes of decline of the balutedari system
Along with the above disadvantages, the other causes of the decline of the baluta system were as follows-
1. Development of markets.
2. Development of organised business.
3. Payment in cash, more convenient.
4. Spread of education.
5. Rapid industrialisation.
6. Development in transport & communication etc.
Therefore Baluta system outlived its utility & gave way to the modern monetary system.