Thursday, August 06, 2009

Economy of India under Mughal Empire

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The Deccan conquest of Auranzeb can be considered as one of the longest and largest conquest in the history of mankind. About one and half million men and almost equal number of beasts toiling away far from their homes for 27 years just for the political ambition of one emperor, seems to be too huge to be true. Yet, truth is stranger than fiction and for 27 years, Mughal army ravaged Deccan and emerged defeated in the end. Their prime aim, which was to subdue Marathas, proved to be futile. Marathas were already conquering central India, when Mughals were busy conquering Deccan. Within eight years of Aurangzeb's death, Marathas entered Delhi as part of allied forces and within 30 years of his death, they had conquered Delhi on their own and ruling almost everything from Punjab to Tamil-Nadu and Sindh to Bengal. However, Maratha consolidation did not last long enough for rejuvenation of India. The strength which was sapped during the tenuous deccan conquest of Aurangzeb was never regained till date. The long-lasting geopolitical effects of this pyrrhic victory of Mughals are experienced even today as impediments in way of India's rise.

The ratio of Combatant to non-combatant was 1:3 in army in the camp of Aurangjeb in 1689. One army was deployed under Zulfikar Khan. One in Gujarat. One under Aurangjeb himself. One in Karnataka to finish off the remnants of Adilshahi and other army in Andhra Pradesh to finish the remnants of kutubshahi. In all, at least 5 armies like this (may be not as strong as this) were deployed in Deccan. If we assume other armies to be half the size of army you just described, that makes about 1.3 million people in total were deployed.

How was the logistics of such huge army managed? Deccan is not productive in terms of food grains as compared to northern plains of Ganga and Punjab. There is a limit for plundering as plundering of food grains can happen at the most once in one season. And every year, the yield of plunder will go on decreasing because farmers won't or can't cultivate their land in subsequent years.

Aurangjeb transport all the food supplies from North India for most of the years. The traders involved in these transactions must have made enormous profits in this adventure of Deccan. Furthermore, the fodder for animals, their replacements, diseases. Mughals in particular were very protective about their central asian horses. I have read that Babur used to send his wounded horses to Afghanistan because he believed the air in central asia was superior to poisonous air of India which was unhealthy for horses. Enormous project when seen from management point of view.

And Aurangjeb could fund this venture for 27 years at a stretch?? Just imagine the size of Indian economy to sustain such a campaign for so long. If USA stays in Afghanistan or Iraq for 27 years at a stretch with their full might, I wonder how fucked up their economy will be? Perhaps worst than Somalia.

Dr. John Fansis Jameli Kareri ( Italian person) who in 1689, was with Aurangjeb after Sambhaji exicution and witnessed mughal chhavani at village Galgali. Hence can be considered as eye witness for the strength of mughal army/aurangjeb's chhavani during the exicution of Sambhaji. He says :

At chhavani Badshah army has 60,000 horsemens and 1,00,000 infantry with 50000 camels, 3000 elephants. Also has other peoples including servents, businessmens, artist totalling 5 lakhs of mans. There are total 250 markets in chhavani and chhavani itself covering area about 30 (Sq ?) miles. To transport chhavani material 100-125 elephants and 400 bullock carts were required.

Other than above, mughal army which was spreded over rest of the area, may not (or shall i say must not) have covered in above.) for e.g. Zulphikarkhan alongwith his 30-40000 infantry was busy with raigad and then jinji fort. ( 1690-92)

Indian economy in 17th and 18th century

The total GDP of world in 1700 was about $370 Billion. The GDP of Mughal Empire in 1690s was $ 91 Billion dollars. And this was decline of Indian Economy. Due to Aurangjeb's Deccan invasion, Economy of India climbed down to number two position to be tied with that of China. China eventually overtook India by 1829. Till 1680, India most probably was the biggest economy in the world, based on actual production as well as Purchasing power parity.

Ref - Paths to the future for science and technology in China, India and the United States - J. Thomas Ratchford; William A. Blanpieda; Technology in Society Volume 30, Issues 3-4, August-November 2008, Pages 211-233.

I wonder how big might Indian economy have been in 1500's. Stable Mughal rule in North; Stable Bahmani rule in centre and prosperous Vijaynagar empire in South. In 1700's, when Indian economy began its gradual decline, the market share of India was about 25%. Its a pity that there not many figures available about Vijaynagar. At least I don't know about it. If anybody has any information, please contribute. The economy of Portugal rose and fell with rise and fall of Vijaynagar Empire.

Thing to remember is this figure is after 20 years of fucked up Deccan occupation. In 1670, the economy might have been at zenith. It was the basis of Indian economy in 1650's that Aurangjeb might could sustain this war for 27 years. If after 20 years of mess, what was left was $90 billion, what might have been the figure when he actually decided to start?

Lets assume that GDP in 1670 was about $300-350 Billion (including the GDP's of Mughals, Adilshahi, Kutubshahi, Marathas, Ahoms and Southern Rayas). Assuming that given the extent of Mughal empire, they comprised about 70% of total Indian economy, that makes it about $200-250 Billion. Of course, almost 80% of total GDP of Mughals was used by the Elite. So, its not the case that common man was happy in Mughal rule.

The figures of revenue of Mughal empire are as follows in 1690 and 1700 AD, when Mughal empire was at its height of political expanse-

YEAR........: 31-35th year of corronation
AREA...... : BENGAL
SOURCE..: ZAVABIT-E-ALAMGIRI
FIGURE....: 524636240 DAM = Rs 13,115,906 = Rs 13.1 million

YEAR........: 41th year of corronation
AREA...... : BENGAL
SOURCE..: KHULASAT UL SIYAK
FIGURE....: 172841000 DAM = Rs 4,321.025 = Rs 4.3 million

Loss = Rs 8,794,991 = Rs 8.7 Million
% loss = 67%

YEAR........: 31-35th year of corronation
AREA...... : ORISSA
SOURCE..: ZAVABIT-E-ALAMGIRI
FIGURE....: not given

YEAR........: 41th year of corronation
AREA...... : ORISSA
SOURCE..: KHULASAT UL SIYAK
FIGURE....: 172841000 DAM = Rs. 4,321,025 = Rs 4.3 million

Assuming 67% loss for Orissa as well, the income of Orissa in 1690 comes up to be - 13.1 million rupees

YEAR........: 31-35th year of corronation
AREA...... : BIHAR
SOURCE..: DASTUR-UL-AMAL-E-ALAMGIRI
FIGURE....: 545300935 DAM
SOURCE..: ZAVABIT-E-ALAMGIRI
FIGURE...: 427181000 = Rs 10,679,525 = Rs 10.6 million

YEAR........: 41th year of corronation
AREA...... : BIHAR
SOURCE..: KHULASAT UL SIYAK
FIGURE....: 394344532 DAM = Rs 9,858,613 = Rs 9.8 million

Loss incurred - Rs 820,912
% Loss - 7%

YEAR........: 31-35th year of corronation
AREA...... : AWADH
SOURCE..: ZAVABIT-E-ALAMGIRI
FIGURE....: 321317119 DAM = Rs 8,032,928 = Rs 8 million

YEAR........: 41th year of corronation
AREA...... : AWADH
SOURCE..: KHULASAT UL SIYAK
FIGURE....: 479579619 DAM = Rs 11,989,490 = Rs 11.9 million

Total Profit - Rs 3,956,562 = Rs 3.9 million
% profit - 49%

YEAR........: 31-35th year of corronation
AREA...... : ALAHABAD
SOURCE..: ZAVABIT-E-ALAMGIRI
FIGURE....: 456543278 DAM = Rs 11,413.581 = Rs 11.4 million

YEAR........: 41th year of corronation
AREA...... : ALAHABAD
SOURCE..: KHULASAT UL SIYAK
FIGURE....: 422336622 DAM = Rs 10,558,415 = Rs 10.5 Million

Loss - Rs 855,166
% Loss - 7%

YEAR........: 31-35th year of corronation
AREA...... : DELHI
SOURCE..: ZAVABIT-E-ALAMGIRI
FIGURE....: 1222950137 DAM = Rs 30,573,753 = Rs 30.57 million

YEAR........: 41th year of corronation
AREA...... : DELHI
SOURCE..: KHULASAT UL SIYAK
FIGURE....: 1221950117 DAM = Rs 30,548,752 = Rs 30.54 Million

Loss - Rs 25,001
% Loss - 0.008%

YEAR........: 31-35th year of corronation
AREA...... : AGRA
SOURCE..: ZAVABIT-E-ALAMGIRI
FIGURE....: 1141700157 DAM = Rs 28,542,503 = Rs 28.5 Lakh

YEAR........: 41th year of corronation
AREA...... : AGRA
SOURCE..: KHULASAT UL SIYAK
FIGURE....: not given = Rs 28,542,503 = Rs 28.5 million

Total revenue in 1690 AD - Rs 115,474,102 = Rs 115 Million (of Given territories)
Total Revenue in 1700 AD = Rs 100,139,823 = Rs 100 Million (of Given Territories)
Decline = Rs 15,334,279 = Rs 15 Million
% Decline = 13% in 10 years in given provinces. These figueres are not for rest of India, where mughal army was unleashing hell.

Furthermore, revenue of given provinces in 1700 was Rs 100 million. If we assume another Rs 75-80 million as total revenue of rest of provinces of India which were war-torn, the total revenue of Mughal empire in 1700 might have been around Rs 180 million.

For sake of simplicity, lets assume Rs 200 million. According to paper cited earlier, GDP of Mughal empire in 1700 was $ 90 billion = Rs 200 million.

Rs. 1 = $500

From Wiki article - Annual revenue reported by the Emperor Aurangzeb's exchequer exceeded £100 million in 1700 (twice that of Europe then). Thus, India emerged as the world's largest economy, followed by Manchu China and Western Europe.

The total treasury of Aurangjeb, according to this source was 100 million Pounds.

1 pound sterling = Rs 2 (in 1700AD)

two decades before 1700; mughal economy of given provinces = 115 million rupees.
Rest of india, excluding these provinces which were quite stable and economical productive before Aurangjeb chose to invade Deccan = Rs 150 million more (at least)

Total = Rs 265 million. for simplicity, Rs 300 million.
( Source for info : Moghal kalin Mahasul Paddhati)

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Reason of all this data-mining to see the effect of Aurangzeb and his religious fanaticism and zealot character had on socio-politics, economics and geostrategical standing of India and world in years to come.

a. He squandered off india's wealth and military power over futile effort. Before his Deccan conquest, India was undoubtedly largest economy of world.. The setback of his Deccan conquest resulted in weakening of central authority of India in India and Central Asia and following things happened.

b. Marathas and later British took over India. Marathas lacked the vision of British, hence could not last long. British facilitated the outflow of money from India to Europe, thus facilitating their industrial revolution. India's GDP and trade decreased drastically in Aurangzeb's reign and steadily after his death.

c. Afghanistan grew weak and the influence of India over Central Asia declined. Russia and Britain started the competition for control over Central asia, which was previously under Indian influence. This is known as "the Great Game" and is still continuing today in Afghanistan. Aurangzeb's policies had this far reaching effect.

d. Military power and technological advances stopped as India slipped into period of instability.

e. The social cohesiveness declined owing to Aurangzeb's religious fanaticism.

f. Along with Sirhindi, Aurangzeb stalled the process of integration of Muslims in Indian society. Dara Shikoh was on the way of finding the golden way of Indianization of Islam. Aurangzeb irreversibly stalled that process.. This alienated Muslims from Hindus as their quest of separate identity was fuelled by Aurangzeb's fanaticism. Without Aurangzeb, there would never have been Paritition of India, demolition of countless temples, massacre of thousands in name of religion and hence persistent sense of mistrust between Indics and Muslims.



** Special Thanks to Mr. Kiran Kharde, who provided the data of Mughal revenues.

7 comments:

Abhijit Rajadhyaksha said...

Interesting!

Chinmay 'भारद्वाज' said...

I kind of don’t agree with the point of view. But before getting into argument I must say that the research you done is very good and provides a stable base for future arguments. I hope you continue doing such research. (that helps lazy bones like me a lot!  )

Coming back to the article – I feel that it’s kind of far fetching to say that Aurangzeb as a biggest reason for India’s recent misery. To say that we are accepting two notions - :
1) that India was in a good condition during or period prior to Aurangzeb’s ascent to power and
2) that, if he had succeeded in his quest to conquer India we would have been in a better shape
Let’s look at the first point -: Everyone knows that India was a powerhouse in medieval times but that doesn’t necessarily means that life of an average India was better off. Huge amount of money was spent on army. More than half of India was either an active ground of war or under the constant threat of next war.
 Deccan was bone dry with natural drought that happened frequently in 17th century and it was a play ground for powers to be to fight.
 South India was relatively rich and relatively calm but it wasn’t under Mughal reign for substantial period of time. Only after 1690’s Mughal won that land before loosing it for good again.
 Orissa and Bengal was for some reason always poor.
 Current day Assam was never under Mughal rule.
 Current day North-West Frontier Post was a battleground for hundreds of years between Mughal and marauding central Asian tribes and Afghans.
 Rajasthan was never under direct rule but were vassal states.
 That leaves Kashmir, Sindh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh under direct Delhi rule. That’s substantial area, no doubt, and of these regions Gujarat, Malawa and Sindh were quite prosperous. But life of an average Indian didn’t necessarily went south after Mughal rule. In fact Peshwa directly ruled Malwa and Bundel-Khanda and they generated lot of revenues from these two regions. Same thing about Gujarat. All though Dhabholkar fought bitterly with Peshwa for the control of Gujarat.
Moreover, the tax codes were based on the religions. Hindus always paid more taxes than Muslims. I highly doubt normal Hindu peasantry had any sort of good life under Mughal rule.

Chinmay 'भारद्वाज' said...

Regarding second point I mentioned earlier -:
 Looking at the rapid developments happening in Europe in 16th and 17th century even if Mughal had won against Marathas they would have capitulated against European onslaught.
 Mughal even at the peak of their power never invested anything in education or research. They just lived lavishly and that’s about it.
 The technology in India was fast becoming obsolete against European technology.
 The world was rapidly globalizing and yet Indian seafaring techniques were stagnant. And there was no way they could have withstood European navy.

I strongly disagree with your point that Aurangzeb disturbed the Hindu-Muslim peace and he stopped the Muslim integration. There was never any Hindu-Muslim peace. It was rather out of exhaustion that they stopped fighting with each other. Akbar realizing this decided not to enforce Islam on Hindus but destruction of temples and other Hindu religious institution went unabated under all Mughal rulers. Shahajahan broke the famous Allahabad temple that had Chiranjeev Vata-Vruksha. He cut the tree and buried the roots under molten iron. Muslims through out the history has been destroying and desecrating Hindu temples. There was never any period when it didn’t happen. Partition of India was, again, bound of happen. Even if there was no Aurangzeb, there still would have been a partition. The partition has more to do with the nature of the religion of Islam and less to do with any historical event or personality.

There were numerous uprising against Mughals. Maratha’s were the only one to succeed. I agree that Aurangzeb accelerated the process by destroying Kashi-Vishveshwar temple and Krishna-janambhoomi in Mathura. It certainly helped Maratha’s but even if it hadn’t taken place, Maratha’s, nonetheless, would have won.

I agree that Aurangzeb squandered all Mughal wealth and ultimately lost the kingdom.

Rise of Maratha’s was quite natural. I kind of don’t agree that Maratha’s lacked vision. I think they had vision but the caste politics played a huge role and unfortunately none of the Maratha leaders had a long life to finish the job they started. Especially the sudden loss of three visionaries (Mahadaji Shinde, Ahilyabai Holkar and Nana Phadanavis) and leaders of military powerhouses in 1790’s left a huge void and the empire came down crumbling.

Still Britishers needed quite a few strokes of luck to win Indian sub-continent. But that’s for another blog. All though them rinsing us of any wealth is a sad reality. And that’s I think is the biggest factor that we are still poor and divided.

My apologies for being all over the place, but I hope I got my point across.

Thanks again for the blog. The information is great and argument is worth debating.

M.Ritesh said...

Interesting analysis. And true as well. The squandering for finances for the sake of expanding the empire was the reason why India went from a economically well-off nation, to declining power.
The other fact that I wanted to bring attention unto - the agriculturists(the main source of revenue) and the producer class of people were so squeezed by Mughal officials and the Emperor's administration that production actually suffered drastically. Couple that with War and divisive politics, and what you get is a economic hell during the time of Aurangzeb.


I am part of a team that runs a website called www.ariseindiaforum.org, devoted to rediscovering India's history and analyzing it to core. Your blog topic is of interest, so I was wondering whether we could reproduce it in our site. Please let me know by email.

Thanks for the writeup.

M.Ritesh said...

Interesting analysis. And true as well. The squandering for finances for the sake of expanding the empire was the reason why India went from a economically well-off nation, to declining power.
The other fact that I wanted to bring attention unto - the agriculturists(the main source of revenue) and the producer class of people were so squeezed by Mughal officials and the Emperor's administration that production actually suffered drastically. Couple that with War and divisive politics, and what you get is a economic hell during the time of Aurangzeb.
I am part of a team that runs a website called www.ariseindiaforum.org, devoted to rediscovering India's history and analyzing it to core. Your blog topic is of interest, so I was wondering whether we could reproduce it in our site. Please let me know by email.

Thanks for the writeup.

Kal_Chiron said...

Ritesh Ji,

You may reproduce any of my article anywhere on internet. I have no objection, as long as you credit it to my name. Just cite the link of this article on the blog where ever you are pasting this article and I am happy.. :-)

Thanks for the gracious comment..

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