Critical Assessment of Akbar’s Land Revenue System

The assessment of Akbar’s land revenue system must be done on two accounts viz. annual system and Dahsala system.

Annual System

The annual system was another name of uncertainty in assessment and appointment of Karoris was disastrous for the peasants. The Karoris turned rapacious and system of paying previous years taxes in current years led the peasants to sell their wives and children. Badauni writes that by the time Karoris were made accountable to Raja Todarmal, lots of damage to life of people had been already done. The uncertainty and confusion regarding taxation rendered cultivation without any incentives.

Dahsala System

Under the Dahsala system, the peasants were relieved from the uncertainty of the taxes they would be paying. Since amount due from the peasant to government treasury was fixed, the farmers had hope to enjoy some greater profits if they improve or extend their cultivation.

Apart from this, we can also examine Akbar’s land revenue system vis-a-vis ancient system. In ancient India, the share of the government was 1/6th, however, by the time of Akbar, this share had gone up to 1/3rd. This was an excessive demand because even in Akbar’s times, the other Hindu sovereigns were taking 1/6th of the produce. Various historians justify this 1/3rd share arguing that Akbar reduced or abolished as many as 29 taxes including Jehat (Manufacturing tax).

Other Systems of Mughal Era

During the reign of Akbar and his successors three more systems of revenue assessment were prevalent viz. Batai or Gallabakshi System, Kankut System and Nasaq System.

Batai or Galla-bakhshi

Batai or Galla-bakhshi was a very old system which continued during the Mughal period. This was a simple method of crop-sharing  in which the produce was arranged into heaps and divided into three shares, one of which  was taken by the state. Under this system the peasant had the choice to pay in cash or kind.

Kankut System

Kankut system was also an old prevalent method in which, instead of actually dividing the grain (kan), an estimate (kut) was made on the basis of an actual inspection on the spot and one-third of the estimated produce was fixed as the state demand. So, it was a rough  estimate of produce on the basis of actual inspection and past experience.

Nasaq System

Nasaq System was widely prevalent in the Mughal Empire, particularly in Bengal. In this system a rough calculation was made on the basis of the past revenue receipts of the peasants. It required no actual measurement, but the area was ascertained from the records.