History Optional Paper- 1 Solution – 2001: Q.6
Q.6 Assess the impact of the market reforms of Alauddin Khilji on contemporary economy and society.
According to Barani, Alauddin set up three markets at Delhi, first for food-grains, the second for cloth and expensive items such as sugar, ghee, oil, dry fruits etc., and the third for horses, slaves and cattle.
Under the market reform, the Sultan fixed the prices of all commoditions from grain to cloths, slaves, cattle etc. To implement the reform, a controller of market (shahna-i-mandi), intelligence officers (barids) and secret spies (munhiyan) were appointed.
Impact of the market reforms on economy
(1) During Alauddin’s reign, prices of goods were low, the food stuffs and othe necessary stuffs were available easily, hoarding, blackmarketing, cheating by the business community and exploitation by the middleman were checked.
(2) The regulations provided for the rationing of grain in times of drought or famine. We do not hear of any large scale famine and death or starvation during the reign of Alauddin Khilji.
(3) Alauddin Khilji tried to control not only the supply of food grains from the villages, and its transportation to the city by the grain merchants but also its proper distribution to the citizens.
(4) Significant and lasting impact of these reforms was the furthering of the growth of a market economy in the villages and bringing about a more integral relationship between the town and the country, the furthering of the process of the internal restructuring of the sultanate.
(1) The price, control system affected trade severely. The merchants were unable to realise sufficient profits. The rule was enforced so rigidly that no corn-dealer, farmer or anyone else could hold back secretly grain and sell it above the fixed price.
The severe punishments given to erring merchants made many to stop business.
(2) The cultivators were badly affected adversely by the low price of food-grains, and the high land-revenue. Alauddin Khilji’s policy was to leave the cultivator with so little as to barely enough for carrying on cultivation and his food requirements.
(3) The regulations of Alauddin resulted in a lot of vexatious, bureaucratic controls and corruption. Perhaps Alauddin would have been more successful if he had controlled the prices of essential commodities only, or those meant for direct use by the military. But he tried to control the price of everything. Such widespread, centralised controls were bound to be violated, inviting punishments which led to resentment.
Thus, by their very nature, Alauddin Khalji’s market reforms were temporary, and largely meant to tide over an emergency, or a particular situation.
Impact of the market reforms on society
(1) Alauddin Khilji’s market reforms had impact on the society.
Since the articles were sold at cheap rates in Delhi made many to migrate to Delhi. Among them were learned men and excellent craftsmen. This paved the way for the cultural inter course among the people of the Delhi Sultanate. It helped in the development of composite culture in the society.
(2) The task of transporting food grains from the country side was generally carried out by karwans and banjaras. They were ordered to form themselves into one corporate body, giving sureties for each other. In this process they became, though unconsciously, the carrier of exchange of different ideas which further enriched the evolving socio- cultural life of Delhi.
(3) Alauddin Khalji oppressed the higher ups but provided great relief to the common man. This can be seen as a form of social justice.
Removal of middleman and lessening their power socially degraded them.
(4) Alauddin Khilji’s military strength had increased on account of the price control system. It not only provided strength and stability to the administration but also provided employment to the people. Through employment he checked the social unrest on the one hand and on the other hand he saved the people from the Mongol menace, controlled the revolts of local chiefs and led the successful expedition to South India.
(5) Grain rationing gave food and social security could have been possible due to the market regulation and other economic reforms. We do not hear of any large scale famine and death or starvation during the reign of Alauddin Khalji.
(6) Due to tough regulations with the help of officers and spies, the crime level in the society also decreased and rule of law prevailed. Roads were made safe to travel so that traders clould bring articles in the market easily.
Though crimininal acts were controlled, the heavy hand approach of Alauddin Khalji created resentment in the society.