Ancient History

With reference to forced labour (Vishti) in India during the Gupta period, which one of the following statements is correct?

  1. It was considered a source of income for the State, a sort of tax paid by the people.
  2. It was totally absent in the Madhya Pradesh and Kathiawar regions of the Gupta Empire.
  3. The forced labourer was entitled to weekly wages.
  4. The eldest son of the labourer was sent as the forced labourer.

Answer

Vishti was form of forced labour extracted by either state, provincial governor or local chief. It is also mentioned on Gupta era copper inscriptions that enlist variety of taxes.

Junagarh inscription mentions vishti as one form of tax, which indicates that it was extracted from Gujarat and Malwa region. Since it was a forced labour in lieu of tax, it was not a wage labour. Wage labour existed in ancient India but it was not called vishti. Vishti could be extracted from anyone, not in particular from eldest son only.

The correct option is A.