Fall of Mughals

Mughal period began with Babur in 1526 after the Timurid ruler of Kabulistan defeated Ibrahim Lodi. The Mughal era continued its prime till the death of Aurangzeb in 1707. The death of Aurangzeb was succeeded with a number of weak rulers, who didn’t impact that much, as compared to the preceding rulers of the Mughal era.

Within 40 years of Aurangzeb’s death, the Mughal Empire was at its verge of disintegration.

What were the reasons responsible for the decline of Mughal Empire in India?

  • Successors fighting among themselves:
    • Since the Mughals didn’t follow any law of primogeniture, where the first legitimate child inherited all the property of the father, there were continuous war among the successors.
    • Each time a ruler died, a war of succession would follow between the brothers for the throne.
    • After Aurangzeb, the war became more apparent and weakened the Mughal Empire.
    • Instead, the nobles sitting in their respective territories, started increasing their own power, and competed with each other.
  • Aurangzeb’s Policies:
    • Aurangzeb followed religious orthodoxy, where he damaged the ethos due to his biasness towards the Hindu community.
    • This destabilized the Mughal Empire. He lost support of the Rajputs, who had contributed their strength in building of the Mughal Empire.
    • Aurangzeb’s policy had turned them into bitter foes of the Mughal empire, who at one point of time were pillars of support for the empire.
    • Further, wars with Sikhs, Jats, Marathas, and Rajputs drained all the resources available with the Mughal Empire.
  • Weak Successors of Aurangzeb:
    • Aurangzeb was succeeded by weak rulers, who became victims of conspiracies of the faction-ridden nobles.
    • Increasing revolts became difficult to suppress for these inefficient generals.
    • Further, the absence of strong central ruler, and a corrupt and efficient bureaucracy and strong army weakened the Mughal Empire.
    • Most of the kings after Bahadur Shah’s reign were weak.
  • Declining Treasury:
    • The treasury had started to deplete from the times of Shah Jahan, whose zeal for construction had increased spending of sculptures and monuments.
    • The final nail in the coffin was the continuous wars of Aurangzeb with Southern kingdoms and previous allies, which emptied the exchequer.
  • Invasions:
    • Disintegration process hastened after a lot of foreign invasions followed.
    • Especially the invasions by Ahmad Shah Abdali and Nadir Shah drained all the treasury left with the Mughals.
  • Size of the Empire
    • It became difficult to control such a vast Mughal Empire from a ruler at the centre in Delhi.
    • Challenge from Regional Powers:
    • Further, the lack of skilled administrators in the form of later Mughal rulers created a gap in the loyalty of the nobles towards the rulers.
    • Provinces far off from the Mughal empire declared independence. A rise of independence states lead to the Mughal Empire disintegration.
  • Rise of independent states in the 18th century:
    • The decline of the Mughal Empire resulted in a gap in administration, which was filled by a number of provinces who had declared independence from the empire.
    • Hyderabad:
      • Founded by Qamar-ud-din Siddiqui, the state of Hyderabad emerged as an independent powerful empire from the Mughal Empire. Qamar-ud-din was appointed as the Viceroy of the Deccan by Farrukhsiyar in 1712. He was given the title “Nizam-ul-Mulk”.
      • After establishing a virtually independent state, he returned to Delhi was Mohammad Shah was the emperor.
      • Later in 1724, he was again appointed the Deccan viceroy, this time with the title Asaf Jah.
    • Bengal:
      • In the 18th century, Bengal, Orissa (present day Odisha), and Bihar were a part of the larger Bengal area.
      • Aurangzeb appointed Murshid Quli Khan as the Diwan of Bengal.
      • Later, Farrukhsiyar appointed him as the Subedar (governor) of Bengal in 1717.
    • Awadh:
      • In the 18th century, Awadh comprised of areas of Allahabad and Awadh.
      • Saadat Khan Burhan-ul-Mulk was the Governor of Awadh, appointed by the Mughal Emperor.
      • Later, Saadat Khan declared independence of the Awadh province.
    • Deterioration of land relations
      • Instead of paying the official directly from the state treasury, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb paid Jagirs and Paibagi.
        • Jagirs were refer to refer to temporary allotment of lands to officials for their services which may be according to the satisfaction of the Emperor.
        • Paibaqi was the revenue from reserved lands which was sent to the central treasury.
      • There was a constant clash between nobles and zamindars.
    • Rise of the Marathas
      • Marathas consolidated their position in the Western India
      • They further started making plans for greater Maharashtra empire.

Thus, the Mughal Empire declined as a result of social, economic, political, and institutional factors. The British government had taken control, and allowed the East India Company to establish monopoly in 1813. Later, the company worked on behalf of the government. The 1857 rebellion prompted the British colonial office to send Bahadur Shah II, the last Mughal emperor to exile.

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