(Last Updated on : 31-01-2012)
Jagir system during Mughal Empire was considered as an institution that was mainly used to reserve the surplus from the class of peasants. Further, jagir system was also used in order to distribute the income resources among the dominating classes. The jagir system during Mughal rule became all-pervasive and was the institution of month-scales or ratios. This seems to have arisen out of the discrepancy between the official assessment of jagir (jama) and the actual revenue collection (basil). The jagir system during Mughal Empire thus calls for considerable interest. Jagir is basically a small territory which a ruler grants to an army chieftain as recognition of his military service. When a man obtained a jagir whose jama (sum of saved money) equalled his annual salary-claim (talab) on paper, he might in actual fact find it yielding him only one-half or one-fourth of his claim. In such cases, the jagir was supposedly known as shash maha (six monthly) or sib maha (three monthly) respectively.
During the Mughal rule, the entire territory was largely divided into khalisa and jagir. The revenue earned from khalisa went to the royal treasury and the revenue earned from jagir was assigned to jagirdars as per their ranks in place of their salary in cash or naqad. Some of them were given both cash as well as jagir. During the later years of Shah Jahan the actual basil of the Mughal Deccan amounted to approximately one quarter of the jama (that is equal to three months only). The jagirs of most mansabdars in the Deccan were not more than four-monthly and often even less. Conditions however appeared to have been better in northern parts of India. In the later years of Shah Jahan and during the reign of Aurangzeb
, complaints were heard that a transfer from northern India to the Deccan entailed jagir on a lower monthly-scale. The monthly jagir system of Mughal Dynasty was applied also to cash salaries.
One of the main features of Jagir system during the Mughal era was the changing of jagir holders for administrative reasons from one to another. In the case of the basil realised from his jagir by an assignee, the proportion it bore to the jama would, of course, only correspond with the exact proportion of month-scale. Jagir system during Mughal Empire did contain some clandestine motives, only exercised by royals in special occasions, inducing stringent rules for jagir receivers. Jagirdars were permitted to collect only authorised revenue as per the royal regulations.
Jagir system of Mughal Empire wholly pivoted around the father-son duo, Shah Jahan
and Aurangzeb, standing at opposing poles. The pay schedule from 12 to 7 months, however, came to be merely of academic interest, since Aurangzeb decided, in his twenty-first year, to lower Shah Jahan's maximum allowance of 8 months to 6 months for all naqdis. As against the sanctioned claim, there used to be a number of deductions in the pay schedules. The dissimilarities between the Mughals and Maratha warriors manifested wholly in the jagir system of Mughal Empire, with other principles also thrown in. Jagir system during later Mughal Empire began to be tightened, with the jagirdars suffering the axe most.
There was another deduction in pay scale, technically known as irmas. This, according to historians, was another name for talab-i-ijnas (or demand for supplies). Akbar
had, to some extent, been compassionate towards jagir system of Mughal Empire, entrusting jagirdars with unusual payments. From what Abu'l Fazl states in the Ain-i-Akbari, it would appear that this was a deduction against which the emperor presented horses to the nobles. In addition to these deductions, there also existed fines or jurmana for jagirdari system during Mughal Empire. These were imposed for various reasons, but predominantly for deficiencies in the contingents required from the nobles. During Aurangzeb's reign, conditions changed; officers did not receive jagirs for long periods and so their claims went on hoarding up. This was yet another shrewd device by which jagir system during Mughal Empire looked towards greener pastures, reimbursing required expenses.
To sum up, historians have conclusively proved that the salaries payable to sawars were gradually reduced from the time of Akbar to the time of Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb. This reduction did not, however, have much direct impact upon the income of the nobles themselves, owing to the reduction in their military obligations. The introduction of the month-scales during the times of Shah Jahan, on the other hand, had a direct bearing on the pay scales of the nobles. Since it had become usual in the time of Aurangzeb to assign jagirs on a scale not higher than a six-month scale, the reduction in salaries was fairly considerable. In addition, considerable deductions were made under a number of heads from the time of Shah Jahan onwards. Jagir system during Mughal Empire had witnessed varied kinds of topsy-turvy attitudes amongst emperors, sometimes running the downslide and sometimes, the opposite.