Mughal Administration

The Mughal Empire was highly centralized as all the powers were vested in the king. The Mughal kings were considered the vice-regent of God on the Earth. The king was the head of the Executive, Legislature, Judiciary, and Army. He was supposed to be benevolent towards his citizens. Key features and structures of the Mughal Administration are as follows

Administration of the Mughal Empire

  • During the rule of Babur and Humayun, the vakil was Prime Minister who was entrusted with wide powers and took important civil and administrative decisions. The powers of the vakil declined during the reign of Akbar.
  • Diwan was the head of the revenue department and kept records of all income and expenditures of the state. The qazi headed the judicial department.
  • Under Akbar, the Empire was divided into twelve provinces or subhas which were further sub-divided into sarkars, and each sarkar was divided into mahals.
  • A Governor or subedar was in charge of the province. He had to maintain law and order in the province and ensure smooth collection of revenues. Revenues of the provinces were looked after by the diwan.
  • Other important officials of the provinces were faujdar, kotwal, bakshi, sadrqazi and muhtasib. All these officers were appointed by the centre.

Administration of the Mughal Empire

Mansabdari System

The term mansab means an office or a rank and a person who occupied this office or held the rank came to be known as a mansabdar. A mansabdar maintained horsemen or soldiers depending on his rank in the court. Some important features of this system were

  • An official in the royal service was given a rank or a mansab depending on the nature of his work. While a mansabdar of a lower level could maintain up to ten horsemen, the mansabdar of the highest level could keep seven thousand horsemen.
  • The mansabdars were appointed by the king. The king had the power to promote or dismiss them.
  • The king paid his mansabdars in the form of jagirs. The revenue collected from the jagir could be used by the mansabdars to pay his horsemen.
  • The mansabdars had the right to collect only a fixed amount of revenues from their jagirs and had no power to administer them.
  • During the reign of Aurangzeb, the number of mansabdars increased substantially. This resulted in the shortage of jagirs.

Administration of the Mughal Empire

Land Revenue System

Raja Todar Mal was the revenue minister of Akbar. He introduced some important reforms in the revenue system. The main features of the revenue system at this time were

  • Land was surveyed and was measured with a bamboo string attached with iron rings.
  • The cultivable land was categorised into four kinds—extremely fertile, fertile, middling and bad.
  • To calculate the land revenue to be paid, the average produce of the last ten years was taken into account, and the revenue was fixed on the basis of this average.
  • One-third of the produce was to be paid as the revenue which could be paid either in cash or in kind.
  • In case of failure of crops because of droughts and floods, the state advanced loans to farmers.

Administration of the Mughal Empire

Social Developments

  • Society under the Mughals was a contrast of rich and poor. The king occupied the highest social rank in the country. The nobles and aristocrats enjoyed privileges and lived luxurious life.
  • Below the nobles were the people belonging to the middle class. It consisted of landlords, merchants, traders, and rich peasants.
  • Most of the people in society belonged to the lowest strata. Their life was hard and they had to toil throughout the day to earn their livelihood. They were suppressed by revenue collectors. Towards the end of Shah Jahan’s rule, the lives of peasants had become miserable. They not only had to pay increased taxes but were also oppressed by provincial governors.
  • Society was divided into two main religions—Hindus and Muslims. Under Akbar, the Hindus enjoyed a greater degree of freedom. The Mughal society largely gives us a picture of a society based on religious harmony and peaceful coexistence.

Administration of the Mughal Empire

Mughals as an Integrating Force

Akbar is known for his policies of religious toleration. His policies created a spirit of religious tolerance as he took numerous steps to promote social and religious harmony among the people. Some of these measures were

  • Akbar abolished the poll tax or jaziya which was levied on non-Muslims. He also abolished the practice of forcibly converting prisoners to Islam.
  • Akbar included many Hindus into the nobility. Many Rajput princes and Hindus were given high mansabs.
  • Akbar built a Hall of Prayer called Ibadat Khana at Fatehpur Sikri in 1575. Theologians belonging to various religions were invited to this Hall of Prayer, and Akbar discussed various religious and spiritual matters with them.
  • A declaration or mazhar was issued by Akbar which declared him as the final arbitrator in religious matters.
  • Akbar founded the religious order called Din-i-Ilahi. It was based on the principles of oneness of God. It stressed on courage, loyalty and justice. Akbar believed in the policy of sulh-i-kul or peaceful coexistence.
  • Akbar set up a translation department for translating Sanskrit, Arabic and Greek works into Persian. Thus, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Gita and other texts were translated into Persian.

Administration of the Mughal Empire

Social and Educational Reforms

  • He prohibited the practice of sati and legalised the remarriages of widows.
  • He did not encourage child marriages. The minimum age for the marriage of girls was raised to 14 years, while the age of marriage of boys was raised to 16 years. Consent of both bride and bridegroom was necessary before marriage.

Three educational reforms of Akbar were

  • Akbar emphasised on the study of secular subjects such as mathematics, logic, history and astronomy apart from the study of religious scriptures.
  • Akbar set up a translation department to translate Sanskrit, Arabic and Greek works into Persian.
  • Female education existed during the Mughal period. While girls from rich families generally received education through private tuitions, girls belonging to the middle class were able to attend the same schools as boys.

Also, Read 4 Sources of the Mughal Empire

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