Akbar's other Administrative Reforms
It is but a fact that Akbar was the all in all of the Mughal administrative machinery as all the executive, judicial and legislative decisions were taken in his name. There was unlimited power and authority resting with him with no limitations on his despotism from any quarters. His utterances and words, then and there, became law. The wheels of his administration rotated around his grand personality. But his was benevolent despotism with people’s welfare always in focus.
Among the notable features of Mughal reign was the system of ministers created by emperor Akbar. The ministers were four in number namely, Vakil, Diwan or Wazir , Mir Bakhshi and Sadr us Sadar. Later on, the posts of vakil and vazir were merged giving rise to the post of vakil –e‐ mutlak. The prime minister or vakil e‐ mutlak was primarily entrusted with the responsibilty of protecting the state.
He also held the authority of supervising the other ministers with the rights of sacking and appointing them resting with him. Mir Bakshi was the head of the military and was in‐ charge of intelligence gathering. He also advised and recommended to the king on important military appointments and promotions. Sadr us Sadar was the emperor’s advisor on religious matters.
Sadr us sadar also discharged the functions of the Chief Justice of the empire. Besides, there were other important officials including mir –e‐ atish, darogha –e‐topkhana, khan ‐e ‐sama and muhtasib who had specific roles and responsibilities in administrative structure of Mughal empire . Khan-i-Saman was in-charge of the royal household whreas the officer called Muhtasib, took care of Muslims in leading them a standard moral life as per the Muslim law; and the officer who was in-charge of the postal and intelligence department was called Daroga-i-Dak Chowki.
Akbar’s empire was divided into fifteen Subas or provinces. The Subedar or Governor was the administrative head of the suba or province. He was the head of the military, police, judiciary and the executive in the province. The officer who was in-charge of the provincial finance and all bills of payments was called Diwan whreas the duties and responsibilities of the management of the provincial army was performed by the officer called bakshi . The Sadar headed the judicial charity department while the Qazi looked after the judicial department of the province. The Kotwal was responsible for the maintenance of law and order in all the towns and cities and all the ‘thanas’ of the province came under his control and supervision. The Mir Bahr used to discharge the duties as the head of customs and taxation department. And the the secret service of the province was taken care of by the waqia nawis.
The imperial provinces were divided into units called Sarkars and Sarkars were further divided into sub-units called Parganas. The Faujdar was head of the Sarkar and was responsible for maintaining law and order in the area under his administrative control. The Pargana or sub-district was administratively headed by Shikdar. Pargana consisited of several villages. A village was looked after by Muqaddam, a Patwari and a Chowkidar who collectively performed administrative tasks with the aid of village panchayat.
On the front of revenue system new experiments were carried out by Akbar. Of them, batai or ghallabakshi (crop-sharing system ) was the most noticeable. Batai or ghallabakshi was categorised into three types: bhaoli, khet batai and lang batai. Under bhaoli crops were reaped and stacked, and divided in the presence of the parties. Under the system of khet batai the fields were divided into segments after sowing and finally under lang batai grains were separated into a large number of heaps. Under batai system, the peasants had the choice to pay in cash or kind, but in the case of cash crops the state was invariably paid in cash.
There was another system called Kankut system introduced in the administrative structure. Under Kankut system the whole land was measured, either by using the jarib or pacing it, and the standing crops were measured and estimated by inspector . Akbar also brought into his administration Nasaq system according to which there was a rough assessment and calculation of the amount payable by the peasant on the basis of past experience. The peasant was given remission in the land revenue due to failure of crops on account of drought, floods. The amil or karori officer paid money in advance by way of loans to the peasants for seeds, implements and animals in times of need of and crisis .This loan was called taccavi.
To conclude , the major achievements and salient features that we talk about Mughal administration , in fact, can be credited to Akbar’s name; so in broad context by ‘Mughul Administration’, we aptly mean Akbar’s Administration.
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