My dear mother is 88 now (2014) She remembers the days of the British Raj (Rule) in India (her place of birth). She has seen farmers PUNISHED, when they failed to pay the levy/taxes/lagaan to the British Government. If the crops failed due to lack of rainfall there was no choice. A fixed amount of levy had to be paid. Farmers who failed to pay the taxes/levy/lagaan were made to stand in quicksand, usually a riverbed. They were made to bend down till their hand touched the ground. This was followed by a large stone placed on their back. The persons back was broken after a while. Why the British Authorities were so cruel in extracting their pound of flesh is beyond me!