“Darbhanga & Gandhi” by Tejkar Jha
The Permanent Settlement Act in 1793 brought a change in the socio-economic structure of India. With the change came, what may be called, a wave of agricultural industrialisation through the introduction of agro-industries such as sugar mills, jute mills, Indigo and opium manufacturing units and saltpetre production. Many erstwhile rulers who were forced into the permanent settlement like Darbhanga started investing in industrial ventures.
In the period of Maharaja Lakshmishwar Singh (1879-1898) this investment in the industrial sector was taken up at global level with huge investments in South Africa, Indonesia, Burma, Thailand, etc. Darbhanga had quite hefty financial investments in South Africa and a huge mass of indentured labourers working in Africa, West Indies, Fiji, etc. The indentured labourers were from Bihar, Bengal, and a few other states. Since labourers were also from Tirhut, the domain of Maharaja Darbhanga, he was naturally concerned about their welfare and safety.
Meanwhile, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi had shifted to South Africa from the United Kingdom after completing his studies in Law. He took up the case of Indians with the government there and started a movement. In this context, Gandhi wrote to late Maharaja Lakshmishwar Singh on 10th July, 1897 from Natal, South Africa  in which he writes,
The conquest of Subah Bengal by the British East India Company in 1764 led to a transcendental change in the socio-economic-political conditions of India. Slowly, after an accurate survey of the fertility of land and other available resources, the British East India Company introduced the Permanent Settlement Act in 1793. This act transformed the status of not only the ryots or peasants but also the erstwhile ruling chiefs of the region. The ruling chiefs became zamindars who were accountable for collecting land revenue of their respective region and got 10% as administrative cost and 15% as remuneration. The ryots became just tenants as far as the land was concerned.
The introduction of the Permanent Settlement Act was not digested by the ruling chiefs leading to a revolt. Prominently amongst these chiefs  were Hussepur , Darbhanga, Bettiah, Ramgarh, Benaras, Tikari, and Dumraon. The fight continued both on the battlefields and in the court and ultimately by 1848, a working truce was established with some give and take. However, the aggrieved ruling class were not satisfied and kept looking for an opportune moment. Concurrent with the Permanent Settlement Act came an introduction of agro-industries such as sugar and jute mills, Indigo and opium manufacturing units and saltpetre production.
Darbhanga, though not happy with the change in status, realized that the world order was changing and the economic status of a person or state would determine its power in future. On one hand the industrial sector was growing but the atrocities of the British led to a war of independence in the middle of the 19th century. The disgruntled ruling chiefs now turned into zamindars got another opportunity in 1857 to overthrow the British East India Company rule. However, scattered revolts and lack of proper leadership failed them, not leading to freedom. On the contrary, with the defeat of Indian rulers, the British Crown took over India from the British East India Company. The Crown tried to please the Indians by doing away with the atrocious rules brought into practice by the East India Company. However a few years after the war in 1857, a need was felt to bring people together for a mass awakening in order to throw away the British rule.
“Balushahi” by Shruti Kishore Sahi