With reference to forced labour (Vishti) in India during the Gupta period, which one of the following statements is correct?
[UPSC Civil Services Exam – 2019 Prelims]
(a) It was considered a source of income for the State, a sort of tax paid by the people.
(b) It was totally absent in the Madhya Pradesh and Kathiawar regions of the Gupta Empire.
(c) The forced labourer was entitled to weekly wages.
(d) The eldest son of the labourer was sent as the forced labourer.
- During the Gupta period, a practice known as Vishti or forced labor emerged as a means of generating income for the state. It was considered a form of taxation imposed on the people.
- Instead of paying traditional taxes, individuals were obligated to provide forced labor.
- Unlike regular workers, those engaged in Vishti were not entitled to receive weekly wages for their services.
- Additionally, it was not limited to the eldest sons of the laborers; anyone could be sent as a forced laborer.
- Historical inscriptions indicate that Vishti was particularly prevalent in the regions of Madhya Pradesh and Kathiawar within the Gupta Empire.
Therefore, option (a) is the correct answer.