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  • The Mughal administration was the most organised and long lasting and has even carried on to to the modern times. The reason for this stability was the long lasting more than 3 centuries rule of the Mughal sultanat.

  • Akbar was the architect of this system since his grandfather and father Babur and Humayun respectively had their hands full with battles and socio-economic uncertainties leaving little time for administrative activities.

  • A very detailed,reliable and brilliant account of Akbar’s empire,society and administration is given in the famous detailed document/text by Abul Fazl titled Ain-i-Akbari(Constitution Of Akbar).

  • The Mughal administration did carry forward a lot of the earlier traditions in political and administrative matters already existing in India as mentioned above but they upheld greater centralisation and a rigid structure without paying much interest to social services of health and welfare as also morals as compared to the Mauryan rulers.

  • Their’s was an islamic state and right from the principles of government,church policy,taxation rules,departmental arrangements to the titles of officials all was imported wholesale from the Perso-Arab crescent of khalifs of Iran and Egypt.

  • However, even though the recruitment was mainly based on caste and kin they also did recognise merit and talent and did open up the civil services for Hindu people. It’s source of revenue was taxation on land and agriculture and was highly urbanised.

  • In the lower levels like of politics,village and lower levels of officials the Indian usage and customary practices were allowed whereas at the court/darbar and in higher official circles the foreign imported model of policy prevailed.

  • The sovereign was the king who was paternalistic and he had supreme authority over everything. He did have a number of ministers to help,advise and assist him in the discharge of his functions,out of which the more important were four – the Diwan who was in charge of revenue and finance,the Mir Bakshi at the head of the military department,the Mir Saman in charge of factories and stores, and the Sadr-us-Sudur who was the head of the ecclesiastical and judicial department.

  • Administration was based on coercion in the name of the King by the officials. The main functions of the officials were to maintain law and order,safeguard the King’s interests from internal uprising and revolts,defend and extend boundaries of the empire and collect revenue and taxes.

  • Every officer of State held a mansab ( official appointment of rank and profit and expected to supply certain number of troops for State military service),thus the bureaucracy was essentially monetary in character. 

  • The officials ranged from Commanders of 10 to 10000 and were classified into 33 grades. Each grade carried a certain rate of pay,from which its holder was to provide a quota of horses,elephants,etc and the State service was neither hereditary nor was it specialised. Grading system is practiced even today in recruitment matters.

  • The pay was received in form of either cash or jagir for a temporary period from which he could collect revenue equivalent to his salary. Thus,the jagirs though having no hold over the land extracted revenue at their whims and fancies from the land.

  • The Army of the Mughal empire must be understood in terms of the Mansabdari system. And apart from that there were the knights who were called the gentleman troopers and owed exclusive allegiance to the King. The cavalry was the most important unit,the infantry was made up of townsmen and peasants and the artillery with guns and the Navy.

  • The corruption within the army where the soldiers payed more allegiance to the immediate boss rather than the king proved to be its undoing and thus could be easily overpowered by the Marathas during the time of Jahangir.

  • The Policing system of the Mughals was entrusted to village headman’s and subordinates in villages and to Kotwals in cities and towns. And at the district level the faujdars took over. It was a precursor to modern policing system of India.

  • The administration at the Centre was personal and paternal and operated with a fair degree of efficiency as long as the King kept an eye and controlled effectively.

  • The two highest officials were the Vakil and the Wazir of which the former was higher in position and functioned as the regent of the State and maintained over all charge of the same. The Wazir was the head of the revenue department and was known as Wazir when he acted as a Prime Minister.

  • Chief Diwan supervised revenue collection and expenditure and was the head of the Government’s administrative wing supervising work of all high officials. All provincial diwans and their subordinates reported to him and he signed and authorised all government transactions.

  • A Musatufi audited the income and expenditure of the government and the Waqia Navis kept a record of all important farmers. The Khan-i-Saman was the high steward of the royal expenditure and the Mir-i-Bakshi who was the paymaster General of the empire.

  • The Provincial or State Administration was also known as Subahs(for states/provinces) and was headed by the Subedar or the Governor. He was appointed by the King and was given a office insignia and instrument of instructions which defined the powers,functions and responsibilities.

  • As executive head he was in charge of provincial administrative staff and ensured law and order there. He also handled local civil intelligence agencies and controlled the local zamindars and contained their political influence.

  • Provincial Diwan was appointed by the central diwan and was next in the line of importance after the Provincial governor. He appointed kiroris and tehsildars to extract revenue from the ryots in time.

  • He also exercised audit functions and had full control over public expenditure. He was assisted in office by the Office Superintendent,head accountant,treasurer and clerk.

  • The provincial Bakshi performed the same function as the central bakshi. The Sadr and Qazi were two officers at provincial level who were sometimes united in the same person but the Sadr was basically a civil judge but did not handle all civil cases and the Qazi was concerned with civil suits in general and also with criminal cases.


  • The Subah/Province was further divided into Sarkars which were of two types. One was ruled by officers appointed by the emperor and those under the tributary rajas. Each Sarkar was headed by Faujdar,he was the executive head who had policing and military functions and could surpass the provincial rulers to speak directly to the imperial government.

  • The Amalguzar was in charge of the revenue and the other head of the Sarkar. The Kotwal did the policing. The qazi performed the judicial duties. The Sarkars were further divided into parganas and the parganas further divided into Chaklas headed by officials called Chakladars. Qanungos kept the revenue records and the Bitikchi was the accountant and Potdar was the title of the treasurer.This was the hierarchy for a sound and efficient administration.

  • Akbar kept the land revenue at 1/3 and Todar Mal brought in reforms as in a standard system of land revenue collection that included survey and measurement of land,classification of land based on its fertility and fixing the rates.

  • Justice was administered based on the Quranic Law as the Mughal state was a Muslim State. Fatwas were issued when required and ordinances by the emperor. The principles of equity were followed and the Emperor’s interpretations only was allowed till the point it did not run contrary to the sacred laws.