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

Sample Material of Our IAS Mains History Study Kit

Subject: History (Optional)

Topic: Mughal Administration & Economy

Abul Fazl’s meticulously prepared Ain-i-Akbari provides a wealth of statistical information which is supplemented by official documents like the Dasrur-ul Amal-i Alamagiri, the madad-i maash and other revenue records, besides countless government farmans.

Components of Administration

Seventy per cent of the Mughal officers were foreigners, mainly Iranis from Persia and Turanis from Central Asia. They belonged to families that had migrated to India with Humayun or had arrived after Akbar’s accession. During the course of Akbar’s rule only twenty-one Hindus were recruited into the ranks of the upper nobility. Of these, the overwhelming majority (seventeen) were Rajputs. The other four included in this privileged circle were Birbal Todar Mal, his son and another Khattri. After the dismissal of Bairam Khan, he did away with the institution of the all-powerful wazir, distributed the functions of that office among several officers and often kept the post vacant.The diwan was responsible only for the functioning of the finance ministry, while the mir bakshi was accountable for the military department. The sadr us-sadur looked after ecclesiastical affairs, while the mir saman was in-charge of the supply department.

Akbar abolished the post of all-powerful Wazir. He became the head of the revenue department Also known as Diwan-i-ala. Diwan Responsible for all income and expenditure and had control over Khalisa and jagir land. Mir Bakshi Headed military department, nobility, information and intelligence agencies. Mir Saman was Incharge of Imperial household and Karkhanas. Diwan-i-Bayutat Maintained roads, government buildings etc. and worked under Mir Saman. Sadr us Sadr Incharge of charitable and religious endowments Qazi id Quzat Headed the Judiciary department Muhtasib Censor of Public Morals.

Wazir : Head of the revenue department
Mir Bakshi : Head of the military department
Barids : Intelligence Officers
Waqia navis : Reporters
Mir saman : In charge of imperial household
Qazi : Head of the judicial department
Sadr-us-Sudur: Head of the Ecclessiastical Department hence regulated the religious policy of the state; was also in charge of Public Authorities and Endowments. Other Officials: (i) Muhtasibs (enforced public morals), (ii) Waquia Navis (News reports), (iii) Khufia Navis (Secret letterwriters), (iv) Harkarahs (spies and special couriers).

Organization of the Government

Parganas and Sarkar continued as before. Chief Officers of the Sarkar were Fauzdar and Amalguzar. The former being in charge of law and order and the later responsible for the assessment and collection of the land revenue. Mughal Empire was divided into subas which was further subdivided into sarkar, Parganas and villages.

However, it also had other territorial units as ‘Khalisa’, (royal land), Jagirs (autonomous rajas) and Inams (gifted lands, mainly waste lands). There were 15 territorial units (subas) during Akbar’s reign, which later increased it) 20 under Aurangzeb’s reign. Akbar divided the empire into 12 subas. These were Bengal, Bihar, Allahbad, Awadh, Agra, Delhi, Lahore, Multan, Kabul, Ajmer, Malwa & Gujarat. A Subbahdar, diwan, bakshi, sadr, qazi and a waqia- navis were appointed each to of the provinces

Province (Suba)

1. Sipahsalar—The Head Executive(under Akbar and later he was known Nizam or Subedar)
2. Diwan—Incharge of revenue department
3. Bakshi—Incharge of military dept.


1. Fauzdar—Administrative head
2. Amal/Amalguzar—Revenue collection
3. Kotwal—Maintenance of law and order, trial of criminal cases and price regulation.


• Shiqdar—Administrative head combined in himself the duties of ‘fauzdar and kotwal’
• Amin, Qanungo—Revenue officials


1. Muqaddam—Headman
2. Patwari—Accountant
3. Chowkidar—Watchman

Mansabdari System

Mansabdari system which was introduced in 1595-96, was a combined status, showing a noble’s civil and military capacity. Twin ranks— Zat and Sawar, were allotted. The former indicated a noble’s personal status, while the latter, the number of troops he had to maintain. Mansabdari had three scale gradations, viz

1. Mansabdar (500 zat and below)
2. Amir (between 500-2500 zat)
3. Amir-i-Umda (2500 zat and above)

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The salary of the Mansabdar was fixed on a Month Scale system. During Jahangir’s reign, a du aspa siha aspa system was introduced through which, a nobles’ sawar rank could he increased without affecting his zat. Mansab was not an hereditary system. Mansabdars were paid through revenue assignments (jagirs).

Addition by Jahangir

Introduction of the “duaspa-sihaspa” (2­3h) rank, literally meaning troopers having 2 or 3 horses; and hence related to the sawar rank. This rank doubled the ordinary sawar rank, and hence doubled the obligation, and the previleges that went with it.

Changes by Shah Jahan

Rule of 1/3rd, 1/4th: It scaled down the obligations of the mansabdars. If a mansabdar war serving in a province where his jagirwas, then his contingent should be equal to 1/3rd of his sawar rank; if elsewhere then only 1/4th. Month Scales: A mansabdar often found that the the “hasil” (actual revenue collected from a Jagir) was less than the “jama”(stipulated or assessed revenue from a Jagir), on which his salary was actually fixed. Thus the month scale was a devise to express the ratio between the `jama’ and the ‘hasil’, and hence gave some relief in service obligations to mansabdars.

Jagir System

Jagir was a unit of land, whose revenues were assigned to a mansabdar in lieu of his salary. Under the Mughals, apart from the jagir lands, whose revenues went to pay the salaries of the mansabdars for their services to the state, there were also the “khalisa” lands, whose revenues were earmerked for the maintenance of the Imperial court and the personal expenditure of the emperor. Hence the Jagir of the Mughal times was similar to the “iqta” of the Delhi Sultanate.

Like the iqta, the assignment of a jagir to a mansabdar did not confer any hereditary rights to that jagir on the mansabdar. He could enjoy the revenues of the jagir only as long as he held the mansab or official rank and rendered services to the state. In other words, the jagirdars (holders of jagirs) owned their position to the Mughal Emperor. “Jagir System” was closely related to the “Mansab System”. In fact it was a subsidiary system of all-in-one mansab system. We should note that here all jagirdars were mansabdars, but not all mansabdars were jagirdars, because some mansabdars were paid in cash and not through the assignment of jagir.

Land Grants (Revenue)

Mughal state also gave tax-free land grants to religious scholars and divines. In Akbar’s time such grants (called sur yurhal or madad-i-maash) totalled about three per cent of the jama. The overwhelming majority of the beneficiaries of such grants were Muslims. Another category of grants, known as waqf, were made to institutions for the upkeep of religious shrines, tombs and madarsas (religious schools).

Mughal Economy


Though agriculture was labour intensive, peasants did use technologies that often harnessed cattle energy. One example was the wooden plough, which was light -and easily assembled with an iron tip or coulter. It therefore did not make deep furrows, which preserved the moisture better during the intensely hot months. A drill, pulled by a pair of giant oxen, was used to plant seeds, but broadcasting of seed was the most prevaleni method. Hoeing and weeding were done simultaneously using a narrow iron blade with a small wooden handle.

Agriculture was organised around two major seasonal cycles, the kharif (autumn) and the rabi (spring). This would mean that most regions, except those terrains that were the most and or inhospitable, produced a minimum of two crops a year (do-fasla), whereas some, where rainfall or irrigation assured a continuous supply of water, even gave three crops. This ensured’ an enormous variety of produce. For instance, we are told in the Ain that the Mughal provinces of Agra produced 39 varieties of crops and Delhi produced 43 over the two seasons. Bengal produced 50 varieties of rice alone.

Zamindars in the Mughal Empire have been classified by scholars into three broad categories: (i) the autonomous chieftians, (ii) the intermediary zamindars, and (iii) the primary zamindars. Medieval records abound with references to zamindaran-j-zor-talab, that is, zamindars who paid revenue only, when it was forcibly demanded. Peter Mundy in 1632 saw in the present-day Kanpur district, “labourers with their guns, swords, and bucklers lying on them whilst they ploughed the ground”.

William Finch, who visited India between 1608 and 1611, says that from November to the end of March, the Emperor hunted around Agra and sent the men captured to Kabul to be bartered for horses. Peter Mundy, travelling from Agra to Patna in 1632, reported another exploit of the amir. During the four days of his passage through this area, he saw two hundred minars on pillars on which about seven thousand heads were fixed with mortar. The trading community in India was large and varied. Among the principal merchants were Jams and Bohra Muslims in Gujarat; Oswals, Maheshwaris and Aggarwals in Rajasthan; Chettis on the Coromandel Coast, and Muslim merchants in Malabar.


GhallaBaqshi: Assesment by the division of crops (in Thatta, Kabul and Kashmir). Apart from land revenue (charged 1/3 to ½) the state being a military state, also depended upon benefits of conquest. However, much of its revenue was wasted in ostentation and wars.
Another method, muqtai’ was prevalent in Bengal. Zabti: A standardized method of collection based on rates of crops determined alter 10 years assessment Todar Mai pioneered it. It required annual measurement of land and where it was not possible Nasaq was prevalent. There were several methods of revenue collection in practice viz. Kankut (estimate). Rai (yield per unit area) and ‘zabt’ (based on the yields of crops). Madad-i-maash or Suyur ghal/inam were land grants to people of favour/religious assignment.

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