The Mughal Empire of India

A descendant of Timur as well as Changez Khan,an Uzbek prince who had failed to protect his kingdom against his cousins’ intrigues and battles, was to follow the old invaders route of northwestern mountain passes into India in 1526. This was Zahiruddin Mohammad Babur,founder of the Mughal Empire in India. It was during the reign of his grandson Akbar, who ruled over practically the whole of North India and parts of the South from 1556 to 1605, that the basic institutions and policies of the empire were framed.

Ascending the throne at the age of 13, Akbar began to take interest in the affairs of state only after spending another four years in adolescent playfulness. However at the age of 17 he took full charge of the situation and never looked back. Akbar realised that if the empire was to attain stability ,it must grow local roots and seek support from the local ruling groups. He thus began altering the predominantly alien character of the nobility by recruiting groups of indigenous rulers from various regions.

The most powerful amongst there were the Rajputs of Rajasthan. He took the daughters of several Rajput houses as his wives, gave respect to their customs, bestowed upon them some of the highest imperial offices,but dealt ruthlessly with those who refused to surrender. Gradually he reduced every grou[p in the higher nobility to a small minority, including his own Mughal brethern. Each group had to tolerate the others.

The administrative institutions of the Delhi Sultanate were modified and a new bureaucratic framewok was evolved. Under this, every official of state was placed on the army rolls, irrespective of his duties and every official, from the lowest to the highest , was recruited and paid by the emperial department of the army. This greatly tightened central control. The system of transfer of officials was rigorously implemented. Payment of salaries was first made in cash; gradually, however the old system of revenue assignment came back into vogue. But then a person might be posted in Gujrat and yet his revenue assignment might be located in Bengal. This necessitated revenue collection in cash.

Land was classified into four catagories according to productivity and a graduated land tax was imposed on peasents, going by the period for which their land remained follow. The ideal was, of course ,two regular crops each year from every field. Revenue was fixed on this basis of the previous 10 years and was converted into cash according to prices prevailing in the neighbouring market over the past decade; this revenue was valid untile later revision which would take into account any rise in productivity or prices. Peasants were accordingly given documents stating their liabilities.

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