Mughal empire reached its territorial zenith by the end of the 17th century. There were no fundamental changes but the period saw important socio-economic developments.
(i) Many European traders came to India and left various accounts:
Babur in Baburnama, Ralph Fitch, De Laet, Fitch talked about scanty clothes worn by the masses. Nikitin observed bare-footed people in the Deccan.
(ii) Mud houses, furniture were wooden cots and bamboo mats and earthern ware utensils used by the masses.
(a) rice, millets and Pulses formed staple diet, with fish in Bengal and Coasts and meat in the South, chapatis in north,
(b) Ghee and oil were much cheaper,
(c) Sugar and salt were expensive.
(iv) Income and wages: No information as in money terms.
(a) There were landless peasants and labourers called Kamin.
(b) The peasants who owned land called khudkas
(c) The original settlers of villages= khudkasht belonged to dominant castes.
(v) The Indian cultivators were ready to adopt new crops:
(a) Tobacco and Maize
(b) Silk and Tusser cultivation in Bengal
(c) Potato and red chillies
(vi) But there were no new agricultural techniques.
THE RULING CLASS
The Ruling class consisted of Nobility+ The Landed gentry, The Zamindars
(i) The bulk of nobility consisted of nobles drawn from the Homeland of Mughals, Turan, Iran, Khorasan, Tajikistan etc
(ii) AFGHANS: Babur and Akbar had hard time controlling them. Jahangir began recruiting them in nobility
(iii) HINDUS: The largest among hindus were the Rajputs especially Kacchwahas. Under Akbar proportion of hindus were 16%.
(iv) MARATHAS: New section of Hindus started getting importance first during Jahangir.
Shahji father of Shivaji served during Shah Jahan. Aurangzeb also had given service to many Marathas and Deccani Muslims
(a) They had exceptionally high Salaries by any means. This was because they had to maintain large train of servants and attendants, large stable of horses, elephants and means of communications etc.
(b) They also gave patronage to artisans & craftsmen. Set up Mandis / marketplace.
(c) The Mughal nobility had many bureaucratic characteristics but it was also becoming more commercial and money minded.
(a) They had hereditary rights of collecting the revenue from a number of villages.
(b) But a zamindar was not the owner of the land. It was the tiller of the land.
(c) The peasants had their own hereditary rights and they cannot be forced out till he pays up all his revenue.
(d) Above the Zamindars were Rajas/ chiefs who had controlled of far greater area and hac their own armies. Thus, the society was highly segmental/ hierarchical.
(e) They hardly invested for improving cultivation
(i) The middle strata did not form a class as the interests of different sections were different.
(ii) The middle strata included:
(a) Small mansabdars
(b) petty shopkeepers
(c) master craftsmen
(d) professionals: hakims, leading musicians, Artists, Scholars, historians, theologians
(e) Large class of petty officials or penpushers in the administrative machinery
TRADE AND COMMERCE
Trade and commerce expanded in the 17th century because:
(i) Political integration
(ii) Easier communications- safe roadways and waterways
(iii) A uniform tax regime
(iv) Silver rupees of high purity maintained.
(v) Commercialization of Economy
(vi) Growth of qasbas newer towns
(vii) The growth of arms manufacturing and Shipbuilding.
Different trading classes:
(i) Seth, bohra or modi: long distance, inter-regional trade
(ii) Beoparies/ banik: local, retail trade.
(iii) Banjaras: specialized in bulk goods
(iv) Important centres:
(v) Bengal: exported sugar and rice, muslin and silk
(vi) Coromandel coast: centre of textile production
(vii) Gujarat: entry point of foreign goods
(viii) Burhanpur and Agra: nodal points of trade
(ix) Lahore: centre of Handicraft production and distribution centre for Kashmiri products -shawls, carpet etc
(i) GUJARATI MERCHANTS included Hindus, Jains and Muslim Bohras
(ii) IN RAJASTHAN: Oswals, Maheshwari and Agarwals began to be called MARWARIS
(iii) MARWARIS spread out in Maharashtra and Bengal later in 18th century.
(iv) OVERLAND TRADE: Multanis, Afghans and Khatris
(v) THE CHETTIS on Coromandel coasts
(vi) MUSLIM MERCHANTS of Malabar both Indian and Arab
(i) Complex networks linking wholesalers and merchants to the regional and local levels through-
(iii) Dalals/ commercial agents.
(iv) Growth of financial system
(v) Hundis= letter of credit
(vi) Shroffs specialized in dealing with Hundis
FOREIGN TRADE AND EUROPEAN TRADERS
(i) The only articles which India needed to import were certain metals such as
(a) tin and copper.
(b) Some spices
(c) War horses
(d) Luxury items like ivory
(ii) A favourable balance of trade was maintained by import of gold and silver.
(iii) PORTUGUESE came to India towards the end of the 15th century. Their power declined ir the 16th century. After them came-
(iv) DUTCH: The Portuguese power had begun to decline during the 2nd half of the 16th century therefore dutch established at Masuliopatnamafter obtaining farmaan from Ruler of Golconda.
(v) They established themselves at Spice Islands
(vi) The dutch spread south from the masulipatnam
(vii) ENGLISH too were interested in spice trade and had hostility with the dutch.
(viii) They obtained farman from Jahangir by Sir Thomas Roe.
(ix) Europeans however were not able to oust Indian traders from Asian trade.
The reason was:
(a) Indian traders knew both the domestic and international markets really well
(b) They were willing to work at a lower profit
(i) Indian economy grew, the influx of silver and gold was even faster.
(ii) Money economy penetrate village life more than before.
(iii) Europeans were searching for alternative to export of gold and silver to india
(iv) Hence, they tried to acquire empires in India and its neighbourhood to pay from the revenue of these territories.