Several walks of Indian life were greatly affected by the Turks conquest. Following significant changes took place in the political, social and economic life of India.
I. Political Changes or Effects:
1. Establishment of the Muslim rule in North India:
The Arab invasion had led to the establishment of two independent Muslim Kingdoms of Sindh and Multan. But the Turk invasion led to the establishment of the Muslim rule over a large part of North India.
2. Political importance of Delhi:
Iltutmish made Delhi the capital of the Sultanate in India. Earlier it was Lahore. Thus the political importance of Lahore declined and of Delhi increased.
3. Supremacy of the Caliph of Bagdad:
Though the Turkish Sultans of Delhi were independent rulers yet they took the help of Caliph to give stability to their rule and they considered themselves a part of the Islamic world. In other words foreign religious elements were introduced in Indian political life.
4. Law of succession:
Islamic law enjoins the election of a ruler but in practice any of the issues of the Sultan could be chosen as the successor of the throne. Likewise it was essential that the Sultan should be a male. However there were deviations also. These practices affected the political situation in India.
5. Turkish monopoly of high offices:
Indians, whether Hindus or Muslims were by and large deprived of high offices in administration.
6. ‘Iqta’ System:
‘Iqta’ literally means an area. Empire was-divided into Iqtas or provinces. The Turkish rule put an end to the independent small kingdoms and these were replaced by Iqtas. Every Iqta was placed under the charge of a chief military commander. The head of each Iqta was designated as Iqtadar.
These Iqtadars were not the independent rulers of these areas. Their appointments, tenures and transfers depended on the will of the ruler. The Iqtadar met the expenditure of the army stationed under him, out of the income of the Iqta and thereafter sent the balance to the ruler.
The Iqtadar had to perform two important duties i.e. the collection of revenue and maintenance of law and order. The Iqta system was designed to put an end to the feudal system of the Rajput’s. The Iqta system brought distant areas of the empire in contact with the Central Government.
7. Changes in military organization:
Recruitment in the army was now no longer the monopoly of one particular class i.e. the Rajput’s/Kshatriyas and it was opened to all classes.
Another important change took place in the army organisation. The Sultans organised their permanent standing armies in place of the feudal armies i.e. the armies supplied by the feudal chiefs whenever asked for.
The third change was that cavalry men and archers began to be recruited in large numbers as against the infantrymen.
Fourthly, elephants gave place to trained horses.
Fifthly, more importance began to be given to the training of the army.
Sixthly, suitable arrangements were made for the security of the frontiers.
Lastly, Rajput ideals of warfare were completely abandoned.
II. Social Changes:
1. Condemnation of caste system:
The Turkish conquest reduced the importance of the caste system. Turkish society had a firm belief in social equality.
2. Check on the privileged class in villages:
The Iqtadars who were mostly urban people put a check on the privileged feudatories in the villages.
3. Changes in urban areas:
Prof. Habib has observed that the doors of the ancient ‘noble cities’ of the Rajputs were now opened for the different sections of society i.e. the artisans as well as the labourers, the Hindus and the Muslims and the Brahmins and the so-called Chandals, without any consideration of high and low.
III. Economic Changes:
(a) Encouragement to trade:
According to Sir Jadurnath Sarkar, trade contacts which had broken in the 8th century with the countries of Asia and Africa were revived towards the close of the 12th century. Indian traders started trading on a large scale with Ghazni and China. Several new trading centres like Multan, Lahore, Delhi and Lakhnauti came to be established.
Changes in the taxation system:
The Turk rulers followed the taxation system as prescribed in Islamic scriptures. They primarily imposed four taxes i.e. ‘Zakat’, ‘Khams’, ‘Jijya’ and ‘Khiraj’.
‘Zakat’ was levied on the Muslims. It was obligatory for every Muslim to give about 2 per cent of his income as tax.
‘Kham’ was war booty as a source of state income.
‘Jijya’ was levied on non-Muslims.
‘Khiraj or land tax was fixed generally at 50 per cent of the produce by the Mamluck or slave Sultans.
With the exception of the land tax, the other three were introduced by the Turks.
Besides these four taxes, some old taxes were also continued.
Growth of medieval economy:
Historians like Habib and Nizami in their work have observed that the Turkish conquest led to the growth of the medieval economy which was characterised by the uniformity of the taxation system, growth of currency, growth of handicrafts, cities and trade. It was an economy in which agricultural surplus could be utilised for building the various sectors of economic life. The slave system of the Turks proved very helpful in this regard.
IV. Cultural Effects:
Importance of Persian:
Persian became the language of administration and in this respect a new era of cultural development came into being.
Development of Hindvi:
The contact between the Hindus and the Muslims led to the development of a new language called Hindvi used by Amir Khusru.
The Turks constructed mosques, minarets, forts and other buildings in the Persian style. New materials with lime mixture came to be used increasingly. This was very useful in making buildings strong.
Establishment of educational institutions:
With the popularization of Persian, a new class of scholars emerged.
V. Religious Changes:
Divergent views are found on the issue whether the Turks forced the Hindus to embrace Islam.
It appears the Hindus continued to celebrate their religious and social festivals.
The influence of Sufi saints was visible on the religious outlook of the people.
VI. Administrative Uniformity of the people:
The use of Persian as the language of administration greatly helped in bringing about administrative uniformity, The Rajput rulers used different dialects.