(Sample Material) IAS Mains History (Optional) Study Kit "Administration & Economy"

Sample Material of Our IAS Mains History Study Kit

Subject: History (Optional)

Topic: Administration & Economy


Muslims believe that Islamic society and government should be organised on the basis of divine injunctions of the Quran. The sayings and doings of Prophet Mohammad, collectively known as the “Hadis”, began to be supplemented to the above. (The ulema have given various rulings on the basis of the Quran and the Hadis to meet different situations and problems, which are together known as the “Shariat” (Islamic Law). Moreover, “Zawabit” (rules and regulations framed by the sultans) were also used for a smooth and efficient running of the administration. But only three Sultans sought, and secured a “mansur” or “letter of investiture” from the Caliph. The first among them was Iltutmish. Next Muhammad-bin-Tughluq tried to pacify for ulema by securing investiture from the Abbasid Caliph in Egypt. After him Firuz also sought and secured it.

Central Administration

The Sultan dominated the Central Government. He was the legal head of the state and acted as the chief executive and the highest court of appeal. Political, legal and military authority was vested in the Sultan. He was responsible for administration and was also the commander-in-chief of the military forces. He was also responsible for the maintenance of law and justice. No clear law of succession developed among Muslim rulers. Thus military strength was the main factor in succession to the throne. He was the chief of the armed forces number of officials, chief among whom were the following:

Naib Sultan: The naib or deputy enjoyed practically all the powers of the Sultan on his behalf and exercised a general control over the various departments of the government.

Wazir: He was the head of the finance department, called “Diwan-i-Wazarat”. He had a number of powerful assistants, three among whom deserve special mention (i) Naib Wazir (ii) Mushrif-i-Mumalik and (iii) Mustaufi-i-Mumalik. The first acted as his chief’s deputy. The second maintained a record of the accounts. The third audited this account.

Ariz-i-Mumalik: He was the head of the military department, called “Diwani-i­Arz”. The special responsibility of the Ariz’s department was to recruit, equip and pay the army.

Sadr-us-Sudur (Chief Sadr): He was the head of Public Charities and Ecclesiastical Department knows as “Diwan-i-Risalat”. It was he who made grants in cash or land for the construction and maintenance of mosques, tombs, khanqahs and Madrasas. Again, it was he who granted maintenance allowances to the learned, the saintly and orphaned or the disabled. It has usually a separate treasury which received all collections from zakat (a tax collected from rich Muslims only).

Qazi-ul-Quzat (Chief Qazi): He was the head of the judicial department and usually the posts of the chief Sadr and the chief Qazi was combined in single person.

Amir-Munshi: He was the head of the Record Department, known as Diwan-i­Insha. The farmans of the Sultan were issued from his office, while all high level correspondence also passed through his hands.

Barid-i-Mumalik: He was the head of the Information and Intelligence department.

Diwan-i-Risalat dealt with religious mailers, pious foundations and stipends to deserving scholars and men of piety. It was presided over by a chief Sadr or chief Qazi.

Provincial Administration

The whole kingdom was divided into a number of provinces and tributary states. But the provincial administration under the Sultans was neither well organised nor efficient. Governor was called nayim or wali: Below the provincial governor there was a provincial wazir, a provincial ariz and a provincial qazi. Their functions correspond to those of similar dignitaries at the centre.

Local Administration

The provinces were divided into “shiqs” and below it into “parganas”. The shiq was under the control of the “shiqdar”. The pargana, comprising a number of villages was headed by the “amil”. The village remained the basic unit of administration. The most important official in the village was the headman known as “muqaddam” or “chaudhari”. Below the province were the Shiqs and below them the Paragana. We are told that the villages were grouped into units of 100 or 84 traditionally called Chaurasi. The Paragana was headed by Amil. The most important people in villages were the Khuts (Landowners) or Muqaddam or headman. We also hear of village accountant called Patwari.

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Rural Economy

Delhi Sultans classified the land into three categories:

Iqta land i.e. land assigned to officials as iqtas. Khalisa land or crown land, i.e. land which is under the direct control of the Sultan and whose revenues were meant for his maintenance and that of the royal household. Inam land (also known as madad-i-maash or waqf land), i.e. land assigned or granted to pious persons and religious leaders and also to religious institutions.


The Delhi Sultans took efforts to enhance agricultural production by: Providing irrigational facilities and by advancing “takkavi” loans for different agricultural purposes; Encouragement given to cultivate cash crops instead of food crops, and superior crops (e.g. wheat) in place of inferior ones (e.g. barley). Extension of cultivated area by granting waste lands to different people. The largest numbers of canals were constructed on the orders of Firuz Tughlaq. He had two canals cut from the Yamuna, one from the Sutlej and one from the Ghaggar, in addition to numerous smaller ones. Crops dependent on artificial irrigation, like wheat and sugarcane were more valued from those raised on rain water.

Sericulture, the breeding of the mulberry silkworm for producing true silk, reached India from China through a circuitous route in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. On Firuz Tughlaq’s instructions, 1,200 orchards were laid out in the neighbourhood of Delhi and seven varieties of grapes grown. The peasant was assured an inalienable right to land as long as he tilled it and paid his share of the state revenue demand. The highest category of peasants were the khots and muqaddams (headmen), who assisted the the authorities in the collection of land revenue. Allauddin Khilji’s policies severely curtailed the power of this class.

Land Taxation

According to historians, in the mid-fourteenth century the chaudhuri appears as the highest rural personage responsible for land revenue to the state. Land taxation, which began to be collected in an organised manner from the time of Alauddin Khilji, had been described by modern historians as “very heavy and regressive.” Barani states that Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq levied kharaj on the basis of actual produce and not on the basis of estimated yields.

Muhammad bin Tughlaq resorted to even more stringent measures than Alauddin Khilji. To begin with, the oppressive taxation system, hitherto confined to the Doab, was extended to other territories, including Gujarat, Malwa, the Deccan, and Bengal. Firuz Tughlaq abolished the ghari and charai and limited the total taxes above the kharaj to four per cent. Jaziya was levied as part of the land tax, which was known as kharaj­jaziya.

The land tax remained unchanged under the Lodis, but was now collected in kind instead of in cash. Territories whose revenues went directly to the Sultan’s treasury were called khalisa, while those parcelled out among his nobles were called iqtas. Tax free grants of land were called inam or madad-i-maash, grants to Muslim religious establishments being known as waqf. A portion of these grants was in the form of wastelands which the grantees were required to bring under cultivation. Under Firuz Shah, it has been estimated, that revenues relinquished in this manner amounted to more than five per cent of the government share.The grants were generally hereditary, but could be resumed anytime by the Sultan.

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