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The Mughal empire: decline or decentralization

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Ritu Birla

th October 17 Rasa man singh, Rasa Todar Mal, Din-I-Ilahi, Ibat Khana, Fate Pur Sikri, Sirhindi, Dara Shikoh (1564-1624) Society in the Mughal empire, the entry of the east India trading company and the contest it presented,a also look at why the British came in. From last class: Mansabdars- mansa=holder of a rank, noble Subadar is a head of provincial government, jagirdar is the person who has right to collect revenue from the land (a section of land) and get a certain % of this revenue. So all of these overlap, as rank holders have land and are administrators etc, it’s an overlapping of social, political and economic power. The british rule is like a grid, strictly divided. What the Mughals do is redefine the tribute givers as people of the system, as zamindars, from tribute givers to office holders, even if they hold very little land and are therefore small office holders. Because the positions overlap it’s a very flexible system. For example if you are the land holder but also literate and knowing math you can become the accountant of the land as well. The Mughals manage to bring new categories of people into their system. Zamindars are generally literate, well educated classes. The Mughal nobility and its court is described in the language of splendor but what does this actually mean? The Mughal nobility is extremely ethnically diverse, the giving of rank and status rather than forced cohesion is how the nobility is held together. There is an image of Mughal excessiveness, but actually less than 5% of the budget is spend on the imperial household and over half of it is spent on keeping a huge military establishment. The imperial budget is run in a very disciplined way along military lines. Noble consumption is actually evidence of the increased monetization and wealth of the empire, especially under Akbar. The Mughal system isn’t one that hoards coins and silver and gold as the Europeans thought, it actually has a growth of a monetized economy and you need that to pay the growing bureaucracy. Akbar and his policies of alliance and how he managed an empire of non-muslim subjects. Akbar has hindus as mansabdars, at the highest positions of his administration. His finance minister is a Rajput and also … he abolishe the jizya tax on non-believer and replaces the muslim calendar with a solar one. Hinduism and Sufism are mixed together as well as zorastrianism which is the religion of Persia before Islam. What he promotes is the Din-i-ilahi, divine belief, promoting diverse beliefs and flexible cultural/religious policies. This policy is passed on to his heirs, but even under Akbar there is a critique of it. The Ulema, priests and religious leader, aren’t quite happy. Sirhindi, a leader of a Sufi order requires return to traditional religion and is particularly opposed to one of Akbar’s grandson, Dara Shikoh’s mystical beliefs. He loses out to his brother Aurangazeb who becomes the Mughal emperor and under him we see a reversal of policies- he reimposes the tax on non-muslims and is a much more traditional muslim leader. This enables him to tax one of the richest Hidnu classes so its not necessarily only for religious reasons. Commerce is a really key aspect of the time, it may actually be the first era of globalization. It is very linked to long distance trade, even though looked at as agrarian. It relies on commerce and textile exports to stimulate the influx of silver from Latin America through Spain (15 16 c.) Eg. Vasco Dagama goes to India in 1598 and Surat is an extremely important port city. In this context the East India trading company enter india, not as a huge conquest but as one of many players. It is given permission in 1690 by the Mughal emperor to trade in India. So what role does it actually play? Does
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