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Real Name of Sher Shah Suri was Farid Khan. He was born in 1486AD. His father Hassan Khan Suri joined the army of Jaunpur’s Raja and progressed to the rank of general. Hassan Khan Suri choose Sasram as his permanent residence. Sher Shah Suri spent his childhood years in Sasram. He was fond of hunting and touristry from a very young age. He became very hardly and industrious. He moved from Sasram to Jaunpur and took a residence had good relations with Sher Shah’s father. At that time Jaunpur was a centre of intellectual activities which helped Sher Shah Suri to polish and enhance his capacities. Sher Shah Suri had great ambitions and also possessed the potential to achieve them.(https://eastwestknowledge.com/zahir-ud-din-babur/)
SHER SHAH SURE’s COMING TO POWER
After the banishment of Humayun, Sher Shah Suri was the sole ruler of Bengal, Bihar, Jaunpur, Delhi and Agra. But he was feeling the need for more conquest to make his kingdom safe and free from danger. First of all he conquered the Punjab which was then under the rule of Humayun’s brother. Gakhars were blazing across Jhelum and they had sympathies for Mughals. Sher Shah Suri built a great fort on the bank of river Jhelum to control the Gakhars. He garrisoned the fort with 50000 soldiers.
In 1541-42AD, after capturing Bengal and Malwa, Sher Shah Suri won many battles in Rajputana. There the Raja of Marwar was conquering neighboring states through his expansionist strategy. Sher Shah Suri felt that the growing influence of this Raja could be dangerous any time. Sher Shah encountered the Raja’s army near Ajmer. At one point in this battle his defeat was almost certain. But using his military experience and sobriety, he took control of the situation and vanquished the Rajputs. After that he conquered nearby areas and returned to his capital.
SHER SHAH’S ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS
- Sher Shah Suri was the first ruler of India who laid down an administrative structure for the sake of common people welfare.
- He tried to build a magnificent welfare state.
- During his five-year rule, despite his military involvements, he was able to enforce his reforms successfully.
- Sher Shah Suri was the first ruler who fully understood that a government should have a popular base and without this political and economical stability is impossible.
- Sher Shah Suri managed his local affairs very intelligently and with a farsightedness.
- This created an environment of progress and wellbeing, and his government prospered administratively, politically and economically.
- All military and civil power was in the hands of Sher Shah himself, and he used both for the public welfare.
- His ministers were his assistants.
- He frequently consulted these ministers but decided everything himself.
- Administrative reforms of Sher Shah are as follows:
ADMINISTARTION OF THE EMPIRE:
Empire was administratively divided into province, Sarkar, Pargana, Tehsil and Village.
Governor: Head of the province was called Subahdar (governor).
There were mainly two officials appointed to run the affairs of the government: Head Shiqdar and Head Munsif. Head Shiqdar was incharge of administrative matters. He was responsible for law and orders. Ameen was incharge of financial matters and regulate the enforcement and collection of revenue. The most important function of Shiqdar was to enforce the edicts of the king. Moreover, monitoring the work of Shiqdars in small administrative, units, parganas and villages were also among his duties.
Head Munsif :
Head Munsif was responsible for setting the lawsuits. These two officials had some subordinate staff. In each pargana, there were one Shiqdar, a treasurer and two scribes. One of these scribes was for keeping the records in Hindi and other in Pakistan. Patwaris, chaudhries, and muqaddam were a direct link between people and the government.
Appointment of officials:
Sher Shah Suri used to transfer his officials after ever two or three years so that they could not exercise undue influence and misuse their powers by working in same area for a long period.
PINCHAYAT ( COMMUNITY) SYSTEM:
Sher Shah kept the pinchayat system of village intact. Pinchayat was a council or institution in which community leaders or whole village decided their collective or individual matters.
Sher Shah Suri gave the responsibility of law and order to muqaddam or chaudhry of the respective area. They were responsible for the investigation of any murder or robbery and theft within their jurisdiction.
To enhance the effectiveness of administration, Sher Shah Suri reformed the intelligence system to monitor the local influential people and chaudharies as well as lay men. This institution was also responsible for monitoring that whether officials are teasing the cultivators and their attitude is not getting contrary to the interests of the government.
Sher Shar Suri supervised his army. He himself was in charge of recruitment of all soldiers. The soldiers were paid according to their abilities. Cantonments were established in different parts of the country. Strict measures were taken to ensure discipline in the army. No negligence was acceptable. Marauding and killing was not allowed after any victory. It was held unlawful to ruin crops during march, and if it was unavoidable, the farmers were paid appropriate compensation. Generally speaking, Sher Shah’s army was capable of taking any kind of situation.
Sher Shah Suri took following measures in his financial system :
- The yard of Sikander Lodhi’s time was made a standard for measuring the land and renamed as Yard of Sikander. All cultivatable land was measured and recorded. A piece of 3600 Sq yd of land was nominated as one bigah.
- A rate was levied on every bigah which was approximately one third of gross produce. Remaining two third belonged to cultivator and held free of any taxes.
- An officer was appointed to prepare the estimate of revenue and cultivator was involved in this process. After preparing the estimate of revenue, a document was developed and officials as well as cultivators signed it. Cultivators’ signature was to get their consent. In any contingency, revenue was reduced or waived off.
- Revenue was payable in form of cash or produce. For the betterment of cultivators, loans were granted to them on easy terms.
TAX AND CURRENCY SYSTEM:
Sher Shah Suri paid special attention toward streamlining the currency system to solve the problems of payment in import and exports. He linked currency with gold. In the beginning he issued new copper coins and named them Rupaya in place of Takka. Moreover he minted coins of silver and gold which were used for foreign trade. These coins were according to the system of 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, and 1/16 parts. Afterwards, these very coins termed as 8 annas, 4 annas, 2 annas and 1 anna. Sher Shah took many steps to encourage trade and commerce. Many extra taxes and charges were waived to free traders from extra burden. Only two types of taxes could be levied on any kind of goods, one was for incoming items and other for outgoing items. Every kind of internal custom duties were removed. Revenue and tax collection departments were given special instructions that they should not harass the traders.
SYSTEM OF JUSTICE:
Sher Shah Suri used to say that maintaining justice is obligation equally recognized by all Muslim or non Muslim rulers. He was also of the view that on governmental and social level individual and collective happiness and prosperity can be guaranteed only by maintaining justice. He tried to fulfill the demands of justice in every matter of life without any discrimination. Although Qazis were appointed at every level solve civil and criminal cases, but in case justice is denied anyone , he/she could turn to Sher Shah. He would never hindered by anything in providing him due justice.
MEANS OF COMMUNICATION:
- Sher Shah Suri constructed a highway from Bengal to Khyber (now called Grand Trunk Road) for making travelling easy and safe.
- He joined Agra with Banaras through a road and another was extended to Chitaur and Jaudhpur.
- He planted trees along these road and constructed wells at regular intervals to provide shade and water to travelers.
- There was one inn (Saray) after every 8 kos where separate dining facilities were provided for Hindus and Muslims.
- Postal offices were attached with these inns where couriers were always ready along with their horses.
- Through this system , official instructions were sent from one place to another with great speed.
- Spies and soldiers were also appointed at these inns and posts which helped in maintaining law and order and also reduced the danger of rebellion.
- Construction of these roads not only provided facility to local people, but also made the transportation of military more swift.
- Construction and safety of roads encouraged the trade.
- With the passage of time, these inns evolved into markets, and afterwards turned into villages and towns.
INSTITUATIONS OF SOCIAL WELFARE:
Sher Shah Suri started from a humble status and through his capabilities became the ruler of the Subcontinent. Most of his policies are proof of his caring for common people. He established many institutions of public welfare where free food was provided for poor and destitute all the time. He also constructed hospitals and schools to educate his people.
SUCCESSORS OF SHER SHAH AND THEIR DOWNFALL:
In 1545AD, on the death of Sher Shah Suri , his elder son Saleem Shah Suri was enthroned. He carried on the works initiated by his father during his eight year period. He was a good administrator and experience general . He successfully put off the rebellions. Saleem Shah Suri in 1553AD and his twelve year old son Feroz Shah Suri was declared a king, but his maternal uncle killed him, usurped the throne and started his rule under the title of Adil Shah. This Adil Shah was a timid person and incapable of running official business of the state. During this period, Subcontinent was disintegrating administratively and politically. Adil Shah could not control the rebellions. In Punjab, Sikander Suri declared himself a ruler. Internal disintegration of the government gave Humayun some courage. He first defeated Sikander Suri in Punjab, and then advanced to capture Delhi and Agra. After the death of Humayun his son Akbar was enthroned.
CONQUEST OF KALINJAR AND DEATH OF SHER SHAH:
In 1545AD, Sher Shah Suri strike against Kalinjar with full force. Fire balls were being hurled on the rampart. A cannon ball after hitting the wall fell into the repository of gun powder causing a great explosion. Sher Shah Suri was badly burnt by this, but he kept encouraging his soldiers to attack the fort. By the evening fort was conquered. After hearing this good news, he smiled vaguely and breathed his last . His dead body was brought to Sasram where it was laid in a tomb. Sher Shar had himself built this tomb.