Last Updated: July 27, 2017

Definition - What does Zamindar mean?

Zamindar is a term derived from Persian that is typically translated as “landholder.” Zamin means “earth” or “land,” while dar means “holder” or “occupier.” The role of the zamindar varied by region. In pre-colonial and colonial India, particularly in areas with a Muslim influence, zamindar often referred to an aristocrat who owned land with control over peasants and the right to collect taxes.

It could also refer to just about anyone with a land grant, however small, or someone assigned to collect land taxes, particularly in Bengal. Under British colonial rule, these tax collectors were given land grants, creating a landed aristocracy.

Yogapedia explains Zamindar

The British created the zamindari system, a feudal-like system that rewarded some zamindars with the title of "prince," but also reduced the land holdings of some pre-colonial aristocrats. The zamindars were required to collect taxes for the British. Most states abolished the system after independence, but it wasn't until the 1950s that it was eliminated throughout India, as well as neighboring Pakistan and East Bengal (later Bangladesh).

Today, the term is sometimes still used to refer generically to a landowner, particularly a Muslim landowner.

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