Muslim historian of Akbar, Badayuni, who also took part in the famous Battle of Haldighati

Muslim historian of Akbar, Badayuni, who also took part in the famous Battle of Haldighati



In What Way, and to What Degree, Did the Mughal State Inhibit Smithian Growth In India in the Seventeenth Century?

The nature of the seventeenth-century Mughal state and its land
revenue taxation system has become a matter of controversy in recent
years. Irfan Habib and his followers dominated thinking on this subject from
the sixties onwards. They saw the regime as highly centralized and
essentially extractive in nature. The land revenue system was designed to
extract the whole surplus, leaving the peasants immiserated. Trade was
sterile in that it was state inspired, and required to meet the cash demands
of the tax system. ‘Natural’ commerce and Smithian growth scarcely existed,
since there was no surplus after the state had taken its share.
This view has been challenged by economic historians such as Frank
Perlin, David Washbrook and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, who believe that
much of the revenue was redistributed back to local interests, and that there
were thriving regional and, for some goods, national markets. They also
think that central control was weak in many areas, especially southern India,
and that the proportion of agricultural produce actually collected was much
less than claimed by Habib.
The dissertation looks firstly at the evidence that the state extracted
the whole surplus, and in particular at a statistical study by Shireen Moosvi,
based on source data from the A’in-I Akbari. The quality of the source and
the internal consistency of Moosvi’s calculations are examined, and the
conclusion reached is that the peasants could not have paid at the level
The second part of the study is particularly concerned with the growing
spatial division of activity, characterized by free market exchange, because if
this was happening then Smithian growth was underway. This section looks
at merchants and credit institutions, external and internal trade, and
revisionist thinking. The associated subjects of transportation and the
structure of the textile industry are also touched upon.
The overall conclusion is that while some agricultural production was
consumed by the peasants and so did not enter the market, and much was
doubtless exchanged to meet revenue demands, there was also a
commercial economy, which may well have borne comparison with premodern Europe and China.

Disappointing to see such tweets from @DalrympleWill

It is almost a consensus that the Indian economy had a precipitous decline between 1600 and 1800, much of which coincides with the heyday of Mughal rule

You don’t have to be a part of “Hindutva right” to concur with this

William Dalrymple


Brilliant piece from @RanaSafvi answering centuries of British anti-Mughal propaganda later imbibed & propagated by the Hindutva right. My own research has led me to similar conclusions:

No, Mughals didn’t loot India. They made us rich  via @dailyo_

No, Mughals didn’t loot India. They made us rich

They remained as Indians, not colonists.

1,680 people are talking about this
mentions There is a tendency to reflexively think of Mughal rule as something that belongs to 1500s

But Babar landed in India only circa 1526 or so

Till mid-late 17th century, Mughal rule was hardly a strong pan-Indian presence

So when we judge Mughal rule one should focus on the period of its greatest extent – 1600 to 1750 or so

The work of Broadberry/Bishnupriya is unambiguous in its conclusion that PCI declined during this period – long before the “decline” of the empire set in

On the Mughal administration being an “extractive” one-

The thesis is not put forward by any Hindutva person, but by Irfan Habib himself, as well as Shireen Moosvi

Hardly right wing

Shireen Moosvi, who did her dissertation under the supervision of Irfan Habib, undertook a detailed study of Ain-i-Akbari in the 1980s

Her conclusion –

The state appropriated 56.7% of the total produce!

Yes 56.7%

Her research focuses on five North Indian provinces –

Agra, Delhi, Lahore, Allahabad, Avadh

The total population of these provinces estimated at 36MM

The average income per peasant family estimated by her to be 380 dams per annum – roughly 1 dam per day

Post-script : To give some context, a “Dam” was the standard copper coin in Mughal India

Roughly 40 dams made a Rupee

Having discussed Shireen and Habib, let’s move to what William Wilson Hunter, the author of the famous Gazetteers of the 1880s had to say about the land tax regime of the Mughal Empire, and how it compared with the tax regime of British India
In his impressive 1882 work titled “The Indian Empire”, Hunter said –

“The total revenue of Aurangzeb in 1695 was estimated at 80 million sterling.

The gross taxation levied by British India between 1869 and 1879 was 35.3 million sterling”

So what does that tell us –

The Mughal Empire collected two times as much tax as the British Raj did in 1880s despite presiding over a perhaps smaller population

And the economy of 1695 was definitely not bigger. As the PCI estimate for 1880 is no different from that of 1700

Pause over this –

The Mughal Empire (circa 1700) collected twice as much land revenue as the British Raj (circa 1880) – though the economy size was about the same in both periods

Please note that the 80MM vs 35MM pounds contrast pertains to gross taxation

Of which the land-revenue itself corresponds to 38.6MM pounds (out of 80MM) as opposed to 21MM pounds in the 1882-83

Here’s a table detailing Aurangzeb’s collection of 38MM+ in land tax alone circa 1697 (source : Manucci)
After having gleaned the numbers, let’s examine Hunter’s own remarks

“If the Hindu village system may be praised for its justice, the Mughal farming system had the merit of efficiency. Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb extracted a larger land revenue, than we obtain at the present day”

Ofcourse Hunter is not using “efficiency” to mean agricultural productivity here.

He is merely implying –

We are not so good at extracting from the peasants as Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb

References –

“Indian Empire” by WW Hunter can be read here –

The numbers from Shireen Moosvi – I got from this other paper which is slightly critical of her work. But nonetheless, the figures are from here

Mudaliar, Mookerjee, not Nehru, built India’s scientific institutions

Nehru showed apathy towards science, but he and his supporters have taken credit for these establishments.


Indira Gandhi, echoing the ideas of others who had made similar statements, once said, “There are two kinds of people, those who do the work, and those who take the credit.” She must have observed this first hand from close quarters as some of her family members have taken credit for the work of others.

According to Jawaharlal Nehru and his hagiographers like Shashi Tharoor, it was Nehru who came up with the idea of introducing science in India and was the force behind the creation of India’s scientific establishments. This claim has been converted into “truth” by relentlessly repeating it so many times that students of propaganda around the world could use it as a case study to learn how to effectively manufacture and spread their own “truths”. Tharoor, whose political career hinges on pleasing the Nehru family, understandably lays it a bit thick when he credits Nehru for 40% of Silicon Valley’s startups.

In reality, it was through the vision and effort of Arcot Ramaswami Mudaliar that the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research came into existence in 1940 and it was Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee who built it up. Nehru had no part to play in it and his name got attached to CSIR as the nominal president by virtue of him becoming the Prime Minister of India. During this period, Nehru explained his lack of contribution: “The members of the governing body will appreciate that it is difficult for me to devote much time to many aspects of the work of the Council… For the present, Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee will, however, look after the day-to-day routine work of the Council.”

A number of laboratories were set up by Dr Mookerjee, including the National Physical Laboratory, National Chemical Laboratory, National Metallurgical Laboratory, Fuel Research Institute, Ceramics Research Institute, Central Leather Research Institute, and the Central Electro Chemical Research Institute. It was during Dr Mookerjee’s tenure that plans had also been made for the integration of Pykara, Mettur, Shimoga and Sivasamudram as one electrical grid.

By the 1940s, India already had the infrastructure for supporting scientific activities and India’s Hindu civilisation had generated many scientific ideas and scientists over thousands of years. Institutes like the Banaras Hindu University which was founded by Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, the Indian Institute of Science, the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science which had been founded in 1876, the core of Indian Statistical Institute, and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, all pre-dated Nehru’s time in office, but Nehru and his supporters have taken credit for the creation of these establishments. Among the public sector units, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited had been set up by Walchand Hirachand as a private business and it supplied state-of-the-art aircraft to Britain for its war efforts, but it rapidly deteriorated after the Nehru government started managing it.

The founding of the Indian Institutes of Technology and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences too had nothing to do with Jawaharlal Nehru. While the IITs had their genesis in the N.M. Sircar Committee report of 1945, Nehru’s indifference towards setting up medical institutes was captured in an exchange between Dr Mookerjee and N.G. Ranga in the Constituent Assembly. When Dr Mookerjee mentioned that a committee under the chairmanship of Dr Arcot Lakshmanaswami Mudaliar had been set up to establish an All India Medical Institute, N.G. Ranga highlighted Nehru’s statement opposing the All India Medical Institute in Delhi on the grounds that the housing problem had to be solved first.

This was of course standard rhetoric on the part of Nehru. His pro-Soviet leanings came to the fore time and again, including in the infamous Avadi Resolution of the Indian National Congress calling for the imposition of the “socialistic pattern of society” on India and the Second Five Year Plan, which focused on his effort to transform India into a communist economy on the lines of the Soviet Union. According to this plan, production in both the agricultural and manufacturing sectors would be converted into large-scale factories under the monopolistic control of the government, and the entire population would be dehumanised and converted into cogs in the wheels of the massive government machinery, with the workers given just enough to lead subsistence lifestyles. A chosen few including Nehru himself, his family members, and his friends would be declared intellectuals and thinkers, and they would be the only ones who led lives of luxury, occupied top government positions, and controlled the resources of the country. They would also be awarded titles and honorary degrees in the same way that members of the class which came to be known as the “nomenklatura” in the Soviet Union were awarded titles, while the rest of the population would appreciate and applaud them, and even hero-worship them and their statues placed strategically around the country.

It was this flawed vision which made Nehru indifferent to the All India Council of Technical Education’s recommendation to set up management institutes, and instead go ahead with his effort of creating Joint Management Councils in industries. Such councils would supposedly end the “social contradiction” of authoritarianism at the workplace and democracy in society and usher in an era of “industrial democracy”. Parallel efforts in the agricultural sector resulted in Nehru attempting to impose the method of Soviet-style collective farming on the country. Needless to say, both these policies ended with disastrous results and can be blamed for many starvation deaths in the country.

Nehru’s apathy towards science and his support for “socialist” pseudoscience is best illustrated by his treatment of Srinivasa Sourirajan and other scientists. Nehru propped up his supporters and made them the key people, who ended up influencing the Indian scientific institutions over the next few decades. Soon, there were complaints of a class of “science bourgeoisie” who were oppressive and squelched talent, resulting in an exodus of scientists leaving India, a problem that came to be labeled “brain drain”.

One such scientist who left India after completing his doctorate degree and teaching for a brief period was Srinivasa Sourirajan. In 1958, not long after he reached the United States, he created the world’s first membrane capable of desalinating sea water through the process of reverse osmosis. He then admitted Sidney Loeb as a partner in his project, and together, they patented the commercial version of this membrane. It is this technology that has quenched the thirst of millions of people in many countries including Israel and Saudi Arabia. While Israel has celebrated Sidney Loeb and has invested in the membrane, the Nehruvian establishment ensured that no one in India would hear of Sourirajan or his technology. Last heard of, Sourirajan was at a very advanced age living in Canada, and scientists in the area of membrane technology had nominated him for the highest honours in the world. The least India could do is to award him a Bharat Ratna and seriously look into implementing his technology to solve India’s water shortage and also ensure that the project is not named after Jawaharlal Nehru.

Taking credit for the work of others continues to this day by admirers of the Nehru family. Hearing them say it, one would be led to believe that Rajiv Gandhi and Sam Pitroda were responsible for the telecom revolution in India due to the technology they created. In reality, Pitroda failed to deliver on his indigenously built telephone exchange for which the government had given him a huge amount of money, and he ended up being investigated by the Nambiar Committee and also faced allegations of financial irregularities.

Recently, Priyanka Vadra was also quick to give credit to her great grandfather Nehru when India tested an anti-satellite missile. This was despite the fact that neither DRDO nor ISRO resulted from Nehru’s ideas or efforts. While DRDO was set up by grandfathering in two units of the military that had existed since the 1920s, the rocket launching facility at Thumba was born out of the insecurity of Western nations that lagged behind the Soviet Union in space technology. They used the United Nations to insist that space research be a collaborative effort which included all countries in the world and India benefited from this program when Thumba was chosen as the site of an international facility for launching sounding rockets.

Nehru also opposed acquiring missiles and the atom bomb and stated, “The distribution of this toy—the atom bomb, ballistic missiles and the like to other countries will not only be dangerous, very dangerous, but it will completely poison the already disturbed atmosphere of the world today.” He termed making the atom bomb “dangerous and dreadful” and was the first person to advocate the racist policy of excluding India and other Asian countries from the nuclear club—a policy that would later be written into the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that India would spend decades fighting—when he claimed that “the going of this atomic weapon into an Asian country would be a dreadful thing, a very dangerous thing”.

While the Nehru flatterers constantly came up with excuses for the poor infrastructure in India, be it roads, the transport system, or basic amenities such as sanitation and the garbage disposal system, two non-Nehruvian governments between them built 55 flyovers in Mumbai to ease the traffic congestion, came up with a modern commuter rail system in Delhi which other cities have sought to replicate, built the Golden Quadrilateral, opened up the internet to the common people, brought cooking gas to poor people, and built toilets for those without access to them.

Nehru has also taken credit for unification of India and the democratic values of Indian people even though Sardar Patel had to trick him and send the Army into Hyderabad, and Nehru’s contributions to democracy have been India’s First Amendment, which abridges the free speech rights of Indians and the use of Article 356 to dismiss the state governments of political opponents. Nehru’s various follies in the arena of foreign policy such as taking Kashmir to the United Nations, turning down the Security Council seat and instead lobbying for China to be made a Security Council member, and losing a war to China through mismanagement are too well known and need not be elaborated here. Among other dubious distinctions of Nehru are nepotism in the form of giving a plush ambassadorship to his sister and the Congress presidency to his daughter, overseeing the first corruption scandal in India, overseeing the first case of booth capturing, and indulging in self-aggrandizement.

In closing, it is worthwhile to reflect on the immense damage to India inflicted by Nehruvian Sovietism. Keep in mind the description of the state of India by the parliamentarian Dr B.N. Singh just three months before the death of Nehru, “If you take a glimpse of the rural India, you will see a more ghastly spectacle-indescribable poverty and misery in every village, a daily income of. between 19 and 31 nP for over half of the population; population increase outstripping national income growth, illiteracy still between 70 to 80 per cent, caste’s apartheid spreading within society like a fungus disease, an epidemic here and a famine there, corruption in the police, graft in Government, cynicism and patronage in higher politics, bullying and intimidation in lower, gloom and frustration written large on the face of the people.”

Arvind Kumar can be reached at

India 1871 Sex Ratio

Memorandum on the Census of British India of 1871-72

Snippets from history(1871): Contrary to much popular narrative of EIC, India’s sex ratio was much better than current national average(CNA). Ratio of female(12+) to male(12+) is much better than CNA. Female infoeticide was just another propaganda

sex ratio


sex ratio2

Stuff from the book – “The Imperial Age of Kannauj” written by Shri KM Munshi

In this thread I will post stuff from the book – “The Imperial Age of Kannauj” written by Shri KM Munshi.
It deals with the period of roughly 700-1000 CE and the tripartite struggle for supremacy btw Rashtrakutas, Pratiharas & Palas and the emergence of Kannauj as a power centre
It was an age of great achievement for Hindus. The all conquering Arabs were beaten back and Nepal was taken back from Tibetans. Rashtrakutas were based in the South, Pratiharas in North West and Palas in Bengal.
A little background. Area btw Haridwar and Unnao was called Aryavarta in post Vedic times, later on the name was used for entire Bharata and Madhyadesha was used for the original area(current state of UP).
When the North was overrun by the Hunas…
…during the last phase of Gupta empire around mid 500s, a liberator named Isanavarman from Kannuaj drove out the Hunas and thus the city came into prominence
Forward to 712 the Arabs had conquered Sindh and in 725 under gov Junaid invaded the mainland overruning Saurashtra and reached Ujjain. At this time a hero by the name Naghabhata emerged and rallied the various Kshatriya clans of Raj, Guj, MP….
…faced the invading Arabs and inflicted a crushing defeat on them and thereby laying the foundation of the Gurjara-Pratihara empire. Gurjara refers to area of South Raj and Gujarat
The Rashtrakuta was founded by Dantidurga around 750, he was a fuedatory of the Chalukyan Empire and overthrew it.
Prior to that he helped the Chalukyan king Vikramaditya II defeat an Arab invasion alongside the Gujarat fuedatory Pulakesin…
…in the Battle of Navsari in 738 ending Arab designs of conquering Gujarat. Dantidurga set up his capital in the city of Manyakheta near modern day Sholapur.
He then expanded northwards defeating the Pratiharas near Ujjain.
The Pala empire too is established around 750 when the eminent men in Bengal elected Gopala(hence the name Palas) as their king to end the anarchy prevelant in those parts.
All three wanted to control Kannauj and the nearby Ganga valley.
Nagabhata was succeeded by Vatsaraja, Gopala by Dharamapala and Dantidurga by Dhruva.
Vatsaraja made the first move and marched on Kannauj. The ruler of Kannauj, Indrayudha accepted his suzerainty…
Dharampala decided to march on Kannauj from his base in Bengal.
Vatsraja gathered his foces and met Dharampala somewhere in the Gangetic doab.
Vatsraja won a convincing victory and captured Dharampala’s imperial standards.
At the same time Dhruva had gathered his forces…
along the banks of Narmada and was waiting for the right time to strike.
After the Pala-Pratihar battle mentiond above he crossed the Narmada and met Vatsraja’s army near Jhansi.
The Pratihara army was completely routed and Vatsraja had to take refugee in the deserts of Rajputana
Dhruva then turned towards the remaining Pala army in the Doab. He gained a quick victory and Dharampala retreated into Bengal. The damage suffered by the Pratiharas was much more severe than the Palas.
Dhruva was far away from his base and was old thus couldn’t press further…
..into Kannauj. Armed with glory and rich booty he returned back into Deccan.
Dharampala had gotten away with a good part of his army intact. With the Pratiharas badly damaged this left the North on a platter for Dharampala.
He marched on Kannauj and defeated Indrayudha…
..installed his own puppet king Chakrayudha on the throne of Kannauj.
Dharamapala held his court in Kannauj in a victory celebration where many northern chieftains came and paid tribute to him accepting his overlordship. Thus Dharampala became lord of the North for a brief period
Nagabhata I was succeeded by his son Nagabhta II, an able and energetic ruler who revived the Pratihara empire. He secured his western flank by defeating the Arabs and then secured the southern flank against the Rashtrakutas whose new king Govinda III, son of Dhruva was facing… internal rebellion by his brother.
Nagabhata then marched on Kannauj and captured it from Chakrayudha, the Pala puppet.
Dharampala gathered his army and met Nagabhata. The Pratiharas won a decisive victory and Dharampala retreated back.
But history was to repeat itself.
Govinda had consolidated his power by now and decided to follow his father’s footsteps.
He crossed the Narmada and met Nagabhata’s army in Bundelkhand.
Rashtrakutas won again and Nagabhata retreated back into Rajputana.
Dharampala and Chakrayudha submitted to Govinda(they proba..
.bly invited Govinda to attack Nagabhata). Satisfied with the win Govinda went back to Deccan and Dharampala once again extended his sway over large parts of North India.
Dharampala was followed by his son Devapala who ruled from 810-850. He was a worthy successor and extended Pala control over Assam. Although he suffered some early reverses against Nagabhata and his grandson Bhoja he managed to maintain Pala supremacy over North India
Meanwhile in Deccan Amoghavarsha succeeded his father Govinda and ruled from 814-878. He was a 12-13 year old boy and initially faced many rebellions both down South in Vengi and in Gujarat. It took him a few years to consolidate his power. Taking advantage of the situation…
..Palas and Pratiharas consolidated their position against the Rashtrakutas and took over some frontier territories.
Amoghvarsha didn’t have imperialist ambitions towards the North unlike his ancestors and didn’t invade the Ganga valley
Mihira Bhoja ascended the Pratihara throne following his father Ramabhadra(who was a weak ruler).
He ruled from 836-882 was a remarkable king and took his empire to new heights.
It was during his time that Kannauj became the permanent capital of Pratiharas.
Initially he…
..consolidated his power in Rajputana.
He tried to advance against Palas but was defeated by Devapala. To the south he was defeated by the Gujarat branch of Rashtrakutas. He thus bided his time and gathered his strength. Devapala’s death in 850 gave him the right opportunity…
..he moved against the Palas and defeated them convincingly moving his territory right upto Bihar.
To the south he defeated Krishna II, Amoghvarsha’s successor along the banks of Narmada and extended his rule over Malwa and Gujarat. He thus ruled over most of North India.
Arab traveller Suleiman in 851 wrote of Bhoja and his empire – ” No Indian king has a finer cavalry. He is unfriendly to Arabs and is the biggest foe of the Mohammedans”.
Bhoja repelled many muslim/arab attacks and secured our western border.
Bhoja was succeeded by his son Mahendrapala who ruled from 883-907. He maintained the territories of his father.
The Pala empire disintegrated after Devapala’s death in 850. His succesors were unmartial and were defeated by Pratihara and Rashtrakutas. Palas became a local force..
..and their territories taken over by their rivals.
Mahipala acsended the Pratihara throne around 908.
Al Masudi, a native of Bhagdad visited and attests to the great power and resources of the king of Kannauj and the general peace and prosperity.
It was not to last however.
Indra III came to Rashtrakuta throne in 915. He had the same expansionist design as of his ancestors Dhruva and Govinda.
He crossed the Narmada and then the Yamuna around 918 and destroyed the city of Kannuaj. Mahipala ran for his life.
Indra went back to Deccan and Mahipala…
…managed to recover most of his empire to his credit. But the Pratiharas were obviously weakened by this devastating raid
The descendants of Mahipala continued to rule but there was a steady decline in Pratihara control over their dominions. Further blow was given by Krishna III the Rashtrakuta ruler who led another raid on the North in 963.
The Pratihara empire soon disintegrated and 3 powers emerged from it – the Chauhans of Rajasthan, Solankis of Gujarat and Paramars of Malwa.
Descendants of Krishna III were weak and unpopular. The Paramar king Siyaka crossed the Narmada and sacked the capital city of Rashtrakuts, Malkhed.
This greatly weakened their power and prestige and Rashtrakutas were soon deposed by a fuedatory who claimed descent form Chalukyas
Thus ended the age of the three empires.
In history books in school we read that Harsha was the last great North Indian king.
In my view however this title should go to Mihira Bhoja who ruled over an area probably larger than Harsha.
The Pratihara was the last great North Indian empire of the ancient times.
Even Dharampala and Devapala were great Northern kings.
This period is often overlooked in our books which jump from Harsha to Ghazni. But then we know our textbooks are a pile of crap.
The chief contribution of Pratiharas was their successfull defence against invasions from the West. From days of Junaid in 725 till Ghazni in 1020 they acted as a bulwark against Mohammedan invasions.
Review of Rashtrakuta Empire