103. The present Amraoti District was constituted in 1905
of the old Amraoti and Ellichpur
Districts with the exception of the
Murtizapur taluk. The last census was held in 1901 and as
under the various heads it gives most commonly District not
taluk totals, statistics for the present area are extremely
difficult to obtain. [In this section italics will be used for district totals which include and ordinary type for those which exclude Murtizapur.] Moreover, the wide difference in
character that separates the Melghat from the plains must
always make generalizations as to the whole District
Among the Districts of the Central Provinces and Berar Amraoti stands third in respect of population and sixth in respect of size. The following table shows the figures by taluks; and the comparison with the rest of the Provinces:
Average density per Sq. M.
excluding urban areas
,, excluding Melghat but including urban areas
,, ,, excluding both Melghat and urban areas
British Districts C. P. and Berar
Daryapur with 210 persons per square mile shows the highest rural density of any taluk.
The District contains according to the census nineteen towns and 2,033 villages of which 43 have over 2,000 inhabitants and 1,214 less than 500; 448 are uninhabited. The towns are as follows:—
Paratwada or Ellichpur Civil Station
The total urban population is therefore 176,958 or 21.85 Per cent. of that of the District, a proportion only exceeded in Nagpur. Many of the so-called towns are almost entirely agricultural in character, while one or two large villages omitted from the list, such as Daryapur 4389 with its suburb Wanosa 915, have a considerable mercantile population. There are only four municipalities, namely, the two Amraotis and the two Ellichpurs; but each of the tahsil headquarters in the plain, as well as Dattapur, possesses a cotton market committee which exercises some of the functions of a municipality, so far at least as the cotton market and its surroundings are concerned.
Of the various towns there is little of importance to note. Eleven have increased and eight decreased in population since 1891; the decrease is most remarkable in Sendurjana 31.7 percent.; Ner Pinglai 21 per cent. and Anjangaon
17 per cent. All these are largely agricultural in character;
while the increase is most notable in commercial towns,
Dattapur having risen from 3225 to 5187 (6o.8 per cent.), Chandur Railway 4794
to 5700 (nearly 19 per cent.), and Chandur Bazar, in spite of its unfavourable position with regard to
communications, from 4974 to 5208 (5.7 per cent.). The total
urban population has, however, risen only by 5928 persons, i.e. less than 3 per cent. Further details will be found
under the separate headings in the Gazetteer Appendix. A
characteristic feature of Amraoti, as indeed of every Berar
District, is the number of large villages, no less than 2.68
per cent. of the whole number having over 2000 inhabitants, a
proportion not elsewhere exceeded in these Provinces; and
6.48 per cent. having between 1000 and 2000, a proportion only
exceeded in Akola and Buldana.
104. A census of the District has been taken on four occasions. For the first
(1867) only provincial totals are now obtainable; but in
1881, 1891, 1901 the figures for the present area were 778,167; 849,604; and 809,499 respectively. The first decade was one of uninterrupted prosperity while the second was broken by the two severe famines of 1897-98 and 1899-1900. The increase and decrease require no further explanation. A comparison of taluk totals suggests nothing of importance. As we might expect, Ellichpur
and Daryapur being far removed not only from the railway but from any through
line of communication, have decreased steadily but slowly throughout: while the other taluks increased in the first period and fell off in the second. The loss in numbers appears to have been most heavy in the Melghat where it amounted to not less than 21.7 per cent. of the whole population. Largely, no doubt, this figure is due to the rigour of the famine and the extreme difficulty of administering relief in a wild and mountainous country to a backward and diffident population: but the decrease does not signify sheer loss of life. Much of it is traceable to emigration, both temporary and permanent, to the richer tracts of Nimar and Berar, and part to the absence of
temporary immigrants whom the forests ordinarily attract from neighbouring areas. Something also must be allowed for the temporary road gangs at work in 1891 who had no successors in 1901.
105. The proportion of net cropped area per head of population in 1891-92 was 1.93 acres; in
1901-02 it had risen to 2.14; and in 1906-7 to 2.24 on the last census population, a higher figure than is given for any other District in these Provinces. At the last census 650,784 persons were returned as dependent upon agriculture while 6691 were supported in various ways by pasturage. As the returns show, the District is almost entirely an agricultural one, for besides those returned as directly engaged on the soil, who by themselves are' more than two-thirds of the population, there are many minor occupations of an agricultural nature. Village servants, for instance, who number with- dependents 13,695: patels and patwaris not shown as agriculturists, with their dependents, 5725 and
2708 respectively; hay grass and fodder sellers 3489; and several other descriptions are all connected with agriculture. Probably, it will be no great over-estimate to say that seven out of every eight persons in the District are in one way or another immediately dependent on the care and cultivation of the soil.
106. It is natural that with so large a rural population no
other pursuit should show figures of
much interest. The staple crop is
cotton, and we find accordingly that 33,465 persons are
engaged in or dependent on the preparation of cotton (and
silk) for the market, of whom 16,239 belong to cotton mills
and gins and 10,115 are hand loom weavers. Piece goods
and tailoring further support 8634. No other trades show
figures of much interest though we may note the totals 4536 bankers and moneylenders, with 10,018 moneylenders' and
shopkeepers' servants as indicative of the amount of money
in circulation; and goldsmiths 9560 and liquor sellers 6207 as giving some indication of the margin which the
people manage to devote to mere luxuries.
107. In1901 just over 87 per cent. of the population were
shown as having been born within the
District: of the remainder 46,697 came
from other Berar Districts and may be treated as the natural shifting of population inside the Province. No less than 125,355 are returned as born in the Central Provinces, an enormous total due no doubt partly to the higher wages of labour in Berar and to the facility for coming into it from other parts of the Central Provinces: the same explanation holding true of the 11,187 from Rajputana and13,441 from the United Provinces. Large numbers of casuals known as " Pardesis" drift down from Upper India to this neighbour-hood, sometimes in search of employment and sometimes, it is to be feared, with very good reasons for quitting their native country. Bombay also, with which Amraoti is closely connected by the cotton industry and the railway and by a common language, has given 17,343 persons. Further explanation of the figures is not forthcoming, nor are statistics available of the emigration from Amraoti which has also undoubtedly been very large.
108. All the original Settlement Reports speak of cholera and small-pox as the two great endemic scourges of the District, and some also make reference to malaria. Of the progress of the latter it is impossible to speak with any certainty, for Hospital Assistants are given to describing all fevers as malarial and the statistics are therefore open to suspicion. It seems probable however that there has been of recent years a great decline in the prevalence of this complaint; and it appears to be a general opinion that excepting the Melghat, where a specially virulent type prevails, the District is as a whole tolerably immune, though in a mild form malaria is common toward the close of the rains. Cholera to-day cannot be described as endemic. In only four recent years, namely, 1896, 1897, 1900,1901 was it in any degree severe. Two of these were famine years and in a third the people had not fully recovered from the effects of famine; in 1896 it appears probable that
the disease was imported by religious pilgrims returning from a fair. Indeed the disease referred to by the Settlement Officers was probably not what we now call cholera, but some less acute bowel complaint. Such troubles are still fairly common every year in the beginning of July, and in August a few cases of dysentery occur. The most popular explanation, adopted by Major Elphinstone in his Daryapur Settlement Report, ascribes them to the Berar custom of storing juari, the staple food, in earthen pits called peos where it becomes very damp and
mouldy at the commencement of the rains. Medical investigations, however, do not completely bear out this theory. Statistics show deaths from dysentery and allied diseases as very much more common in Berar than in the Central Provinces. But very considerable allowance must be made for the greater completeness of Berar vital statistics as well as for the tendency of police and village officers to reduce all cases of death to a few simple causes; and in Amraoti District it would certainly be a mistake to say that bowel complaints were unusually common. In general the District is admittedly a very healthy one both for Europeans and Indians in spite of the fierce heat prevalent in the summer months. It has been said that not a single authentic case of enteric has ever been known in Berar; and though this is doubtless an exaggeration, it is certainly true that this malady is extremely rare.
Vaccination in Berar (excepting the Melghat, where it is said, though statistics are not available, to be somewhat backward) has been a great success and the Amraoti District in particular has of recent years been remarkably free from small-pox. Not only has there been no severe epidemic, but in only three years 1896, 1905, 1906 did the number of deaths reach one hundred. This excellent result is due largely to the active co-operation of village officers in the spread of vaccination; for the Vaccination Act does not apply except in the four municipal towns. The District is divided into circles, two for each taluk, and the vaccinator visits every village in his circle. The patwari prepares a list of children to be vaccinated and the names are entered in a register by the
vaccinator. As a general rule the protection afforded is fully understood and people are perfectly willing to accept it. These remarks of course do not apply to the jungle tribes of the Melghat, among whom registers are not maintained, reliance being placed rather upon personal influence. The latest statistics for the plains show an annual proportion of 3376 persons protected per 1000 of population.
Amraoti appears to have escaped plague until 1902 when there were 39 cases. In 1903-04 there was a severe outbreak; the deaths in the old Amraoti District numbered over 9000 and those in Ellichpur nearly 3000. This was followed by two years in which the mortality was less than one thousand, a second serious epidemic occurring in 1906-07 with 6000 deaths. In 1908-09 the disease was again virulent, carrying off 2800 persons. Amraoti city alone lost 3100, 1100 and 996 lives in the three epidemics respectively.
[Mr. Hira Lal, Asst. Gazetteer Superintendent, has kindly supplied the note on Languages.]
109. The principal language of the District is Marathi,
which is spoken by 627,000 persons, or
70 per cent. of the population. The form
of the language locally used is that known as the Berari dialect and is closely related with that which Marathi assumes in the Deccan. The difference between the two forms of speech is slight and they gradually merge into each other in Buldana. Long vowels, and especially final ones, are very frequently shortened, and there is a strong tendency among the lower classes to substitute
o for ava or avi; thus zol for zaval, near; udoia for udavila, squandered. An a is very commonly used where the Deccan form of the language has an e, especially in the termination of neuter bases, in the suffix ne of the instrumental, and in the future. Thus asa, so; sangitla, it was said; dukra, swine; asal, I shall be.
I is very often inter-changed with e and ya; thus dila,della and dyalla, given; initial e, is commonly pronounced as a ye; thus ek, and yek, one. The Anunasika is very commonly dropped, or, occasionally replaced by an n; thus karu, to do; tyamule therefore; tun thou. This is, however, the ease in the Deccan also. The cerebral n
is always changed to the dental n; thus kon, who; pani, water. L and n are continually interchanged in the future tenses; thus mimarin and maril, I shall strike. V is very indistinctly sounded before i and e and is often dropped altogether. Thus
isto, fire; is, twenty; yel, time. This fact accounts for occasional spellings such as Vishvar, God. The neuter gender is thoroughly preserved only in Marathi and Gujarati, but the distinction between it and the masculine is weakened in the Berari dialect. Mansa, men, is a neuter plural, but it is frequently combined with an adjective in the masculine gender; thus tsanglemansa, good men. In verbs the second person singular has usually the form of the third person; thus tuahe, thou art, for
tuahes. In the present tense a is substituted for e in the terminations of the second person singular, and the third person plural; thus tumarta, thou strikest; temartat, they strike. The habitual past is often used as ordinary past; thus tomhane, he said. In the Ellichpur taluk two small dialects Zadpi and Koshti are spoken but they do not materially differ from the prevailing language of the District. A peculiarity of Zadpi is the substitution of the cerebral l for a cerebral d when preceded by a vowel; thus ghola, a horse. The genuine cerebral
l is commonly pronounced as r; thus kar, famine. A further characteristic of Berari Marathi as distinguished from the purer tongue spoken farther west is the large vocabulary which, in the course of Muhammadan dominion in Berar, it has borrowed from Urdu.
110. Among other languages Urdu is spoken by 66,000 persons or 8 per cent. of the population.
This is the largest figure in any District,
of the Provinces. The same is the case with Marwari which
has 13,000 speakers in the District. Urdu is spoken by
Musalmans, while Marwari is spoken by trader immigants from
Rajputana. The number of Hindi speakers exceeds that of
the other three Districts of Berar put together by 2,000, there
being 35,000 in this District forming 4 per cent. of the population. These are all immigrants from the north. It is impossible to draw any distinction between the Urdu and Hindi
locally spoken. Except among a few Persian scholars in Ellichpur the language is the same whichever alphabet is used; and this fact is recognised locally by the term Musalmanibat which covers both tongues. Almost the whole of the Korku population of Berar is concentrated in this District or more specifically in the Melghat taluk; and it looks somewhat curious that there should be 27,748 speakers of the Korku language against the tribal strength of 27,051. But this is probably due to the fact that Nihals, the drudges of the Korkus, also speak their language. Originally the Nihals had a distinct language of their own which is now very rapidly disappearing. Nothing is known as to its affinities, and the few who still speak it do so with so large an admixture of Korku and Marathi words that it has become difficult to obtain any definite knowledge. Gondi is spoken by 24,399 persons, exceeding the number of Gonds by 1154. This may be explained by the fact that Gondi is also used as their speech by Pardhans. Korku and Gondi belong to different families of aboriginal languages, the former to Munda and the latter to Dravidian stock. The Rev. John Drake has written an excellent Korku grammar which may be consulted for details. The phonetical system is broadly the same as in Santali. There are two genders, one denoting animate beings and the other denoting inanimate objects. They are, however, often confounded. There are three numbers, the singular, the dual and the plural. Number is only marked in the case of animate nouns. The suffix of the dual is king and that of the plural ku. It is interesting to see that the dual is used to denote a married wife as in Santali, e.g., Tumta-king, that is, Tumta's wife. Adjectives do not change for gender, number or case. Comparison is effected by putting the compared noun in the ablative. It is a well-known fact that the Munda verb is not a verb in the strictest Senseof the word. Every form can be used as a noun, an
adjective and a verb. The principal dialects have a separate particle, the so-called categorical a, by simply adding which any word may be turned into a verb. Thus Santali dal-ketis thebase of the past tense of the verb dal, strike. It can also
be used as a noun or as an adjective; thus dal-ket-ko, those who struck;
dal-ket-har 'the struck having man,'' the man who struck.' If we add the categorical a this form is changed into a real verb; thus dal-ket-a, (he) struck him. Korku does not possess any such thing as a categorical a. The same form is, without any difference, used in the different functions. Thus, ing-ken-tol-ing means 'me-to binding me," binding me.' If we use this form as a noun, we may, for instance, add the suffix of the locative; thus ing-ken-tol-ing-en,' me-to binding-me-in,' ' in binding me.' The same form can be used as an adjective and as a verb; thus, ing-ken-tol-ingkoro,' me-to binding-me man,' ' a man who binds me;' dich,ing-kenbangtol-ing, he me-to not binding-me, he does not bind me. The negative particle is bang or he-bang which sometimes precedes and sometimes follows the principal verb. Bang can be inflected as a verb, but in the past tense it is more common to add dun to the base. Among minor languages may be mentioned Gujarati with 6000 speakers, Telugu with 4000, and Banjari with 2000. The former two are spoken by immigrants from Gujarat and Telingana respectively and the last by wandering pack-bullock traders of whom Berar possesses a very large number. [The information about the Marathi and Korku languages has beef principally taken from Dr. Sten Konow's Vols, on the Marathi and Munda languages, edited by Dr. G, A. Grierson in his Linguistic Survey of India Series.]