Some of the most important schemes which were founded by Muhammad Tughlaq are as follows:
After the death of Ghias-ud-Din Tughlaq (1320-25) who was the founder of the Tughlaq dynasty, his eldest son Juna Khan ascended the throne of Delhi. It is generally held that Juna Khan was responsible for the murder of his father.
After ascending the throne, he assumed the name of Muhammad Tughlaq. His rule lasted for about 26 years (1325-1351).
A much maligned ruler:
On account of his Utopian schemes and their failures, Muhammad Tughlaq has been often given bad epithets like ‘blood thirsty’, a ‘visionary’, a ‘lunatic’ and a ‘tyrant’. He has been called a ‘mixture of opposites’ and a ‘complex person.’
Most of the plans of Muhammad Bin Tughlaq failed because these were ill-timed, ill-planned and badly executed.
Important schemes were as under:
1. Heavy taxation in the Doab
2. Transfer of the capital
3. Issue of token currency
4. Bribing to Mongols
5. Plan to conquer Khurasan and Iraq
6. The Quarajal expedition
7. The Deccan Policy.
1. Heavy taxation in the Doab:
In the beginning of his reign, the Sultan increased the rate of taxes in the Doab—a very fertile area located between the Ganga and Yamuna rivers.
The taxes were increased on account of the following reasons:
(1) The Sultan wanted to raise a strong army for conquests.
(2) The people of Doab were rich and were in a position to pay the increased taxes.
Mistakes made by the Sultan:
There was nothing wrong in increasing the tax on land i.e. land revenue. But the time of the increase in the land revenue was not appropriate. The rains had failed and there were near- famine conditions. The government officials acted ruthlessly and persisted on the payment of the tax.
The farmers suffered heavily. They left their lands. Riots broke out. Rebellions became common. When the Sultan came to know about the real situation, he withdrew his order and arranged help for the farmers. But it was too late. Damage had already been caused. This made the Sultan unpopular among the farmers and the common people. Even the normal revenue could not be collected from the Doab. The State Treasury suffered heavily.
2. Transfer of the Capital:
The plan of the transfer of capital from Delhi to Devagiri which was renamed as Daultabad misfired.
Following reasons are assigned to this transfer:
(i) Devagiri was made the capital according to Barani as the new place was centrally located. The new capital had equal distance from Delhi, Gujarat, Lakhnauti, Tellanga, Dwarasamudra etc.
(ii) Ibn Batuta is of the view that the people of Delhi wrote abusive letters to Muhammad Tughlaq. The Sultan, therefore, wanted to teach them a lesson by depriving them of the capital. The above view is also supported by Isami.
(iii) Gardner Brown ascribes the reason of the transfer of capital as the constant danger of the Mongol’s attack at Delhi.
(iv) There was a revolt of a great magnitude in the South and accordingly the Sultan desired to strengthen his position there.
(v) it is stated by some historians that poets like Khusro had created a great fascination in the mind of the Sultan for the beauty of Devagiri.
(vi) The Sultan wanted to create an other major administrative centre so that Muslim population could be increased in the Deccan.
Mistakes committed by the Sultan while transferring capital:
The most important error the Sultan made was that the entire population of Delhi was asked to move and cover a distance of about 700 miles. According to Barani, ‘So complete was the ruin that not a cat or a dog was left in the buildings of the city.”
Ibn Batuta writes, “In the night the Sultan mounted the roof of his palace and looked around Delhi. When neither a light not even a smoke or lamp came into sight he remarked, “Now my heart is pleased and my soul is at rest.” He further wrote, “A search was made and a blind man and a cripple man were found. The cripple man was put to death while the blind man was dragged to Daultabad where his only one leg reached.”
Isami also wrote, “Muhammad Tughlaq ordered that the city (Delhi) should be set on fire and all the populace should be turned out of it.” The Sultan arranged all possible facilities for the people’s forty days’ journey from Delhi to Daultabad. However the scheme flopped. A large number of people died on the way.
Criticism of the Scheme:
The Sultan committed a great blunder when he asked the people or even the elite of Delhi to go to Daultabad. He ought to have shifted his court. Some sections of the population must have followed voluntarily.
Secondly Daultabad was no good choice to be the capital of the empire. From this place it was not possible to check effectively the Mongol invasions.
Thus, the Sultan’s choice of the new capital was not judicious. At the same time he did not use the appropriate methods in shifting the capital.
Even assuming that the statements of some historians were exaggerated, it is concluded that this action of the Sultan was not a rational one.
3. Use of token currency:
The Sultan needed more money on account of various reasons. He wanted to raise a huge army as he is said to have thought of conquering the whole world. He had also distributed a lot of money among nobles to please them when he ascended the throne after the death of his father which had occurred on account of his participation in a conspiracy. Muhammad Tughlaq issued token currency because there was a shortage of gold coins and the Sultan on the other hand needed money.
Mistakes made by the Sultan:
The Sultan issued copper coins and kept their value at par with the gold and silver coins. The Sultan did not exercise a strict check to ensure that the people did not make their own coins which we call ‘jali’ or fake. The citizens began to melt coins in their homes and paid their taxes in fake coins. People also began to hoard silver and gold coins in their houses. The token currency remained in circulation for about three years.
The Sultan realized the failure of the scheme and withdrew the entire new currency. People were asked to return the token coins and in exchange were paid back gold and silver coins by royal treasury. This put a heavy loss to the treasury. The people who minted fake coins were not punished.
Now-a-days all governments in the world use token currency that has a face value only and not any real value. The currency notes we use have a value printed on them but by themselves they are worth nothing. Similarly is the case with the coins that we use.
During the days of Muhammad Tughlaq only gold coins were used and they had the face value almost equal to the real value. Use of token coins can be successful when the government alone makes them and takes people into confidence. At the same time strict checks are exercised to ensure that fake coins are not circulated by private parties. Mughammad Tughlaq failed to do so.
The token currency had an adverse effect on the foreign trade also. The foreign merchants stopped bringing their merchandise in India. According to some scholars Muhammad Tughlaq wanted to follow the footsteps of the Emperor of China who had issued paper currency in China in the 13th century and also the Persian emperor who had made a similar experiment.
4. Bribing the Mongols:
The Mongols were encouraged to attack Delhi, when the capital was shifted from Delhi to Daultabad. The Mongol general Tarmashirin is said to have trampled the entire region from Lahore to Delhi without facing any stiff resistance. Obviously Muhammad Tughlaq had neglected the frontier. Mohammad Tughlaq gave him five hundred dinars as bribes and persuaded him to return. This showed the weakness of the Sultan.
Some historians however, do not accept this version of bribe. But the fact remains that the Mongols did reach the vicinity of Delhi as on this issue there is little difference among historians. After the return of the Mongols the Sultan took preventive measures to safeguard his North-West Frontier province.
5. Plan to conquer Khurasan and Iraq:
The unstable political conditions in Central Asia encouraged the Sultan to undertake the expedition of conquering these territories. The Sultan raised a large army of about 4 lakh soldiers for this purpose and payed it one year’s salary in advance. In the meantime situation changed and the Sultan realized the futility of the scheme and disbanded the army.
Criticism of the Scheme:
In the first place Muhammad Tughlaq should have considered all the pros and cons of the situation very carefully. Secondly the army should not have been given one year’s salary in advance.
6. Expedition to Qarajal:
The state was located at the foot of the Himalayas, probably in the region now called Kumaon. According to Ferishta, the primary objective of the Sultan was not the conquest of this state but that of China through this state. The army consisted of a hundred thousand horsemen besides a large infantry.
The turbulent Qarajal came to terms and agreed to pay tribute to the Sultan. But almost the entire army perished owing to the rigour of the cold climate and so difficult the climbing. It is said that only ten horsemen returned to blurt out the tragic tale.
7. The Deccan policy:
Ala-ud-Din had conquered the Deccan but had not annexed it. He remained satisfied by plundering the wealth of the territory and making the rulers of the various states of Deccan accepts his over lordship. Muhammad Tughlaq on the other hand was an annexationist and his policy was to replace Hindu rule by direct Muslim government. His rule in the Deccan was very oppressive. The destruction of Dorasamudra, the capital of the Hoyasala Kings seriously outraged the Hindu population. In fact Muhammad Tughlaq found the Deccan revolts running sores which ultimately ruined him.