NCERT Solutions for Class 12 History Chapter 8: Peasants, Zamindars and the State

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Chapter8. Peasants, Zamindars and the State Agrarian Society and the Mughal Empire
TextbookThemes in Indian History-II
CategoryNCERT Solutions for Class 12

It is important to use NCERT Solutions for Class 12 History as they can give students a clear understanding of the syllabus. Class 12 History has fifteen chapters, and our NCERT Solutions are a detailed guide that covers each of them. It provides step-by-step solutions to all the questions in the textbook. On this page, we have provided you with complete Solution of Chapter 8 – Peasants, Zamindars and the State.

NCERT Solutions for Class 12 History Chapter 8

Peasants, Zamindars and the State Solutions

Q1) What are the problems in using the Ain as a source for reconstructing agrarian history? How do historians deal with this situation?


  • The Ain-i Akbari written by Abu’l Fazl in 1598 contains invaluable information for reconstructing the agrarian history of the Mughals. But it has its own limitations.
  • Numerous errors in totalling have been detected. These are, however, minors and do not detract from the overall quantitative accuracy of the manuals.
  • Another limitation is the skewed nature of the data. Data was not collected uniformly from all provinces. For example, Abu’l Fazl has not given any description regarding the caste composition of the zamindars of Bengal and Orissa (Odisha).
  • The fiscal data collected from various sources is in detail yet some important parameters such as, wages and prices have not been incorporated properly.
  • The detailed list of prices and wages found in the Ain-i Akbari have been acquired from data pertaining to the capital Agra and its surrounding regions. It is, therefore, of limited value for the rest of the empire.
  • Historians have dealt with the situation by supplementing the account of the Ain by information got from the provinces. These include detailed seventeenth- eighteenth centuries revenue records from Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. These have been also supplemented by records of the East India Company.

Q2) To what extent is it possible to characterise agricultural production in the sixteenth-seventeenth centuries as subsistence agriculture ? Give reasons for your answer.


  • During Mughal, India was basically an agricultural country. In the Mughal state of India a different varieties of crops were produced. In Bengal two varieties of rices were produced. But the focus on the cultivation of basic crops does not mean that only subsistence agriculture existed in medieval India.
  • The Mughal state encouraged peasants to cultivate varieties of crops which brought in revenue especially cotton and sugarcane.
  • Cotton was mainly grown in vast area which was spread over central India and the deccan plateau, whereas in Bengal sugarcane was mainly produced.
  • Many varieties of cash crops such as oilseeds including mustard and lentils.
  • An average peasant of that time grew both commercial and subsistence crops.

Q3) Describe the role played by women in agricultural production.

Answer) The role played by women in agricultural production was as mentioned below:

  • Men and women worked shoulder to shoulder in the fields.
  • Men tilled and ploughed, while women sowed, weeded, threshed and winnowed the harvest.
  • During the medieval period, with the growth of nucleated villages and expansion in individuated peasant farming, the basis of production was the labour and resources of the entire household.
  • Inspite of above, there were biases related to women’s biological functions. For example, menstruating women were not allowed to touch the plough or the potter’s wheel in western India, or enter the groves where betel-leaves (paan) were grown in Bengal.

Q4) Discuss, with examples, the significance of monetary transactions during the period under consideration.

  • The political stability provided by the Mughal helped in establishing hoarsening trade relation with Ming (china), Safavid (Iran) and Ottoman (Turkey) empires. It led to increase in outland trade from China to the Mediterranean Sea.
  • The Discovery of new lands and sea routes also gave an impetus to Asia’s trade with Europe. As a result enormous amount of silver entered India as payment for goods bought from India.
  • Jovanni Karari, an Italian traveller, who passed through India in 1690 has written how the silver reached India from all parts of the world. From his description, we also came to know how there was an exchange of cash and goods in India in the 17th century.
  • This benefitted India as she did not have enough resources of silver. Therefore, from the sixteenth to the eighteeth centuries there was sufficient reserves of silver in India and the silver rupya was available readily.
  • The mutual exchange in villages took place. As villagers established their links in the urban markets, there was a considerable increase in monetary transactions. In this way, villages became an important part of the monetary market.
  • It was due to the monetary transactions, became easier to pay daily wages to the labourers in cash and not in kind. This resulted in an unprecedented expansion in the minting of coins and circulation of money allowing the Mughal state to extract taxes and revenues in cash.

Q5) Examine the evidence that suggests that land revenue was important for the Mughal fiscal system.

Answer) The following evidence suggests that land revenue was important for the Mughal fiscal system:

  • As the land revenue was the economic mainstay of the Mughal Empire, there was an administrative apparatus to ensure control over agricultural production, and to fix and collect revenue in the empire. There was diwan who was responsible for supervision of the fiscal system of the empire.
  • Information about the agricultural lands and their production was collected before fixing the amount of taxes on people.
  • The land revenue arrangements consisted of two stages – assessment and the collection.
  • Amil-guzar or revenue collector was directed to give choice to cultivators to pay in cash or kind. The payment in cash was preferred.
  • While making assessment of land revenue, the state officials tried to maximise its claims.
  • The Ain compiled the aggregates of cultivated and cultivable lands. The classification of lands was made under Akbar and a different land revenue to be paid by each was fixed.

Q6) To what extent to do you think caste was a factor in influencing social and economic relations in agrarian society?


  • Cultivators were divided on the basis of their caste and other caste-like distinctions or caste-based distinctions. Thus, among the peasants were many who worked as agricultural labourers (majurs) or worked as manacles. Thus, they were not allowed to live in villages. They resided outside the village and were assigned to do menial tasks and lacked resources. Thus, they were poverty-stricken.
  • Caste distinctions had also begun to permeate other communities as well. In Muslim communities menials were like halkhoron (scavengers). A direct relation existed between caste poverty and social status.
  • In the seventeenth century Marwar Rajputs are described as peasants and equated with jats. They were given an inferior status in the caste hierarchy.
  • Castes like Ahirs, Gujjars and Malis reached and elevated status in the eastern regions.
  • The pastoral and fishing castes like the Sadgops and Kaivatas acquired the status of peasants.

Q7) How were the lives of forest dwellers transformed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries?
Or, Describe the lives of forest-dwellers in the 16-17th centuries.

Answer) The forest dwellers were people who earned their livelihood by gathering of forest produce, hunting and shifting agriculture. These activities changed according to seasons. For example, the Bhils collected forest produce in the spring. They did fishing in the summer, cultivated during the monsoon months. They did hunting in the winter and autumn. Such a division of activities presumed and perpetuated mobility which was a distinctive feature of the forest dwellers. However, their lives were transformed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in the following ways:

  • In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the state required elephants for the army. So, the peshkash – a form of tribute collected by the Mughal state – in the form of elephants too.
  • In the Mughal political ideology, the hunt symbolised the overwhelming concern of the state to ensure justice to all the subjects, rich and poor. Thus, during hunting expeditions, the emperor personally attended to the grievances of the people. Such hunting expeditions affected the lives of the forest dwellers.
  • Forests were cleaned for agricultural settlements. The spread of commercial agriculture impinged on the lives of forest dwellers, who lived on forest products like honey, beeswax and gum lac. Gum lac was exported from India. Elephants were captured and sold. There was [ exchange of commodities through barter too. All this changed due to commercial agriculture and agricultural settelments.
  • Social factors too transformed the lives of forest dwellers. For example, chieftains of many tribes had become zamindars, some even became kings. They built up their armies and demanded that their fraternity to provide military service. In Assam, the Ahom kings had their paiks. They were people who obliged to render military service in exchange for land. Not only this the capture of wild elephants was declared a royal monopoly by the Ahom kings.
  • With the establishment of tribal kingdoms in the north-east, war became a common feature.
  • The cultural influences as that of sufi saints encouraged the forest-dwellers particularly agricultural communities to accept Islam.

Q8) Examine the role played by zamindars in Mughal India.

Answer) The zamindars were the people who did not directly participate in the processes of agricultural production, but they enjoyed high status in the society.

  • The zamindars considered their land as their property (milkiyat). They had control to sell, give and mortage their property.
  • They enjoyed many social and economic privileges because of their superior status in society.
  • The zamindars belonged to the upper caste which added to their exalted status in society.
  • The zamindars rendered certain services (khidmat) for the state. As a result of their service they received and attained higher position in the state.
  • The zamindars had the right to collect revenue on behalf of the state and also received financial compensation for this work.
  • The zamindars had kept strict control over the military resources of the state. They kept a fortress and a well knit armed unit comprising cavalry, artillery, and infantry.
  • The zamindars also played significant role in developing the agricultural land. They helped in the settlements of farmers by lending them money and agricultural instruments. It resulted in an increase in agricultural produce and the sale and purchase of land by the zamindars. There are also evidences that the zamindars held bazaars. The farmers came to these bazaars to sell their crops.
  • If we observe social relation of village of Mughal age as a pyramid then zamindars were at the top. They occupied the highest position in the society.
  • No doubt the zamindars exploited the people but their relations with the farmers depended on their mutual togetherness and hereditary part on age. So, they were able to get peasants in case of the revolt against the state.

Q9) Discuss the ways in which panchayat and village headmen regulated rural society.

Answer) Panchayats and village headmen regulated the rural society in the following ways:

  • The village panchayat was an assembly of elders. Its decisions were binding on the members.
  • The panchayat was headed by a headman known as muqaddam or mandal. The headman supervised the preparation of accounts, assisted by the accountant or patwari of the panchayat.
  • The panchayat ensured that the caste boundaries among the various communities inhabitating the village were upheld. In eastern India all marriages were held in the presence of the mandal or headman. Thus, the headman was to oversee the conduct of the members of the village community “chiefly to prevent any offence against their caste”.
  • Panchayats had the authority to levy fines and inflict serious punishments such as expulsion from the community. Such punishment was given as a deterrant to violation of caste norms.
  • There were Jati panchayats of each caste. In Rajasthan, Jati panchayats arbitrated civil disputes between members of different castes. They decided the disputes related to claims on lands and marriages. Generally, the state respected the decisions of Jati panchayats.
  • Sometimes petitions were presented to the panchayat complaining about extortionate taxation or the demand for unpaid labour (begar) imposed by the “superior” castes or officials of the state. These were submitted by the lower classes because they regarded the village panchayat as the court of appeal that would ensure that the state carried out its moral obligations and guaranteed justice. In such cases, the panchayats often suggested compromise and reconciliation. In case of failure of compromise, the peasants generally deserted the village because there was abundance of uncultivated land available in the villages.

Q10) On an outline map of world, mark the areas which had economic links with the Mughal Empire, and trace out possible routes of communication.

Answer) Iran, Afghanistan, China, the countries of Central and Western Asia, Italy, Portugal, France, Britain, Holland, etc.

Possible Routes: Trade that linked to Mughal Empire in India.

  • Sea route via Atlantic ocean to Cape of Good Hope (South Africa), Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean.
  • Red Sea, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal to China Sea.
  • Land Route from Central Asia to Afghanistan through modem Pakistan upto Kerala or Goa.

That’s it. These were the solutions of NCERT Class 12 History Chapter 8 – Peasants, Zamindars and the State. Our team hopes that you have found these solutions helpful for you. If you have any doubt related to this chapter then feel free to comment your doubts below. Our team will try their best to help you with your doubts.

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