Market Reforms of Alauddin Khilji

The market control system and the economic regulations issued to that effect, were the most revolutionary and remarkable reforms made by the Alauddin.

Objectives of Market Reforms

As per Barni, the basic objective of these reforms was to maintain a large and efficient army for keeping the Mongols in check. Such a large army could not be maintained and kept content out of the normal revenues of the state, unless the prices of commodities were reduced. Thus, economic regulations were primarily a military measure.

However, this view of Barni is debated because several commodities, for which the prices had been fixed, were of little or no use to the soldiers. Besides, merely for the military needs such extensive economic reforms were not needed. This view of Barni can be supplemented with that of Amir Khusru. He says that sultan introduced these reforms for the general welfare of the people and these were intended to ensure the supply of important commodities for the benefit of common people as also collect food grains for the royal treasury at prescribed rates to combat famines.

Major Reforms

The economic regulations issued by the sultan for controlling the markets were as under:

  • Zawabit or detailed regulations were made to control the prices of various commodities, from food grains to horses, cattle and slaves, which were fixed by the state. No change was permitted in the price of the commodities without the state’s permission.
  • He tried to control prices along with its availability and distribution. The Karwanis or Banjaras carriers formed a guild where they became guarantors for each other.
  • The cultivators were not allowed to hoard. Only 10 mound {1 mound=40 kg} of grain they could store. Rest they had to sell into market.
  • Four separate markets were established for various commodities central grain market, market for manufactured goods, market for general merchandise and market for horses, cattle and slaves. Each market was put under the charge of a Shuhna or controller of market, and all merchants were to be registered with the state. The sultan received daily reports for the markets from the three independent sources – Shuhna, barids (intelligence officers) and munshis (secret spies).
  • Very strict punishment was prescribed for cheating and under-weighing. Shehna-i-mandi was appointed to keep a strict vigil.
  • To reduce the prices of the costly or imported commodities, the state used to subsidize their costs. But such subsidized items were sold on a permit issued by the permit officer (Parwana Rais), appointed by the state.
  • There was also provision for rationing during famine, drought or scarcity of food drains.
  • Sarai-i-adl was the market for clothes, which was setup near the royal palace at Badayun gate.
  • Horse trade was monopoly of the Afghans and Multanis. The middlemen and dalas sold them in the market. Alauddin did away with the intermediaries and asked the merchants to sell the horses directly to the Diwan-i-arz.
Impacts of Economic Regulations

The economic regulations of Alauddin were the greatest administrative achievement of the Sultanate period. The prices remained steady and there was no change in them even after lack of rain or other causes. It was a unique and remarkable achievement. The success of these economic measures was largely due to the genius and personal attention of the sultan. These measures failed to survive his death because they operated against economic laws.

Last Updated: June 5, 2016

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