The Economic Reforms of Alauddin Khilji
Alauddin Khilji introduced many economic reforms during his rule. Alauddin had to maintain a huge army. This had become all the more imperative in view of Mongal raids and internal revolts. He had, besides, the ambition of conquering the whole of India. However, such an army could not be permanently maintained without straining the resources of the State. Hence Alauddin fixed the salaries of his huge army at a very low level. Accordingly the Sultan’s main concern was to enable the soldier to live on his pay. To this end he resolved to control the prices of necessaries.
Alauddin fixed the prices of food grains, cloth and other commodities, and had them enforced rigorously. Everything was set down in tariff; vegetables, fruits, sugar, old, horses, caps, shoes, combs, and needles.” No one was permitted to purchase grain from the cultivators directly. Only the authorized traders could do so. All merchants in Delhi were required to register themselves. “To the merchants he gave wealth, and placed before them goods in abundance”. In return they had to sell all commodities at the fixed rates. All types of speculation and black marketing were stopped.
Alauddin’s economic measures had also another important aspect and that related to his land revenue policy. In this the Sultan had twin motives. First, he wanted to establish direct link between the States and the tillers of the soil. At the same time he wanted to raise the revenue from the land. The Sultan also put an end to the special privileges of the Chaudhuris (headmen of the parganas), Khuts (zamindars), and Muquddams (headmen of the villages). They were not allowed to ride on horseback, to find weapons to get the cloths. Besides the State collected the revenue in kind from the Khalisa lands. The Sultan introduced two new taxes—a horse tax and a tax on all milk cows.
Alauddin s economic measures and more specifically his market regulations have been regarded by historians as marvels of ‘medieval statesmanship’. But the economic soundness of those measures is not above dispute. To be sure these measures were restricted to Delhi and its suburbs. Secondly, it has been said that the Sultan fixed the prices of food grains, cloth, etc. far below the usual market rate; hence he did not care for the cost of production, his sole motive being to enable his soldiers to live in comfort even on moderately low salaries.