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Revenue Administration of the Mughals

Revenue Administration of the Mughals

  • Sher Shah’s system continued to be the basis with some modifications to meet the growing need for Jagirs upto Akbar’s 8th regnal year.
  • A series of experiments were made till Akbar’s 24th regnal year, after which the land revenue administration was stabilized. It can be examined under several heads.

Land Ownership:

  • Proprietorship (i.e. hereditary rights only) of peasants on soil was recognized. Abul Fazl, for instance, says: ‘Field belongs to him who clears away timber.’
  • King, Zamindars and Jagirdars had only the superior rights over the revenue.

Methods of Calculation:

  • Central government usually fixed rates annually according to yield which fluctuated. Akbar, however, wanted a uniform system of assessment through which he could make an accurate estimate of crops, so that there would be minimum chances of oppression by officers and less fraud by the cultivators.
  • Some of the methods prevailing were Batai or Galla Baksh, Kankut and Nasaq. In Batai or Galla Baksh, sharing was done in different ways.              Revenue Administration of the Mughals
  • Firstly after the harvest of the crop, government claim was taken by directly going to the fields.
  • Secondly, after the harvest, crop was divided into equal heaps and specified heaps were taken by the government officer.
  • Thirdly, before the harvest itself, the standing crop was surveyed and state share fixed by making a line of demarcation.
  • In the Kankut method, the cultivator and official arrived at a general estimate of produce of the whole area on method, the revenue payable by the cultivator was estimated roughly on the basis of past experience. Land was measured and divided into three categories of good, bad and middling.

Akbar’s experiments:

  • Under Zabti or Bandobast system, a new jama was prepared. Raja Todar Mal found the old jama figures unreliable and hence collected correct figures from the qanungos and in the 15th regnal year of Akbar, the new jama came into force.              Revenue Administration of the Mughals
  • The karori experiment was begum by Akbar with the extension of Khalisa land, so as to provide facilities to revenue department to collect extensive data. Khalisa land was divided into circles, each yielding revenue of one karor.
  • That is why it is known as the Karori experiment. Each circle was placed under a revenue official called karori.
  • The aim was to make as extensive a measurement as possible, then use it as a basis for compiling a new general assessment.
  • Instead of a rope, a tanab made of bamboo sticks joined by iron rings, came to be used for measuring land in 1575.
  • Measurement was not possible in all subahs of the empire. That is why in some subahs the old system, viz batai, kankut were continued.
  • Thus wherever possible measurement was undertaken and sufficient information was acquired. All these measures were part of a new system of revenue calculation, called the Zabti or bandobast system.
  • Dahsala system includes fresh reforms undertaken by Todar Mal with the Zabti system as the basis. These reforms, collectively known as Ain-i-Dahsala, were completed in 1580.
  • Under this system, land was classified into four categories, viz polaj (annually cultivated), parauti (left fallow for a short period of one or two eyars), chachar (left fallow for three to four years) and banjar (uncultivated for five years or more).
  • In 1588, Todar Mal introduced a uniform unit of measurement called Ilahi gaz which is a median gaz of 41 digits. Further as Abul FazI mentioned, according to Ain-i-Dahsala, a 10 years state of every pargana was ascertained in regard to the category of cultivation and level of prices.
  • The aim was to introduce a permanent jama and remove difficulties and delays associated with yearly sanction. So in the 24th regnal year final dasturs giving cash rates per bigha were prepared for different localities.
  • Average cash rate of previous 10 years’ harvest was derived, and cash rate was fixed once for all. Dasturs for cash crops were fixed separately.
  • Payment was generally made in cash, though there were some exceptions. For example, in Kashmir and Orissa ‘it was in kind.          Revenue Administration of the Mughals
  • Cash payment was a source of great hardships to the peasants. They had to immediately dispose off the harvested crop even when the prices were very low, since revenue was to be paid in cash.
  • Hence there was greater demand for money, which in turn increased the hold of baniyas on the peasants.


Medieval History

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