Peasants and Farmers - NCERT Solutions for CBSE Class IX History Chapter 6


NCERT Solutions for History Textbook Exercise | Class 9 NCERT Answers | CBSE NCERT Solution
Class 9 History - Chapter 6, 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:
(1) A rich farmer
(2) A labourer
(3) A peasant woman
(1) Rich Farmer and Open-field System:
Before the 16th century a large part of England in countryside was quite open. All villagers had access to the village open land. Here they collected their food, grazed their castle and collected fuel wood for fire.
But the rich farmers began to enclose a large part of these lands for their own use firstly for breeding the sheep and then for raising their grain production to increase their income. They enclosed big pieces of land from all sides and built hedges around it to separate it from the lands of others. The rising prices of wool and gain were sufficient for them to grab more and more of common lands and bring them under enclosures. They even pressurised the Parliament to pass the Enclosure Acts. Till the middle of 18th century the enclosure movement proceeded slowly. It was not supported by the State or Church. After the middle of 18th century, the enclosure movement swept through the countryside, changing the English landscape forever.
(2) A Labourer and Open-field System:
An open-field system held great attraction for the labourer. He could meet almost all his needs from such open fields. He could not only fetch fuel wood for fire, berries and fruit for his food but could also pasture his cows and graze his cattle. But when most of his open area came under the control of rich farmers who enclosed it for their personal use, he was deprived of all the benefits which he was drawing before. Thus, after 18th century because of enclosures and diminishing open-field system he was forced to leave his ancestral place and migrate to nearby urban area.
(3) A Peasant Woman and Open-field System:
Grazing of animals, cow keeping, gathering of fruits etc. from the open-fields were done by a peasant woman. With the disappearance of the open-field system a peasant woman suffered the most. She could no longer collect fuel wood for fire and berries and fruits for her children to eat. It became difficult for her to graze her sheep, goats and cows and supplement her income and food requirements. The life became worse than a hell for her and her family. - Peasants and Farmers representative image
Question 2: Explain briefly the factors which led to the enclosures in England.
Answer: There were several factors which led to the enclosures in England after the 16th century and especially after the 18th century. Some of these factors are as follows:
(a) In 16th century, the price of wool increased leading rich farmers to expand wool production to earn profits. For this purpose enclosures were necessary.
(b) To ensure good pasture for the sheep the rich farmers began to enclose common land and grow hedges around their holdings to separate their possession and property from others.
(c) The early enclosures were not supported by the state or church. After the middle of 18th century the enclosure movements swept throughout the countryside since, the British Parliament had passed acts legalising these enclosures.
(d) During the 18th and 19th centuries the English population expanded rapidly which increased demand for food gains. This forced the rich landlords to enclose and bring new lands under cultivation.
(e) By the end of the 18th century, England was engaged in war with France. This disrupted trade and made it quite difficult to import food grains from Europe. As a result the price of food gains increased rapidly and the land-owners of England are encouraged to produce more and more food grains by enclosing common lands.
(f) The greed of the landowners was as much responsible for the extension of enclosure as was the need of the hour. Bringing more and more of lands within their enclosure meant rise in their respect as well as in their income.
CBSE NCERT Solutions for History Textbook Exercise | Class 9 History, Peasants and Farmers | CBSE Guide NCERT Solution for IXth NCERT History Chapter 6 Exercise Questions
Question 3: Why were threshing machines opposed by the poor in England?
Answer: After 16th century and especially during 18th century because of the enclosures of common lands by the rich landowners, the poor were not only starved but they were also rendered jobless. Finding survival difficult, they were forced to work as labourers under the landowners who grabbed big chunks of the common land. They had reconciled themselves to their fate but when new machines like threshing machines were introduced, these poor labourers were stunned because it meant the loss of their jobs because a single threshing machine could do the work of more than twenty labourers.
Thus, the loss of their livelihood forced the poor to oppose the introduction of threshing machines tooth and nail. Also the problem became more acute when the soldiers returned to their villages from wars and needed jobs to survive.
Question 4: Who was Captain Swing? What did the name symbolise or represent?
Answer:  Captain Swing was no person but a mythic name used by poor labourers who were deprived of their common land, of their livelihood and even of their jobs. They could not openly face the influential landlords so they adopted this new method of threatening them. At night, they would attack the farmhouses of the landowners, burn their haystacks, farmhouses or destroy threshing machines which had completely ruined their lives and deprived them of their livelihood.
Because the landlords had taken their common land which was essential for their survival so the poor labourers threatened them off dire consequences under the symbolic name of Captain Swing. This was their device to save themselves from the operation of the law. This name became so common in about 1830 that the riots started by the poor labourers began to be called Swing riots. The name symbolised an anti-machine movement or, a swing back to earlier practices of engaging labour rather than machines.
Question 5: What was the impact of the westward expansion of settlers in the USA?
Answer: Till 1780s, the settlement of the White Americans was confined to a small strip of coastal land in the east. But slowly and slowly, they continued their march to the westward side, till by the early 20th century, they reached upto the west coast. Now a question generally arises as to what was the impact of the westward expansion of the settlers in the USA.
(1) Firstly, their westward march had a great impact on the lives of the local tribes. The local tribes were displaced from their original homes, where they were living on the last so many centuries. This was not an easy task. So many wars had to be waged against the American Indians who were massacred in thousands and their villages burnt. The Indians, no doubt, resisted but ultimately, they were defeated and forced to sign treaties and give up their land and move still westward.
(2) The settlers slowly and slowly kept on their march towards the west. By the first decade of the eighteenth century, they settled on the Appalachian Plateau and between 1820 to 1850, they moved into the Mississippi valley. After the 1860s, they swept into the Great Plains across the River Mississippi.
(3) Wherever the settlers went, they slashed and burnt the forests, pulled out the stumps and cleared the land for cultivation. They erected fences around their fields, ploughed the land vigorously and sowed corn and wheat. Slowly and slowly, the whole area, especially, the Great Plains, became a major wheat producing area of America.
In the late 19th century, there was a dynamic expansion of wheat production in the USA. The rise in population, coupled with the spread of railways, development of technology, expansion of export market made America the bread bowl of the world.
(4) The westward march of the White Americans whereas provided them vast areas to expand and to prosper, also enabled them to amass vast natural and mineral resources of that country and to become a great world power.
Question 6: What were the advantages and disadvantages of the use of mechanical harvesting machines in the USA?
Answer: The use of mechanical harvesting machines had certain advantages and disadvantages.
(1) The new machines allowed the farmers to clear large tracts, and prepare the soil for cultivation.
(2) The work could be done quickly and at a minimum cost of labour. With power driven machinery four men could plough, seed and harvest 2000-4000 acres of wheat in a session.
(3) It brought about a period of plenty and prosperity.
(1) Mechanisation reduced the need for labour and caused unemployment. Machines brought miseries to the poor farmers and labours. Many who had taken loans and bought machines found themselves in debt and could not repay as the demand of grains decreased suddenly after the First World War.
(2) By the mid 1960s, there was a large surplus of grain. Demand fell as export market collapsed. Unsold stocks piled up, storehouses overflowed and vast amounts of wheat and grains were turned into animal feed. This led to Great Agrarian Depression of the 1930s which ruined even the rich formers everywhere.
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: In their greed for new fields and more production, the White American landowners played havoc with the natural ecology. They slashed and burnt forests indiscriminately, uprooted all vegetation and grasses which had deep roots in the earth and the tractors had turned the soil over, broken into dust. Now if dust storm came, there was nothing to check its speed. The Great Plains became the bread-basket of the world no doubt but at what a high price.
By chance in 1930s, terrifying dust storms began to blow over the plains and the black blizzards rolled. They came day after day and year after year in the 1930s. As a result, the sky was darkened, the people were choked and blinded and many cattle were suffocated to death. All the machines, tractors, threshers were clogged with dust. Because of the cutting of trees and grasses, there were no rains year after year and dust storms became the order of the day. The grasses that hold the ground together had gone. The tractors had broken the soil into dust. As a result, the whole region became a dust bowl. The land of plenty became a dust bowl.
We can easily say that in the mad race for growing more and more crops, one should not play havoc with ecology. No tree should be cut and not of leaf of grass should be cut. The ecological balance must be maintained at all costs otherwise everything will turn into a nightmare.
Question 8: Write a paragraph on why the British insisted on farmers growing opium in India.
Answer: There were many causes because of which the British insisted on growing opium in India. The chief among them are, however, the following:-
(1) In the late 18th century, the East India Company was buying tea and silk from China for sale in England. Tea trade soon became one of the most important sources of income for the East India Company. But the major question before the company was how to pay back the cost of the tea brought from China. At this time England produced nothing that could be sold to China. To solve this problem the British merchants began smuggling opium into China as the Chinese rule was not prepared to legally allow the trade of opium within his country because of intoxicating effect of the opium. So, smuggling was thought to be the best way. In early 1840s over 35,000 crates of opium were being unloaded in China.
At last the Chinese emperor was forced to close the port of canton to foreign trade. At this, Britain declared war, and defeated the Chinese in what is called the Opium War (1837-42). As a result of this war, the Chinese were forced to accept the humiliating terms such as, legalise the trade and open up China to foreign merchants etc.
As opium was urgently required, so the British government forced the Indian farmers to grow opium. But the Indian peasants were unwilling to produce opium due to a variety of reasons.
Question 9: Why were Indian farmers reluctant to grow opium?
Answer: There are a variety of reasons for which the Indian cultivators were unwilling to grow opium. Here it is -
(1) The poppy plants from the juice of which the opium is made, required the highly fertile lands. In these lands the cultivators used to grow pulses and earn much money. If they grew opium on their best lands, the pulses could not be grown there. It meant a great financial loss to them.
(2) Many cultivators did not have their own lands. If they took land on lease or rent they had to pay high rents to the landlords for their best lands and that too near the village.
(3) The cultivation of opium plant (or the poppy plant) was a difficult process and required heavy labour to look after them. Due to this cultivators were left with no time to care for other crops.
(4) The price paid to the cultivators for producing opium was very low. It was quite unprofitable for the cultivators to grow opium at such a price.
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