Medieval India

Importance of Sher Shah Suri and Sur Dynasty

Surs had founded the Second Afghan Empire in India. They introduced a new concept of sovereignty and effected a reorientation of a political institution.
But the importance of Surs lies principally in having produced SherShah who by virtue of his conquests and administrative reforms earned for himself a place of honor among the rulers and empire-builders of India. His administrative machinery with slight modifications was adopted by Akbar and his successors as the basis of their government. Shershah was the first Muslim sovereign who placed before himself the ideal of promoting public welfare without distinction of caste or creed. Secondly he sought to organize the Afghans in such a manner that their defects might gradually wear off and their sovereignty might acquire permanence. He wanted to strengthen the defence of the frontiers so effectively that the restoration of the Mughals by invasion from without or by rebellion within should become possible.

Sher Shah Suri
Sher Shah Suri

Sher Shah’s government was as autocratic as that of Balban or Alauddin but he got it approved by the Afghan assembly itself. Thus his despotism rested on a democratic foundation. Besides his versatile genius and indefatigable industry enabled him not only to lay down the general policy of all departments but also to superintend and control its execution in detail in day to day administration. He seems to have begun with the last rung of the administrative ladder the village and had worked up to the pargana and the sarkar level but failed to find time for touching up the provincial and central government. But he could not make much headway in provincial or central government.
Sher Shah’s land revenue policy protected the interests both of the peasant and the landlord. He tried to prevent exploitation of the peasant but at the same time he did not completely abolish the traditional rights of the muqaddams and the assignees.He seems to have been conscious of the evils of the jagirdari system and yet he could not dispense with it everywhere lest it might cause discontent among the Afghan leaders. Merits of Sher Shah lies in introducing a permanent schedule of rates defining the mutual rights and obligations of the peasant and the state through patta and qabuliyat adopting measurement as the normal method of assessment and in harmonious adjustment of the interests of all parties concerned.

To improve means of communication in the Empire,old roads were repaired and new ones laid out. At intervals of four miles sarais were built which soon became the nuclei of new market towns. Sher Shah made separate provision for supplying food and water to Hindu and Muslim wayfarers. Sher Shah planned these roads to connect the capital with the various provinces of the empire so that in case of necessity troops might be rapidly rushed to the affected region. The sarais served as convenient camping grounds for the military forces especially when a market town grew up around it. The sarais was used as dak-chaukis where harkaras and mounted news carriers were posted for carrying news to the next sarais both up and down the road.
The Afghans dominated politics from 1451 to 1555 and during this period they did a number of remarkable things. They put an end to the anarchy which had come in the wake of the weak rule of the later Tughlaqs and the Sayyads and strove to build up a strong centralised government.
Independent kingdoms of Malwa, Jaunpur and Bengal had ended and nobles of the central region were made amenable to discipline and obedience.
The Afghans introduced a new ideal of government and instead of autocratic domination of the nobles they tried to govern in collaboration with them. In cooperation with the Hindus they tried to found a government based on national solidarity. They were patrons of men of learning and piety.
They made administration of justice more efficient and improved the lot of the peasantry. In establishing internal peace and security they made the people shoulder a part of the responsibility which made them self-reliant and imparted stability to the government.

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