Class 12 history chapter 8 notes, Peasants zamindars and the state notes

Peasants zamindars and the state notes: Class 12 history chapter 8 notes

ClassClass 12
ChapterChapter 8
Chapter NamePeasants zamindars and the state
CategoryHistory Notes

Class 12 history chapter 8 notes, Peasants zamindars and the state notes here we will learn about the Mughal ruling system in agriculture, zamindars, rural artisans, Panchayat chiefs etc.

Introduction : –

🔹 During the 16th and 17th centuries about 85% of the population of India lived in its villages. Both peasants and landed elites were involved in agricultural production and claimed rights to a share of the produce.

🔹 At the same time agencies from outside also entered into the rural world. Most important among these was the Mughal state, which derived the bulk of its income from agricultural production.

Agricultural Society In Rural India ( Peasants and Agriculture Production ) : –

🔹 The basic unit of agricultural society was the village, inhabited by peasants who performed the manifold seasonal tasks that made up agricultural production throughout the year – tilling the soil, sowing seeds, harvesting the crop when it was ripe.

🔹 Further, they contributed their labour to the production of agro-based goods such as sugar and oil. Several kinds of areas such as large tracts of dry land or hilly regions were not cultivable in the same way as the more fertile expanses of land.

Main Sources to know the agrarian history of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries : –

🔸 Chronicles and documents from the Mughal court : – One of the most important chronicles was the Ain-i Akbari authored by Akbar’s court historian Abu’l Fazl. Ain-i Akbari called Ain in short.

🔹 It recorded the arrangements made by the state to ensure cultivation, to enable the collection of revenue by the agencies of the state and to regulate the relationship between the state and rural magnates, the zamindars.

Other Sources Of Information : –

🔹 Apart from Ain-e-Akbari, among other sources of agricultural history, These include detailed revenue records from Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan dating from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Further, the extensive records of the East India Company.

Why These sources important?

🔹 These sources provide us with useful descriptions of agrarian relations in eastern India. All these sources record instances of conflicts between peasants, zamindars and the state. In the process they give us an insight into peasants’ perception of and their expectations of fairness from the state.

Ain-i-Akbari : –

  • It was a culmination of large historical, administrative project of classifications undertaken by Abull fazle at the order of Emperor of Akbar.
  • It was completed in 1598 through five revisions.
  • Ain-i-Akbari was a part of AKBARNAMA (Third Part).
  • The Ain was organised as a compendium of imperial regulations and a gazetteer of the empire.

Content of Ain-i-Akbari : –

  • Intricate and quantitative information of provinces.
  • Description of various departments.
  • Literary, cultural and religions traditions
  • Physical layout of provinces
  • Sources of revenue
  • administration & army
  • organisation of the count

Five parts of Ain-i-Akbari : –

🔹 Ain is a compilation of five parts (Daftars) in which the first three parts describe the Mughal administration and the fourth and fifth parts describe the religious, literary and cultural customs of the then people.

🔹 Ain is made up of five bookes : –

🔸 First is Manzil Abadi : – The first book, titled Manzil Abadi, deals with Imperial households and its maintenance.

🔸 Second is Sipal Abadi : – Sipah is about Military and civil administration.

🔸 Third is Mulk Abadi : – Mulk, is the part which gives detailed statistical information about geographic economic & topographic profile of Subas and their administrative fiscal divisions.

🔸 The fourth and fifth book (Daftars) deal with the religions, literary and cultural traditions of the people of India also contains a collection of Akbar’s “auspicious sayings.”

Information Related To agrarian history In Ain-E- Akbari : –

🔹 A complete account of the rules made by the state for the systematic management of agriculture has been presented in Ain-e- Akbari.

🔹 Complete details of plowing of fields, collection of taxes, regulation of relations between the state and rural magnates, etc. are also given in Ain-e-Akbari.

🔹 The central purpose of the Ain was to present a vision of Akbar’s empire where social harmony was provided by a strong ruling class. whatever we learn from the Ain about peasants remains a view from the top.

Information About Peasants : –

🔹 The term which Indo-Persian sources of the Mughal period most frequently used to denote a peasant was Raiyat, Muzarian, khurd-kashta and pahi-kashta. In addition, we also encounter the terms kisan or asami.

kinds of peasants : –

🔹 Sources of the seventeenth century refer to two kinds of peasantskhud-kashta and pahi-kashta.

  • khud-kashta : – Khud-Kashta were residents of the village in which they held their lands.
  • Pahi-kashta : – Pahi-Kashta were non-resident cultivators who belonged to some other village, but cultivated lands elsewhere on a contractual basis.

🔸 Note : – People became pahi-kashta either out of choice for example, when terms of revenue in a distant village were more favourable or out of compulsion or forced by economic distress after a famine.

Possessions of peasants : –

🔹 Seldom did the average peasant of north India possess more than a pair of bullocks and two ploughs; most possessed even less.

🔹 In Gujarat peasants possessing about six acres of land were considered to be affluent.

🔹 in Bengal, on the other hand, five acres was the upper limit of an average peasant farm; 10 acres would make one a rich asami.

Information About Cultivation : –

🔹 Cultivation was based on the principle of individual ownership. Peasant lands were bought and sold in the same way as the lands of other property owners.

🔹 Since the primary purpose of agriculture is to feed people, basic staples such as rice, wheat or millets were the most frequently cultivated crops.

🔹 Areas which received 40 inches or more of rainfall a year were generally rice-producing zones, followed by wheat and millets, corresponding to a descending scale of precipitation.

Factors that accounted for the constant expansion of Agriculture : –

  • The abundance of land
  • Available labour
  • The mobility of peasants.

Irrigation Information : –

🔹 Monsoons remained the backbone of Indian agriculture, as they are even today. But there were crops which required additional water. Artificial systems of irrigation had to be devised for this.

🔹 Irrigation projects received state support as well. For example, in northern India the state undertook digging of new canals (nahr, nala) and also repaired old ones like the shahnahr in the Punjab during Shah Jahan’s reign.

Information About Techniques Used by peasants In Agriculture : –

🔹 In those times, 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 prevalent method.

🔹 Hoeing and weeding were done simultaneously using a narrow iron blade with a small wooden handle.

An abundance of crops ( Types of crops ) : –

🔹 Agriculture was organised around two major seasonal cycles, the kharif (autumn) and the rabi (spring). This would mean that most regions produced a minimum of two crops a year.

🔹 whereas some, where rainfall or irrigation assured a continuous supply of water, even gave three crops. This ensured an enormous variety of produce.

Example of Enormous variety of crops produce : –

🔹 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.

🔹 However, the focus on the cultivation of basic staples did not mean that agriculture in medieval India was only for subsistence.

Cash Crops for Generating Revenue : –

1. The Mughal state also encouraged peasants to cultivate such crops as they brought in more revenue. Crops such as cotton and sugarcane were jins-i kamil par excellence.

2. Cotton was grown over a great swathe of territory spread over central India and the Deccan plateau, whereas Bengal was famous for its sugar. Such cash crops would also include various sorts of oilseeds and lentils.

🔹 This shows how subsistence and commercial production were closely intertwined in an average peasant’s holding.

New crops reached in India subcontinent : –

🔹 During the seventeenth century several new crops from different parts of the world reached the Indian subcontinent.

🔹 Maize (makka), for example, was introduced into India via Africa and Spain and by the seventeenth century it was being listed as one of the major crops of western India.

🔹 Vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes and chillies were introduced from the New World at this time, as were fruits like the pineapple and the papaya.

jins-i kamil : –

🔹 Cash crops have been called Jins-e-Kamil i.e. the perfect crops in Mughal sources. Sugarcane, cotton, oilseed crops (for example, mustard) were also called Jins-e- Kamil.

The spread of tobacco : –

🔹 This plant, which arrived first in the Deccan, spread to northern India in the early years of the seventeenth century. The Ain does not mention tobacco in the lists of crops in northern India.

🔹 Akbar and his nobles came across tobacco for the first time in 1604. At this time smoking tobacco (in hookahs or chillums) seems to have caught on in a big way. Jahangir was so concerned about its addiction that he banned it.

🔹 This was totally ineffective because by the end of the seventeenth century, tobacco had become a major article of consumption, cultivation and trade all over India.

The Village Community : –

🔹 In Village Community There were three constituents the cultivators, the panchayat, and the village headman (muqaddam or mandal).

Caste and the Rural Milieu : –

🔹 Deep inequities on the basis of caste and other caste like distinctions meant that the cultivators were a highly heterogeneous group. Among those who tilled the land, there was a sizeable number who worked as menials or agricultural labourers.

🔸 Examples of caste discrimination : –

🔹 Despite the abundance of cultivable land, certain caste groups were assigned menial tasks and thus relegated to poverty. Such groups comprised a large section of the village population, had the least resources and were constrained by their position in the caste hierarchy, much like the Dalits of modern India.

🔹 In Muslim communities menials like the halalkhoran (scavengers) were housed outside the boundaries of the village; similarly, the mallahzadas (literally, sons of boatmen) in Bihar were comparable to slaves.

  • In Marwar, Rajputs are mentioned as peasants, sharing the same space with Jats, who were accorded a lower status in the caste hierarchy.
  • The Gauravas, who cultivated land in Uttar Pradesh sought Rajput status in the seventeenth century.
  • Castes such as the Ahirs, Gujars and Malisrose in the hierarchy because of the profitability of cattle rearing and horticulture.
  • In the eastern regions, intermediate pastoral and fishing castes like the Sadgops and Kaivartas acquired the status of peasants.

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