Mughal Administration

Babur and Humayun got no time to organize the administration of the state. Babur died shortly and Humayun lost his empire to Sher Shah. Sher Shah’s reign was short, but he outlined certain trends. Akbar finally took the test to organize the administration. The system of administration which Akbar evolved did not mark a very sharp break from the earlier Delhi sultanate, rather it was a further development of the earlier system The Mughal administration was an amalgam of both central Asian and Timurid traditions in Indian setting.

Central Administration:

Akbar organized the central machinery of administration on the basis of the division of power between various departments, and of checks and balances. The form of Mughal government was despotic monarchy.

     The King: The King (Badshah) was the fountain head of all powers - legislative, executive, military, judiciary and civil.‘ The King was understood to be the ‘shadow of God on the earth’. Akbar asserted that Monarchy was a ‘divine gift’

     Wakil: Bairam Khan was the wakil (deputy of the king) of Akbar, he controlled both revenue and military affairs. After Balfam’s fall the wakil was stripped of all powers and became largely decorative.

     Wazir: In practice, it was the wazir, the head of the revenue department, who was next to emperor though his power was somewhat curtailed by distributing it among four ministers-Diwan, Mir Bakshi, Mir Samah and Sadr.

     Diwan: He .was the minister of finances. His responsibilities were threefold, executive, revenue and finance. He held the Charge of the departments like Diwan-i-Khalsa (For centrally administered land), Diwan-i-Tan (For salaries), Mushrif (account) and Mustaufi (auditor).

     Mir Bakshi: He was the head of the military department similar to that of Ar1z-i-Mamalik under Delhi sultanate. He was the paymaster of imperial army.  Later on with the introduction of Mansabdari system, his duties and powers somewhat changed.

     Mir Saman or Khan Saman: He was in Charge of the royal household like buildings, karkhana, roads, gardens etc.

     Sadr-us Sadr: He was in charge of religious matters, religious endowments and charities. He was also the head of the Judicial department. His powers were curtailed during Akbar’s reign. Some time the same person held the post of Qazi and Sadr.

     Chief Qazi: He was the head of the judiciary after king.

     Barids: They were intelligence officers. 

  • Besides the above-mentioned ministers who constituted the main pillars of the imperial government, a number of other high officials were also appointed at centre. 
  • Diwan-i-Khalsa       -           Incharge of crop land
  • Diwan-i-Tan           -           Inharge of jagir
  • Diwan-i-Dakhoouki            -           Postmaster General
  • Mir-i-arz                  -           lncharge of petition
  • Mir-i-Tozak             -           lncharge of ceremonies
  • Mir-i-Bahr               -           Incharge of Ships and Boats
  • Mir-i-Atish               -           Head of artilery also called Daro'ga-i-Topkhana
  • Muhtasibs               -           Enforced public morals
  • Waquia Navis         -           News reporter

Provincial Administration

     In 1580, the Mughal empire was divided into 12 subas (Provinces). Later, after the expansion of the empire into Deccan, 3 more subas were formed during the reign of-Akbar. During Jahangir’s reign the number of Subas rose to 17, under Shah Jahan it rose to 22 and under Aurangzeb to 21. 

     The Head of province (Governor) was known as Subedar, Sipahsalar or Nazim. provincial Diwan acted as a check on the subedar and was directly responsible to the central Diwan, so was the case of provincial Bakshi. The provincial administration of the Mughals was an exact miniature of the imperial government.

District or Sarkar

  • Fauzdar: He was the administrative head of the sarkar.
  • Amilior Amalguzar: His duties were collecting revenue and patrolling the roads. He had the same duties in the Sarkar, as those of his superiors, Diwanin the province.
  • Kotwal: His duty was to maintain law and order in Sarkar besides, trial of criminal case and regulation of price.

Pargana Administration

  • Siqdar: He was the administrative head of the pargana and combined in himself the duties of Fauzdar and KotWal.
  • Amin and Qanungo: They are revenue officials.

Revenue Administration

     In the nineteenth year (1574) officials called “Amil” (karoris) were placed in charge of land which could yield a crore of dams.  In fact, they were also to check the facts and figure supplied by Qanungo. In the same year, a new Jarib or measurement rod consisting of Bamboos joined by iron rings was introduced for the measurement of land.

     In 1580, Akbar instituted a new system i.e., Dashala system. Under this the average produce of different crops as well as the average price prevailing over the last 10 years were calculated. One-third of the average produce was the state share, which were however stated in cash. The credit for developing this system i.e., Aim-i-Dashala goes to Raja Todar Mai.  For the measurement of' land ‘bighd’ was adopted as standard unit A new gaz or yard, “gaz-i-Ilahi" was introduced.

For purpose of fixing land revenue both continuity and productivity of cultivation were taken into accounts. The land was divided into four categories.

  • Polaj          -           annually cultivated.
  • Parti           -           left fallow for 3 to 4years.
  • Chachar    -           left fallow for   3 to      4 years.
  • Banjar        -           uncultivated for 5 years or more. 

     After the assessment of revenue in kind, it was converted into cash with the help of price schedules (dastur-ul-amal) prepared at regional level in respect of various crops.

     A number of other systems of assessment were also followed under Akbar. The most common was batai or ghallabakshi (crop sharing).

  • Zabti system: Based on the measurement and assessment of land.
  • Ghallabakshi or batai: It was oldest and most common, produce was divided between the state and the peasants in a fixed proportion.
  • Kankut system: Instead of actually dividing the grain (kan) an estimate (kut) was made on the basis of an actual inspection of the crop on spot.

        The Amil was the advance money by way of loans (taccavi) to the peasants for seeds, implements etc. in time of need.

Military Administration

     The Mughal army consisted of cavalry, infantry, artillery, elephants and camels. There was no navy in the modern sense except small fleets of boats under Amir-ul-bahr. The organization of best cavalry force in Asia was the greatest achievement of Akbar and it was the backbone of Mughal empire. The cavalry was considered the ‘Flower of the army’.

Mansab system

     To organize nobility as well as his army Akbar introduced the Mansabdari system in 1577.  It was based on the Mongol’s system of decimal organization of army.  In its broad aspect, the mansab or rank awarded to an individual fixed both his status in the official hierarchy as well as his salary. The lowest rank was 10 and the highest was 5,000 for the nobles. Mansab above 5000 was reserved for princes of royal blood.  The holder could be given any administrative or military responsibilities. Mirza Aziz Koka and Raja Man Singh were honored with the rank of 7000 each. The mansabdar who received pay in cash were known as naqdi and those paid through assignments of Jagirs were called Jagirdars.

     In the dual zat and sawar system, zat indicate the personal pay and the status of a noble, and the sawar rank, the actual number of horseman he was expected to maintain. The mansab was not hereditary, it was based on merit. The important defect of this system was that it did not give birth to a national army due to non-regimentation of the army.

     Jahangir introduced the du-aspah-siaspah (2-3 horses) rank, literally meaning trooper having 2 or 3 horses and hence related to the sawar rank. Shah Jahan introduced the rule of 1/3, 1/4 which scaled down the obligations of the mansabdars. He also introduced month scale, i.e. the salary of the mansabdars were put on month scale.

     By 1595, the number of mansabdars during the reign of Akbar was 180, but towards the close of the Aurangzeb’s reign their number rose to 14.449, leading to the complaints that no jagirs were left for being granted to them.  This led to jagirdari and agranian crisis which in turn, brought about the collapse of the mansabdari system after Aurangzeb. 

Related Questions

1. Match the following :
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Which Mughal king had recorded this in his memoirs? -- View Answer

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9. About whom it was said 'He was a fortunate soldier but not an able Empire builder"? -- View Answer

10. Akbar founded his own religion known as 'Din-i-Ilahi' which means : -- View Answer

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