Polity, Society & Economy During Mughals

  • Mughals did not believe in Caliph. Name of Caliph was no longer recited in the Khutba of Juma and Id prayers. They adopted the title of Padhshah, a sovereign ruler.
  • They followed Turko Mongol theory of Kingship. They considered themselves as representative of God and directly answerable to God.
  • Ulema performed judicial work and were also appointed as Imam of Jama Mosques. Ulema received salary from state exchequer, mostly in terms of revenue assignment. This made them subservient to the wills of Mughal emperors.
  • Society was divided into poverty ridden majority and lavish lifestyle living minority. Babur (in Tuzuk-i-Babri) mentioned that poor and ordinary people didn’t have much clothes to wear. Nikitin observed that people in the Deccan went bare-footed. Khicheri was the staple diet (salt and sugar were very expensive). 
  • Landless peasants and laborers often belonged to the class of people called untouchables of Kamin. 
  • Mughals state provided taccavi loans to the peasants for expansion and improvement of cultivation. 
  • Zamindari system: There was hereditary rights of collecting land revenue from several villages (talluq). But they were not the owners of the entire zamindari land. Some peasants also had land rights. If rent was paid, peasants cannot be denied land rights. Some regions had caste/community based zamindars (Deshmukhs, Patil, nayaks) 
  • New crops were introduced: maize, potato, red chillies and tobacco
  • This period saw the amalgamation of many races and communities, especially in the nobility. This included Turks, Afghans, Arabs, Indian Muslims, Rajputs and Brahmans. Hindus formed half the administration during Aurangzeb’s reign. 
  • According to François Bernier there was no middle class in medieval India (either too rich or too poor). However, the merchant class could be called the middle class of medieval India as they had distinguished culture, property rights, protection of life etc. Similarly, small zamindars, small mansabdars, artists, royal court workers, were part of the middle class.
  • There are instances of Hartals (strikes) in Ahmedabad. 
  • According to Fitch, Monserrate and Bernier, Indian towns such as Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Lahore, Ahmedabad and Hampi were larger than any European towns. 
  • Trade: imports of tin (more making bronze) and copper, medicinal imports, war horses, ivory etc. Import of silver and gold also increased. Establishment of European factories by the trading companies at Surat, Cochin, Masulipatnam, led to expansion of India’s trade with Europe, West Asia, East Asia and Africa.  Major exports included salt petre, Indian calicoes, dry fruits, spices, cotton, silk. 
  • Position of women remained the same as that of the Sultanate phase. However, this phase also saw the rise of gender sensitisation through Bhakti and sufi movements. More liberal thoughts gradually slided in the conservative societies. 

Jagirdari system

  • Assigning revenue of a particular territory to the nobles for their services to the state.
  • It is a modified version of Iqta

Classification of Jagirs

  • Tankha Jagirs – Against salaries and were transferable.
  • Watan Jagirs – hereditary and non-transferable.
  • Mashrut Jagirs – jagirs assigned on certain conditions.
  • Altamgha Jagirs – assigned to Muslim nobles.
  • Zamindars had a duty to collect taxes. Zamindars and Peasants enjoyed equal land rights.

Key Terms Associated with Mughal India:

  • Khudkast: peasants who owned the land they tilled. 
  • Muzarian: tenant peasants
  • Madaddimaash/sasan: Small tracts of the land given in the place of cash salary to the petty officials. 
  • Seth, Bohra or Modi: long-distance, inter-regional traders.
  • Beoparis or Banik: Local and retail traders. 
  • Banjaras: Special class of traders who carried bulk goods. 
  • Hundis: A letter of credit payable after a period at a discount rate. Sarrafs specialized in the trade of Hundis. 
  • Rahdari (Road tax): Reduced during Mughal period to support traders & commercialisation of trade.
Online Counselling
Table of Contents
Today's Current Affairs
This is default text for notification bar