History Optional Paper-1 Solution – 2009: Q.7 (b)
Q.7 (b) Give an estimate of Akbar as a promoter of technology.
Mughal Emperor Akbar promoted technology and even said to be invented many technology himself.
Invention of cartmill
Invention of cartmill, a cart which milled grain while it moved was invented by Akbar as claimed by Abul Fazl. Though one historian of Akbar court, Nizamuddin Ahmad attribute it to Akbar’s courtier, Fathullah Shirazi. The invention has precedence in time iver the European cartmill which appeared only in the 17th century.
Use of saltpetre for refrigeration
Akbar discovered the use of saltpetre to achieve refrigeration. It was a practice found only in India and it hasprecedence in time over chemical devices for refrigeration in Europe, which moreover required snow for initiating the process.
Inventions in artellery
Two interesting inventions in artillery are ascribed to him. First, in order to enable cannon pieces to be transported easily, he had the cannon so made that individual parts could be detached and then reassembled. The second was to arrange to have as many as 17 cannon pieces fire in unison.
Inventions in musket
Abul Fazl says that Akbar paid great attention to the manufacture of the musket. A change in manufacture of the barrel is ascribed to him. Instead of just winding a sheet of iron around a metal tube and welding its edge, far more strength was now imparted to the barrel by adopting new method which included use of twisted iron sheet and use of more than one iron sheet. The added strength allowed the barrel to be packed with a larger amount of gun powder.
For smoothening the inside of the barrel, Akbar or his mechanics invented a superb device, whereby animal power could be used to rotate drills inside the barrels of several muskets simultaneously.
Invention of Ship’s camel
Akbar’s experiments in ship-building contained the striking inventions: Ship’s Camel. When ship built at Lahore was sent down the river to Lahari Bandar (seaport of Sindh), its passage was greatly impeded in the river Ravi’s shallow stretches. So, when a new heavy ship was planned, it was constructed on a barge upon which, after the completion of the construction, the ship was carried the long way down the Indus river to Lahari Bandar.
Metal rockets and sword
Akbar utilized metal cylinder rockets particularly against War elephants. Akbar is known to have built large foundries producing the best quality sword blades.
Although a number of scientific inventions which developed under Akbar show a spirit of inventiveness, this did not spread out because the ruling class had little interest in devices affecting the labouring classes.They had the utmost contempt for those who worked with their hands. Akbar’s experiment of working in the karkhanas with his own hands was not continued by any of his successors. Hence, an attempt of using science and technology to improve productivity or the product was beyond their ken.