Revenue Reforms of Sher Shah

 Revenue Reforms of Sher Shah

Revenue Reforms of Sher Shah
 Sher Shah

Land Revenue system of Sher Shah has immortalized his name in the history of Medieval Age. Sher Shah was a benevolent despot so he treated his subjects very kindly and won their love and gratitude. At the very beginning of his career while he was working as in charge of his father’s Jagir, he gathered a lot of experience and knowledge of land revenue problems,  hence he used to believe in the welfare of cultivators. His revenue administration can be described as under.

There were two chief resources for the income of the empire : (i) Central Revenue (ii) Local revenue. The local revenue was realized through various taxes which were known as Abwabs. The taxes were mostly imposed on production and consumption and the traders were required to pay the same. Among the resources of central revenue unclaimed property, trade, mint, gifts, salt, Octroi, Jaziya, Khams and land revenue were prominent. The government also realized import and export tax on raw material as well as on manufactured gods. The royal mint was also a great source of income of the kingdom. In case of the death of a trader, all his property was confiscated by the State if he had no successor. All the subordinate ings, government officials, nobles and foreign travelers had to offer presents to the Emperor. These precious gifts were also a significant source of income of the State. Jaziya which was imposed on Hindus, and Khams, the booty, were also a means to enrich the royal treasury, but the chief source of the income of the empire was land revenue.

As Land Revenue was the primary source of income of the empire, Sher Shah paid due attention towards the welfare of the peasants. He used to say, “The cultivation depends on the humble peasants, for if they be ill-treated they will produce nothing. But if prosperous, they will produce much.” With this end in view he set upon th job of land revenue reforms in the following manner:

  1. He paid great attention towards the increase in agriculture produce and also made some improvements in living conditions of the peasants.
  2. The huge produce fetched greater revenue tax and enriched the treasury.

Prior to the accession of Sher Shah there was no definite rule regarding the measurement and classification of land. Royal share was quite high in the total produce, government officials, Muslim soldiers and Hindu Muqaddams, all exploited the helpless peasants. She Shah endeavored his best to abolish all these malpractices. His land revenue system was based on the following principles:
  1. The welfare of the people should never be forgotten
  2. Liberal attitude should be taken in fixing the taxes but they should be realized with all dexterity and sternness.
  3. There must be proper average between the produce and the tax.
  4. The peasants should get the ownership of the land which they used to cultivate.

In order to achieve the above objectives he took the following  significant steps:
  1. Sher Shah restarted the system of measuring the land in his empire. The land was measured on a uniform policy and in every village account was maintained of cultivable land. He made use of Gaz sikandari and a Zarib of rope for measurement. In order to ensure the accuracy of measurement and honesty of collection, he fixed the salaries of the persons who were employed in the work of measurement so that they could perform their duties with honesty and peasants might not be subjected to any exploitation.
  2. Sher Shah after getting the entire land surveyed by Ahmad Khan, an intimate friend and trusted officer of his empire, decided the revenue to be paid by the cultivator. He divided the land into three categories : (i) Good, (ii) Medium, (iii) Bad. As historians are divided in their opinions nothing can be said definitely about the rate of land revenue; yet keeping aside the examples of his predecessors, he ordered that 1/3 of the total produce should be realized as revenue tax. Besides land revenue the peasants were required to pay Jaribana (the fees of the surveyor) and Mahasilana (the fee of the tax collection). Tese taxes were realized from 2.5% to 5% of the total produce.
  3. The cultivators had to pay land revenue in cash but facility was granted to apy the same in the form of grain. The amount was settled in cash at the prevalent market rate of the crop.
  4. The central and provincial governments used to help the peasants at the time of famine. For the good of the peasants, the government officials were directed to be liberal at the time of fixing the revenue but no concession was granted to anybody at the time of collection of revenue.
  5. The soldiers were ordered not to harm the corps at the time of expeditions. If anybody violated this rule, he was liable to be punished, but if some of the crop was spoiled due to some unavoidable circumstances, the loss of the peasant was made good form the royal treasury.
  6. The cultivators were given two documents, viz, Pattas (title deeds) and Qabuliat (deeds of agreement). The Patta specified the revenue which its owner had to pay and through Qabuliat the cultivators promised to pay the specified amount of land revenue.
  7. The peasants were encouraged to deposit their revenue direct in the royal treasury so that the importance of Muqaddams and headmen might be minimized and a direct relation could be established between the government officials and the peasants. The practice came to be known as Rayatwari system but the Emperor failed to enforce the same revenue system in the Iqtas of Multan, Malwa and Rajputana.
  8. The cultivators were allowed to pay their revenue in two installments in a year in accordance with the crop season and facility of advancing Taqawi loans was granted to the peasants at the time of famine or drought. Sher Shah also introduced Schemes of canal irrigation and digging of wells for the good of the peasants.

Result of Revenue Policy

As a result of uniform revenue policy of Sher Shah the public was freed from the burden of some illegitimate taxes. The former could plough his field without any tension and passed his days happily. The stated was also benefited as the revenue was fixed once for all and it could be realized very easily. Sher Shah removed the intermediaries and thus relieved the cultivators of their exploitation. His revenue policy encouraged the settlement and Rayatwari system but he could not remove the system of jagirdari as the Afghans liked this practice very much.

Defects of the Revenue Policy

No doubt, the revenue settlement of Sher Shah was praised from all quarters and it provided a solid base to Todar Mal’s Bandobust but there were some defects in it:
  • The peasants, who were in possession of medium and bad lands, had to pay more in the form of revenue that those who possessed good lands, but Moreland opines that “inequality might have adjusted itself by variation in the crops grown.”
  • The procedure of making payment of land revenue in cash required a long time due to red tapism of the administrative machinery, so it affected the efficiency of the local collectors and harassed the people.
  • Although the practice of making transfers o f revenue officials was introduced but it did not check corruption.
  • The practice of annual measurement not only created problem for the cultivators but it also affected the royal treasury otherwise. Besides this it encouraged bribery and harassed the peasants.
  • The Jagirdari system remained in vague and Jagirdars went on creating problems.
  • Sher shah has also been condemned for introducing the practice of rigorous collection of land revenue but it is not justified because Sher Shah was the first ruler who laid stress on the welfare of the people. He helped the peasants at the time of famine and warned his shoulders not to destroy the crops even at the time of expeditions.


Milan Tomic

Hi. I’m Designer of Blog Magic. I’m CEO/Founder of ThemeXpose. I’m Creative Art Director, Web Designer, UI/UX Designer, Interaction Designer, Industrial Designer, Web Developer, Business Enthusiast, StartUp Enthusiast, Speaker, Writer and Photographer. Inspired to make things looks better.

  • Image
  • Image
  • Image
  • Image
  • Image
    Blogger Comment
    Facebook Comment

0 टिप्पणियाँ:

एक टिप्पणी भेजें


टिप्पणी: केवल इस ब्लॉग का सदस्य टिप्पणी भेज सकता है.