Agrarian Relations (The Ain-I-Akbari): NBSE Class 12 History notes

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Get summary, textual answers, solutions, notes, extras, PDF to NBSE Class 12 (Arts) History (Themes in Indian History) chapter 5 “Agrarian Relations: The Ain-I-Akbari”. However, the educational materials should only be used for reference and students are encouraged to make necessary changes.

A book, illustrating the chapter Agrarian Relations The Ain-I-Akbari

Textual questions and answers

I. Very Short Answer Questions

1. Name the scholar who translated Ain-i-Akbari from Persian to English.

Answer: The Ain-i-Akbari was edited by Henry Blochmann and published by the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta (Kolkata) in 1873.

2. Name the first Mughal ruler.

Answer: The first Mughal ruler was Babur.

3. When did Nadir Shah invade India?

Answer: Nadir Shah invaded India in 1739.

4. What is Nasq?

Answer: Nasq was a system of land revenue which was prevailing in some provinces of Akbar’s empire like Bengal including Orissa, the whole of Berar and Kashmir. Under Akbar’s successors, it prevailed in a few more provinces.

5. Who was Todarmal?

Answer: Todarmal was one of the Navaratnas (nine gems) in the court of Akbar, the Mughal emperor. He was a finance minister and revenue officer in Akbar’s administration. He is known for introducing a new system of revenue collection called Zabt and for conducting a comprehensive survey of agricultural land in the empire, which formed the basis of the Ain-i-Akbari.

6. Explain the term commutation.

Answer: Commutation was a system of exchange of payment of land revenue in kind into cash. It was prevalent in the Zabti system of land revenue administration during the Mughal period in India. Under this system, the peasant had the option to pay the land revenue either in cash or in kind.

II. Multiple Choice Questions

(i) ‘Peshkash’ was a form of:

Answer: (iii) Painting

(ii) One of the most important chronicles for Mughal was the:

Answer: iii) Ain-i-Akbari

(iii) The term Indo-Persian sources of the Mughal period which was most frequently used to denote a peasant was:

Answer: (i) Raiyat

(iv) Maize was introduced into India via:

Answer: (ii) Spain

(v) Paying a small dally allowance and diet money to works:

Answer: iv) Mazdoori

III. Short Answer Type Questions-l

1. Who was the writer of Ain-i-Akbari? Write any two features of Ain-i-Akbari.

Answer:The writer of Ain-i-Akbari was Abul Fazal. Two features of Ain-i-Akbari are:

i. It is a book of different nature, made up of five books called Daftars, which tell us about the people engaged in different trades and are described side by side with imperial establishments, nobles, grandees, imperial officials and mansabdars of the empire.

ii. Abul Fazal also discusses the social conditions, literature, law and philosophy not only of Muslims but also of local Hindus, Jains and other religious sects. It also gives accounts of distinguished travellers, Muslim saints and Sufis

2. Name any two sources of information of the land revenue system of Mughals.

Answer:Two sources of information of the land revenue system of Mughals are Ain-i-Akbari and Akbarnama.

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5. What were the features of Chachar lands?

Answer: Chachar lands were allowed to remain fallow for about four years in order to recuperate.

IV. Short Answer Type Questions-II

1. Describe the nature and contents of the books Ain-i-Akbari.

Answer: The Ain-i-Akbari is made up of five books called Daftars. These books tell us about the people engaged in different trades and are described side by side with imperial establishments, nobles, grandees, imperial officials and mansabdars of the empire. Even harem, kitchen and dishes, perfumes, animals like horse and elephant, harvests of spring and autumn, vegetables have been discussed. In the Ain-i-Akbari, Abul Fazal also discusses the social conditions, literature, law and philosophy not only of Muslims but also of local Hindus, Jains and other religious sects. It also gives accounts of distinguished travellers, Muslim saints and Sufis. The book also contains a collection of Akbar’s auspicious sayings.

2. Describe the role played by women in agricultural production.

Answer: men and women performed certain specified functions in the process of agricultural production. Men tilled and ploughed the land, while women sowed, weeded, threshed and winnowed the harvest. In medieval India, the basis of agricultural production was the labor and resources of the entire household. So a gendered segregation between the home (for women) and the world (for men) was not possible in this context. However, biases related to women’s biological functions continued.

3. What are the problems in using the Ain as a source for reconstructing agrarian history? How do historian deal with the situation?

Answer: one of the problems in using the Ain as a source for reconstructing agrarian history is that it is not a straightforward account of agrarian relations. Instead, it is a complex and multi-layered text that covers a wide range of topics, including social conditions, literature, law, philosophy, and religion. Moreover, it was written by Abul Fazal during the reign of Akbar and reflects his own biases and perspectives. 

Historians deal with this situation by using the Ain in conjunction with other sources such as contemporary accounts of foreign travelers and official records to reconstruct a more complete picture of agrarian relations during this time period. They also critically analyze the text to identify its limitations and biases.

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6. Write a note on the relations of the peasants with the government during the reign of Akbar.

Answer: During Akbar’s reign, the government dealt directly with the agriculturists and collected revenue through its officials. The revenue collector called Amil was assisted by other officers such as Bitikchi, Potdar, Qanungo, Patwari, and Muqaddams. The instructions issued to these officers reveal that Akbar was concerned about the well-being of peasants. In times of drought, advances were made to cultivators and public works were constructed to provide relief to the poor. Abul Fazal’s Ain-i-Akbari also suggests that peasants were looked upon as objects of tender care and sympathy. However, it is important to note that while some policies may have been beneficial for peasants, there were also instances where they faced exploitation and oppression from local officials.

V. Long Answer Type Questions-l

1. To what extent do you think caste was a factor in influencing social and economic relations in agrarian society?

Answer: Caste was a significant factor in influencing social and economic relations in agrarian society. There were deep inequalities on the basis of caste and other class-like distinctions in the rural society. Certain caste groups were assigned menial tasks which made them poor, and they had the least resources. The social status at the lower level of society was directly related to caste and poverty. However, such correlations were not so marked at intermediate levels. Some castes like the Ahirs, Gujars, and Malis rose in the caste hierarchy because of the profitability of cattle rearing and horticulture. In the eastern regions of the country, intermediate pastoral and fishing castes like the Sadgops and Kaivartas acquired the higher status of peasants. Therefore, caste played a significant role in shaping social and economic relations in agrarian society.

2. Give the features of the work Ain-Akbari. Describe its importance.

Answer: The Ain-i-Akbari is a voluminous work that was edited by Henry Blochmann and published by the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta (Kolkata) in 1873. It is a book of different nature, made up of five books called Daftars. These books tell us about the people engaged in different trades and are described side by side with imperial establishments, nobles, grandees, imperial officials, and mansabdars of the empire. Even harem, kitchen and dishes, perfumes, animals like horse and elephant, harvests of spring and autumn, vegetables have been discussed. In the Ain-i-Akbari, Abul Fazal also discusses the social conditions, literature, law, and philosophy not only of Muslims but also of local Hindus, Jains, and other religious sects. It also gives accounts of distinguished travelers, Muslim saints, and Sufis. The book also contains a collection of Akbar’s auspicious sayings.

The importance of Ain-i-Akbari lies in the fact that it provides valuable information for the reconstruction of the history of the Mughal Empire. It is a comprehensive account of the administration, economy, society, and culture of the Mughal Empire during the reign of Akbar. It is a unique source of information on the social and economic conditions prevailing in India during the 16th century. The book provides a detailed account of the land revenue system, the organization of the army, the mansabdari system, and the administration of justice. It also gives us an insight into the cultural and intellectual life of the Mughal Empire. Therefore, Ain-i-Akbari is an important source for historians studying the Mughal Empire and the social and economic conditions of India during the 16th century.

3. Discuss the method of assessment and collection of the land revenue introduced by Akbar.

Answer: According to the Ain-i-Akbari, the land revenue system was thoroughly reorganized during the reign of Akbar, under the supervision of his finance minister, Todarmal. The previous system of yearly assessment based on yield and prices was replaced with a system of fixed assessment for a period of ten years. This brought stability and predictability to the system, and reduced the burden on the farmers.

The assessment of land revenue was made after taking into consideration the area and quality of land. The best crops were taken into account in each year and the year of the most abundant were accepted. The whole empire was brought under the exchequer with the exception of Bengal and Bihar, and the Jagirs were abolished. The whole territory of the empire was divided into 182 parganas, each of which yielded a crore a year as revenue. The officers in charge of these parganas were called Karories.

Todarmal also carried out a regular survey of land, and reformed the units of measurement such as the Gaz, the Tanab and the Bigha. This brought about a peaceful settlement of the province. The collectors of the headquarters had fixed the rates to be demanded from the ryot, but to remove the difficulty and inconvenience caused by yearly assessment, Todarmal laid down the principles of fixed assessment.

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6. Examine the role played by Zamindars in Mughal India.

Answer:Zamindars played a significant role in Mughal India. They had the right to sell, bequeath or mortgage their personal lands at will, and they could collect revenue on behalf of the state. They were compensated for this service financially. The Zamindars also controlled military resources, including units of infantry, cavalry, and artillery. Most of the Zamindars had fortresses (qilachas) and armed contingents, which further strengthened their position.

The social structure in the Mughal rural areas was like a pyramid, with the Zamindars enjoying a very high position in it. Abul Fazal’s account shows that an “upper caste”, Brahmana-Rajput combine had certainly established firm control over the rural society. It also indicates a fairly large representation from the so-called intermediaries castes, as well as a liberal sprinkling of Muslim Zamindars.

The Zamindars became powerful by dispossessing weaker sections of society of their lands, which often led to the expansion of the Zamindari system. However, it was possible for the Zamindar to resort to such aggression if he had been confirmed by the Emperor’s order (Sanad). The Zamindari consolidations were slow and involved colonisation of new lands, by transfer of rights, by orders of the state, and by purchase.

The Zamindars also began the process of colonisation of agricultural land. They helped in settling the cultivators by providing them with the means of cultivation and advanced them cash loans. The purchase and sale of Zamindaris accelerated the process of monetisation in the rural areas. The Zamindars also sold the produce from their personal lands (Milkiyat), and they often established markets (hatts) where peasants could sell their produce.

While the Zamindars as a class exploited the cultivators, their relations with the peasants were marked by the elements of reciprocity, paternalism, and patronage. This view is supported by the fact that the Bhakti saints vehemently condemned caste-based and other forms of oppression, generally targeting the revenue officials of the state. Additionally, in a large number of agrarian uprisings which broke out in north India in the seventeenth century, Zamindars often had the support of the peasants.

VI. Long Answer Type Questions-II

1. Give the significance of the monetary transactions during the period under consideration.

Answer: During the Mughal period, the monetary system of India was based on the silver rupya, which was the standard currency of the empire. The rupya was a silver coin that weighed approximately 11 grams and was divided into 40 copper paisas. The Mughal emperors were responsible for the minting of coins, and they issued coins in various denominations, including gold, silver, and copper coins.

The influx of silver bullion into India from Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was a significant development in the monetary history of India. The Portuguese, Dutch, and English traders brought large quantities of silver bullion to India in exchange for Indian textiles, spices, and other goods. This influx of silver facilitated the minting of coins and the circulation of money in the economy.

The availability of metal currency, especially silver, increased the ability of the Mughal state to extract taxes and revenue in cash from its subjects and tributary states. The Mughal state was able to collect taxes in cash from the peasants, who were required to pay a fixed amount of revenue in silver coins. The state also collected taxes from the merchants and traders who used silver coins for their transactions.

The stability in the availability of metal currency resulted in a remarkable stability in the value of the silver rupya in India. The Mughal emperors maintained the purity and weight of the silver coins, which ensured that the coins retained their value over time. This stability in the value of the silver rupya facilitated trade and commerce in the empire and contributed to the economic prosperity of the Mughal period.

2. What was the importance of Land Revenue for the Mughal fiscal system.

Answer: The Mughal fiscal system was heavily dependent on land revenue. The land revenue system was inherited from the Pathan kings by Babur and Humayun, but it was Sher Shah Suri who made some important experiments and introduced a systematic land survey. Akbar followed Sher Shah Suri’s example and introduced new practices in the revenue system which greatly increased the prosperity of the cultivators.

Under Akbar’s system, the land was surveyed, measured, and the peasant was required to pay one fourth of the total produce. The officials were instructed not to oppress the peasants. The revenue collected from the land was an important source of income for the Mughal Empire. The revenue was collected by the officials known as Amils, who were appointed by the emperor. The Amils were responsible for the collection of revenue, maintenance of law and order, and the administration of justice.

The revenue collected from the land was used for the maintenance of the army, the construction of public works, and the payment of salaries to the officials. The land revenue system was so efficient that it continued to be the main source of income for the Mughal Empire until the decline of the empire in the 18th century.

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4. The Zamindari system was abolished in India after independence. Identify reasons why this was done?

Answer: The Zamindari system was abolished in India after independence due to several reasons, including:

i. The system was seen as exploitative and oppressive towards the peasants, who were often forced to pay high rents and taxes to the Zamindars.

ii. The system was also seen as a hindrance to agricultural development, as the Zamindars often neglected their duties of providing infrastructure and support to the farmers.

iii. The system was seen as a relic of the feudal past, and was incompatible with the modern democratic ideals of equality and social justice.

iv. The Indian National Congress, which led the independence movement, had long advocated for the abolition of the Zamindari system as part of its social and economic reforms.

v. The government of independent India saw the abolition of the Zamindari system as a necessary step towards land reform and the redistribution of land to the landless and marginalized sections of society.

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