Indian Government (pre and post British Empire)

The Mughals were the richest dynasty to have ever existed, originating in 1526 when Babar (1482-1530), a Turkish-Mongol prince from Afghanistan, invaded India in 1526. During the Mughal era, the dominant political forces consisted of the Mughal Empire and its tributaries (people who would pay money to the Mughal Empire) and, later on, the rising successor states – including the Maratha Empire – which fought an increasingly weak Mughal dynasty. The Mughals, while often employing brutal tactics to subjugate their empire, had a policy of integration with Indian culture, which is what made them successful where the short-lived Sultanates of Delhi had failed. This period marked vast social change in the subcontinent as the Hindu majority were ruled over by the Mughal emperors, most of whom showed religious tolerance, liberally patronising Hindu culture. The famous emperor Akbar, who was the grandson of Babar and considered the greatest Mogul emperor to ever rule, tried to establish a good relationship with the Hindus. Akbar declared “Amari” or non-killing of animals in the holy days of Jainism. He rolled back the jizya tax, a tax solely for non-Muslims. He also conquered all of Northern India and Afghanistan, extending his rule as far south as the Godvari River. However, later emperors such as Aurangazeb tried to establish complete Muslim dominance, by destroying temples and taxing non-Muslims. During his reign, the Mogul control in south India came under more pressures with the increase of strong attacks by the Hindu Maratha princes, as the empires power and strength started to decline. The decline was also due to the erosion of tradition by having the Mughal emperors marry local royalty, ally themselves with local maharajas (rulers), and attempt to fuse their Turko-Persian culture with ancient Indian styles. This coupled with increased brutality and centralization that played a large part in the dynasty’s downfall after Aurangzeb. However it was the British control of India that largely brought about by the fall of the Mogul Empire and the subsequent division of India.

After the rule of the British Empire came crown rule in India in 1858 (The beginning of Raj). The Raj never encompassed the entire land mass of the sub-continent. Two-fifths of the sub-continent continued to be independently governed by over 560 large and small principalities, some of whose rulers had fought the British during the ‘Great Rebellion’ (1857, look at my blog about it for more information), but with whom the Raj now entered into treaties of mutual cooperation. But the ‘Great Rebellion’ did more to create a racial chasm between ordinary Indians and Britons.


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