Read this article to learn about the agricultural production in the sultanate period and mughal period!
We have very little information about the economic condition of the people under the Delhi Sultanate.
The historians of the period were more interested in the events at the court than in the lives of ordinary people.
However, they do sometimes tell us the price of commodities. Ibn Battutah, a resident of Tangier in North Africa, visited India in the fourteenth century and lived at the court of Muhammad Tughlaq for eight years. He travelled widely all over India and has left a very interesting account of the products of the country, including fruits, flowers, herbs, etc. the condition of the roads and the life of the people. The food grains and other crops, the fruits and the flowers mentioned by various travellers are familiar to us.
Ibn Battutah says that the soil was so fertile that it could produce two crops every year, rice being sown three times a year. Sesame, sugarcane and cotton were also grown. They formed the basis of many village industries, such as oil pressing, making of jaggery, weaving, etc.
Village Economy and Peasantry:
As before, peasants formed the overwhelming majority of the population. The peasant continued to work hard and to eke out bare subsistence. There were recurring famines and wars in different parts of the country and these added to the hardships of the peasant.
All the peasants did not live at the level of subsistence. The village headmen (muqaddams) and smaller landlord (khuts) enjoyed a higher standard of life. In addition to their own holdings, they held lands for which they paid revenue at concessional rates. Sometimes, they misused their offices to force the ordinary peasants to pay their share of the land revenue also.
These people were prosperous enough to ride on costly Arabi and Iraqi horses, wear fine clothes and behave like members of the upper classes. As we have seen, Alauddin Khilji took stern action against them and curtailed many of their privileges. Even then they continued to enjoy a higher standard of life than to ordinary peasants. It seems that after the death of Alauddin, they were able to resume their old ways.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, 85 per cent of India’s population lived in rural areas. The largest section in the village consisted of peasants or cultivators. There were three main classes of peasants.
(1) Khud-kasht (riyayati):
Those residential peasants living in their own village, owning their own land and implements, paying the land-revenue at a concessional rate, formed the governing body of the village community. Also called mirasdars in Maharashtra and gharu-hala in Rajasthan.
These peasants were basically outsiders but cultivated the rented land in a village either by staying in the same village (residential pahi-kasht) or by staying in the neighbouring villages (non-residential pahi-kasht).
(3) Muzarian (raiyatis):
Those who belonged to the same village but who did not have either land or implements and hence were dependent on the Khud-kasht for their supply. They were divided into two groups; tenants-at-will and those who had hereditary tenant rights, called as paltis in Rajastan.
The Indian peasantry in the Mughal Empire was highly stratified and there was considerable difference in the size of holdings, produce and resources of peasants within the same locality. India had a well diversified economy with the cultivation of a large variety of crops. Cotton, indigo, chay (red dye), sugarcane, oil seeds paid land revenue at a higher rate and had to be paid in cash hence, called cash crops or superior crops.
The peasants not only shifted his cultivation from one crop to other but also adopted new crops. Tobacco and maize were introduced in the 17th century. The adoption of potato and red chillies followed during the 18th century.
During this period, India also exported food grains, especially rice and sugar. The peasant was not disposed from his land as long as he paid the land revenue. Although the life of the peasant was hard, he had enough to eat and meet his simple requirements.