Sher Shah’s political system was monarchical. He adopted Hazrat-i-Ala. The despotism of the highest order could be seen in the politico admin system created by Sher Shah. He ruled with an iron hand. The degree of despotic control was so high he didn’t appoint the prime minister. All the power remains concentrated in hands of Sher Shah Suri.
Sher Shah’s state system was highly centralized. All the impart officials were appointed by his personality & they were directly accountable to him. Sher Shah was a strong imperialistic ruler. He organized several military campaigns to carry out the territorial expansion. He died on the battlefield itself during the seize of fort Kalinjar in 1545.
His state system was secular as he didn’t allow the religion to detect the policy of the state. He didn’t discriminate between Hindus & Muslims while delivering justice or initiating welfare measures. Elements of the cultural state were also present in the political-administrative system of Sher Shah. Despite being involved in regular wars & battles, Sher Shah paid attention to the construction of monuments & patronage to scholars.
Sher Shah demolished Din-Panah city built by Humayun to erase memories of Mughals on the same spot he built a new fort named as Purana Quila. Inside Fort, a beautiful mosque was constructed Quila-i-Qucha. Sher Shah’s tomb located as Sasaram in Bihar is the finest monument of the Medieval Age. Abbas Khan Sarvani lived in his court & dedicated his work to Sher Shah Suri. Sher Shah’s politico-admin was highly efficient & effective.
Sher Shah’s Land Revenue system
Sher Shah was a successfully military conqueror but at the same time, he was a great administrator as well. During his short reign of about 5 years, Sher Shah initiated several reforms & among these reforms, his Land Revenue reforms were most significant.
The Land Revenue reforms of Sher Shah formed an important component of his internal restructuring. Many of the elements of the revenue system were developed by him and continued by Akbar & other rulers in the future.
Essential features of Sher Shah’s revenue reforms
The Land Revenue reforms introduced by Sher Shah Suri were having elements of the Ryotwari system because the revenue assessment was carried at the level of an individual peasant by taking every peasant as a unit. The revenue collection was carried out by taking the village as a unit.
The intermediaries were used in the collection process. But they were not allowed to collect anything extra from peasant 10% of the total collected revenue was paid to intermediary for their services. Sher Shah’s revenue system was scientific & rational because the amount to be paid by a peasant was determined through survey and measurement of land.
The land was measured by taking Bigha & Biswa as units. Sikandari Gaj was the smallest unit of measurement (Sikander Lodhi). In the revenue system developed by Sher Shah, a balance was maintained between the needs of the state & interest of the peasantry. To ensure that peasants were not overburdened, the land of the peasant was divided into three categories on basis of the fertility of the soil. These categories were the good, middle & bad categories.
The sample was out from these three categories & average was taken as reforms yield to determine total production. 1/3rd of total production was demanded as Land Revenue by state. Sher Shah collected an emergency tax from the peasants. The resources mobilized through this tax were kept in a separate account. These resources were used to provide assistant to peasant during emergency time.
In case of the failure of crops, state-granted Tacavi loan. The revenue collection was also stopped if the challenge was severe. Revenue concessions were given to peasants in case the challenge was moderate. The peasants were given the freedom to pay the land revenue in either in kind or cash. For conversion of a kind into cash, a rate list was prepared by Sher Shah Suri. It was known as Sher Shah’s Ray.
The prices prevailing in the capital were used in this list. Sher Shah didn’t allow officials to misuse their discretionary powers. In the system developed by him, there was hardly any scope of use of discretion. Sher Shah’s revenue system had the provision of a Patta (title deed) certificate of land issued to every peasants and Qabuliyat (dead of acceptance) a certificate containing the description of revenue demand.
Sher Shah as a bridge between Mughal & Delhi Sultanate
Sher Shah was an Afghan by origin. Sher Shah’s polity was monarchical like that of Lodhi’s but his emphasis on power & prestige on the crown was similar to that of the Mughals. Lodhi’s belief in the Afghan theory of kingship in which the Sultan was considered as first among the equals.
Sher Shah emphasized on superior status of the crown. The nobility was treated as ordinary servants of states. The highly centralized characters of Sher Shah’s political system were reflections of Mughal policy because Lodhi believed in the idea of confectionary. Sher Shah Policy was secular like Mughals.
The elements of the welfare of Sher Shah’s political system were also similar to Mughals. Sher Shah continued provincial & sub-provincial admin developed by Lodhi Sarkar & Pargana were the admin units during Sher Shah Reign. These units emerged the first time under Lodhi. Imperial state system witnessed during Sher Shah Reign, was a reflection of Mughal policy because Lodhi didn’t focus on Imperialism. Sher Shah initiated several innovations & reform during his reign like a Mughal ruler.
Significance of Sher Shah’s Reign
Sher Shah was an empire builder. There have been very few extensive when a person starting from a secret. He faced challenges from his family as well as from outsiders. Sher Shah’s reign was famous for extensive reference. Many of the references were long-lasting.
The significance of reference could also be realized by the fact that many initiatives were continued by Akbar. Progress of Art & culture was quite a significance during Sher Shah Region.