- Give a brief introduction
- Then explain the various reasons like:
- Downfall due to the crisis of personality
- Downfall due to the inherent weaknesses in the Mughal Institutions
- Conclude appropriately
The first half of the eighteenth century witnessed the decline of the Mughal Empire. There are various explanations given by the historians behind the downfall of the Mughal Empire. They are:
1. Downfall due to the wrong policies of Aurangzeb
Aurangzeb was the last great Mughal Emperor and was blamed for the decline of Mughal Empire, due to his religious policies and expansionist military campaigns against Bijapur, Golconda and Marathas. The economic drain caused by Aurangzeb’s continuous wars in the Deccan had disastrous effects.
2. Personality Crisis
Crisis of personality is also seen as one of the major causes. The able statesmen were preoccupied more in self – aggrandizement and had little concern for the fate of the empire. During the times of crises, they could not provide leadership.
3. Weakness in the Mughal institutions:
By the time decline started, Mughal institutions suffered from weaknesses in institutions. Those include:
a) Problem in Mansabdari System:
• The Mansabdars were were paid in the form of a Jagir, that is landed estate.
• About 4/5th of the landed revenue of the Mughal was under the controls of the Mansabdars but this income was very unevenly distributed.
• However, less than 6% of the about 8000 mansabdars controlled 61% of the revenue of the empire.
• This created jealousy and tensions particularly when the resources of the empire were stagnant or even diminishing. This economic situation is known as the “Jagirdari Crisis.”
• It also created resentment against the Mughal Empire.
b) Decline of the Army:
• Crisis in Jagirdari System also led to corruption in army. No Mansabdar maintained the required number of soldiers and horses and there was no effective supervision either.
• The decline of army became more palpable as there was no fresh technological input or organizational innovation.
• The nobles now were more interested in carving out autonomous or semi-autonomous principalities for themselves, which resulted in a virtual fragmentation of the empire.
4. Agrarian crisis:
Agrarian crisis is also seen as one of the primary causes of Mughal decline. The crisis was caused by endemic state oppression aimed at extracting high revenues from the farmers. This generated resistance on the part of exploited peasants who had to choose between starvation and slavery or armed resistance.
5. More causes:
It is also believed that the Mughal decline is the result of the rise of new groups to economic and political power and the inability of a distant and weakened centre to control them any longer.
Thus, the inherent weaknesses of the Mughal body politic and the numerous contemporary operative causes had sapped the strength and spirit of the Empire.