History Optional Paper-1 Solution – 2009: Q.5 (c)
Q.5 (c) Write short essay on: “Muhammad Tughluq as an agrarian innovator.”
After coming to the throne, Md. Tughluq increased the land revenue demanded from the cultivators. New cesses were levied and old cesses, grazing tax (charai) and house tax (ghari) were collected in rigourous manner. This increased burden on the farmers excessively. His experiments like the exodus to Deogiri, the failure of the Khurasan expedition, and the withdrawal of the token currency resulted in heavy loss to the treasury.
All these resulted in severe famine, peasant revolts and financial problems.
The Sultan realized that adequate relief measures and the improvement of agriculture were the real solution to the problem. He conceived of a grand design to extend and improve cultivation by taking following innovative steps:
Advancement of agricultural loan (sondhar)
To cope with the famine, relief camps were opened in Delhi. He also advanced agricutural loans (sondhar) to dig wells and to buy seeds and implements.
Establishment of agricultural department
Muhammad Bin Tughlaq had set up a separate department of agriculture (Diwan-i-Amir-Kohi) and appointed a minister to look after it. The main object of the department was to increase the land under cultivation. He planned to extend cultivation in the barren area so that no land would remain uncultivated.
Improvement in cultivation
Md. Tughluq planned to improve the production of land already being cultivated. To improve the production, crop rotation was introduced and crop pattern was changed:
(a) Wheat in the place of Barley
(b) Sugarcane in the place of Wheat
(c) Grape and Date in place of Sugarcane.
He also established model farm of 60 square miles under the state for which the government invested 70 lakhs tankas over the period of two years for improved cultivation.
Though Md. bin Tughluq spent an exorbitant sum of money but entire scheme and the scheme was abandoned after three years. The corruption of the officer, inferior quality of land chosen for farming and lack of interest of cultivators who were assigned land under government administration were accountable for the failure of the scheme.
Nevertheless, the scheme cannot be called a total failure. The idea of extending and improving cultivation with the help of agricultural loans became a standard practice with later sultans, and became a part of the agricultural policy of the Mughals. Thus, Muhammad bin Tughlaq’ agrarian innovation helped in the evolution of an agrarian policy which matured fully under the Mughals.