Zamindari System in Mughal Era

Zamindars during the Mughal era were petty landholders in the villages, descendants of old ruling families who retained small portions of their ancestral lands. These also include the rajput and other chiefs who exercised autonomous administrative authority in their principalities. They had hereditary rights of collecting land revenues which could go up to 25 percent of the revenue. They generally made collection from the individual peasants at rates fixed by custom or by themselves and paid a fixed tax to the Government. The difference between his collections and the amount he paid to the state was his personal income.

If the state demand reached the maximum that the peasant could pay, a deduction of 10 percent was made from the total amount of revenue and paid to the Zamindars as malikana .

Please note that in Mughal Era, the Zamindar was not the owner of the land and the peasants could not be dispossessed of land as long as they paid land revenue. Only later Zamidars became prominent and some of them had militaries and forces. Sometimes the state had to use military force against recalcitrant Zamindars for the realization of revenue.

In some respects of Zamindars and the peasants were natural allies in any struggle against the Mughal government. Hereditary succession to Zamindari was the general rule. Zamindari was divisible among legal heirs and could also be freely bought and sold. Normally in the Mughal empire villages were divided into zamindari and raiyati (non-zamindari) areas.

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