Q.1. Read the following extract carefully and answer the questions that follow:
Irrigating trees and fields
This is an excerpt from the Baburnama that describes the irrigation devices these Emperor observed in Northern India: The greater part of Hindustan country is situated on level land. Many towns and cultivated land, it nowhere has running water...for...water is not at all a necessity in cultivating crops and orchards. Autumn crops grow by the downpour of the rains themselves; it is that spring crops grow even when no rains fall. (However) to young trees, water is made to flow by means of buckets or wheels...
In Lahore, Dipalpur (both in present day Pakistan) and those other parts, people arrange water by means of a wheel. They make two circles of rope long enough to suit the depths of the well, fix strips of wood between them and on these fasten pitchers. The ropes with the wood and attached pitchers are put over the wheel-well. At one end of the wheel-axle, a second wheel is fixed and another on an upright axle. The last wheel i.e. the bullock turns; its teeth catch in the teeth of the second (wheel), and thus the wheel with the pitchers is turned. A trough is set where the water empties from the pitchers and from this the water is conveyed everywhere.
In Agra, Chandwar, Bayana (all in present day Uttar Pradesh) and those parts again, people water with a bucket..At the well-edge, they set up a fork of wood, having a roller adjusted between the forks, tie a rope to a large bucket, put the rope over a roller, and tie its other end to the bullock. One person must drive the bullock, another empty the bucket.
1. Explain the irrigation technology as observed by the Emperor.
2. What was the necessity of irrigation?
3. Explain any three factors which are responsible for the expansion of agriculture in India.
Ans. 1. The greater part of Hindustan country was situated on level land. Many parts of the country had no running water. In lahore, Dipalpur (both in pakistan) and nearby areas, people watered by means of wheel. In agra, Chandwar, Bayana (now in Uttar pradesh) and nearby areas people watered with a bucket.
2. Water was not a necessity for cultivating crops and orchards. autumn crops grew by the downpour of the rain themselves and spring crops grew by themselves even when no rain fell. But for young trees; water was needed. Irrigation was needed at different stages of growing crops and for crops that needed additional water.
3. three factors responsible for expansion of agriculture in India are :
(a) large measure of land
(b) labour forces
(c) the mobility of peasants.
Q.2. How were the Panchayats formed during sixteenth and seventeenth centuries ? Explain their functions and authorities.
Explain the role of panchayats in the Mughal rural Indian society during 16th-17th centuries.
Examine the role of panchayat as the main constituent of the Mughal village community.
Ans. The village panchayat was an assembly of elders, who were basically rich people with landed property. In villages, here people of many castes lived, the panchayat was usually a heterogeneous body, consisting of all castes and communities. the decisions made by the members were binding on the members. the panchayat was headed by the headman known as muqaddam or mandal. some sources suggest that the headman was chosen through the consensus of the elders in the village and accepted by the Zamindar.
Usually the headman enjoyed the office as long as he enjoyed the confidence of the village elders. the main function of the headman was to supervise the preparation of village accounts, by the accountant or patwari of the panchayat. the panchayat derived its fund but the contribution of the individual to the common pool was like a drop in the ocean. these funds were used for entertaining the revenue officials, who visited the village and for welfare activities during natural calamities like floods. Building the canals was also met from these funds.
One important function of the panchayat was to ensure that all communities live within caste boundaries. In eastern India, all marriages were held in the presence of the mandal. panchayats had the authority to levy fines and inflict more serious forms of punishment like expulsion from the community. Each caste or jati in the village had its own jati panchayat, in addition to the village panchayat. In rajasthan, the jati panchayats resolve civil disputes between members of different castes. they mediated in dispute cases of land. they also decided if the marriage was conducted according to the norms of that particular caste. the decisions of the jati panchayats were respected by the state. archival records from western India, mainly rajasthan and Maharashtra include few petitions presented to panchayats complaining about collection of taxes forcibly or the demand for unpaid labour imposed by the higher caste or the officials of the state.
These petitions were usually from the lower sections of the society. Many a times, these petitions were made collectively by caste groups against the illegitimate demands of the higher society, which included excessive tax demands, especially in times of natural disasters. petitioners felt that survival at the basic minimum was allowed by the customs and that the panchayat should listen and ensure that justice prevailed to them. they regarded the village panchayat as the court of appeal that would ensure that the state carried out its moral obligations and guaranteed justice. the decision of the panchayat often varied from case to case.
In case of excessive taxes, the panchayat often suggested compromise. When reconciliation failed, the peasants took drastic steps like deserting the village. the easy availability of the uncultivated land and labour resources made it an effective weapon in the hands of cultivators.
Q.3. Why were the jati panchayats formed during 16th and 17th centuries ? Explain their function and authority.
Ans. Each caste or Jati in a village had its own jati panchayat. these panchayats had good influence in rural society. In rajasthan, the jati panchayats resolved civil disputes between members of different castes. they mediated in disputes cases of land. they also decided if the marriage was conducted according to the norms of the particular caste.
The decisions of the jati panchayats were respected by the state. archival records from western India, mainly rajasthan and Maharashtra include few petitions presented to panchayats complaining about collection of taxes forcibly or the demand for unpaid labour imposed by the higher caste or the officials of the state. these petitions were usually from the lower sections of the society. Many times, these petitions were collectively made by case groups against the illegitimate demands of the higher society, which included excessive tax demands, especially in times of natural disasters.
Petitioners felt that survival at the basic minimum was allowed by the customs and that the panchayat should listen and ensure that justice is prevailed to them. they regarded the village panchayat as the court of appeal that would ensure that the state carried out its moral obligations and guaranteed justice. the decision of the panchayat often varied from case to case. In case of excessive taxes, the panchayat often suggested compromise. When reconciliation failed, the peasants took drastic steps like deserting the village. the easy availability of the uncultivated land and labour resources made it an effective weapon in the hands of cultivators.
Q.4. Explain why were women considered as an important resource in agrarian society during 16th and 17th centuries.
Ans. During the Mughal period, women worked shoulder to shoulder with men in the fields. Men tilled and ploughed the fields whereas women sowed, weeded, threshed and winnowed the harvest. In other words, there was no gender-based segregation in the Mughal society. Both worked hard to enhance the agricultural production. But, biases related to women’s biological functions continue.
Women were considered an important resource in agrarian society because they were child bearers in a society dependent on labour. the women belonging to the landed gentry enjoyed the right to inherit property. Many examples have been cited by the historians from punjab to show that women actively participated in the rural land market. they sold the property which they had inherited. a few women also performed artisans’ tasks. they spun yarn, shifted and kneaded clay for pottery. they also engaged in embroidery work.
Q.5. How did the village panchayat regulate the rural society in the Mughal period?Explain.
Ans. The village panchayat regulated the rural society in the Mughal period in the following ways:
(i) the village panchayat was an assembly of elders and important people of the village. they had hereditary landed properties,
(ii) the panchayat represented various castes and communities in the village but it was dominated by the Brahmanas and the Kshatriyas
(iii) the menial-cum-agricultural worker was unlikely to be represented.
(iv) the panchayat was headed by a headman known as muqaddam or mandal.
(v) the headman was chosen by consensus by the village elders. this was ratified by the zamindar.
(vi) the Headmen held office as long as they enjoyed the confidence of the village elders, failing which they could be dismissed.
(vii) the chief function of the headman was to supervise the preparation of village accounts, assisted by the accountant or patwari.
(viii) the mandals often misused their positions. e.g., for under assessing the revenue from their own lands and passing the burden to the smaller cultivator.
(ix) the funds came from contributions made by individuals to a common pool.
(x) this money was used for looking after the state revenue officials who visited the village, community welfare activities during natural calamities like floods, construction of a bund or digging a canal etc.
(xi) the panchayat ensured that caste boundaries among the various communities of the village were upheld to prevent any offence against their caste. In eastern India all marriages were held in the presence of the mandal.
(xii) panchayats also had the authority to impose fines.
(xiii) It could give severe punishment like expulsion from the community. thus, forcing a person to leave the village and losing his right to practise his profession.
(xiv) Each caste or jati in the village had its own jati panchayat with considerable power.
(xv) In rajasthan, jati panchayats took care of civil disputes, landmarriages ritual precedence in village functions regarding members of different castes.
(xvi) In most cases, except in matters of criminal justice, the state respected the decisions of jati panchayats.
(xvii) petitions found in the records from rajasthan and Maharashtra give evidence of morally illegitimate demands like excessive taxes for begar, villagers belonging to the lowest rungs of rural society by the elite groups.
(xviii) the villagers regarded the village panchayat as the court of appeal that would ensure that the state carried out its moral obligations and guarantee justice
(xix) In absence of justice, the cultivators could always desert the village. the availability of uncultivated land and the value of labour made this possible.
Q.6. How do we come to know about the rural society of the Mughal period? Which technologies were used by the peasants during this period? Explain.
Ans. Different sources to know about the rural society during the Mughal period are as follows :
(i) archaeological sources (monuments, houses, paintings, material remains) tell us about Mughal society.
(ii) all the Mughal chronicles like Badshah Nama tell us about Mughal society.
(iii) ain-i-akbari, authored by akbar’s court historian abu’l-fazl records the arrangements made by the state to ensure cultivation, collect revenue.
(iv) ain tells us about regulation of the relationship between the state and the zamindars. (v) ain gives us the vision of akbar’s Empire.
(vi) ain tells us that social harmony was provided by a strong ruling class.
(vii) It projected the idea that any revolt against the Mighty Mughals was bound to fail.
(viii) Whatever we learn from the ain is a view from the top.
(ix) revenue records from Gujarat, Maharashtra and rajasthan dating from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries give us information.
(x) the records of the East India Company provide useful descriptions of agrarian relations in eastern India.
(xi) accounts of Bernier on Mughal society. any other relevant point
The following technologies was used by the peasants during this period:
(i) Monsoons remained the backbone of Indian agriculture.
(ii) areas which received high rainfall were generally used for growing rice, followed by wheat and millets.
(iii) artificial systems of irrigation were used for crops which required additional water. peasants used wells for irrigation.
(iv) the state undertook digging of new canals (nahar, nala) and also repaired old ones like the shahnahr in the punjab during shah Jahan’s reign.
(v) agriculture was labour intensive.
(vi) peasants also used cattle energy or animal power.
(vii) Iron-tipped wooden plough, which was light and easily assembled was used in cultivation.
(viii) a drill, pulled by a pair of giant oxen was used to plant seeds.
(ix) Broadcasting of seeds was the most prevalent method.
(x) Hoeing and weeding were done with a khurpi.
(xi) two major seasonal cycles (do fasla) of rabi and Kharif existed where rainfall or irrigation assured a continuous supply of water, some lands even gave three crops.
(xii) persian wheels were used.
Q.7. Read the following passage and answer the questions that follow:
The following is a listing of criteria of classification excerpted from the Ain:
The Emperor akbar, in his profound sagacity, classified the lands and fixed a different revenue to be paid by each. polaj is land which is annually cultivated for each crop in succession and is never allowed to lie fallow. parauti is land left out of cultivation for a time that it may recover its strength. Chachar is land that has lain fallow for three or four years. Banjar is land uncultivated for five years and more. Of the first two kinds of land, there are three classes: good, middle and bad. they add together the produce of each sort, and the third of this represents the medium produce, one-third part of which is exacted as the royal dues.
(i) Explain the classification of lands by Akbar.
(ii) How the revenue was fixed for the first two types of lands?
(iii) Suggest some other way as per your thought.
Ans. (i) Akbar divided the land into four classes:
(a) Polaj : It was annually cultivated, it grew crops in succession and was never left uncultivated and unploughed.
(b) Parauti : It was sometimes left uncultivated so that it recovered its strength.
(c) Chachar : It was left uncultivated for 3-4 years.
(d) Banjar : It was land uncultivated for five years and more.
(ii) there were three classes among first two types of land: good, middle and bad. they added produce of each sort and the third of this represented the medium produce. One-third part of which was exacted as royal dues.
(iii) Contract system is the other way. land to be given to contractor and fixed revenue taken fraction. Contractor in turn can cultivate the land himself or visitors can give the land for rent.
Q.8. Examine the role played by Zamindars in the Mughal India.
Examine the role played by the Zamindars in Mughal India during 16th and 17th centuries.
Ans. The Zamindars did not directly participate in the processes of agricultural production. they enjoyed an elevated status in the society. the Zamindars were the proprietors of their land. they considered their land as their property (milkiyat). They could sell, give and mortgage it. they enjoyed many social and economic privileges because of their superior status in the society. The Zamindars belonged to the upper caste which added to their higher status in the society. they rendered certain services (Khidmat) for the state for which they got respect and position in the state. the Zamindars became very powerful because they collected revenue on behalf of the state. they also got financial compensation for this work. another source for the power of Zamindars in society was their control over the military resources. they kept a fortress as well as an armed unit comprising of cavalry, artillery and infantry. the Zamindars played an important rule in inhabiting and developing the agricultural land. they helped in the settlements of the farmers by lending them money and agricultural instruments. Because of the sale and purchase of the land by the Zamindars, the market became quite risky. Besides, the Zamindars used to sell the crops grown on their land. there are evidences that the zamindars held bazaars where even the farmers came to sell their crops. While observing social relations of villages of the Mughal age as a pyramid, then Zamindars were at the top. there is no doubt in the fact that the Zamindars belonged to an exploitative class. But, their relations with the farmers depended on their mutual togetherness and hereditary patronage. that is why, Zamindars often got support of peasants in case of their revolt against the state.
Q.9. Explain the organisation of the administration and army during the rule of Akbar as given in Ain.
Ans.The ain is made up of five books (daftars) of which the first three books mentions about the administration. the first book called manzilabadi, tells about the imperial household and its maintenance. the second book, sipah-abadi covers the military and civil administration and the establishment of servants. this book also includes notices and short biographical sketches of imperial officials (mansabdars), learned men, poets and artists. the third book, mulk-abadi, deals with the fiscal side of the Empire and provides rich quantitative information on revenue rates and following the accounts of twelve provinces. this part has statistical information, which also included topographic, geographic and the economic profile of all subas and their administrative and fiscal divisions, total measured area and assessed revenue.
After completing the details at that suba level, the ain goes on to give a complete picture of the sarkars below the suba. the information is given in the form of tables which have eight columns giving the information on 1. Mahal, 2. forts, 3. Measured area, 4. revenue assessed in cash, 5. Grants of revenue in charity, 6. Zamindars. the mulk-abadi gives a fascinating, detailed and highly complex view of the agrarian society in northern India. the 4th and the 5th books deal with the religious, literary and cultural traditions of the people of India and also contain a collection of akbar’s auspicious saying. thus, ain gives a detailed informations about the administration of akbar ’s rule.