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

Forest dwellers during Mughal period (16th & 17th Century) ( in short points ) : –

  • Forest dwellers were of 40% of total populations
  • They were existed all over eastern India, central india, northern India Jharkhand and western ghat and Deccan Plateau.
  • Forest dwellers were termed Jangali (those whose livelihood came from the gathering of forest products, hunting etc)
  • They were dependent on shifting cultivation, & they were wonderers also.
  • Those activities were seasonal like for Bhills, spring was reserved for collecting forest products, summer for fishing and monsoon months for cultivation and autumn and winter for hunting.
  • For the state the forest was a subversive place a place of refuge (Mango) for troublemakers.

Forests and Tribes : –

🔹 With the exception of the deeply cultivated areas of northern and north-western India, large parts of the land were covered with forests or bushes (Kharbandi).

🔹 Such areas included Jharkhand, the entire eastern India, central India, northern India (including the Terai on the Indo-Nepal border), the Western Ghats of Southern India and the Deccan plateaus, etc., which were covered with forests. Forests covered about forty percent of the area.

People living in forests : –

🔹 The people living in the forests earned their living from forest products, hunting and shifting agriculture. The community of people living in the forests was called Kabila.

Babur’s remark on the forest dwellers : –

🔹 He considered the forest to be a subversive place-a refuge (mawas) for trouble makers to hide and avoid paying taxes.

🔹 Babur says that jungles provided a good defence “behind which the people of the pargana become stubbornly rebellious and pay no taxes”.

Intrusion into the forest : –

🔹 The Mughal state required elephants for the army. So the peshkash levied from forest people often included a supply of elephants.

🔹 In the Mughal political ideology, the hunt symbolised the overwhelming concern of the state to ensure justice to all its subjects, rich and poor.

🔹 Rulers went for regular hunting expeditions which enabled the emperor to travel across the extensive territories of his empire and personally attend to the grievances of its inhabitants.

Exchange of Commodities : –

🔹 The spread of commercial agriculture was an important external factor that impinged on the lives of those who lived in the forests. Forest products -like honey, beeswax and gum lac, elephants were in great demand.

🔹 Some, such as gum lac, became major items of overseas export from India in the seventeenth century. The exchange of commodities took place via the barter system as well.

🔹 For example, the Lohanis in the Punjab engaged with overland trade with countries like Afghanistan, along with trade within the Punjab region.

Social changes in the lives of forest dwellers : –

🔹 Social factors also brought changes in the lives of forest dwellers. Like the head men of the villages, tribes also had their chieftains. The chieftains of tribes became zamindars and some even became kings. Tribal Kings recruited people from their lineage groups or demanded that their fraternity in order to build up their army.

  • For example, Tribes in the Sind region had armies comprising 6,000 cavalry and 7,000 infantry.
  • In Assam, the Ahom kings had their paiks, people who were obliged to render military service in exchange for land. The capture of wild elephants was made a monopoly of the Ahom kings.

Transition from a tribal to monarchical system : –

🔹 The transition from a tribal to a monarchical system had started much earlier in India.

🔹 Ain-i-Akbari observes the presence of tribal kingdoms in the north east. War was a common occurrence between tribal kingdoms in the north-east.

🔸 For example, The Koch kings fought and subjugated a number of neighbouring tribes in a long sequence of wars through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Zamindars and his powers : –

🔹 In rural society, high status owners were zamindars who enjoyed some special social and economic facilities. They were the owners of their own land and collected taxes from the people as representatives of the state, who also had their own forts and military units, which included groups of cavalry, artillery and foot soldiers.

🔹 If we imagine the social relations in the villages of the Mughal period in the form of a pyramid, then the zamindars were part of its narrow top. Abul Fazl points out that the “higher caste” Brahmin-Rajput coalition already had a solid control over rural society.

Role of Zamindars in Mughal Period : –

  • They lived off agriculture but did not participate directly in the processes of agricultural production.
  • Zamindars enjoyed contain social and economic privileges by virtue of their superior status in rural society.
  • They held extensive personal lands termed milkiyet meaning property.
  • To collect the revenue on behalf of the state and control over military resources, were the sources of power.
  • Most Zamindars had fortresses (qilarchas) as well as an armed contingent comprising unit of caralasy, artillery and a infantry.
  • According to documents the process of Zanindari consolidation was slow
    • (a) by coloniasation of new lands
    • (b) by transfer of right
    • (c) by the order of state
    • (d) by purchase
  • A combination of factors also allowed the consolidation of Zanindasies. Ex. Jatt, the Rajputs south west Bengal, peasent Pastoralists (like the Sadgops) carved out powerful Zanindasies
  • They were also helpful for peasents for ex. giving the worle in their fields and give them money in need.
  • Zamindars also received the support of the peasantry in their struggle against the state.

Ways To Acquire Zamindari : –

🔹 Colonisation of new lands, by transfer of rights, by order of the state and by purchase. These were the processes which perhaps permitted people belonging to the relatively “lower” castes to enter the rank of zamindars as zamindaris were bought and sold quite briskly in this period.

Combined military strength of the zamindars : –

🔹 According to the Ain, the combined military strength of the zamindars in Mughal India was 384,558 cavalry, 4,277,057 infantry, 1,863 elephants, 4,260 cannons, and 4,500 boats.

Cooperation Of Zamindars In The Society : –

🔹 Zamindars spearheaded the colonisation of agricultural land.

  • helped in settling cultivators by providing them with the means of cultivation, including cash loans.
  • The buying and selling of zamindaris accelerated the process of monetisation in the countryside.
  • zamindars sold the produce from their milkiyat lands.
  • There is evidence to show that zamindars often established markets (haats) to which peasants also came to sell their produce.

🔹 There can be little doubt that zamindars were an exploitative class, their relationship with the peasantry had an element of reciprocity, paternalism and patronage. This is the reason why farmers supported the zamindars in the agrarian uprisings against the state in the 17th century.

Classification of land during Akbar’s reign : –

  • Polaj is land which is annually cultivated for each rop in succession and is never allowed to lie follow.
  • Parauti is land left out of cultivation for time that its may recover its strength.
  • Chachar is land that has lain follow for three or four years.
  • Banjar is land unceltivated for five years or more.

Land Revenue : –

🔹 Revenue from the land was the economic main stay of the Mughal Empire.

🔹 It was therefore vital for the state to create an administrative apparatus to ensure control over agricultural productions, and to fix and collect revenue from across the length and breadth of the rapidly expanding empire.

🔹 This apparatus included the office (daftar) of the diwan who was responsible for supervising the fiscal system of the empire. The fiscal system in the Mughal period was conducted under the supervision of Diwan.

Land revenue system : –

🔹 The Mughal state tried to first acquire specific information about the extent of the agricultural lands in the empire and what these lands produced before fixing the burden of taxes on people. The land revenue arrangements consisted of two stages

  • first, assessment and
  • then actual collection.

🔹 The jama was the amount assessed, as opposed to hasil, the amount collected.

🔹 Akbar decreed ordered amil-guzaror revenue collector that he should strive to make cultivators pay in cash, the option of payment in kind was also to be kept open. While fixing revenue, the attempt of the state was to maximise its claims.

Amin : –

🔹 Amin was an official responsible for ensuring that imperial regulations were carried out in the provinces.

The mansabdari system : –

🔹 The Mughal administrative system had at its apex a military- cum-bureaucratic apparatus (mansabdari) which was responsible for looking after the civil and military affairs of the state.

🔹 Some mansabdars were paid in cash (naqdi), while the majority of them were paid through assignments of revenue (jagirs) in different regions of the empire. They were transferred periodically.

The Flow of Silver coin into Mughal Empire : –

🔹 Voyages of discovery and the opening up of the New World (America) resulted in a massive expansion of India’s trade with Europe.

🔹 An expanding trade brought in huge amounts of silver bullion into Asia to pay for goods procured from India, and a large part of that bullion gravitated towards India.

🔹 This was good for India as it did not have natural resources of silver. As a result, the period between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries was also marked by a remarkable stability in the availability of metal currency, particularly the silver rupya in India.

🔹 This facilitated an unprecedented expansion of minting of coins and the circulation of money in the economy as well as the ability of the Mughal state to extract taxes and revenue in cash.

Translating the Ain : –

🔹 Given the importance of the Ain, it has been translated for use by a number of scholars. Henry Blochmann edited it and the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta (present-day Kolkata), published it in its Bibliotheca Indica series.

🔹 The book has also been translated into English in three volumes. The standard translation of Volume 1 is that of Henry Blochmann (Calcutta 1873). The other two volumes were translated by H.S. Jarrett (Calcutta 1891 and 1894).

Limitations of Ain-i-Akbari : –

🔹 Although the Ain was officially sponsored to record detailed information to facilitate Emperor Akbar, it was much more than a reproduction of official papers. That the manuscript was revised five times by the author would suggest a high degree of caution on the part of Abu’l Fazl and a search for authenticity.

🔹 For instance, oral testimonies were cross-checked and verified before being incorporated as “facts” in the chronicle. In the quantitative sections, all numeric data were reproduced in words so as to minimise the chances of subsequent transcriptional errors.

🔹 Historians who have carefully studied the Ain point out that it is not without its problems. Numerous errors in totalling have been detected. These are ascribed to simple slips of arithmetic or of transcription by Abu’lFazl’s assistants.

🔹 Data were not collected uniformly from all provinces. For instance, while for many subas detailed information was compiled about the caste composition of the zamindars, such information is not available for Bengal and Orissa.

🔹 Further, while the fiscal data from the subas is remarkable for its richness, some equally vital parameters such as prices of commodities and wages of workers from these same areas are not as well documented.

🔹 These limitations notwithstanding, the Ain remains an extraordinary document of its times. By providing fascinating glimpses into the structure and organisation of the Mughal Empire and by giving us quantitative information about its products and people.


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