(Notes) Civil Services (Prelims) Examination : Mughal Empire - III (Administration under Akbar) Quick Revision Notes (I)

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Quick Revision Notes


Mughal Empire - III (Administration under Akbar) : Indian History

1. Like other Muslim monarchs, Akbar was, at least in theory, subordinate to the wishes of entire Muslim population (millat), which, in turn, was guided by the Muslim learned divines called the Ulema. Akbar sought to remove this check to his will and became the supreme authority over his Muslim subjects by promulgating the Infallibility Decree (Mahzar) in September 1579.

2. Akbar believed that the king must be absolutely tolerant to every creed and must establish universal peace in his dominion.

3. As per Abul Fazal’s Akbarnama, Akbar appeared three times every day for State business. Early at sunrise he used to be ready at jhroka-i-darshan to show himself to his subjects. Here he was accessible to the common people and listened to their complaints. Next, he used to hold an open court which generally lasted for four and a half hours. People from both sexes were allowed to submit their petitions and the emperor used to decide the cases on the spot.

4. In the afternoon Akbar used to hold a full durbar in the Diwan-i-Aam. Here he attended to daily routine business, particularly relating to forces, workshops and to the appointment and promotion of mansabdars and granting of jagirs.

5. In the evening and often during night Akbar used to meet his ministers and advisers in the private audience hall called Diwan-i-Khas, where special business relating to foreign relations and internal administration was attended to.

6. Late in the night, Akbar used to discuss confidential matters related to war, foreign policy and internal administration in a room called Daulat Khana, which became known in the times of Jehangir as Gusal Khana, owing to its proximity to the royal bathroom.

7. The Central government under Akbar consisted of four departments, each presided over by a minister. These ministers were: Vakil (Prime Minister), Diwan or Wazir (Finance Minister), Mir Bakhshi (Pay-Master General), and Sadar-us-Sadur (Chief Sadar).

8. The Mughal ministers did not constitute a Cabinet in the modern sense of term. They were basically secretaries. The initiation of the policies was in the hands of the emperor.

9. The first finance minister of Akbar was Muzaffar Khan.

10. Todar Mal, Muzaffar Khan and Shah Mansur were the three most notable finance ministers of Akbar and all the three were skilled financiers and first-rate administrators.

11. The Diwan or finance minister was assisted by Diwan-i-Khalsa, who was incharge of Khalsa (crown or reserved) lands; Diwan-i-Jagirs, who was incharge of the lands that were given in lieu of service or as free grants (sayurghal); Sahib-i-Taujih, who was incharge of military accounts; and Diwan-i-Bayutut, whose duty was to supervise the accounts of various workshops attached to the court.

12. The Mir Bakhshi or Pay-Master General ranked next to the imperial Diwan. His office corresponded to the Diwan-i-Ariz of the Sultanate period.

13. The Mir Bakhshi was required to maintain a register in which names, ranks and salaries of mansabdars were recorded. All orders of appointment to mansabs of all ranks were passed through his office. One of his most important duties was to prepare a list of guards who had to keep watch around the royal palace.

14. The Chief Sadar or Sadar-us-Sadur discharged three-fold duties, namely, to act as the religious adviser to the emperor, to disburse the royal charity, and to function as the chief justice of the empire.

15. After Akbar reorganized his administration and rejected the Islamic theory of government, the Chief Sadar ceased to be the supreme religious adviser.

16. Akbar divided his empire into well-defined provinces or subas, and established uniform administration in them. In 1602, the provinces numbered 15.

17. The three provinces of South (Dakhin), namely, Khandesh, Berar and Ahmadnagar, were constituted into a single viceroyalty and were placed under Prince Daniyal.

18. In each suba, there was a governor, styled as Sipah Salar, a diwan, a bakhshi, a sadar, a qazi, a kotwal, a mir bahar and a waqaya navis.

19. The Sipah Salar (governor) was the head of the province. He was popularly called subahadar and sometimes only ‘suba’. He was appointed by the emperor and was responsible for the welfare of the people of his province, as also administer even-handed justice. He was also entrusted with the work of realizing tribute from the vassal States situated within the boundaries of his suba.

20. The provincial Diwan was the second most important officer of the suba. He was appointed on the recommendation of the Imperial Diwan.

21. There were two parallel and mutually independent authorities in every province. The Sipah Sadar was the head of the military, police and executive services, while the Diwan was the head of the civil and revenue branch—he reported directly to the Imperial Diwan and was not subordinate to the governor.

22. Generally one officer was appointed to discharge the functions of both the Sadar and the Qazi.

23. Waqaya Navis was incharge of posting newswriters and spies in all important places in the province. Generally a separate officer was given this job, but at times the provinical Bakhshi was given the dual charge.

24. The Kotwal was incharge of internal defence, sanitation and peace in the provincial capital. He was the supreme administrator of all thanas of the province.

25. The Mir Bahar was incharge of customs and boats and ferry taxes, and port duties in coastal towns.

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