Mughal Emperor Akbar

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What were the contribution of the Mughal emperor Akbar to the creation of an Indian national Identity? What were the greatest obstacles to his achievement in this?

The greatest of the Mughal's emperors, Akbar, attempted the creation of a

national identity for India by his numerous reforms, literal and cultural

development, and policies of integration and organization. His reforms

included a liberal policy toward the non-Muslims, religious innovations, the

land revenue system and the famous Mansabdari system. His policy of

religious toleration became the most significant aspect during his reign.

Akbar established a new religion, the Din-i-Ilahi. But Akbar's attempt to

create a national identity and a social equilibrium through his religious

and political innovations was met with many obstacles and much

opposition.

Akbar's approach to the problem of effectively governing a vast empire,

made up of various ethnic groups, was to identify his interests with those

of the country and set himself to unite all his subjects. Akbar introduced a

policy of reconciliation and assimilation of Hindus, who represented the

majority of the population. Akbar understood the importance of tolerance,

which was paramount to his dynasty's long-term viability. The Hindus

could only be reconciled by equality of treatment and respect for their

institutions. Their employment was beneficial to the empire, as many

were better businessmen than the Muslim invaders who were uneducated.

Having defeated the Rajputs, the most militant of the Hindu rulers, he

allied himself with them, by recruiting many capable Hindu chiefs with the

highest ranks in government and by conferring honours upon them. To

further build alliance with the Rajputs, he encouraged intermarriages

between Mughal and Rajput aristocracy, setting himself as an example by

marrying daughters of three leading Rajput chiefs.

Akbar's acts of tolerance were aimed at the Hindu community as a whole

and not just at the Rajputs, who became one of the pillars of the empire.

His efforts to win over the Hindu population included reforms like, allowing

all Hindus to practice their own religion without disturbance, and Akbar

further flattered them by personally participating in the celebrations of

Hindu festivals. Furthermore, he eliminated the bitterly resented tax,

called jizya, which was imposed on non-Muslims from the beginning of the

Islamic expansion. In addition, Akbar eliminated the ‘pilgrimage' tax

required by non-believers when traveling to Hindu pilgrimage sites.

Akbar allowed Hindu territories to maintain a large degree of autonomy. In

all other Muslim kingdoms, non-Muslims came under the same law, the

Shari'a, as all Muslims. Akbar, however, allowed the Hindus to remain

under their own law, called the Dharmashastra, and to retain their own

courts. For the first time in Muslim India, Hindus enjoyed the status of full

citizens.

A feature of Akbar's reign was the many administrative efforts he made in

his attempt to create an Indian national identity. Akbar developed a

centralized federal government that delegated tasks to powerful

bureaucracies. He introduced the Mansabdari system, which

systematized the civil and military administration. When Akbar became

Emperor, he took over a feudal lordship and through his many reforms; he

left behind him a state built upon regulation and a graded imperial service.

Such a service with regular ranks and fixed salaries had not been

organized before. It presented an opportunity for great generals,

confidential ministers, trusted women or royal princes to make their mark

in history by their achievements through the empire. Akbar paid his

officers in cash. Another significant administrative contribution was the

land revenue...
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