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
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
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
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