On the Great Sultan Cum Economist par Excellence: Alauddin Khilji

On the Great Sultan Cum Economist par Excellence: Alauddin Khilji
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Alauddin Khilji was a great reformer, ruler and economist par excellence. Despite the fact that he had never studied the discipline of politics and economics formally he was well versed with the fundamentals of politics, governance, and economics which is why he was successful in bringing economic reforms in the subcontinent during his rule. The main aim behind Khilji’s involvement in revenue reforms, market reforms, military reforms, and social reforms was to improve the economy, emphasize the significance of fiscal and monetary policy coupled with the price-control measures for wide variety of goods and services (Irfan, 2002), and to solve societal problems in general and economic problems in particular.
His reforms were based on the notion of control and fear as the foundation for good governance together with his military goals (Chandra, 2004). The greater part his reforms were fashioned out to consolidate power in his hands and to back up a large army.
An erroneous policy distorts the economy; a wrong endeavor degrades the whole edifice of the economy, and may eventually collapse it. Economic policies of Alauddin were marvelous and can be divided into Agrarian Reforms and Market Policy. The essence of the former was to reduce the gap between villages and the government in the area spreading from Dipalpur and Lahore to Kara near present-day Allahabad.
Further, the land revenue in this area was fixed at half of the produce and evaluated on the basis of measurement. In addition, it was calculated in kind but demanded in cash which is why growers had to dispose of their produce to banjaras or sell it locally. Apart from Khalisa land, no additional cesses were to be charged, except a grazing tax on cattle (charai) and house tax (ghari) both being imposed earlier and were traditional in nature. The implementation of the taxes over a large area of land was a striking feature of Alauddin’s tax system which was possibly the one foundation from his period of influence that persisted the longest, enduring indeed into the 20th century (Habib, 1982).
Agricultural program framers recognize the middleman as a speculator who takes away large profit margins and benefits from small growers thereby leaving them with little income levels (Ellis, 1996). The privileges of the middlemen or intermediaries/khuts (also muqaddams) were curbed by him through these taxes. Prior to Alauddin Khilji’s economic and land reforms the intermediaries were very wealthy, passing on the burden of their land revenue share on to the shoulders of the weak, and had conspicuous consumption. But, after Alauddin came to the throne, he not only forced them to pay the taxes (grazing tax and house tax) but deprived them of amassing land revenue, reducing them to the balahars and made them obedient to the king (Saksena, 1992). The growers got benefitted from these taxes as their burden was shifted to the upper classes.
The vision of Alauddin Khilji on the political economy of the subcontinent, revenue reforms, market reforms, military reforms, and social reforms is a guiding light and a symbol of hope. He is undoubtedly one of the great economists until today. In the subcontinent, Khilji was the second and the most influential and commanding ruler of the Khilji dynasty which ruled the Delhi Sultanate. He desired to turn out to be the second Alexander (Sikander-e -Sani), and this designation of his was stated on coins and public prayers. His reforms have practical and functional implications and are therefore brilliant.
Khilji is among the few to inspect the active working of the polity and economy methodically, logically and systematically. He stabilized and well-adjusted the power between his own appointees and the officers appointed by the Mamluks. He is famous for the consolidation of power and he also augmented the power of the Sultanate’s armed forces. His soldiers were gifted with the remuneration in cash and not kind of a year and a half. Happiness is a comprehensive term than economic development. The ‘economic development’ for which the world has been struggling hard for last many periods is capable of providing only material happiness to mankind and it could not attend its non-material part. For economic development happiness is a sine-qua-non. Ziauddin Barani wrote that Alauddin’s first year as the Sultan was the happiest year that the people of Delhi had ever seen (Saksena, 1992).
Khilji appointed market superintendents and detectives from whom he received independent reports in order to ensure that the goods were sold at regulated prices. Black economy weakens the growth and development prospects of the economy and in order to prevent a black market, his government banned farmers and traders from storing the grains, and established granaries run by the government where its share was stored. In order to facilitate speedy transportation and distribution of grain to Delhi, the government made it compulsory for the transport workers to re-settle in villages at specific distances alongside the river Yamuna (Kulke & Rothermund, 2004).
The great Sultan made changes in the agriculture system and while reforming the agrarian system, he tried to safeguard the effectual and candid working of the mechanism of revenue administration. This was not easy since with the extension of the Khalisa, large number of accountants (Mutsarrif), collectors (Amils) and agents had to be appointed. He desired that the accounts of all these officials should be audited strictly by the Naib Wazir and Sharaf Qais. Any mistakes made by them were severely punished. He was prepared to give them sufficient wages to lead a decent life, but took a serious action for black-marketing, bribery and corruption. None of the Amils and Mutsarrifs could take bribes, and had long been reduced to such a position by hardships, imprisonment for long period or torture for small outstanding dues that people considered these posts to be worse than any disease or fever, and dare not to marry their daughters to those who hold these posts. A significant and lasting effect of Alauddin’s agrarian reforms was the furthering of the growth of market economy in the villages and bringing about a more integrated relationship between the town and the country.

The reforms of Alauddin Khilji helped the then economy and polity in many ways, whose usefulness and efficacy was a cause of sensation and guidelines to the generations. His capability to control market prices effectively made him a hero in the eyes of the world , in general, and the Islamic world, in particular, r and many rulers after him were able to control market prices effectively. Economics is a scientific enquiry conducted by economists with a purpose to know the origin, development, change, and fall of the economy. History is witness to the fact that the rise and fall of economies is a matter of how they consider their economic and political factors in the general and political economy in particular. All those economies are underdeveloped who had a bad political economy because they neglected their political and economic factors in policy making. Underdeveloped economies in general and Islamic world in particular, must revisit the reforms of great rulers in general and Alauddin Khilji in particular so as to correct their political economy and decide their social, political and economic teething troubles.

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Irfan Habib. (1982). “Northern India under the Sultanate: Agrarian Economy”. In Tapan Raychaudhuri; Irfan Habib. The Cambridge Economic History of India: Volume 1, C.1200-c.1750 (https: //books .google .com/ books ?id=L-s8AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA62). CUP Archive. ISBN 978-0-521-22692-9.
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Hermann Kulke; Dietmar Rothermund. (2004). A History of India (https://books .google .com /books ?id=TPVq3ykHyH4C&pg=PP1). Psychology Press. ISBN 978-0-415-32919-4.
Satish Chandra (2004). Medieval India: From Sultanate to the Mughals-Delhi Sultanate (1206-1526) – Part One (https://books.google.com/books?id=L5eFzeyjBTQC). Har-Anand Publications. ISBN 9788124110645. templatestyles stripmarker in |ref= at position 778 (help)

The author is a Research Scholar at the Department of Economics, Central University of Kashmir, an Academic Counsellor, IGNOU STUDY CENTRE 1209,S.P. College, Srinagar and Editor in EPH – International Journal of Business and Management Science & Asian Journal of Managerial Science. She is also an Ezine Articles Expert Author; IJRULA title awards, 2018 winner (Best Researcher, 2018) and can be reached at: qadribinish@gmail.com