Question: What do you mean by Bethu System? Discuss (4 marks)
Beth was an obligation to render personal service in return for certain cultivating rights. Formally, serfs were transferred like cattle from one owner to another. These serf-like people were locally known as Bethus.
The Bethu received from his master, food two or three times a day, a suit of clothes once in a year, a house to live in and a few bighas of land to cultivate for his own profits. In return, they did the greater part of the field work and performed menial service for their master. The employer defrayed the expenses of their domestic ceremonies. The lower classes such as kolis, rehrs, etc, who stood low in the social ladder and did the kind of Beth services.
During the British period, the Simla Hill States Bethus consisted of three classes. First class of Bethus, were employed by the State and Jagirdars that rendered personal service. Second class Bethus were fewer, those employed by the State, presumably because the former were in close daily contact with their master, and the latter received demands through minor State servants, who were perhaps inadequately supervised. Third class Bethus were a kind of agricultural serfdown under which the individual and his children after him often remained in permanent servitude.
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