BANKING TRADE AND COMMERCE
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Formerly there was no uniformity of weights and measures. The unit value of weights and measures differed from place to place and also from commodity to commodity at the same place. The English units were also used in certain transactions. The convertibility of the local units into the English units was very difficult at that time. Ignorance of the rural folks added to the ambiguity of the conversion factors. The following extract from the old Ahmadnagar District Gazetteer throws some light on the state of affairs prevailing in the past in the district:-
" Metals, cotton, cotton yarn, silk, coffee, raw and refined sugar, clarified butter, oil, drugs, and spices are sold by weight. In the case of gold and precious stones, the following weights are used: Two gahus, one gunj; 1½ gunjs, one rati; 2
2/5 gunjs, one val; eight gunjs, one masa; six masas, one sahamasa; and two sahamasas or forty vals, one tola. The gahu is a grain of wheat, the gunj is the seed of the Abrus precatorius, and the val of the chilhari tree. The rati is a small piece of copper weighing nearly two grains. The masa is a square, and the tola an oblong piece of metal.
............. The tola weighs a little more than the Government rupee which is equal to 11½ masas. Silver is sold by the weight of the Government rupee. For inferior metals and other articles sold by weight the following table is used: Five tolas one chhatak, four chhataks one pavsher, two pavshers one achher, two achhers one sher, forty shers one man, three mans one palla, and 20 mans one khandi. Except the tola the pavsher, the achher and the sher, which are sometimes made of copper or brass all these weights are made of iron. They are bell-shaped and flat-topped and have a ring at the top to lift them by. Oil when bought from the pressers, small quantities of clarified butter brought to market by villagers, and milk are measured by cap-shaped copper or brass pots, about one and a half times as large as the weight measures. Grain, pulse, oil-seed, and salt are measured [It is not above two centuries since everything in this country was sold by weight. Measures were introduced under the sanction of some of the latest Muhammadan rulers. At the present time (1822) grain is sold by weight in some of the neighbouring Nizam's districts. Captain Pottinger's Letter to Mr. Chaplin.] according to the following table: Two shers one adholi, two adholis one payli, sixteen paylis or twelve paylis one man, thirty paylis one palla and twenty mans one khandi. As the adholi measure is the largest in use the measuring of large quantities of grain is tedious. The contents of a sher measure weigh three to four pounds. The length measures used in cotton and silk goods are the tasu, the gaj, the hat, and the var. The table is: Fourteen tasus or thumb joints one cubit or hat, 1¾ cubits one gaj, and two cubits one yard or var. Wholesale purchases are made by the piece or than of twenty to forty yards. Waist-cloths or dhotars and women's robes or lugdas are sold by the pair or singly. Woollens, blankets and chavlas made by shepherds are sold by the score or kori to retail and by the hundred to wholesale buyers. Stones, timber and earth-work are measured by the square gaj and masonry by a hat of sixteen inches. Three such hats make one khan. Hewn stones are sold by the hundred. The local land measure is: 5
5/6 hats long and one hat broad one kathi, twenty kathis one pond, twenty pands one bigha, thirty bighas one paiku, and four paikus one chahur. The kathi is either a stick or a piece of string. One and a third to two bighas equal an acre of 4,840 square yards."
Metric Weights and Measures: Not much was done during the British rule to improve the state of affairs. Some of the English units of weights and measures were enforced. However, the local transactions continued to be in terms of the old units. In order to avoid the confusion resulting from such a state of affairs and to bring about a uniform system for the whole country, the Government of India enacted the Standard of Weights and Measures Act in 1956. The State Government also passed a complementary legislation, viz., the Bombay Weights and Measures (Enforcement) Act of 1958 for the enforcement of the standard weights and measures based on the metric system. This Act laid down the basic unit under the metric system which derives its nomenclature from the primary unit of measurement, the metre. The various unit values are set in decimal proportions.
In pursuance of this legislation the new units have been enforced in the
district. Accordingly, all transactions in the organised sector of trade,
wholesale as well as retail, are done in terms of metric units. The new units
are inspected by Government officials periodically.
The transition from the old local units to the metric units, though definite, is
rather slow in the villages. This is quite characteristic of the rural folk who
respond to any change with instinctive hesitation.