The administration of Aurangzeb’s was completely in his hands . Aurangzeb looked into the minutest details of administration, he read the petitions submitted to him and either wrote orders with his own hand or dictated them. All his officers and ministers of Administration were kept under his strict control and were never allowed to share with him the initiation or formation of policy. This was because Aurangzeb would not tolerate a rival authority in the state.
There was over-centralization of the administration. The ministers of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb were reduced to the status of mere clerks and were given sincere responsibilities. This resulted in great administrative degeneration and helplessness. Thus, though the framework of the administration remained the same as under his predecessors, a vast change occurred in the manner and the spirit in which the institutions were worked.
At Aurangzeb’s death in 1707, the Mughal Empire consisted of twenty-one provinces, fourteen of which were situated in Northern India; one, i.e., Afghanistan outside India, and the remaining six in the Dakhin. As in the time of Akbar, every province had a governor, a diwan and several other officers who were appointed by the emperor and were responsible to him.
Despite Aurangzeb’s strictness and ability as a ruler, the provincial administration greatly deteriorated on account of his more than twenty-five years’ absence from Northern India and continuous wars in the Dakhin. Law and order were disregarded by local chiefs and zamindars in several provinces as the natural result of the weakening of the central authority caused by the emperor’s absorption with never ending wars and also on account of his unwise policy of religious intolerance.
The land revenue administration of the Mughal empire amounted to about thirty-three crores and eighty-five lakhs of rupees. Besides the land revenue, other important sources of government income were zakat (realized from Muslims), jiziya (poll tax from Hindus), salt tax, customs duty, mint and spoils from war.
The mode of assessment and collection of revenue established by Akbar under the name of Todar Mal’s ryotwari system was allowed to fall into disuse, and its place was taken by the farming system, i.e., allowing the contractors to realize the revenue from the tillers of the soil and not by the officials of the state under the direct supervision of the government. On account of this change the condition of the teeming millions was worse than under Akbar or Jahangir.
Foreign trade did not occupy an important place in the economy of the Mughal Empire. India exported indigo and cotton goods. After agriculture, cotton industry provided occupation to the largest number of people. The chief imports into the country were glassware, copper, lead and woolen cloth. Horses from Persia and spices from the Dutch Indies, glassware, wine and curiosities from Europe, slaves from Abyssinia and superior kinds of tobacco from America, were also imported. But the volume of trade was small and the government’s income from import duties was not more than 30 lakhs of rupees a year. The Mughal army under Aurangzeb had increased considerably. He was engaged in fighting throughout his life and naturally, therefore, he needed a much larger army than his predecessors.
The expenditure on the army under Aurangzeb was roughly double of that under Shah Jahan. But in spite of the emperor’s vigilance and strictness and his ability as a general, the administration system and discipline of the Mughal army were far inferior to those in the time of Akbar. There was also deterioration in the morale of the Mughal troops.