Clarify how mid-eighteenth century India was beset with the spectre of a fragmented polity.

Sample Answer


By the mid-18th century, the Mughal Empire was declining, and the Indian subcontinent was drifting towards political fragmentation. There were several factors that led to a fragmented polity.


Rise of regional powers

  • The Mughal emperors had lost authority over powerful regional kingdoms like Hyderabad, Mysore, and Bengal.
  • These regional powers were virtually independent, and the Mughal emperor was reduced to a nominal head.
  • For example, the Nizam of Hyderabad refused to aid the Mughals during external threats. 

Internal conflicts

  • There were constant power struggles and infightings within the royal Mughal family.
  • For instance, the wars of succession between Bahadur Shah I’s sons further weakened the empire.

Religious frictions

  • Religious tensions between Aurangzeb’s oppressive policies and the rise of Sikhism and Marathas further destabilized the political scenario.
  • For example, the Marathas conquered territories in the Deccan and North India straining the Mughal resources.


  • Many Mughal provinces descended into anarchy as Governors declared independence and peasant uprisings went uncontrolled.
  • For instance, Oudh and Bengal became virtually independent under their Nawabs.


The spectre of a fragmented polity was looming large over mid-18th century India due to the weakening of the Mughal rule, rise of regional kingdoms, internal feuds within the Mughals, religious clashes and prevailing anarchy in many parts, all of which tore apart the fabric of the Mughal Empire.

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