Question

The Mughal Empire had to face a variety of crises towards the closing years of the 17th century. What were the reasons behind it?

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Solution

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There were a number of factors that led to the decline of the Mughal Empire.
  • Emperor Aurangzeb fought a long war in the Deccan. As a result, the military and financial resources of his empire got depleted.
  • The successors of Aurangzeb were not at all efficient. The efficiency of the imperial administration broke down. It became increasingly difficult for later Mughal emperors to keep a check on their powerful Nobles appointed as governors often controlled the offices of revenue and military administration as well. this gave them extraordinary political, economic and military powers over vast regions of the Mughal Empire.
  • Under the later Mughals, peasant and zamindar rebellions increased in many parts of northern and western India. These revolts were sometimes caused by the pressures of mounting taxes. The local chieftains were also becoming powerful by seizing the economic resources of the region.
  • In the midst of economic and political crisis, the ruler of Iran, Nadir Shah, sacked and plundered the city of Delhi in 1739 and took away immense amounts of wealth. Again, Ahmad Shah Abdali invaded north India five times between 1748 and 1761. These invasions further weakened the Mughal Empire.
  • The competitions amongst different groups of nobles also proved unfortunate for the Mughal Empire. The later Mughals were puppets in the hands of either Iranis or Turanis, the two major groups of nobles.

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