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  1. INSTRUCTIONS & SAMPLES

    How to use
  2. FREE Samples
    4 Submodules
  3. PAPER I: ANCIENT INDIA
    1. Sources
    9 Submodules
  4. 2. Pre-history and Proto-history
    3 Submodules
  5. 3. Indus Valley Civilization
    8 Submodules
  6. 4. Megalithic Cultures
    3 Submodules
  7. 5. Aryans and Vedic Period
    8 Submodules
  8. 6. Period of Mahajanapadas
    10 Submodules
  9. 7. Mauryan Empire
    7 Submodules
  10. 8. Post – Mauryan Period
    7 Submodules
  11. 9. Early State and Society in Eastern India, Deccan and South India
    9 Submodules
  12. 10. Guptas, Vakatakas and Vardhanas
    14 Submodules
  13. 11. The Regional States during the Gupta Era
    18 Submodules
  14. 12. Themes in Early Indian Cultural History
    9 Submodules
  15. PAPER 1: MEDIEVAL INDIA
    13. Early Medieval India (750-1200)
    9 Submodules
  16. 14. Cultural Traditions in India (750-1200)
    11 Submodules
  17. 15. The Thirteenth Century
    2 Submodules
  18. 16. The Fourteenth Century
    6 Submodules
  19. 17. Administration, Society, Culture, Economy in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries
    13 Submodules
  20. 18. The Fifteenth and Early Sixteenth Century – Political Developments and Economy
    14 Submodules
  21. 19. The Fifteenth and early Sixteenth Century – Society and Culture
    3 Submodules
  22. 20. Akbar
    8 Submodules
  23. 21. Mughal Empire in the Seventeenth Century
    7 Submodules
  24. 22. Economy and Society in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
    11 Submodules
  25. 23. Culture in the Mughal Empire
    8 Submodules
  26. 24. The Eighteenth Century
    7 Submodules
  27. PAPER-II: MODERN INDIA
    1. European Penetration into India
    6 Submodules
  28. 2. British Expansion in India
    4 Submodules
  29. 3. Early Structure of the British Raj
    7 Submodules
  30. 4. Economic Impact of British Colonial Rule
    12 Submodules
  31. 5. Social and Cultural Developments
    7 Submodules
  32. 6. Social and Religious Reform movements in Bengal and Other Areas
    8 Submodules
  33. 7. Indian Response to British Rule
    8 Submodules
  34. 8. Indian Nationalism - Part I
    11 Submodules
  35. 9. Indian Nationalism - Part II
  36. 10. Constitutional Developments in Colonial India between 1858 and 1935
  37. 11. Other strands in the National Movement (Revolutionaries & the Left)
  38. 12. Politics of Separatism
  39. 13. Consolidation as a Nation
  40. 14. Caste and Ethnicity after 1947
  41. 15. Economic development and political change
  42. PAPER-II: WORLD HISTORY
    16. Enlightenment and Modern ideas
  43. 17. Origins of Modern Politics
  44. 18. Industrialization
  45. 19. Nation-State System
  46. 20. Imperialism and Colonialism
  47. 21. Revolution and Counter-Revolution
  48. 22. World Wars
  49. 23. The World after World War II
  50. 24. Liberation from Colonial Rule
  51. 25. Decolonization and Underdevelopment
  52. 26. Unification of Europe
  53. 27. Disintegration of the Soviet Union and the Rise of the Unipolar World
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I. Introduction

Overview of agricultural production in Mughal India

  • Mughal India was a vast geographical zone with diverse climatic conditions, which allowed for the cultivation of a wide range of crops.
  • The empire was broadly divided into rice zones, wheat and millet zones.
  • Rice predominated in the eastern states, on the southwest coast, and in Kashmir.
  • Wheat was cultivated mostly in the northern and central regions of India.
  • Millets were also cultivated in wheat dominant areas and other drier districts.
  • Major cash crops in the 16th-17th centuries included sugarcane, cotton, indigo, and opium.
  • Mughal administration emphasized agrarian reform and funded the building of irrigation systems, which led to increased agricultural production.

Importance of agriculture in the Mughal economy

  • Agriculture was the main source of national income and the majority of the population depended on agriculture during the Mughal administration.
  • The Mughal economy was considered the second largest in the world in the 16th century, with the net domestic production of India estimated to be around 24.5 percent of the total world economy.
  • Mughal agriculture was advanced compared to European agriculture at the time, with the common use of the seed drill among Indian peasants before its adoption in Europe.
  • Indian peasants were skilled in growing a wide variety of food and non-food crops, increasing their productivity.
  • The Mughal government took a conscious interest in the promotion of agriculture, trade, and commerce, as the prosperity of the state depended on the taxes collected from these sectors.
  • The introduction of new crops from the Americas, such as maize and tobacco, led to rapid adoption and widespread cultivation across Mughal India between 1600 and 1650.

II. Major Cash Crops in Mughal India

Cotton, sugarcane, indigo, and opium

  • Cotton was a major cash crop in Mughal India, cultivated throughout the northern region and considered an important crop in the Bengal province.
  • Sugarcane was another significant cash crop, with Bengal being particularly famous for its production.
  • Indigo, a plant used for dye, was also a cash crop during this period.
  • Opium, derived from the poppy plant, was an important source of income for the Mughal Empire and later became a significant export to China under British rule.

Jins-i kamil (ideal crops) and their significance

  • Jins-i kamil refers to “perfect crops” or “high-grade crops”.
  • These crops were mainly grown for the market and brought in more revenue for the Mughal state.
  • Cotton and sugarcane were considered Jins-i kamil par excellence, meaning they were the most ideal examples of these types of crops.
  • The cultivation of Jins-i kamil crops was encouraged by the Mughal rulers because they generated income for the empire.

Regional variations in crop cultivation

  • Mughal India had a broad division of rice, wheat, and millet zones.
  • Rice dominated the eastern region, the southwest coast, and the Assam valley.
  • Wheat was primarily cultivated in the northern and central regions of India.
  • Millets were grown in wheat-dominant areas and other drier districts.
  • In addition to these staple food crops, various cash crops were cultivated in different regions, such as cotton in the northern region and Bengal, sugarcane in Bengal, and indigo and opium in various parts of the empire.

Examples of regional crop cultivation

  • Rice cultivation was prominent in Gujarat, Punjab, and Sindh.
  • Cotton was cultivated in Central India and the highlands of the Deccan.
  • Indigo was grown in Rajasthan and Maharashtra during the second half of the 17th century.
  • Opium was cultivated in Bengal, Bihar, and Malwa under British rule.

Comparisons and differences in crop cultivation

CropRegions of CultivationSignificance in Mughal India
CottonNorthern region, Bengal, Central India, Deccan highlandsMajor cash crop, Jins-i kamil, used for textiles
SugarcaneBengal, eastern region, southwest coastMajor cash crop, Jins-i kamil, used for sugar production
IndigoRajasthan, Maharashtra, various parts of the empireCash crop, used for dye production
OpiumBengal, Bihar, Malwa, various parts of the empireCash crop, significant source of income, later exported to China
RiceEastern region, southwest coast, Assam valley, Gujarat, Punjab, SindhStaple food crop, cultivated in various regions
WheatNorthern and central regions of IndiaStaple food crop, cultivated in various regions
MilletsWheat-dominant areas, drier districtsStaple food crop, cultivated in various regions

Mughal India’s agricultural production was diverse and regionally varied, with a mix of staple food crops and cash crops cultivated across the empire. The encouragement of Jins-i kamil crops by the Mughal rulers contributed to the economic prosperity of the empire.

III. Agricultural Techniques in Mughal India

Traditional methods and tools

  • Mughal India was divided into different zones such as rice, wheat, and millet zones.
  • Wooden ploughs, similar to the ‘foot ploughs’ used in England, were used for tilling the land. In India, these ploughs were called “hal” or “nangar.”
  • Basic tools such as sickles (called “datri” or “hasiya”) and the Kodali (an iron blade and a wooden handle that form an angle) were used by farmers.
  • The Persian wheel, a wooden water-lifting device, was used for irrigation, particularly in the Indus and trans-Jamuna regions. In India, it was known as “saqiya” or “arahatta.”

Introduction of new crops from the Americas (maize and tobacco)

  • Maize (called “makka” or “bhutta”) and tobacco (called “tamaku” or “tambaku”) were introduced to India during the Mughal period.
  • Indian cultivators began to extensively grow maize and tobacco between 1600 and 1650.
  • The introduction of these crops contributed to the increase in agricultural production in Mughal India.

Irrigation systems and their impact on productivity

  • Irrigation systems in Mughal India included storing well water, surface water, and rainwater.
  • Wells (called “kuan” or “baoli”) and tanks (called “talaab” or “sarovar”) were the main sources of irrigation, with different devices used for lifting water from wells into field channels.
  • Large canals (called “nahar” or “nala”) were excavated in northern India during the Mughal period, particularly in the Haryana tract and Punjab province.
  • The Persian wheel (saqiya or arahatta) played a significant role in stimulating increased productivity in agriculture.
  • The use of irrigation allowed for the cultivation of a wide range of crops, including food crops such as wheat, rice, and barley, and non-food cash crops such as cotton, indigo, and opium.
  • The impact of irrigation on agricultural productivity was evident in the strong and significant effects on crop yields, land prices, and cropping intensities.

Examples of irrigation systems

  • In the central Ganga-Yamuna Doab, wells were used for irrigation, but their number declined due to interference by modern canals with the natural drainage system.
  • In the Punjab province, a small system of canals was established in the Upper Bari Doab.
  • In the Haryana tract, dams were built across streams to create artificial inundation or continuous water supply for cultivation.

Impact of agricultural techniques on Mughal India’s economy

  • Indian agricultural production increased under the Mughal Empire due to the use of advanced agricultural techniques and the introduction of new crops.
  • The average Indian peasant was skilled in growing a wide variety of food and non-food crops, which increased their productivity.
  • The rapid adoption and cultivation of maize and tobacco contributed to the growth of the Mughal economy.

IV. Agricultural Economy in Mughal India

Role of agriculture in the Mughal Empire’s income

  • Agriculture was the primary means of livelihood for most people and the main source of government revenue during the Mughal period.
  • Indian agricultural production increased under the Mughal Empire, with a variety of crops grown, including food crops such as wheat, rice, and barley, and non-food cash crops such as cotton, indigo, and opium.
  • In the 16th century, the net domestic production of India was estimated to be around 24.5 percent of the total world economy.

Interdependence of subsistence and commercial production

  • The process of production and distribution of goods and commodities in Mughal India was based on the co-existence and inter-penetration of commercialized and subsistence sectors, involving the interdependence among various castes and communities of people.
  • Subsistence and commercial production were closely intertwined in an average peasant’s holding during the seventeenth century.
  • The average Indian peasant was skilled
  • in growing a wide variety of food and non-food crops, increasing their productivity.
  • The Mughal Empire’s agrarian economy was marked by great variety and vigor, with a large volume of aggregate output.

Market-oriented cultivation and its effects

  • Market-oriented cultivation was introduced during the Mughal period, with the cultivation of several new crops such as tobacco and potato.
  • The increasing urban demand for rural produce led to the growth of market-oriented cultivation, linking superior or khud-kasht cultivation to the market.
  • The Mughal Empire’s extensive commercial activity, both in trade and textile production, created great wealth, making it one of the world’s most populous and affluent empires in the early seventeenth century.
  • Urbanization and fixed markets also helped in expanding the economy in the Mughal Empire.

Examples of market-oriented cultivation

  • Portuguese introduced the cultivation of tobacco and potato in India during the reign of Mughal emperor Jahangir.
  • Mughal emperor Babur introduced the cultivation of several central Asian fruits in India.
  • Cultivation of spices, especially black pepper, was more popular in the Malabar Coast, and tea agriculture was started in the hills of Assam.

Effects of market-oriented cultivation on Mughal society

  • The growth of market-oriented cultivation led to the development of a thriving manufacturing industry, producing a massive quantity of hand-loom textiles.
  • The demand for manufactured goods was always high in Mughal India, with various regions being famous for their specific products, such as Kashmir and Gujarat for woodwork, Lahore for boots and shoes, Multan for leatherwork, and Patna for perfumed pottery.
  • The Mughal Empire’s large secondary sector (18.18 percent) in the 16th century suggests that ‘de-industrialization’ during the nineteenth century was indeed a significant phenomenon.
  • The Mughal Empire’s market-oriented cultivation and commercial activities contributed to the development of a prosperous and diverse economy, with a significant impact on the society and culture of the time.

V. Agricultural Policies in Mughal India

Agrarian Reforms under the Mughal Administration

  • Agriculture was the primary occupation for the majority of the population
  • Emperor Akbar introduced the Zabti or Bandobast system, later improved and renamed the Dahsala System
  • The system involved a uniform method of land measurement and revenue collection based on the average yield of land assessment over the past ten years
  • The state’s share was generally one-third of the average produce, and payments were typically made in cash

Revenue Collection and Land Management

  • The Mughal land revenue system functioned in two stages: assessment and actual collection
  • Assessment was made to fix the state’s demand, while the actual collection involved obtaining the revenue from the peasants
  • The revenue collected was used to fund the building of irrigation systems across the empire, which led to higher crop yields and increased agricultural production
  • The Mughal administration also implemented the Mansabdar and Jagirdar systems

Takavi Lending System for Supporting Farmers

  • The Takavi lending system was an essential agricultural institution during the Mughal era
  • When agriculture was affected by natural calamities such as floods, droughts, or epidemics, the Mughal government would suspend or minimize revenue collections and provide Takavi advances to revive the farming capabilities of the peasantry
  • The distributing agents for these advances were the zamindars and talukdars, who were advised to lend Takavi to raiyats (peasants) and make necessary adjustments on account of public revenue
  • The Takavi loans advanced during seasons of distress were collected during seasons of affluence and were always free from any surcharge or interest

VI. Rural Population and Village Life

  • During the Mughal period in India (16th and 17th centuries), around 85% of the population lived in rural areas.
  • The largest section of the village population consisted of peasants or cultivators, who were divided into three main classes: Khud-kasht, riyayati, and majurs.
  • In addition to cultivators, there were laborers and service people, such as blacksmiths, potters, and washermen.
  • In Maharashtra, these service sectors were called balutedars and received a prescribed share (baluta) from the village produce.

Social Hierarchy and the Role of Zamindars

  • Zamindars were part of the nobility and formed the ruling class during the Mughal Empire.
  • Emperor Akbar granted them mansabs (ranks) and treated their ancestral domains as jagirs (land grants).
  • Zamindars were divided into two categories: autonomous chiefs who enjoyed “sovereign power” in their territories, and ordinary zamindars who exercised superior rights in land, collected land revenue, and were mostly appointed by the Mughals.
  • These zamindars collected revenue primarily from the Ryots (peasants).

Influence of Agriculture on Urbanization and Trade

  • Agriculture played a significant role in the economy of Mughal India.
  • The cultivation of various food and cash crops contributed to the growth of trade and urbanization.
  • The artistic lifestyle of the Mughal rulers encouraged art, architecture, handicrafts, and trade in the country.
  • During the Mughal era, trade both inside the country and outside grew tremendously, supported by improved transport and communication systems.
  • The Mughal rulers also encouraged the monetization of the economy, which further facilitated the growth of business.

Major Urban Centers and Urbanization

  • Major urban centers developed during the Mughal period, and urbanization was estimated to be around 15% of the total population.
  • The growth of cities was influenced by the establishment of imperial factories, which attracted urbanization.
  • The Mughal Empire’s road system, uniform currency, and unification of the country also contributed to the growth of trade and urbanization.

VII. Agricultural Productivity in Mughal India Compared to Contemporary Societies

  • Agricultural production in Mughal India was advanced compared to contemporary societies, including Europe.
  • Indian cultivators grew a variety of crops, such as wheat, rice, barley, cotton, indigo, and opium.
  • By the mid-17th century, they had adopted two new crops from the Americas: maize and tobacco.
  • The average Indian peasant was skilled in growing a wide variety of food and non-food crops, which increased their productivity.
  • According to economic historians Immanuel Wallerstein, Irfan Habib, Percival Spear, and Ashok Desai, per-capita agricultural output and standards of consumption in 17th-century Mughal India were probably higher than in 17th-century Europe.

Adoption of New Crops and Techniques from Other Regions

  • Indian peasants were quick to adapt to profitable new crops and techniques.
  • Maize and tobacco from the Americas were rapidly adopted and widely cultivated across Mughal India between 1600 and 1650.
  • Bengali peasants quickly learned mulberry cultivation and sericulture techniques, which established Bengal Subah as a major silk-producing region of the world.

VIII. Criticisms and Debates of Mughal India Agriculture

Controversies surrounding the extent of cultivation and productivity

  • The Mughal Empire was known for its large and prosperous economy, with India producing about 28% of the world’s industrial output up until the 18th century.
  • Indian agricultural production increased under the Mughal Empire, with a variety of crops being grown, including food crops such as wheat, rice, and barley, and non-food cash crops such as cotton, indigo, and opium.
  • Mughal agriculture was in some ways advanced compared to European agriculture at the time, exemplified by the common use of the seed drill among Indian peasants before its adoption in Europe.
  • Despite the advancements in agriculture, there are controversies surrounding the extent of cultivation and productivity during the Mughal period.
  • Irfan Habib and Shireen Moosvi have attempted to ascertain the extent of cultivation using available data such as detailed figures of some areas available in some revenue papers, jama figures, and dastur rates.
  • However, the extent of cultivation during the Mughal period remains a matter of debate due to the limitations of available data and the varying coverage of Mughal survey operations over regions or sub-regions.

The myth of “low yields” in traditional Indian agriculture

  • The myth of low yields in traditional Indian agriculture has been a point of contention, with some arguing that organic farming produces lower yields compared to conventional agriculture.
  • However, several studies have debunked this theory, showing that traditional varieties of crops provided high yields while using sustainable farming methods.
  • For example, the Mughal administration funded the building of irrigation systems across the empire, which produced much higher crop yields and increased the net revenue base, leading to increased agricultural production.
  • Furthermore, the average Indian peasant was skilled in growing a wide variety of food and non-food crops, increasing their productivity.
  • Economic historian Immanuel Wallerstein, citing evidence from Irfan Habib, Percival Spear, and Ashok Desai, argued that per-capita agricultural output and standards of consumption in 17th-century Mughal India were probably higher than in 17th-century Europe.
  • Despite the evidence supporting high yields in traditional Indian agriculture, the myth of low yields continues to persist and influence debates on agricultural practices and policies.

Comparisons and differences

AspectMughal India AgricultureEuropean Agriculture
Seed drill usageCommonly used among Indian peasants before its adoption in EuropeAdopted later than in Indian agriculture
Crop varietyIndian peasants skilled in growing a wide variety of food and non-food cropsAverage peasant skilled in growing very few crops
Irrigation systemsMughal administration funded the building of irrigation systems, leading to higher crop yields and increased agricultural productionNot mentioned
Per-capita agricultural outputHigher in 17th-century Mughal India compared to 17th-century EuropeLower in 17th-century Europe compared to 17th-century Mughal India

IX. Legacy of Mughal Agricultural Practices

Long-lasting impact on agrarian structure and land revenue administration

  • Mughal India was a vast geographical zone cultivated by numerous peasants, each with their own separate field.
  • The Mughal Empire’s impact on the agrarian structure has been long-lasting, with technical terms in the field of land revenue administration still in use today that originated during the Mughal rule.
  • The Mughal revenue system was based on a variety of methods inherited from previous rulers of north India during the early years of Emperor Akbar’s reign (1556-1605).
  • In 1581, revenue minister Raja Todarmal reorganized the whole land revenue system, known as Zabti or bandobast.
  • The Mughals retained many features of the administrative system of the Sultanate and Shershah, including the administrative units of Pargana (a group of villages), Sarkar (a group of Parganas), and groups of Sarkars (somewhat like Subas or provinces).

Continuity and change in agricultural practices after the Mughal period

  • Indian agricultural production increased under the Mughal Empire, with a variety of crops grown, including food crops such as wheat, rice, and barley, and non-food cash crops such as cotton, indigo, and opium.
  • By the mid-17th century, Indian cultivators began to extensively grow two new crops from the Americas, maize and tobacco.
  • Mughal agriculture was in some ways advanced compared to European agriculture at the time, exemplified by the common use of the seed drill among Indian peasants before its adoption in Europe.
  • The average Indian peasant was skilled in growing a wide variety of food and non-food crops, increasing their productivity.
  • Indian peasants were also quick to adapt to profitable new crops, such as maize and tobacco from the New World, which were rapidly adopted and widely cultivated across Mughal India between 1600 and 1650.
  • After the Mughal period, traditional peasant agriculture continued to increase and change, with plantations expanding and demand for labor increasing.
  • The shift from a primarily labor-intensive, subsistence-based agriculture to a more commercial, market-oriented system led to changes in gender and social structures, as well as environmental processes.
  • Innovations in technology related to agriculture, such as crop rotation and heavy plow, increased productivity and output, allowing more people to sustain themselves financially and maintaining agriculture as the primary source of employment within rural areas.

Table: Comparison of Mughal and Post-Mughal Agricultural Practices

Mughal PeriodPost-Mughal Period
Seed drill commonly used among Indian peasants before European adoptionContinued advancements in agricultural technology, such as crop rotation and heavy plow
Cultivation of a wide variety of food and non-food cropsTraditional peasant agriculture increased and changed, with plantations expanding
Rapid adoption of new crops, such as maize and tobaccoShift to a more commercial, market-oriented system
Advanced agricultural practices compared to European agriculture at the timeChanges in gender and social structures, as well as environmental processes

X. Conclusion

The significance of agricultural production in Mughal India

  • Mughal India was divided into different agricultural zones, such as rice, wheat, and millet zones.
  • Rice dominated the eastern region and the southwest coast, while wheat was cultivated mostly in the northern and central regions of India.
  • Millets were also cultivated in wheat dominant areas and other drier districts.
  • Spices, especially black pepper, were popular in the Malabar Coast, and tea cultivation began in the hills of Assam.
  • Mughal India’s economy was considered the second largest in the world during the 16th century, with agriculture playing a significant role.
  • The Mughal government funded the construction of irrigation systems, leading to higher crop yields and increased agricultural production.
  • Indian peasants were skilled in growing a wide variety of food and non-food crops, increasing their productivity.

Lessons and insights for modern agricultural practices and policies

  • Mughal India’s agricultural success can be attributed to the government’s focus on agrarian reform and investment in irrigation systems.
  • The hierarchical organization of the civil administration based on merit and performance contributed to the efficient management of agricultural resources.
  • The use of advanced agricultural tools, such as the seed drill, allowed Indian peasants to be more productive than their European counterparts at the time.
  • Diversification of crops and quick adaptation to new crops from other regions, such as maize and tobacco from the Americas, contributed to increased agricultural production.
  • Modern agricultural policies can learn from Mughal India’s emphasis on investing in infrastructure, promoting innovation, and supporting a diverse range of crops to ensure food security and economic growth.
  • Encouraging private sector engagement in agriculture and anticipating necessary changes in the enabling environment, such as banking, trade, and land policies, can help drive successful agricultural transformations.
  • Tailoring agricultural strategies to target specific agri-food systems and geographic areas can lead to more effective and sustainable agricultural development.

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