Zaildar (ज़ैल) was a feudal title, and a grand jagirdar of the area, in charge of a Zail in the colonial rural administration of Punjab in British India. Each Zail was an administrative unit, extending between twenty and forty villages.(p xxv)
Zaildars were equivalent to the Sardar, Chaudharis (feudal zamindars) of earlier times and were hand-picked by the maharaja , who based his decision on issues such as caste or tribe, local influence, extent of landholding, services rendered to the state by him or his family, and personal character and ability.(pp97–98)
Role and Remuneration of Zaildar
Zaildars were essentially revenue minister and representatives of the British Empire who enjoyed remuneration for their duties, life grants of either fixed amount or grant equal to one per cent of the revenue of their zails from the assessment of any single village that they chose.
In addition to these life inams, or grants, there were some Safedposhi grants of a semi-hereditary nature enjoyed by some of the leading agricultural families. They were semi-hereditary because one of the conditions of the grant was that on the death of an incumbent, his successor should, if possible, be a member of the same family. If, however, there was no fit member of the same family, the grant could be awarded to some deserving Lambardar of the same tribe, who was not already in the enjoyment of such a grant.
Influence of Zaildari System
The position was quite important as it extended the influence of the colonial state right into the villages.
- The Indian Army and the Making of Punjab, Rajit K. Mazumder, Permanent Black
- Revised Settlement of Hisar District, p37-40
- Final Report of Revised Settlement, Hoshiarpur District, 1879-84 By J. A. L. Montgomery