The zamindars were landed proprietors who also enjoyed certain social and economic privileges by virtue of their superior status in rural society.
• Under the Mughals, the zamindars held extensive personal lands termed milkiyat, meaning property. Zamindars hired labor for cultivating these lands which they could sell, bequeath or mortgage at their own will. Thus, they established markets (haats) to which peasants also came to sell their produce.
• Zamindars were entrusted with a responsibility to collect revenue on behalf of the state for which they were compensated financially. They also had control over the military resources.
• Most zamindars had fortresses (qilachas) as well as an armed contingent comprising units of cavalry, artillery, and infantry.
• Thus, zamindars constituted an apex position in the Mughal countryside.
• Zamindars consolidated their position by colonizing new lands, by transfer of rights, by order of the state and by purchase.
• Zamindars played a very important role by helping in settling cultivators by providing them with the means of cultivation, including cash loans. The buying and selling of zamindaris accelerated the process of monetization in the countryside.
• Mughal Zamindars were not viewed as exploitative. Rather their relationship with the peasantry had an element of reciprocity, paternalism, and patronage.
Forest dwellers in the Mughal agrarian society were known as jangli. The word jangli did not mean the absence of civilization rather it connoted the livelihood of those coming from the gathering of forest produce, hunting and shifting agriculture. These activities were season specific and thus perpetuated mobility in search of employment. For instance, Bhils collected forest produce during spring, practiced fishing in summer, cultivated in monsoon and practiced hunting in autumn and winter.
For the state, the forest was a place of refuge. It provided a good defense to those who did not pay taxes. Even, external forces also maintained contacts with the forest dwellers. They levied peshkash from them which included the supply of elephants required for the army. Hunting expeditions were also conducted by the state to establish contacts with the subjects. This enabled the emperor to travel across the extensive territories of his empire and personally attend to the grievances of its inhabitants.
The spread of commercial agriculture brought change in the lives of forest dwellers. Major items such as gum lac, honey were exported from India. Thus trade began to take place in the parts of sub continent.
Even the social structure of the village community had an effect on the lives of forest dwellers. Each tribe had a chieftain which eventually becomes a zamindar and built his own army. The members of their tribes were recruited to provide military service. For instance, the armies of Tribes in the Sind region comprised 6,000 cavalries and 7,000 infantry.
Thus, the forested zones were no longer kept away from the influence of other cultures. Gradually the tribal kingdom acquired a monarchical system.
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