The establishment and expansion of the Delhi Sultanate led to the evolution of a powerful and efficient administrative system. At its zenith the authority of Delhi Sultan had extended as far south as Madurai. Although the Delhi Sultanate had disintegrated, their administrative system made a powerful impact on the Indian provincial kingdoms and later on the Mughal system of administration.
The Delhi Sultanate was an Islamic state with its religion Islam. The Sultans considered themselves as representatives of the Caliph. They included the name of the Caliph in the khutba or prayer and inscribed it on their coins. Although Balban called himself the shadow of God, he continued to practice of including the name of Caliph in the khutba and coins. Iltutmish, Muhammad bin Tughlaq and Firoz Tughlaq obtained mansur or letter of permission from the Caliph.
The office of the Sultan was the most important in the administrative system. He was the ultimate authority for the military, legal and political activities. There was no clear law of succession during this period. All the sons had equal claim to the throne. Iltutmish even nominated his daughter in preference to his sons. But such nominations or successions were to be accepted by the nobles. Sometimesulemas played crucial role in accepting the succession to the throne. However, the military superiority remained the main factor in matters of succession.
The Sultan was assisted by a number of departments and officials in his administration. The post of Naib was the most powerful one. The Naib practically enjoyed all the powers of the Sultan and exercised general control over all the departments. Next to him was the Wazir who was heading the finance department called Diwani Wizarat.
The military department was called Diwani Ariz. It was headed by Ariz-i-mumalik. He was responsible for recruiting the soldiers and administering the military department. He was not the commander-in-chief of the army. The Sultan himself was the commander-in-chief of the army. The military department was first set up by Balban and it was further improved by Alauddin Khalji under whom the strength of the army crossed three lakh soldiers. Alauddin introduced the system of branding of the horses and payment of salary in cash. Cavalry was given importance under the Delhi Sultanate.
matters. The Hindus were governed by their own personal law and their cases were dispensed by the village panchayats. The criminal law was based on the rules and regulations made by the Sultans. The department of correspondence was called Diwani Insha. All the correspondence between the ruler and the officials was dealt with by this department.
The provinces under the Delhi Sultanate were called iqtas. They were initially under the control of the nobles. But the governors of the provinces were called the muqtis or walis. They were to maintain law and order and collect the land revenue. The provinces were divided into shiqs and the next division was pargana. The shiq was under the control of shiqdar. The pargana comprising anumber of villages was headed by amil. The village remained the basic unit of the administration. The village headman was known asmuqaddam or chaudhri. The village accountant was called patwari.
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