Write a note on the working of the Mughal land revenue system

The Mughal land revenue system, also known as the “Zabt” system, was an important fiscal policy implemented by the Mughal Empire in India.

Here’s a note on its working: 

The Mughal land revenue system was primarily aimed at efficiently collecting revenue from agricultural lands. It was based on the principle of assigning revenue rights to individual zamindars (landlords) or jagirdars (nobles) in exchange for a fixed annual payment to the imperial treasury. 

The assessment of land revenue was conducted by imperial officials known as “amils” who surveyed and measured the cultivated land. The revenue assessment was typically based on the productivity and fertility of the land, with different rates applied to different crops. 

Once the assessment was made, the zamindars or jagirdars were responsible for collecting the revenue from the cultivators. They were required to pay a fixed share of the revenue to the imperial treasury and retain the rest as their own income. 

The Mughal land revenue system operated on a “cash nexus” where revenue was collected in cash instead of kind. This facilitated a centralized treasury and enabled the Mughal administration to fund the empire’s expenditures, including the military, infrastructure development, and the lavish lifestyle of the court. 

The system emphasized the stability and productivity of agricultural lands, as the zamindars had an incentive to maintain and improve the productivity of the lands under their control. However, the system also placed a heavy burden on the cultivators, who often faced high revenue demands and were vulnerable to exploitation by the zamindars. 

To ensure effective revenue collection, the Mughal administration employed a system of revenue officials, revenue records, and periodic audits to prevent corruption and revenue evasion. The revenue officials maintained detailed revenue registers known as “wajib-ul-arz” to track the details of landholding, crops, and revenue collection. 

While the Mughal land revenue system aimed to ensure a steady flow of revenue to the imperial treasury, it also contributed to the stability and prosperity of the empire by providing incentives for agricultural development. However, the system had its limitations and could be susceptible to exploitation, leading to discontent among the cultivators and contributing to the eventual decline of the Mughal Empire. 

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