Ain-i-Akbari was a Mughal chronicle authored by Abu’l Fazl. It was a combination of five books (dafters).
• Ain-i-Akbari was completed in 1598. It recorded the arrangements made by the state to ensure cultivation, to enable the collection of revenue by the agencies of the state and to regulate the relationship between the state and rural magnates, the zamindars.
• Ain presented the vision of Akbar’s Empire where social harmony was provided by a strong ruling class. Any revolt or assertion of autonomous power against the Mughal state was, predestined to fail.
• Ain gave the account of a diverse population that existed in the Mughal Empire. It was composed of Hindus, Jainas, Buddhists, and Muslims and thus represented a composite culture.
• The Ain also gave detailed accounts of the organization of the court, administration, and army, the sources of revenue and the physical layout of the provinces of Akbar’s empire and the literary, cultural and religious traditions of the people.
• It mentioned the intricate quantitative information of the various provinces (subas) of the empire. It also gave a detailed picture of the sarkars below the suba.
• It informed the emperor about the varied and diverse customs and practices prevailing across his extensive territories.
• Ain is important as it provides us a glimpse into the structure and organization of the Mughal Empire and by giving us quantitative information about its products and people.
Limitation of Ain-i-Akbari includes:
• Numerical errors have been found. This pertains to simple slips of arithmetic or of transcription by Abu’l Fazl’s assistants.
• Skewed nature of the quantitative data means that the information has not been collected uniformly from all provinces. For instance, information on caste composition is not available for Bengal and Orissa.
• Important fiscal parameters such as prices and wages have been documented only in and around the capital of Agra. This cannot be applied in the whole of India.
The village panchayat was an assembly of elders, who enjoyed hereditary rights over their property. It was an oligarchy which consisted of a few important people of the village community. However, it represented various castes and communities in the village except for the menial cum agricultural workers. The decisions taken by the panchayat were binding on its members.
• The village panchayat was headed by a headman known as muqaddam or mandal. His chief function was to supervise the preparation of village accounts, assisted by the accountant or patwari of the panchayat.
• There was a common financial pool from which the panchayat derived its funds from the contributions made by the individuals. These funds were used for covering the expenses of entertaining revenue officials and for community welfare activities.
• One of the major role performed by the panchayat was to maintain the caste boundaries among the various communities of the village, so as to prevent any offense against their caste. The social practices and traditions associated with each caste were upheld.
• Panchayat also had the authority to punish those who committed any serious crime and levy fines. It can even expel the member from the community.
• The village panchayat acted as the court of appeal which ensured that the state carried out its moral obligations and guaranteed justice. It settled conflicts between “lower -caste” peasants and state officials or the local zamindar.
Thus, the village panchayat performed several responsibilities and was an integral part of the Mughal state.
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