The following points highlight the six main domestic policies laid down by Ala-Ud-Din Khalji. The policies are: 1. Theory of Kingship 2. Revolts: Their Causes and Their Remedies; the Ordinances 3. Policy towards the Hindus 4. Taxation and Revenue 5. Military Administration 6. Market System.
Domestic Policy # 1. Theory of Kingship:
Ala-ud-din was the first Sultan of Delhi who did not pursue Islamic principles in matters of the state. Ala-ud-din once consulted Mughis-ud-din, qazi of Bayana on matters of state policy. Barani has given an account of their talks. Ala-ud-din accepted his advice only which concerned with the Hindus.
Regarding the rest he said:
“Maulana Mughis, though I have no knowledge and have read no book, still I was born a Musalman and my ancestors have been Muslims for so many generations. To prevent rebellions in which thousands of lives are lost, I give such orders to the people as I consider to be beneficial to them and the state …. I issue commands which I consider to be beneficial to the state and appear prudent under the circumstances. I do not know whether they are permitted by the shariat or not. I do not know how God will treat me on the Day of Judgement.”
The same way, though he styled himself as Yamin- ul-Khilafat Nasiri Amir-ul-Mummin (deputy of the Khalifa) but he never tried to seek acceptance of the Khalifa for his kingship. Ala-ud-din also did not allow the Ulema to interfere in matters of the state.
Thus, Ala-ud-din was the first Sultan of Delhi who did not pursue the principles of Islam, did not feel the necessity of seeking guidance from the Ulema and did not even desire to use the name of Khalifa in matters concerning the state.
Dr A.L. Srivastava writes- “Thus to Ala-ud-din belongs the credit of being the first Turkish Sultan of Delhi to bring the church under the control of the state and to usher in factors that might make the state secular in theory.” Yet, Ala-ud-din was a perfect Muslim, never opposed the tenets of Islam, pursued suppressive policy against the Hindus and occasionally took advantage of Muslim fanaticism. He did not allow religion to interfere in politics not because he was liberal to the Hindus but because he wanted to be an absolute ruler without any dependence on anybody.
Ala-ud-din believed in despotic monarchy. He never analysed its principles like Balban but his actions were motivated by it. Ala-ud-din acted as an absolute monarch with unlimited powers. He believed that the will of the Sultan was law, the Sultan was above all and all powers of the state emanate from him.
All his officers—the vazir, the military commanders and the nobles were subordinate to him to such an extent that nobody even dared to advise him. Ala-ul-Mulk, his friend and the kotwal of Delhi was the only person who sometimes dared to advise him. Ala-ud-din had the capability also to act as an absolute monarch. He possessed originality of ideas, determination to pursue them and also courage to face consequences.
In that age there were only two powerful groups in the state who exercised influence on the Sultan of Delhi. One was the order of the Ulema and the other was the nobility. Ala-ud-din did not allow the one to interfere in matters of state and broke up the power of the other and, thus, there remained nobody to check his ambitions and powers.
Dr K.S. Lai writes- “In a word, like Louis XIV of France, Ala-ud-din regarded himself to be all in all in the State.” During the reign of Ala-ud-din the centralization of administration was complete and despotism touched its highest mark.
Domestic Policy # 2. Revolts: Their Causes and Their Remedies; the Ordinances:
A few revolts occurred during the early period of the reign of Ala-ud-din. The first revolt was attempted by the new Muslims. In 1299 A.D., when Nasrat Khan was returning after a successful campaign in Gujarat, the new Muslims felt dissatisfied with the distribution of the booty. They mutinied and killed a nephew of Ala-ud-din and a brother of Nasrat Khan.
The revolt was suppressed by Nasrat Khan and the rebels were either killed or forced to find refuge with King Hammir Deva or King Rai Kiran. The wives and children of the rebels who were at Delhi were dishonoured and killed by Ala-ud-din. The second rebellion was that of Akat Khan, the vakildar and cousin brother of Ala-ud-din. When Ala-ud-din went to attack Ranthambhor, he halted on the way for some days for hunting.
One day, finding the Sultan only with a few followers, Akat Khan attacked him with his troops. The Sultan fell unconscious. Akat Khan, believing that the Sultan was dead, returned to the camp and tried to enter his harem.
Meanwhile, Ala-ud-din became conscious and returned to the camp. Akat Khan, then, fled away but was captured and beheaded. Ala-ud-din punished his younger brother and his followers by death. The third revolt was attempted by sons of one of the sisters of Ala-ud-din.
While Ala-ud-din was busy with the siege of Ranthambhor, Amir Umar and Mangu Khan revolted in Badaun and Avadh. But, they were defeated and imprisoned by the loyal officers of the Sultan. The fourth revolt was organized by Haji Maula in Delhi.
He killed Tamardi, the kotwal of Delhi, attempted to kill Ayaz, the kotwal of Siri and by placing a nominee of his own on the throne, tried to capture the power. Ala-ud-din was at Ranthambhor. But, one of his loyal officers Malik Hamid-ud-din succeeded in suppressing the revolt and all rebels were killed.
Thus, all the revolts failed. But, as these occurred one after another within a short span of time, Ala-ud-din tried to find out root causes of the revolts.
He consulted his nobles while he was yet at Ranthambhor and came to the conclusion that the primary causes of the revolt were as follows:
(i) Inefficiency of the spy-system of the Sultan which resulted in his ignorance of the condition of the people.
(ii) Drinking parties among nobles brought them close to each other and encouraged them for conspiracies.
(iii) Social intercourse and inter-marriages between nobles made them a compact body dangerous to the state.
(iv) Excess wealth which gave the people both power and leisure for evil thoughts and rebellions.
Having analysed the causes of the revolts, Ala-ud-din, after his return to Delhi, passed the following four ordinances:
(i) By first ordinance all grants and pensions were revoked and all lands which were held by the people as gifts, pensions, endowments, etc. from the state were confiscated. The officers were instructed to extort money from the people by every possible means so that nobody remained rich.
Barani has written that the orders were so faithfully carried out that there remained no gold in the houses of the people except those of maliks, amirs, state-officers, Multani merchants and Hindu seths (rich businessmen).
(ii) By the second ordinance, the spy-system was organised afresh. Barids (spy-officers) and Munhis (spies) were appointed in the houses of rich people, officers, governors, in markets, towns and even villages. They were required to report all important occurrences concerning the welfare of the state to the Sultan. The system worked so successfully that even high-officers of the Sultan feared to talk among themselves.
(iii) The third ordinance prohibited the sale and use of wine and other intoxicating drugs at Delhi. Ala-ud-din himself left drinking and all his wine- vessels were broken before the public. All those who violated these orders were punished severely. But, in spite of rigorous enforcement of this ordinance, Delhi did net become dry.
Realising this fact, Ala-ud-din made certain amendments. He permitted private manufacture and use of wine though in public places it remained banned and no drinking parties were permitted. That was sufficient to serve the purpose of the Sultan.
(iv) The fourth ordinance prohibited social gathering and inter-marriages among the nobles without the consent of the Sultan.
The above ordinances of the Sultan succeeded in fulfilling his object. The nobles were terrorised and there occurred no revolt during his reign till he did not become weak both physically and mentally.
Domestic Policy # 3. Policy towards the Hindus:
Historians have differed regarding the policy of Ala-ud-din towards the Hindus and its causes as well. We understand his treatment of Hindus mostly by his policy of taxation, particularly, revenue as it affected mostly the Hindus. Dr U.N. Dey has expressed that the taxation policy of Ala-ud-din was comparatively not severe though, of course, it destroyed the prosperity of the Hindus and the peasants.
He says- “The Khuts and Muqaddams at no stage of Indian history ever reached that stage of poverty as is told about his reign.” He further writes- “The statement of Barani that the wives of the khuts, the Muqaddams, because of poverty, were forced to seek jobs in the houses of the Musalmans and earn their wages is rather absurd.” Thus, Dr Dey is of the opinion that the policy of Ala-ud-din was in no way severe or disrespectful towards the Hindus.
However, there are many other historians who do not agree with this view. They contend that the policy of Ala-ud-din towards the Hindus was certainly severe and its main purpose was to reduce them to the position of poverty. Dr K.S. Lal writes- “Ala-ud-din’s measures were truly oppressive.” He says that Ala-ud-din desired to leave only that much money with the Hindus which was just sufficient for their subsistence.
Ala-ud-din had, certainly, abolished all privileges of revenue officers like the khuts and the muqaddams who were all Hindus. Majority of historians agree that he had reduced the Hindus to the position of extreme poverty.
Sir Woolseley Haig writes:
“Hindus, throughout the kingdom were reduced to one dead level of poverty and misery and if there was one class more to be pitied than another, it was that which had formerly enjoyed the most esteem, the hereditary assessors and collectors of the revenue.”
Such treatment with the Hindus which constituted the majority of his subjects was neither justified morally nor desirable politically. Besides, Ala-ud-din continued the practice of destroying Hindu temples, disrespecting their images and killing the prisoners of wars. He had heartily accepted the advice of Qazi Mughis-ud-din to be severe with the Hindus. Thus, the treatment of Ala-ud-din with the Hindus was, certainly, unjust and severe.
But then what were the reasons of this policy? Dr K.S. Lal contends that the base of this policy was not religious discrimination but practical wisdom. He was somehow convinced that the Hindus would not stop revolting unless their wealth was snatched away from them.
He writes- “Ala-ud-din wanted to impoverish his countrymen so that the word rebellion should not pass their lips.” But, Sir Woolseley Haig described that Ala-ud-din pursued this policy because of religious, economic and political reasons as well.
He writes- “Ala- ud-din next framed a special code of laws against Hindus who were obnoxious to him partly by reason of their faith, partly by reason of the wealth which many of them enjoyed and partly by reason of their turbulence, especially in the Doab.” Dr S. Roy has also expressed the same view.
He expressed- “The motives of Ala-ud-din were decidedly political.” But he further adds- “Some privileges were taken away from the latter (Muslims) but there was no question of deliberately reducing them, as a class, to a state of grinding poverty and abject humiliation which was the lot of Hindus” and, “There are, however, good grounds to believe that in dealing with the Hindus, Ala-ud-din was also actuated by communal considerations.”
This view seems to be more near the truth that Ala-ud-din’s policy towards the Hindus was motivated by religious, economic and political considerations as well.
Domestic Policy # 4. Taxation and Revenue:
Taxation and revenue measures of Ala-ud-din were again means for establishing a powerful and despotic state. His position was threatened by the revolts of the Hindus while the Mongols were posing danger to his empire from towards the north-west. Besides, he desired to extend his empire.
All these needed a well-equipped large army and for that it was necessary to increase the income of the State. Dr U.N. Dey has pointed out one more reason which also participated in determining his financial policy.
According to him, the class which worked as middlemen between the state and the peasants enjoyed best advantages. This class had increased its landed property without the consent of the State and, while it collected maximum revenue from the peasants, it paid the minimum to the state. Thus, this class enjoyed best advantages at the cost of the state.
Besides, he also desired to break up their power and influence on the people which was also necessary. Therefore, he writes- “Maybe, the rebellion highlighted the malady but the reforms were an outcome of historical process. Ala-ud-din was merely a tool in implementing them.”
Thus, various factors were responsible for bringing about a change in the existing financial and revenue structure of the state by Ala-ud-din. Ala-ud-din ordered confiscation of all those lands which were given to the people by previous rulers as milk (state grant), Inam (state-gift), waqf (charitable endowment) and pension in return of state service. Dr U.N. Dey says that he confiscated lands of those people who were now not serving the state in any form and again redistributed it among those who were doing useful service to the state.
Further, a complete record was maintained as to who was assigned how much land and of what quality. Dr R.S. Tripathi says that he took up this measure in order “to assert the right of the monarch to deal with all classes of lands, cancelled all such grants which he did not approve and bestowed others on his own terms.”
Dr K.S. Lai Writes:
“The Sultan preferred resumption of all land-grants and paying his officers in cash. Thus, even if all the grants were not abrogated, the management of most of them at least was taken over by the government.” This measure of Ala-ud-din increased the Khalisa-land (state land), left the possession of land only in the hands of capable and useful persons and diminished the influence of the old nobility.
The second measure of Ala-ud-din attacked the privileged position of hereditary revenue officers like Khuts, Chaudhris and Muqaddams who were all Hindus. It was alleged that they collected maximum revenue from the peasants but appropriated to themselves as much of it as they could.
They evaded payment of taxes like Khiraj, Jizya, Ghari and Charai. Therefore, they had become rich. Barani writes- “(They) ride upon fine horses, wore fine clothes, shoot with Persian bows, make war upon each other, and go out hunting… and hold drinking and convivial parties.”
Ala-ud-din abolished their privileges and snatched away their right to collect revenue. They were asked to pay revenue and all other taxes and, thus, there remained no distinction between the Khuts (zamindars) and the Balahars (ordinary peasants).
According to Barani, the position of these officers was so reduced to poverty that their wives were forced to do household jobs in Muslim families. By this measure, Ala-ud-din broke up the power of the Hindus to rise in revolt.
Ala-ud-din raised the revenue demand to one-half of the gross produce. The land revenue was to be assessed by the method of measurement on the basis of standard yields. Ala-ud-din was the first Muslim ruler who introduced this system which, certainly, marked an advance upon the prevalent sharing system. The Sultan preferred to collect the revenue in kind instead of cash.
Ala-ud-din also imposed two new taxes. The one was grazing tax on all milch cattle and the other was the house-tax. Taxes like jizya and irrigation tax and import duties remained as usual. There was another tax named as Kari or Karhi but details of it are not known.
It is clear that this system of Ala-ud-din imposed heavy burden on the peasantry. Probably, the peasants had to pay 75 per cent to 80 per cent of their income to the state as taxes. Besides, while Muslim merchants paid only 5 per cent of the value of their merchandise as tax, Hindu merchants were asked to pay 10 per cent.
This revenue system of Ala-ud-din could not be implemented universally within the entire imperial territory. The collection of revenue by state officers after measurement of land was done only in Delhi and its nearby territories. According to Dr R.S. Tripathi, this system was not introduced in lower Doab, Awadh, Gorakhpur, Bihar, Bengal, Malwa, West Punjab, Gujarat and Sindh.
Ala-ud-din established a new department known as Diwan-i-Mustakhraj to look after his revenue administration. He also employed a large number of junior and senior officers for the same purpose who were named as muhassils (demanders of tribute), amils (revenue collectors), gumashtas (agents), munasarrifs (accountants or auditors), uhadadaran-i-dafatir (persons in charge of offices) and nawisandas (writers or clerks) etc.
He raised the salaries of revenue officers so that they might become free from temptation of bribery. But, when it yielded no result, he punished them severely. Though, it was not possible to root out corruption from the revenue department, yet Ala-ud-din succeeded in bringing about fair improvement in it by terrorising both his officers and the subjects by his extreme punishments given to them in case of non-fulfillment of their obligations.
The revenue policy of Ala-ud-din succeeded in fulfilling his object. His primary aims were to increase the income of the state and root out possibilities of revolts. He achieved both. However, the question remained as to whether his system served permanent interests of the peasantry and the state Dr U.N Dey has commented favourably.
He writes- “The peasants do not seem to have materially affected much, at least such a conclusion one is tempted to draw from the fact that neither revolts nor desertions took place after the imposition of this enhanced rate. The cultivators, however, it may be suggested, derived an indirect satisfaction when they saw their erstwhile oppressors being subjected to the same treatment which they had been suffering so long from them.”
However, the opinion of Dr. Dey seems to be a conjecture. No section of the populace could remain contended after surrendering 75 per cent to 80 per cent of its hard-earned income to the state. The same way the contention of Dr Irfan Habib also does not seem to be completely justified when he writes- “Ala-ud- din consciously utilized the conflict between the two rural ‘classes’ by standing forth as the protector of the ‘weak’ against ‘strong’ in these villages and was perfectly reasonable.”
The above viewpoints have been expressed by laying emphasis on the justification of abolition of privileges of Khuts, Chaudhris and Muqaddams but have ignored the financial burden which was put on the peasantry. Regarding it Dr K.S. Lal is much nearer the truth when he writes- “The accusation of impoverishing the Indian people can rightly be levelled against the Muslim rulers of medieval India.”
Thus, it is more acceptable that the revenue policy of Ala-ud-din was not conducive to the welfare of the peasantry and, therefore, not in the permanent interest of the state. Dr Tara Chand writes- “The policy was suicidal for it killed the goose that laid the golden egg. It left no incentive for increasing the produce or improving the method of cultivation.”
Domestic Policy # 5. Military Administration:
The revolts, the fear of Mongol invasions, the desire to establish a highly centralised and despotic government and the ambition to create an extensive empire in India necessitated a strong army at the centre. Ala-ud-din fulfilled that necessity. He kept a permanent standing army at the capital. All the Sultans prior to him depended on the forces of provincial nobles and feudatory chiefs for strengthening their own forces. Ala-ud-din finished off this dependence.
The army of the Sultan, henceforth, was recruited, equipped, trained and paid by the centre. The army minister (Ariz-i-mamalik) directly recruited the soldiers of the Sultan’s army. The soldiers were supplied with horses, arms etc. by the state and were paid in cash from the royal treasury. The soldier with one horse (Yak aspa) was paid 234 Tankas for a year while a soldier with two horses (Do Aspa) was paid 78 Tankas more.
According to Ferishta, the Sultan’s army consisted of 4,75,000 cavalrymen. The strength of the infantry must have exceeded the cavalry. War elephants also constituted an important part of the army. Swords, bows and arrows, mace, battle-axe, dagger were the important arms used by the soldiers. Stone-throwing machines were also used in wars.
Ala-ud-din’s army was organised on the Turkish model and divisions of units rested on the decimal system. Besides, two more novel reforms were brought about by Ala-ud-din. Two corrupt practices had developed in the army of Delhi Sultans. The one, that sometimes regular soldiers used to send irregular and untrained soldiers in their places in times of war.
The other, that soldiers used to replace good horses by ordinary horses or used to send same horses repeatedly for inspection. Both practices reduced the effective strength of the army. Ala-ud-din decided to stop these corrupt practices. He instituted the practice of recording the huliya (descriptive roll) of individual soldiers and that of Dagh (branding of horses). The Diwan-i-Arz kept the record of all of them.
These practices were adopted by rulers in many countries outside India but Ala- ud-din was the first Sultan who introduced them in India. Besides, a strict review of the army was occasionally made and horses and arms of soldiers were thoroughly examined.
Ala-ud-din repaired the forts constructed by Sultan Balban on the north-west frontier. He also constructed new forts there and other places also like Kampil, Patiali and Bhojpur. Soldiers were kept permanently in these forts and arrangements were made for regular supply of arms to them. Grain and fodder always remained stored in these forts. Thus, all forts were always kept prepared for all eventualities in case of any invasion.
Ala-ud-din felt some difficulty in capturing Ranthambhor in the beginning, failed to capture Warangal and the Mongols could penetrate into India up to Delhi itself. But during his reign, larger part of northern India was conquered, all rulers of South India were defeated and all Mongol invasions were successfully repulsed. This proves that Ala-ud-din had succeeded in building up a strong army. There were weaknesses there in the beginning but gradually these were wiped away.
Domestic Policy # 6. Market System:
Ala-ud-din kept a large standing army at the centre and paid it in cash. Therefore, his expenses on the army were enormous. Of course, the treasury of the Sultan was full. Yet, all the wealth which was brought as booty from the South, and the yearly tribute which he received from his feudatory rulers particularly from those of the South and raising of the revenue to half of the produce was not sufficient enough to bear the expenses of the huge army of Ala-ud-din.
Besides, Ala-ud-din had distributed wealth lavishly among his subjects which reduced the value of the currency in the market. Therefore, it became necessary for Ala-ud-din to reduce the salary of his soldiers and also to reduce the cost of articles in the market. Dr K.S. Lal writes- “It was simple arithmetical calculation and simple economic principle: since he had decided to reduce and fix the salary of soldiers, he also decided to reduce and fix the prices of common use.”
However, Dr U.N. Dey has expressed a different opinion. According to him, the primary reason of controlling the market by Ala-ud-din was not to reduce the salary of his soldiers but to check the rising prices of different articles. He writes- “As for the amount of salary, we find that Ala-ud-din gave 234 tankas per year i.e., 19 ½ tankas per month. This amount certainly was not a small sum for the first decade of the 14th century when we find that Akbar calculated the salary of a tabinan at the rate of Rs 240/- per annum while during the reign of Shah Jahan it was Rs 200 per annum. Thus, Ala-ud-din paid to a soldier only Rs 6/- per annum less than what Akbar paid and Rs 34/- per annum more than what Shah Jahan paid. We cannot, therefore, say that Ala-ud-din paid low salary to his soldiers.”
He further contends that Ala-ud-din did not fix the prices of different articles lower than the prevalent prices of those articles in places around Delhi. Besides, the prices fixed by Ala-ud-din were not very different from what we find them afterwards during the reign of Firoz Shah Tughluq. Dr Dey quotes Barani to support his view.
Barani wrote- “The villagers, for their personal benefit, used to bring personally as much of the grain as they could from their storage and used to sell them in the mandi at the government rates.” Therefore, Dr Dey says that certainly there was a margin of profit left to them in the prices fixed by the Sultan.
Regarding the question that when Ala-ud-din did not fix the prices lower than the countryside and these were certainly not below the normal prices then what was the need of fixing the prices and taking strong measures to see that these were observed, he writes:
“Delhi in Ala-ud-din Khalji’s time became the capital of a mighty empire and a central mart with a rapidly increasing population to which the constant movement of the merchants added a floating population. It also became a large cantonment. All this not merely intensified the demand for food-grains but also introduced a strong cash nexus and increased the money circulation. These factors inevitably produced inflationary conditions because the price of a commodity is not merely governed by the intensity of demand but also directly in proportion to the amount of money in circulation. This condition offered an opportunity to the business community to increase the prices by creating artificial scarcity.”
Therefore, he concludes- “Ala-ud-din’s motive was to check the rising prices which was due to manipulation of the business community and not to reduce the prices to a lower level than the normal.” The view expressed by Dr Dey is quite logical, yet it has also to be accepted that the necessity of his market-policy arose because of the necessity of keeping a huge standing army and paying it in cash.
Some other historians have pointed out that the cause of this policy was humanitarian. Ala-ud-din desired that all his subjects should get all necessary articles in sufficient quantity and at proper prices. Therefore, he fixed the prices of all articles. The opinion is based mostly on the narrative given by Shaikh Nasiruddin Chiragh in his work, Khairul Majalis which he wrote in Firoz’s reign.
Amir Khusrav also praised the economic measures of Ala-ud-din in his work, Khazainul Futuh. But these sources are not very much dependable and therefore, not sufficient to justify that the motive of Ala-ud-din was humanitarian. On the contrary, the rigorous imposition of his economic measures and the resultant effect on his subjects clearly exhibit that Ala-ud-din was guided neither by considerations of public welfare nor by any economic principles.
Thus, the primary object of Ala-ud-din in enforcing these measures was purely political. He kept a permanent standing army at the centre and paid it in cash but desired that the soldiers remain comfortable with reasonable amount of salary. Therefore, he tried to check the inflationary prices and the manipulation of merchants to raise the prices artificially and, thereby, was forced to fix the prices of all articles and enforce them strictly.
Ala-ud-din fixed up the prices of nearly all articles. The prices were fixed not only of all varieties of grain, pulses, cloth, slaves, catties and horses only but even those of necessary articles of daily use that of meat, fish, dry fruits, sugarcane, vegetables, needles, colours, betel-leaves etc. Separate markets were fixed up for different articles.
There was a separate market for cloth, another for cattle, horses and slaves and yet another for other daily necessities of life. Ala-ud-din established godowns where grain was stored in reserve to be released in times of scarcity. “There was scarcely a Mohalla,” writes Barani, “where two or three royal stores filled with foodstuffs did not exist.”
However, in times of scarcity, everything was rationed, i.e., everybody was allowed to purchase only that much which was just sufficient for his need. Thus, arrangement was made so that the people might not feel scarcity of any thing any time. That is why revenue was collected in kind both from Khalisa-land and the lands of feudatory chiefs. Only those traders who were registered with the state were allowed to purchase grain from the peasants.
All merchants were required to register themselves in the office of Shahana-i-mandi. Cloth- merchants were given advances to purchase cloth from outside and sell it in Delhi at fixed rates. All merchants were forced to bring at least some fixed minimum quantity of different articles to the capital so that there was no scarcity of anything. Everything was sold at fixed rates and even the highest officer of the Sultan was not allowed to change the rate or price of any article without prior permission of the Sultan.
Nobody could dare to sell any commodity underweight as the same amount of flesh was cut off from his body. No peasant or merchant could hoard any commodity. Speculation and black-marketing was totally stopped. All these regulations were strictly enforced and the guilty ones were severely punished. Diwan-i-riyasat and Shahana-i-mandi assisted by a judge called Sarai adl and a host of subordinate officers were held responsible for the enforcement of these laws.
All these officers enjoyed wide powers of punishment. They were afraid of the Sultan and, in turn, they terrorised the public so that nobody including the highest nobles of the state and the richest of the populace did not dare to break the laws of Ala-ud-din.
According to available sources, Ala-ud-din fixed prices of different articles as follows:
As compared to cereals and eatables, cloth was more costly particularly silk- cloth. Horses and slaves were divided into several categories and prices were fixed for different categories. Horse of the first quality cost 100-120 tankas, of the second quality 80-90 tankas and of the third quality 60-70 tankas.
An ordinary household slave-girl cost 5-12 tankas, experienced slave 10-15 tankas and an ordinary slave 7-8 tankas. A she-buffalo cost 10-12 tankas and a cow 3-4 tankas. The same way, Ala-ud-din had fixed up prices of every other article which was brought to the market for sale.
This market-system of Ala-ud-din was enforced only in Delhi and its nearby areas. Only Ferishta has written that the prices of articles in other parts of the empire were the same as in Delhi. Barani has not written anything specific about it. Yet, what we gather from his account indicates that the system was limited only to Delhi and its nearby areas. The majority of historians have accepted this view.
Ala-ud-din succeeded in fulfilling his object during his life-time. He desired to maintain a huge permanent standing army at the Centre and for that purpose fixed the prices of all commodities. He succeeded. He maintained a strong army at the Centre which successfully repulsed invasions of the Mongols and conquered practically the whole of India for him and his enforcement of price fixation of all commodities was also completely successful.
Barani wrote- “So long as Ala-ud-din ruled, prices of commodities never rose or fell but ever remained fixed.” The system was advantageous to the people of Delhi also as they could get every commodity on reasonable rates. Thus, the market-system of Ala-ud-din was a novel and successful experiment.
Even Dr K.S. Lal who has pointed out many defects of the system has written- “What is of real importance in Ala-ud-din’s reign is not so much the cheapness of prices, as the establishment of a fixed price in the market which was considered one of the wonders of the age.”
Yet, after giving due credit to the success of Ala-ud-din, one has to conclude that the market-system of Ala-ud-din was neither in the interest of the people nor in the permanent interest of the state. The system was not conducive to the welfare of the peasants also.
How those peasants could be prosperous and happy who, besides other taxes, had to pay half of their produce as revenue and the rest of it on fixed rate to the traders but had to purchase their necessities of life from their local markets where the prices should have been higher than the fixed prices prevalent in Delhi?
The workers also could not be happy as they were forced to sell their produce only with a little margin of profit or a little higher cost than the cost of their production. The traders could not be happy as their profit depended on the will of the state. Ala-ud-din had forced traders to bring fixed quantities of commodities to Delhi and sell them at fixed rates. Therefore, there was no incentive either in industry or in trade.
Dr K.S. Lal writes- “The motive of the Sultan may not have been to crush the poor peasants against whom he possibly could have no grudge, but the exigencies of the state required him to take such steps under which the interests of commerce and cultivations were sacrificed to those of the army.” And if at all some people were benefited by the system then those were the residents of Delhi who alone could enjoy the benefit of fixed prices of commodities.
Dr S. Roy writes- “The capital was fed, while the country at large was bled. So large a quantity of grain was stored at Delhi that Ibn Batutah. who arrived there in 1334 A.D., consumed the rice stored by Ala-ud-din. Only the army and, incidentally the population of Delhi benefited by these regulations. Judged by the objective which inspired them, they proved highly successful. Opposed as they were to economic laws, they died with their author.”
Thus, the market system of Ala-ud-din suffered from certain inherent defects. It succeeded only during the life-time of Ala-ud- din. Qutb-ud-din Mubarak Shah had no desire to extend his empire and had no fear of Mongol invasions.
Therefore, he neither needed a large standing army nor in consequence, the market-system. Mubarak Shah was also not competent. He preferred women than wars. Besides, the system which could be enforced only by force could not continue for long. Therefore, the market system of Ala-ud-din finished with his death.