Akbar’s Administrative System
Though Akbar adopted Sher Shah’s administrative system, he did not find it that much beneficial hence he had started his own administrative system.
In 1573, just after returning from Gujarat expedition, Akbar paid personal attention to the land revenue system. Officials called as ‘karoris’ were appointed throughout the north India. Karoris were responsible for the collection of a crore of dams (i.e. Rs. 250,000).
In 1580, Akbar instituted a new system called the dahsala; under this system, the average produce of different crops along with the average prices prevailing over the last ten (dah) years were calculated. However, the state demand was stated in cash. This was done by converting the state share into money on the basis of a schedule of average prices over the past ten years.
Akbar introduced a new land measurement system (known as the zabti system) covering from Lahore to Allahabad, including Malwa and Gujarat.
Under the zabti system, the shown area was measured by means of the bamboos attached with iron rings.
The zabti system, originally, is associated with Raja Todar Mal (one of the nobles of Akbar), therefore, sometimes, it is called as Todar Mal's bandobast.
Todar Mal was a brilliant revenue officer of his time. He first served on Sher Shah’s court, but later joined Akbar.
Besides zabti system, a number of other systems of assessment were also introduced by Akbar. The most common and, perhaps the oldest one was ‘batai’ or ‘ghalla-bakshi.’
Under batai system, the produce was divided between the peasants and the state in a fixed proportion.
The peasants were allowed to choose between zabti and batai under certain conditions. However, such a choice was given when the crops had been ruined by natural calamity.
Under batai system, the peasants were given the choice of paying in cash or in kind, though the state preferred cash.
In the case of crops such as cotton, indigo, oil-seeds, sugarcane, etc., the state demand was customarily in cash. Therefore, these crops were called as cash-crops.
The third type of system, which was widely used (particularly in Bengal) in Akbar's time was nasaq.
Most likely (but not confirmed), under the nasaq system, a rough calculation was made on the basis of the past revenue receipts paid by the peasants. This system required no actual measurement, however, the area was ascertained from the records.
The land which remained under cultivation almost every year was called ‘polaj.’
When the land left uncultivated, it was called ‘parati’ (fallow). Cess on Parati land was at the full (polaj) rate when it was cultivated.
The land which had been fallow for two to three years was called ‘chachar,’ and if longer than that, it was known as ‘banjar.’
The land was also classified as good, middling, and bad. Though one-third of the average produce was the state demand, it varied according to the productivity of the land, the method of assessment, etc.
Akbar was deeply interested in the development and extension of cultivation; therefore, he offered taccavi (loans) to the peasants for seeds, equipment, animals, etc. Akbar made policy to recover the loans in easy installments.
Akbar organized and strengthened his army and encouraged the mansabdari system. “Mansab” is an Arabic word, which means ‘rank’ or ‘position.’
Under the mansabdari system, every officer was assigned a rank (mansab). The lowest rank was 10, and the highest was 5,000 for the nobles; however, towards the end of the reign, it was raised to 7,000. Princes of the blood received higher mansabs.
The mansabs (ranks) were categorized as −
The word ‘zat’ means personal. It fixed the personal status of a person, and also his salary.
The ‘sawar’ rank indicated the number of cavalrymen (sawars) a person was required to maintain.
Out of his personal pay, the mansabdar was expected to maintain a corps of elephants, camels, mules, and carts, which were necessary for the transport of the army.
The Mughal mansabdars were paid very handsomely; in fact, their salaries were probably the highest in the world at the time.
A mansabdar, holding the rank of −
100 zat, received a monthly salary of Rs. 500/month;
1,000 zat received Rs. 4,400/month;
5,000 zat received Rs. 30,000/month.
During the Mughal period, there was as such no income tax.
Apart from cavalrymen, bowmen, musketeers (bandukchi), sappers, and miners were also recruited in the contingents.