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Mughals: Evolution of Indian Administration

Mughals: Evolution of Indian Administration


  • In India, the Mughal Empire was one of the greatest empires ever. The Mughal Empire ruled hundreds of millions of people. India became united under one rule, and had very prosperous cultural and political years during the Mughal rule.
  • Seventy per cent of the Mughal officers were foreigners, mainly Iranis from Persia and Turanis from Central Asia. They belonged to families that had migrated to India with Humayun or had arrived after Akbar’s accession. During the course of Akbar’s rule only twenty-one Hindus were recruited into the ranks of the upper nobility.
  • Of these, the overwhelming majority (seventeen) were Rajputs. The other four included in this privileged circle were Birbal Todar Mal, his son and another Khattri.
  • After the dismissal of Bairam Khan, he did away with the institution of the all-powerful wazir, distributed the functions of that office among several officers and often kept the post vacant.
  • The diwan was responsible only for the functioning of the finance ministry, while the mir bakshi was accountable for the military department.
  • The sadr us-sadur looked after ecclesiastical affairs, while the mir saman was in-charge of the supply department.

Officers of the Mughal Empire (Centre)

  • The King
    • The King or the emperor was the head of the state.
    • He was the chief executive, law-maker, the commander-in-chief and the final dispenser of justice.
    • During the time of Akbar, the emperor was accepted as the final arbiter in case of difference of opinion regarding Islamic laws.
    • The emperor became the highest authority in the state.
    • The Hindu tradition of Divine Right was not forgotten and Akbar himself claimed to be “the shadow of God” or the “God’s representative on Earth”.
  • Vazir or Diwan (The Prime Minister)
    • Prime Minister was next to the Emperor in the work of administration. Originally, the Prime Minister was given the work of Diwan but later on, the Diwan was titled as Vazir or Prime Minister.
    • He was the head of the revenue department.
    • He looked after the income and expenditure of the state. He also looked after the administration in the absence of Emperor.              Mughals: Evolution of Indian Administration
    • He was like other officials a mansab, sometimes commanded the army. He was assisted by several officers and subordinates.
  • The Mir Bakhsi (The Paymaster):
    • He exercised a general control over the army.
    • He looked after the recruitment of the soldiers, branding of the horses and the elephants and also looked after all sorts of supplies to the army and training of the soldiers.
  • Sadr-i-Sudur:
    • He advised the Emperor in all religious matters.
    • He looked after religious education, charity, recommended stipends and jagirs to scholar, ulemas, Qazis.
    • He advised the king for the appointment of sadrs in provinces and supervised their working.
  • The Khan-i-Saman (Lord of High Steward):
    • He was in charge of emperor’s household establishment.
    • He looked after the personal necessities of the Emperor and his family.
    • His important duty was to manage the Karkhanas of the Emperor.
  • Qazi-ul-Quzat:
    • He was the highest judicial officer of the state. He also appointed the Qazis in the provinces and districts.
    • The Muhtasib (Censorship of Public Morals):
    • He looked after the moral development of the subjects. He also checked drinking of liquor, gambling and illicit relations between men and women.
  • Mir-i-atish (Artillery):
    • He was in charge of artillery.
  • Daroga-i-dak-chauki (Intelligence and Post):
    • He was in charge of intelligence department of the state.
    • He collected news from the Waqia-Navises or the news recorder who were appointed by him in the provinces.              Mughals: Evolution of Indian Administration
    • It was his duty to inform the Emperor about every important affair within the empire.
    • Thus the Mughal Emperors had a well organized system of administration at the Centre.Military administration or Mansabdari System
      • Mansabdari system which was introduced in 1595-96, was a combined status, showing a noble’s civil and military capacity. The Military administration or the Mansabdari system was the backbone of the Mughal Empire which started in its crude form from Zahir-ud-din Babur till its refined form in the reign of Akbar.
      • Twin ranks— Zat and Sawar, were allotted. The former indicated a noble’s personal status, while the latter, the number of troops he had to maintain.
      • Mansabdari had three scale gradations, viz
        • Mansabdar (500 zat and below)
        • Amir (between 500-2500 zat)
        • Amir-i-Umda (2500 zat and above)
      • The salary of the Mansabdar was fixed on a Month Scale system. During Jahangir’s reign, a du aspa siha aspa system was introduced through which, a nobles’ sawar rank could he increased without affecting his zat. Mansab was not an hereditary system. Mansabdars were paid through revenue assignments (jagirs).
      • The Mughal army was divided into three types.
        • The first category was of the Mansabdars and their soldiers. Each Mansabdar kept his own army according to his rank and managed the recruitment, training and salaries of the soldiers.
        • The second category was of the Ahadi soldiers and they were the soldiers of the ruler.
        • The third type was of the Dakhili soldiers who were being appointed by the ruler himself but were put under the charge of the Mansabdars.
      • The Mughal army was divided into infantry, the cavalry, the war elephants and the navy.
      • Akbar is known for his most efficient Mansabdari system.
      • It was encountered by many defects in the later Mughal era due to inefficiency of the later rulers and the corruption of the officials.        Mughals: Evolution of Indian Administration

      Addition by Jahangir

      • Introduction of the “duaspa-sihaspa” (2­3h) rank, literally meaning troopers having 2 or 3 horses; and hence related to the sawar rank. This rank doubled the ordinary sawar rank, and hence doubled the obligation, and the previleges that went with it.

      Changes by Shah Jahan

      • Rule of 1/3rd, 1/4th: It scaled down the obligations of the mansabdars. If a mansabdar war serving in a province where his jagirwas, then his contingent should be equal to 1/3rd of his sawar rank; if elsewhere then only 1/4th. Month Scales: A mansabdar often found that the the “hasil” (actual revenue collected from a Jagir) was less than the “jama”(stipulated or assessed revenue from a Jagir), on which his salary was actually fixed. Thus the month scale was a devise to express the ratio between the `jama’ and the ‘hasil’, and hence gave some relief in service obligations to mansabdars.

      Jagir System

      • Jagir was a unit of land, whose revenues were assigned to a mansabdar in lieu of his salary. Under the Mughals, apart from the jagir lands, whose revenues went to pay the salaries of the mansabdars for their services to the state, there were also the “khalisa” lands, whose revenues were earmerked for the maintenance of the Imperial court and the personal expenditure of the emperor. Hence the Jagir of the Mughal times was similar to the “iqta” of the Delhi Sultanate.
      • Like the iqta, the assignment of a jagir to a mansabdar did not confer any hereditary rights to that jagir on the mansabdar. He could enjoy the revenues of the jagir only as long as he held the mansab or official rank and rendered services to the state. In other words, the jagirdars (holders of jagirs) owned their position to the Mughal Emperor. “Jagir System” was closely related to the “Mansab System”. In fact it was a subsidiary system of all-in-one mansab system. We should note that here all jagirdars were mansabdars, but not all mansabdars were jagirdars, because some mansabdars were paid in cash and not through the assignment of jagir.

      Land Grants (Revenue)

      • Mughal state also gave tax-free land grants to religious scholars and divines.
      • In Akbar’s time such grants (called sur yurhal or madad-i-maash) totalled about three per cent of the jama.              Mughals: Evolution of Indian Administration
      • The overwhelming majority of the beneficiaries of such grants were Muslims.
      • Another category of grants, known as waqf, were made to institutions for the upkeep of religious shrines, tombs and madarsas (religious schools).



Public Administration by G.Rajput