Decline of Mughal
Short Answer Questions
Question 1: What is khalsa?
Answer: Guru Gobind Singh had inspired the Khalsa with the belief that their destiny was to rule (raj karega khalsa). They were a well-knit organization and hence they could put up a tough and successful resistance to the Mughal governors and then to Ahmad Shah Abdali who had seized the rich province of Punjab and the Sarkar of Sirhind from the Mughals. The Khalsa declared their sovereign rule by striking their own coin in the year 1708 and 1765. This coin also bore the same inscription that the coin during the time of Banda Bahadur bore.
Question 2: Briefly describe Bharatpur.
Answer: The kingdom of Bharatpur emerged as a strong state under Suraj Mal. Many of the city’s notables took refuge in Bharatpur when Nadir Shah sacked Delhi in 1739. His son Jawahir Shah; who had 30000 troops of his own, managed to hire another 20000 Maratha and 15000 Sikhs to fight the Mughals. The Bharatpur fort was built in a fairly traditional style.
Question 3: Briefly describe the methodology adopted by Sa'adat Khan to reduce Mughal influence.
Answer: Sa'adat Khan managed to reduce the Mughal influence by reducing the number of office holders (jagirdars) appointed by the Mughals, reducing the size of the jagirs and appointing his own loyal servants in the vacant positions. The accounts of the jagirdars were strictly checked to prevent cheating and the revenues of all districts were reassessed by the officials appointed by the Nawab's court. He also seized a number of Rajput zamindaris and also the agriculturally fertile lands of the Afghans of Rohilkhand.
Question 4: Write a note on the decline of the Mughal empire.
Answer: The Mughal Empire gradually fragmented into a number of independent regional states. These states can be broadly divided into three overlapping groups:
- States that were old Mughal provinces. These included Awadh, Bengal and Hyderabad. Though these were extremely powerful and quite independent, the rulers did not break their ties with the Mughal emperor.
- States which had enjoyed considerable independence under the Mughals as watan jagirs. For e.g. Rajput principalities.
- States under the control of the Marathas, Sikhs and others like Jats. These were of differing sizes and had seized their independence from the Mughals after an armed struggle for a long time.
Long Answer Type Questions
Question 1: Write a note on Bengal.
Answer: Under Murshid Quli Khan Bengal broke away from Mughal control. He was appointed as the naib, deputy to the governor of Bengal. Though he was never a subadar, he very quickly seized all the power that went with that office. He also commanded the revenue administration of the state, like the rulers of Awadh and Hyderabad.
Methodology to reduce Mughal influence
He managed to reduce the Mughal influence by
- Transferring all Mughal jagirdars to Orissa.
- Ordering a major reassessment of the revenues of Bengal: Revenue was collected from zamindars, in cash with great strictness. This forced the zamindars to borrow money from bankers and moneylenders. Those who were not able to pay were force to sell their lands to bigger zamindars.
There was a lot of change amongst the zamindars caused by the formation of a regional state in 18th century Bengal. The close connection between the state and bankers was evident in Bengal during the rule of Alivardi Khan. The banking house of Jagat Seth became extremely prosperous during his reign.
Question 2: Describe the watan jagirs.
Answer: Many Rajput kings, particularly belonging to Amber and Jodhpur had served extremely well under the Mughals. In exchange, they were allowed to enjoy considerable autonomy in their watan jagirs. These rulers, in the 18th century, attempted to extend their control over adjacent areas. The ruler of Jodhpur, Ajit Singh, was involved in the factional politics at the Mughal court. These Rajput families were influential. They claimed the subadari of the rich provinces of Gujarat and Malwa. Raja Ajit Singh of Jodhpur held the governorship of Gujarat whereas Sawai Raja Jai Singh of Amber was governor of Malwa. In 1713, these offices were renewed by Emperor Jahandar Shah. As an effort to extend their territory, they also seized portions of imperial territories neighbouring their watans: Nagaur was conquered and annexed to the house of Jodhpur and Amber seized many portions of Bundi. Sawai Raj Singh founded his new capital at Jaipur. He was given the subadari of Agra in 1722. There was severe pressure on these principalities by Maratha campaigns in Rajasthan from the 1740s. This checked their further expansion.
Question 3: Describe the expansion of the Maratha empire and their administrative system.
Answer:The Maratha empire expanded between 1720 and 1761. It slowly chipped away at the authority of the Mughal Empire. By the 1720s Malwa and Gujarat were seized from the Mughals. The Maratha king was recognized as the overlord of the entire Deccan peninsula by the 1730s. He had the right to levy chauth and sardeshmukhi in the entire region. After the raid in Delhi by the Marathas in 1737, the frontiers of the Maratha domination expanded fast:
- Into Rajasthan and Punjab in the north
- Into Bengal and Orissa in the east
- Into Karnataka and the Tamil and Telugu states in the south
Though these were not formally included in the Maratha empire, they were made to pay tribute as a way of accepting Maratha sovereignty.
The Administration system of the Marathas was well organized. After the Maratha rule became secure subsequent to the conquests, revenue demands were gradually introduced taking local conditions into account. Agriculture was encouraged and trade was revived.