The present essays on land revenue systems were read and discussed in a local seminar held in the Department of History, Patna University, in 1965. They cover a large span of Indian history and have also something to say about the tribal land system. The first two essays analyze and explain the ground taxes from about B.C. 200 to A.D. 1200 and a comparison between the two shows that several additional taxes appeared in early medieval north India. The third essay deals with the mode of assessment, medium of payment and the method of collection in Mughal times. The discussion on assignment initiated by it is continued in the fourth, which examines the ideas and circumstances leading to the introduction of Permanent Settlement. The peculiarities of the tribal land system in South Bihar are brought out in two essays. They show how the large-scale introduction of ideas of private property in land by non-tribal practices and gave rise to social tensions, political unrest and peasant revolts, which could not be successfully tackled by piecemeal agrarian legislation introduced by the British.
Ram Sharan Sharma (26 November 1919 – 20 August 2011), more often referred to as R. S. Sharma, was an eminent historian and academic who specialized in the history of Ancient and early Medieval India following Marxist historiography. He taught at Patna University and Delhi University (1973–85) and was visiting faculty at the University of Toronto (1965–1966). He also was a senior fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He was a University Grants Commission National Fellow (1958–81) and the president of Indian History Congress in 1975. It was during his tenure as the dean of Delhi University's History Department that major expansion of the department took place in the 1970s. The creation of most of the positions in the Department were the results of his efforts. He was the founding Chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) and a historian of international repute.