Alauddin Khilji’s Market Policy

Alauddin Khilji was an emperor of the Khilji dynasty who ruled the Delhi Sultanate in the Indian Sub-continent. He came into power after killing his uncle Jalaluddin Khilji in 1296. Polity and the economy of the Indian Sub-continent changed after the emergence of the Delhi Sultanates. Alauddin Khilji is known for the introduction of his market policies in his reign due to which historians consider him to be much ahead of his time. In the Khilji’s market policy, the introduction of the direct collection of revenue into the state was done with the intention of curbing down the leakages to the intermediaries and control the economy. It is also mentioned by the Ziauddin Barani, a contemporary historian that the doab land[1] were converted into the Khalisa lands[2] to direct the revenue to the Sultan’s own treasury.

The first of the seven market policies is (1) to fix the prices of all the commodities from grains, clothes, slaves, cattle etc. The second of the seven market policies is (2) to introduce officials to look after the execution and enforcement of the Market Policies. Shahna-i-Mandi and Bardis are intelligence officers and Minhiyans are secret spies allotted to the job. The third of the seven market policies is (3) to send the grains to the granaries as the surplus stock. The fourth of the seven market policies is (4) to bring the grain merchants under the purview of Shahna-i-mandi and sureties were to be taken from them so that they would not break the rules. The fifth of the seven market policies is that (5) if a person breaks a market policy, then they have no option of regretting (which is called ‘Ihitikar’), but if a person goes against unacceptable market regulating practices like selling something which is prohibited, then he will be banned from selling any good in any market of the Alauddin’s empire. The sixth of the seven market policies is that (6) if the peasants were not from a marketplace but lived at a different place, they should sell their produce to the grain merchant (called as ‘Karvanian’) who would be next to their own fields so as to avoid transport costs adding to the final price of the good. The seventh of the seven market policies is (7) to submit the daily reports separately from the officers of the market to the Sultan.

The impact was that Khilji bought down prices of various commodities and surplus was produced. Decrease in the prices lowered the tax collection due to which the supply rates have increased in the market which enabled the government to store the surplus in the state’s granaries. Decreasing or regulating the prices of commodities at a lower rate also enabled Khilji to give salaries to the officials at a lower rate, to the lower tax collection did not impact his financial strategy. In this way, Khilji could also control inflation effectively. Many of the contemporary writers have given their opinion on the Khilji’s market policy. According to Amir Khusrau, a contemporary scholar, the policy ensured and bought welfare and comfort for every person in the kingdom. A Chishti saint Nasiruddin Mahmud, in his text, said that the policy was very good and was accepted by the people of the kingdom. Ziauddin Barani said that the salaries to the officials of the Khilji were very reasonable and he never had to increase as the prices of the goods were maintained throughout his period. This successful policy was not maintained and continued by Khilji’s successors and his Market Policy has eventually collapsed.               

[1] It is the alluvial land between two converging rivers

[2] These lands were owned by the State and was under the King’s control

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