Peasants, Zamindars and the State Agrarian Society and the Mughal Empire – CBSE Notes for Class 12 History
• During 16th and 17th centuries, nearly 85% of Indian population lived in villages.
• Agriculture was the main occupation of the people.
• Peasants and landlords were engaged in agricultural production.
• Agriculture, the common occupation of peasants and landlords created a relationship of co-operation, competition and conflict among them.
• Agriculture was the main source of the revenue of the Mughal Empire. That was why revenue accessor, collectors and record-keepers always tried to control the rural society.
• The basic unit of agricultural society was the village. It was inhabitated mostly by the peasants.
• Peasants were engaged in the agricultural activities through the years.
• Our major sources of the agricultural history of the 16th and 17th centuries were the chronicles and documents written by the scholars under the supervision of the Mughal court.
• Ain-i Akbari, written by Abu’l-Fazl has records of arrangements made by the state for ensuring cultivation, collection of taxes by the state to regulate the relationship between state and rural zamindar.
• Sources of 17th centuries depict that there were two kinds of peasants. These were the Khud Kashta and Pahi Kashta.
• Khud Kashta permanently lived in villages. They had their own land and practised agriculture over there, while the Pahi Kashta cultivated land on a contractual basis, which originally belonged to someone else.
• Abundance of land, availability of labourers and mobility of the peasants were the major causes for the expansion of agriculture.
• Rice, wheat and millets were the commonly cultivated crops.
• Agriculture was mainly organised in two major seasons; Rabi and Kharif. Maximum two crops were sown in a year.
• Monsoon was considered as the backbone of the Indian agriculture during these days. Hence, agriculture was mainly dependent on rainfall.
• Many new crops like maize, tomatoes, potatoes and chillies were introduced here from the new world in the 17th century.
• Village panchayat was elected by the assembly of the elders. The headmen of the panchayat was called Mandal or Muqaddam. He enjoyed his post until he had the confidence of the elders of village.
• Village panchayat had the right to levy fines and expulsion of anyone from the community expulsion from the community was a strict step which was meted out for a limited period.
• It was very difficult to recognise the difference between peasants and artisans. It was so because both these two groups used to perform both kinds of works.
• People such as, potters, carpenters, blacksmiths, barbers, goldsmiths, etc. provided their services to the village men and were compensated through villagers by a large number of means.
• Jajmani system was also prevalent there. Under this system, blacksmiths, carpenters and goldsmiths were remumerated by Zamindars of Bengal for their work by paying them a small daily allowance diet and money.
• Among the landed gentry women enjoyed the right to inherit property.
• The term ‘Jungli’ was used to describe those whose livelihood came from hunting, gathering and from forest produces.
• Zamindari consolidation was a slow process. It could be done through various sources like colonisation of new lands, by transfers of rights, with the order of the state and by purchase. These were those processes which perhaps permitted lower castes to reach to the ranks of Zamindars.
• Zamindars played an important role in colonisation of agricultural land and helped the setting cultivators by providing them with means of cultivation and cash loans.
• Ain-i Akbari discussed many matters in details, i.e. the court and administration of the empire, sources of revenue, literary, cultural and religious traditions of the people.
• Ain-i-Akbari remained an extraordinary document of its time even after certain drawbacks.
1. Raiyat: It is used to denote a peasant in Indo-Persian sources.
2. Hasil: It was the actual amount of revenue collected.
3. Khud-kashta Peasants: The peasants who were the residents of the village in which they had their lands.
4. Pahi-kashta: The peasants who generally belonged to another village.
5. Shroff: A money changer who also acts as a banker.
6. Amin: The officials that were responsible for imperial regulations.
7. Pargana: An administrative subdivision.
8. Jama: The assessed amount and to be collected as revenue.
1526 Babur defeated Ibrahim Lodi at Panipat and became the first Mughal Emperor.
1530-40 The first phase of Humayun’ reign.
1540-55 Humayun was defeated by Sher Shah in exiled at Safavid court.
1555-1605 Humayun regains his lost territories.
1556-1605 Rule of Akbar
1605-1627 Rule of Jahangir
1628-1658 Rule of Shah Jahan
1658-1707 Rule of Aurangzeb
1739 Nadir Shah attacked India and ransacked Delhi
1761 In the third battle of Panipat, Ahmad Shah Abdali defeated the Marathas.
1765 The diwani of Bengal transferred to the East India Company.
1857 The last Mughal ruler, Bahadur Shah II was deposed by the British and exiled to Rangoon.
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