Read this article to learn about the revenue system in the sultanate and mughal period!
The Sultans took several measures to increase their revenue.
Following were the chief sources of their revenue:
The khiraj or Land Revenue:
Land revenue was the major source of the income. It was generally realized at 1/5 of the total produce thought the Sultans like Ala-ud-Din Khilji and Muhammed Tughlak raised it to 1/2 of the produce.
The Jazia Tax:
It was imposed only on the Non-Muslims. It is believed that children, women and friars were exempted from its payment. It was realized at the rate of 10 to 40 takas depending on the payer’s income.
The Octroi Duty:
It was realized on the exchange and transportation of commercial goods. Import tax was levied on goods imported from other countries. It was between 2 ½ % to 10%.
The Zakat Tax:
It was a negligible tax supposed to be paid by all the Muslims.
Other Source of Income:
Other sources of income included state’s share in booty which was calculated at 1/5 of the plunder plus gifts, tributes etc. from the subordinate rulers.
Till the 10th year of Akbar’s reign (1566), no change was made in Sher Shah’s crop rate (ray) which was converted into a cash rate, called dastur-ul-amal or dastur, by using a single price-list. Akbar reverted afterward to a system of annual assessment. In the nineteenth year (1574) officials called amil, but popularly known as karoris were placed in charge of lands which could yield a crore of tankas.
The karori assisted by a treasurer, a surveyor and others was to measure the land of a village and to assess the area under cultivation. In the same year, a new jarib or measuring rod consisting of bamboos joined by iron rings was introduced for the measurement of land. This karori experiment was introduced in the settled provinces, from Lahore to Allahabad.
In 1580, Akbar instituted a new system called the Dahsala or the Bandobast Arazi or the Zabti system. Under this, the average produce of different crops as well as the average prices prevailing over the last ten years was calculated. One-third of the average produce was the state share, which was however stated in cash.
The credit for developing this system i.e. Ain-i-Dahsala, goes to Raja Todarmal. This system did not mean a ten-year settlement but was based on average of the produce and prices during the last ten years. For the measurement of land, bigha was adopted as standard unit of area which was 60 x 60 yards. A new gaz or yard, gaz-i-llahi was introduced 41 digits (anguls) or 33 inches in length (Sher Shah’s I gaz 32 digit was discarded).
For purpose of fixing the land revenue, both continuity and productivity of cultivation were taken into account. Land which were continually under cultivation were called polaj. Lands which were fallow (parauti) for a year, paid full (polaj) rates when they were brought under cultivation.
Chachar was land which had been fallow for 3-4 years. It paid a progressive rate, the full-rate being charged in the third year. Banjar was cultivable waste land. To encourage its cultivation, it paid full rates only in the 5th year. The lands were further divided into good, bad and middling. One third of the average produce was the state share.
After the assessment of land revenue in kind, it was converted into cash with the help of price schedules (dastur-ul-amal) prepared at regional level or dastur level in respect of various food crops. For this purpose, the empire was divided into a large number of regions called dastur at pargana level having the same type of productivity. The government supplied dastur-ul-amal at tehsil level which explained the mode of land revenue payment. Each cultivator received a patta or title deed (land holding deed) and qubuliyat (deed of agreement according to which he had to pay state demand).
A number of other systems of assessment were also followed under Akbar. The most common was called batai or ghallabakshi (crop-sharing). This, again, was of three types: First was bhaoli where the crops were reaped and stacked, and divided in the presence of the parties.
Second type was khet batai where the fields were divided after sowing. Third type was lang batai where the grain heaps were divided. In Kashmir, the produce was computed on the basis of ass loads (Kharwar), and then divided. Under batai, the peasants were given the choice of paying in cash or kind, but in the case of cash crops the state demand was invariably in cash.
Kankut—In Kankut or appraisement, the whole land was measured, either by using the jarib or pacing it, and the standing crops estimated by inspection.
Nasaq—This system of assessment was widely used in Akbar’s time. It meant a rough calculation of the amount payable by the peasant on the basis of past experience.
The peasant was given remission in the land revenue if crops failed on account of drought, floods, etc. The amil was to advance money by way of loans (taccavi) to the peasants for seeds, implements, animals, etc. in times of need.
Shivaji greatly concentrated his attention towards the Revenue administration to enhance his source of income.
(1) He abolished the Jagir system first of all because it aroused the rebellious tendencies.
(2) He abolished the Zamindari System and established direct links with the peasants.
(3) He removed the old and corrupt officials who collected revenue. In their place, new and honest officials were appointed.
(4) He got the whole land measured and divided it into different categories.
(5) He fixed the state share at 2/5 of the total produce. It could be given in kind or in cash.
(6) In the event of a famine or natural calamity, the state offered subsidies in the shape of debts to the peasants. The peasants could repay the amount in easy instalments.
(7) The accounts of revenue collector began to be thoroughly cheeked.
(8) The cultivated land under Shivaji was very scanty, therefore, the sources were even enhanced by Sardeshmukhi and Chauth. The Chauth was equal to 1/4 of the total produce. The payers of this tax were never plundered by Shivaji’s army. The Sardeshmukhi was equal to 1/10th of the total produce and was collected from -the entire area.