Revenue and Market Reforms of Alauddin Khilji

Alauddin Khilji made several sweeping reforms in the field of revenue system. Some of his important fiscal and revenue measures were as follows:

  • His first revenue regulation (zabita) related to the measurement of cultivable land as the principle for determining and revenue. Biswa (1/20th of a bigha) was declared to be the standard unit of measurement.
  • The state demand was fixed as half of the produce per Biswa and assessment was done on the basis of paimash (measurement).
  • Bhaga (land-revenue), Bhoga (cesses) and Kar (taxes) became the basis for the assignment of land to the nobles.
  • The sultan deprived the village chiefs and Hindu revenue collectors, such as Khuts, Maqaddams, and Chaudhuris of their privileges. They were forced to pay land revenue and other peasants were taxed.
  • Besides the land revenue, house tax (Ghari) and pasture tax (chari) were also imposed on the agrarian population.
  • Most of the small iqtas were abolished and such lands were brought under Khalisa (crown lands). Doab was also brought under Khalisa.
  • In the Khalisa lands the revenue was collected directly by the state.
  • To support his market control system, revenue was mostly collected in kind and peasants were made to sell the surplus produce at their fields only so that they could not hoard the food grains.
  • To ensure full realization of dues or arrears from the collectors, Alauddin Khilji established a new department called the Diwan-i-Mustakharaja.
  • The booty captured during war was called Ghanima, of which the state was to receive 1/5th share called the Khums; and the rest 4/5th was to be divided among the soldiers. Alauddin reversed this and the state was now entitled to 4/5th Khums, 1/5th being distributed among the soldiers.

Military reforms

Alauddin Khilji had the largest well equipped standing army. According to Firishta, there were 475,000 cavalrymen in his army. The historian, Ziauddin Barani, informs us that the annual salary of a trained armed soldier with one horse was 243 tankas and with two horses 321 tankas. The soldiers were paid in cash. He was the first among the Delhi sultans to introduce dagh (branding of horses) and Chehra (maintain the descriptive roll of each soldier) so as to avoid fraud in the system. To keep the army satisfied with their salary, he started a strict price control mechanism which came to be known as the market reform system.