(Last Updated on : 16/08/2013)
Ala-ud-din Khilji adopted several economic policies to maintain a steady market system. Though the treasury of the Sultan was full but it was necessary to regulate the prices of the goods for the interests of the subjects. Ala-ud-din kept a large standing army at the centre and paid it in cash. Therefore, his expenses on the army were enormous. Ala-ud-din had distributed wealth lavishly among his subjects which reduced the value of the currency in the market. Thus, it became necessary for Ala-ud-din to reduce the salary of his soldiers and also to reduce the cost of the articles in the market. Ala -ud -din's motive was to check the rising prices which were due to manipulation of the business community and not to reduce the prices to a lower level than the normal. The necessity of his market-policy arose also because of the necessity of keeping a huge standing army and paying it in cash.
Some historians have pointed out that the cause of this economic policy was humanitarian. Ala-ud-din desired that all his subjects should get necessary articles in sufficient quantity and at proper prices. While according to many scholars, the primary object of Ala-ud-din in enforcing these measures was purely political. He kept a permanent standing army at the centre and paid it in cash but desired that the soldiers remain comfortable with reasonable amount of salary. Therefore, he tried to check the inflationary prices, and the exploitation of merchants to raise the prices falsely and, thereby, was forced to fix the prices of articles and impose them sternly.
Ala-ud-din fixed up the prices of nearly all articles. The prices were fixed not only of all varieties of grain, pulses, cloth, slaves, cattle and horses only but even those of essential articles of every day use as that of meat, fish, dry fruits, sugarcane, vegetable, needles, colours, betel-leaves etc. Separate markets were fixed up for different articles. Ala-ud-din established go downs where grain was stored in reserve to be released in times of scarcity. In times of need everything was rationed i.e. everybody was allowed to purchase only that much which was just adequate for his need. Thus, arrangements were so made that the people might not feel insufficiency of anything anytime. That is why revenue was collected in kind both from Khalisa land and the lands of feudatory chiefs. Only those traders who were registered with the state were allowed to purchase grain from the peasants. All merchants were required to register themselves at the office of Shahna-i-mandi. All merchants were forced to bring at least some fixed minimum quantity of different articles to capital so that there was no scarcity of anything.
Everything was sold at fixed rates and even the highest officer of the Sultan was not allowed to alter the rate or price of any article without prior permission of the Sultan. Nobody could dare to sell any commodity underweight as the same amount flesh was cut off from his body. No peasant or merchant could hoard any commodity. Speculation and black-marketing was totally stopped. All these regulations were strictly enforced and the guilty ones were harshly punished. The economic policy of Ala-ud-din was enforced only in Delhi
and its nearby areas.
Ala-ud-din was successful in fulfilling his object during his lifetime. He wanted to keep an enormous permanent standing army at the centre and for that purpose he fixed the prices of all commodities. He succeeded in his effort. He maintained a strong army at the centre which successfully repulsed invasions of the Mongols and successfully conquered practically the whole of India for him and his enforcement of price fixation of all commodities was also fully successful.