BA LLB I year, I semester Indian history sample question answer on Administration of Sher Shah Suri
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Q. 1. Give an account of the administration and chief reforms of Sher Shah Suri.
Ans. His Administration. “Sher Shah was we first Musalman ruler who studies. He had the genius to see that government must be popularised and that the king must govern for the benefit to his subjects”. (Dr. Crooke) Sher Shah was undoubtedly one of the ablest rulers of India.
He consolidated his power practically the whole of North India in a few years. The system of administration that he evolved combining the best elements in the Hindu and Muslim traditions of India. His administrative reforms which based on Ala-uddin’s institution in some respects.
He had a powerful army of 130000 cavalries, 25,000 infantry 300 war elephants, and a grand park of artillery and kept it under his control.
In order to make direct contact with his soldiers, he himself recruited them and fixed their salaries according to their merits.
2. The practices of banding the horses and maintaining the descriptive roles of the soldiers were revised to avoid fraud and mal-practices in the army.
3. The troops were paid fixed and regular salaries from the stale Treasury so that they might not feel any convenience because of the delay in their pay.
4. Sher Shah treated his soldiers very kindly and did everything to remove their difficulties. But he did not let his kindness interfere with the discipline and efficiency of the army. If any soldier was found guilty of indiscipline, he was severely dealt with.
5. Many new Torts were built al strategic places while the old ones were properly repaired. Strong garrisons were put to guard them under the charge of Faujdars. The fort of Rohtash alone could accommodate as many as 5000 soldiers.
6. A majority of soldiers in the army were the Afghans but persons of other nationalities were also given high position one of his trusted generals was Brahmajis Gaur.
Sher Shah himself was the head of the central government, and all the civil and military powers of the state were centralized in his favor. His short rule of live_years was marked by many beneficent reforms in every branch of administration.
He divided his whole empire into forty-seven divisions called Sarkars and these again subdivided into smaller administrative units called Parganas. The Sarkars were administrated but two high officers known as Shiqdars and Munsiss also supervised the work of the subordinate officers of the Parganas.
To prevent the undue local influence of the officers in their jurisdictions Sher Shah introduced the device of transferring them every two or three years. He was a strict desalination and personally suppressed the details of every branch of administration.
He took special care for the maintenance of peace and order. He had always the welfare, of the lie at his heart. In the words of crooks, “Sher Shah was the ruler who attempted to found an Indian Empire broadly based upon the peoples will”. The village community was responsible for crimes within its borders.
Provincial Administration. The empire is divided into 47 Sarkars. Each Sarkar comprised a large number Parganas. The chief officers in Parganas were a Munsif (Judge). Shiqdar in charge of law and order,
Amin in charge of the collection of revenue, treasurer, and a Hindi and Persian visiter. Each Pargana was sub-divided into villages. In each village, there were Mugaddam, the Chaudhary, and the Patwari. The village Panchayats also played an important part in the administration of villages.
Land Revenue System Sher Shah’s land revenue policy is an important landmark in the history of Indian agrarian systems. It was based on sound principles and so it supplied an excellent model to the future rulers of India,
(i) First of all, he got the whole land measured and then fixed the land revenue on actual measurement (i) 1/4 to 1/2 of the total produce was fixed as the share of the state. The cultivators were allowed to pay their revenue either in cash or in kind.
Sometimes the ryots were allowed to pat their revenue officers. For the benefit of the cultivators, the officers were instructed to be lenient at the time of assessment but they were not to show any mercy at the time of collection. Sher Shah was very careful in the interests of the cultivators.
In the times of famine and droughts, advances were liberally made to the sufferers. The soldiers were specially instructed not to damage the crops while marching. Any soldier who was found guilty of a violation of this rule was deprived of his ears and the suffered cultivator was paid the full compensation for his loss.
This land revenue system worked so efficiently that it was adopted not only by Emperor Akbar but also by the Britishers. Keene has remarked, “No government, not even the British have shown so much wisdom as this Patban”. It is for his reforms and administrative measures that Sher Shah deserves a place at the forefront of medieval history.
Police Arrangements. To secure peace and order, the police system was reorganized and the principle of local responsibility for local crimes was enforced. The village headmen were made responsible for the detection of criminals and maintenance of peace in rural areas.
The efficiency of the system has been testified to by all the Muslim writers, ‘Such was the state of safety of the highway’, observes Nizamuddin, who had no reason to be partial towards Sher Shah, ‘that if anyone carried a purse full of gold pieces and slept in the desert for nights, that was no need for keeping watch’.
If there was any case of theft or robbery anywhere the Muqaddam of that area was held responsible for that. Go had either Trace the culprit or make good the loss. Likewise, if there
was any case of murder, the Muqaddam had to (race the murderer or in case of his inability to do so, he himself had to lose his life. Judged by modern standards, the system may appear too crude but it resulted in complete security of life and property.
Espionage System. In order to keep himself well informed about everything that was going on in his provinces and to keep a strict watch on his governors and other state officials. Sher Shah organized an Intelligence Department and appointed some very efficient spies.
With the help of these spies, he kept himself in touch with every part of his kingdom and was able to check corruption and rebellions in time. Infect much of the success of Sher Shah is administration was due to the efficiency of his spy system.
Justice. Sher Shah had a very strong sense of justice had its administration under him was even-handed, no distinction being made: between the high and the low, and not even the close relatives of the king being spared from its decrees.
In the Parganas, the civil suits were disposed of by the Amin and other criminal cases were disposed of by the Qazi and the Mir-i-Adal. Several Parganas had over them a Munsif-i-Munsifan to try civil cases. At the capital city, there were the chief Qazi, the Imperial Sadr, and above all the Emperor as the highest authority in judicial and other matters.
Communication. For the purpose of Imperial defense and to serve trade and commerce as well as for the convenience of the people, Sher Shah connected the important places of his kingdom by a chain of excellent roads. The longest of these, the Grand Trunk Road – which still survives extended for 1500 ‘Kos’ from Sonargaor in Eastern Bengal to the Indus. Another road ran from Agra to Bushanpur, another from Agra to Jodhpur and the fort of Chittor, and a fourth from Lahore to Multan.
Following the traditions of some ‘rulers of the past, Sher Shah planted shade-giving trees on both sides of the important roads, and resthouses at different places were built at regular intervals to accommodate the Hindus and the Muslims separately.
These Sarais or resthouses also served as dak hawkish and rest houses for the government servants and the public alike. In the words of Dr. Qanungo, “These Sarais were, the variable arteries of the empire diffusing new life among the hither to benumbed limbs”. In fact the various roads and Sarais
built by Sher Shah Suri were much responsible for the success of his administration and the promotion of trade and commerce.
Currency System. Sher Shah’s currency and tariff reforms were also calculated to improve the general economic condition of the empire. He not only introduced specific changes on the mint but also tried to rectify“the progressive deterioration of the previous kings”.
He reformed the tariff by removing vexatious customs – and permitting the imposition of customs on articles of trade only at the frontiers and in the places of sale. This greatly helped the cause of trade and commerce by facilitating easy and cheap transport of merchandise. In those days debasing coins was very common.
The coins of all the previous kings were also in circulation which caused a good deal of confusion. The exact ratio between the various coins of different kinds was not also known. Sher Shah issued a large number of gold, silver, and copper coins.
Fixed their ratio to each other and thin abolished all the old metal currency. His silver rupee continued during the Mughal period.
Encouragement to Trade. For the promotion of trade and commerce, he also took various steps. The establishment of roads and the introduction of new currency brought about great commercial prosperity. Unnecessary taxes and customs were abolished
Charitable Endowment. Sher Shah was very liberal in the matter of making charitable endowments and grants. Various mastabas and Madarsas were established and stipends were granted both to the teachers and the taught.
The poor and the destitute were given all possible relief. Free kitchens were provided where free food was distributed among the needy and the destitute. He spent 80,000 Asharfecs on these tree kitchens.
Religious Policy. He was a Sunni Musalman but he was well disposed towards other sects and religion. The Hindus were treated well and got justice at his hands. He allowed religious toleration. His best generals were mostly Hindus. A large portion of his army was also composed of Hindus.
They enjoyed equal comforts and facilities in the Sarais which he had constructed on the roadsides. He did not destroy the Hindu temples or compelled them to become Muslims. He allowed them to worship freely in their own way.
Buildings. Sher Shah ruled only for five years and during his short period he was not expected to pay any attention towards the
promotion of arts and agriculture. Even then he left behind him some of the most magnificent forts of Rohtasgarh on the Jhelum lo serve as the first line of defense on the north-west frontier. Purana Qila of Delhi is also said to have been built by Sher Shah.
His own tomb at Sasaram in Bihar is one of the most magnificent buildings in India. Sher Shah was a great builder. Built a new city in Delhi. The achievements of Sher Shah entitle him to a very high place in the medieval history of India.
The main principles of the state, a policy of Sher Shah were –
(i) Fairness of character of the officials,
(ii) Proper discharge of duties,
(iii) Close contact with the people to understand their difficulty,
(vi) Kindness and service (vii) Public welfare and (viii) Proper control over the provinces. It has been rightly remarked about him. “No government not even the Britishers have shown so much wisdom as the Pathan”.
Q. 2. “Sher Shah was the forerunner of Akbar”. Discuss.
“It was Sher Shah, not Babur who laid the foundation over which Akbar raised the superstructure of the Mughal empire.” Explain!
Ans. Keene has rightly remarked that “no government, not even the Britishers have shown so much wisdom as this Pathan”.
He was true, the greatest administrator among the Pre-Mughal rulers of India or in Medieval India. The extensive reforms that he introduced in his short reign of five years is clear proof of his’ extraordinary executive ability. In many respects, Sher Shah showed himself as a fare runner of Akbar inability and statesmanship.
Sher Shah was a forerunner of Akbar. Akbar was, undoubtedly the greatest ruler of the Mughal dynasty. But if we study closely what he had done and achieved we will at once come to the conclusion that he had borrowed a good deal from his Afghan predecessor i.e. Sher Shah Suri.
His grandfather Babur had no time to do anything constructive and Humayun also could not achieve anything because he merely ‘tumbled in life and tumbled out of il’. It has been, therefore, rightly remarked, “Il was Sher Shah and not Babur who laid the foundation over which Akbar raised the superstructure.” Akbar learned and borrowed from Sher Shah mainly in the following fields :
(i)by Religious Tolerance: Most of the Delhi Sultans were not tolerant towards the people of other creeds and faiths. Sher Shah treated all his subjects equally without and discrimination of caste and creed.
He realized the importance of cooperation from the Hindus. Akbar followed this policy of tolerance to persons of all communities. He achieved even greater success in this respect
ü Provincial Government: Both for convenience and efficiency Sher Shah divided his empire into Sarkars, Parganas and village communities. He took great interest in the administration of these divisions and kept a strict watch over the conduct of his officers. Akbar also followed this system.
He divided his empire into many, divisions and sub-divisions and appointed honest and efficient officers to administer them.
(iii) Land Revenue System: The most important thing for which Sher Shah is remembered in history in his land revenue system, Akbar adopted the same system as was followed by Sher Shah. Sher Shah measured the whole land, fixed the state spare and safeguarded the cultivators from the oppressive officers. Akbar’s minister Todar Mal also followed the same system in the case of land revenue.
(iv) Military Reforms: Sher Shah was very keen upon increasing the efficiency of his army. He introduced several military reforms and supervised the recruitment of the soldiers personally. He introduced the system of taking down the descriptive rolls and branding the horses to prevent corruption and the evil practice of salse musters. Akbar also followed these practices and organized the army on efficient lines.
(v) Equal Justice to all. Sher Shah not only gave an impartial justice to all the people but also organized the whole system of justice on efficient lines. He-regarded “justice as the most excellent of all the religious rites.” No man could escape punishment because of his high birth or position or economic resources: He even punished his own relatives if they were found guilty. This system of equal handed justice to all people without discrimination was also-followed by Akbar the “Mughal Emperor.
(vi) Currency System: Sher Shah had introduced a scientific system of courage for the convenience of the public and promotion of trade and commerce. Almost the same system of currency and coinage was also followed by Akbar.
A large number of copper, silver, and gold coins were introduced to meet the requirements of trade and people. These coins were copied not only by the Mughal Emperor but also by
the English. In this direction also Sher Shah proved a worthy forerunner of Akbar.
Similarly, in many directions, Akbar owed a good deal to Sher Shah who indeed was the great genius and a great ruler.
His police system, the spy system, encouragement of art and literature, fondness for artistic buildings, etc., all impressed Akbar who followed and administered in his footsteps. Thus Sher Shah has been rightly styled as the ‘forerunner of Akbar in policy and administration.
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