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Home > Reference > History of India > Medieval History of India > Mughal Dynasty > Administration of Mughal Dynasty
Administration of Mughal Dynasty
Administration of Mughal Dynasty brought about certain fundamental changes in the administrative system of India. They introduced a number of new positions in administration in an organised way. By far the biggest change they brought with them was that of religious tolerance in administrative matters.
 Administration of Mughal DynastyAdministration of Mughal Dynasty was carried out by incorporating certain elementary changes in the central administration structure in India. Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire assumed the title of 'Badshaah' which was continued by his successors. Akbar enhanced further the power and prestige of the emperor. He declared himself the authority in case of disparity of opinions regarding Islamic laws. However, Mughal rule was not theocratic. Except Aurangzeb no other Mughal emperor attempted to carry his administration on the principles of Islam. A major change that they brought about in matters of administration was the principle of religious tolerance. These new innovations in polity set aside Mughal administration. It was Akbar who raised the structure of Mughal administration. It persisted till the reign of Aurangzeb with minor changes. The weak successors of Aurangzeb, however, could not maintain it.

The Omrahs or the nobles were the pillars of the imperial system. They were quick to criticize, and looked down upon anything unsophisticated. It was necessary for the sovereign to retain their support, which he did by various methods such as personal courtesy, giving presents, and bestowing honours on them such as prestigious robes, turban ornaments of precious stones or the taxation rights of a Mansab or Jagir. The hierarchy of the Omrahs was constantly getting altered and with the passage of time, new families and tribes gained ascendancy and, more significantly, there were new alliances. Many old friends became enemies and vice-versa.

Position of the Emperor in Mughal Administration
The Mughal Emperors were all powerful in administration. The Mughal emperors accepted two primary duties for themselves, Jahanbani (protection of the state) and Jahangiri (extension of the empire). Besides, they tried to generate those conditions which were conducive to economic and cultural progress of their subjects. The emperor was the head of the state. He was the law-maker, the chief executive, the commander-in-chief of the army and the final dispenser of justice. Akbar enhanced further the powers of the emperor when he himself took over the power of deciding the Islamic laws in cases of dispute. His ministers and nobles, of course, could advise him but he was the final arbiter in everything. From the time of Akbar, the emperor was regarded as God's representative on earth. That is why Akbar started practices like Jharokha Darshan and Tula Dan. Even Aurangzeb who was a religious extremist was fully aware of this duty towards his subjects.

Though there was no legal limit to the powers of the emperor, yet, there were certain limitations from the practical point of view. The emperor certainly gave due consideration to the advice given by his ministers to him and recognised the influence wielded by his powerful nobles. The Sultans of the Delhi Sultanate established their despotic rule after destroying the power of their nobles, while the Mughal emperors based their despotism on the power and loyalty of their nobles.

Ministers in Mughal Administration
During the reign of Akbar there were only four ministers, namely Wakil, Diwan or Wazir, Mir Bakhsi and Sadr-us-Sadur. The posts of Wakil and Wazir were combined together afterwards and the holder of the post was called Vakil-i-Mutlaq. Akbar gave the post of the prime minister to Bairam Khan. By virtue of this office, he was the protector of the state and over and above all other ministers with the right of even appointing and dismissing them. But no other man was given these powers after the fall of Bairam Khan. The Prime Minister was given the work of the Diwan and, later on the Diwan was titled as the Wazir or the prime minister. Primarily, the Diwan looked after the income and expenditure of the state. Besides, he looked after the administration in the absence of the emperor from the capital and commanded the army on occasions. Thus, Vakil or Wazir or prime minister was the person next to the emperor in administration. The prime minister supervised the working of other departments, collected news of provinces, dispatched orders of the emperor to governors and looked after the correspondence of the state.

The Sadr-us-Sadur advised the emperor on religious matters. He looked after the religious education, distribution of Jagirs to scholars and observance of the laws of the Islam by the Muslims.

Khan-i-Saman was not a minister during the reign of Akbar but was ranked as one of the ministers after him. He looked after the personal necessities of the emperor and his family and also that of the palace. Thus, he held an important office.

The Muhtasib looked after the moral development of the subjects. His particular job was to see to it that the Muslims observed Islamic laws. He also checked the drinking of liquor, gambling and illegal relations between men and women. He also kept control over weights and measures and observed that articles were sold in the market at proper prices. During the reign of Aurangzeb, he was assigned the responsibility of destroying the schools and temples of the Hindus. He was assisted by provincial Muhtasibs.

Though the emperor was the highest judicial authority in the state, yet, he was assisted by chief Qazi at the capital. While the Muftis interpreted Islamic laws, the chief Qazi declared the judgment. He also appointed Qazis in provinces, districts etc.

Land Administration under Mughals
The Empire was divided into Subas or provinces. The most important among these were given to one of the princes, others to Subadars, or other trusted men, generally from the army or administration. The state lands were divided into Parganas for the purpose of evaluating taxation; the taxes were collected by Amirs. When Jagirs were awarded, initially the Emperor had retained the right to collect taxes, but later the Jagirdars were allowed to levy taxes themselves and to keep a portion to enable them to maintain soldiers and horses. When called upon, these trusty lieges would bring their soldiers and cavalry to fight for the Emperor, thus alleviating the need for the ruler to bear the expense of a large standing army, except that sometimes these faithful subjects proved not so loyal, and keen to throw off their tutelage if given the opportunity.

The absence of hereditary rights for these fiefs had the disadvantage of discouraging long-term investment. The peasants were pressurized to pay exorbitant taxes in order to get immediate returns, which usually went to finance the Jagirdar's personal expenses, and the fertility of the land and condition of the peasants would deteriorate. However, after the death of Aurangzeb, when his son Shah Alam, ascended the throne, the jagirdars refused to return their territory. This led to the crumbling of the Mughal Empire into a multitude of minute principalities, which is why it was unable to resist subsequent Persian, English, and French invasions.

Mansabs in Mughal Administration
The officials of administration were the Mansabs. These were grades awarded by the Emperor for positions in the army and administration. The recipients were responsible for maintaining different numbers of soldiers. From Akbar's time on the total number of these grades was about sixty, commanding anything from ten to ten thousand men, and excluding officials responsible for cavalry, elephants, and cannon crews. Bakshis were responsible for the disbursement of wages, and there were other administrative functionaries, all under the command of the respective general or the governor or viceroy of the province.

Military Administration of Mughals
The Mir Bakhshi was in charge of the military department. He could be asked to command an army but that was not his primary duty. He managed the recruitment of the soldiers, maintained their Huliya, looked after the branding of the horses and the elephants, looked after all sorts of supplies to the army and training of the soldiers. He also deputed Mansabdars for the security of the palace and changed them every day.

Akbar had instituted a Makalb Khana, or centralized conscription office, to enlist recruits.

The army of the Empire attracted adventurers, disappointed officers from neighbouring principalities, younger sons of small princely houses like Badakhshan or Balkh, men from Persia and Afghanistan, and other freelances. Thus in the army there was an assorted mixture of races, and consequently of languages as well. The best cannon operators came from Portugal, Holland, Spain, England, or France, attracted by the fabled wealth of India.

The Mir-i-Atish or Daroga-i-Topkhana was the in charge of the artillery of the emperor. It was an important office and was mostly assigned to a Turk or a Persian. The Daroga-i-Dak-Chauki was the head of the spy department of the state. He collected news from various ministers who were appointed by him in provinces and elsewhere. He had to keep the emperor informed about every important affair within the empire.

Scribes in Mughal Administration
A number of scribes were delegated to keep a record of the affairs of the court and the Empire, to maintain a list of nominated officers, and to keep a record of their performance. The movements of dignitaries were also noted. Special scribes kept journals of the activities of the Emperor and the royal family. There was a Diwan of Finances to keep an account of all the expenses, and the magistrates, were responsible for justice and religious affairs, and for compiling centralized reports from all over the Empire. The Emperor was at the centre of this network of agents, functionaries, and spies, and he collected all the sifted information.

Thus the central administration of the Mughal emperors was quite an efficient one.

(Last Updated on : 31/01/2012)
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