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Islamic Voice Logo
MONTHLY    *    Vol 13-03 No:147    *   MARCH 1999/ ZIL-HIJJAH 1419H
email: editor@islamicvoice.com

BISCENTARY OF TIPPU SULTAN


Administrative Machinery of Tipu Sultan


Administrative Machinery of Tipu Sultan

By Prof. B. Shaik Ali

Tipu took great interest in the administration of his state. He was himself an indefatigable worker, and he expected the same from others. His voluminous correspondence with his officials would indicate his full grip over every branch of the administration. He sent detailed instructions to them on every conceivable subject. His innovative and restless mind would come out with something new in any field of activity. He would not hesitate to borrow the good features of administration even of the west. Modernity, vitality and utility were his watchwords. His thorough reorganisation of the armed forces, his establishment of a Board of Admiralty, his building up of a navy, his amazing experiments in trade and commerce, his interest in State capitalism, his abolition of feudal system, his novel methods of revenue and judicial procedures and his numerous innovative measures such as new scales of weights and measures, reforms of coinage and calendars, banking and finance and morals and manners would certainly entitle him to a high place in the list of enlightened monarchs.

03bagh.jpg

Tipu Sultan Bangalore summer palace, wooden pillars,
beautiful arches, that presents innage artistic work.

The central administration consisted of 18 departments. In civil affairs the most important departments were intelligence, communication and postal system. Tipu centralised all authority in himself, his rule being an enlightened despotism. He was his own prime-Minister, foreign minister and commander-in-chief. He was the fountain-head of all legislative, executive and judicial powers. He dictated personally all correspondence. He played the role of a trader, a manufacturer, a banker and a money-changer. He designed a new pattern of government borrowing from the Mughals, the English and the French to which he added unique features of his own mind. He merged the eighteen departments into seven. They were; Revenue, Finance, Military, Ordinance, Marine, Treasury and Mine, Commerce and Zumra or a branch of the army.

Tipu divided his kingdom into seven provinces, which were further divided into 37 units under 1024 Amildars. Each province was in charge of a civil governor called Asif and a military commander called Faujdar. The Asif was in charge of revenue and finance, and the Faujdar looked after law and order. The separation of power was effected as a check and balance. The villages were managed by Patels and Shanbhogs. The Patel was to look after roads, plants, trees, settle disputes in the villages and maintain law and order. Orders were sent from Srirangapatan in three languages, Persian, Kannada and Marathi. Every village was like a little republic with Patel at the head. The principle of land tenure was that a tenant and his heirs owned the land as long as they cultivated the land and paid the rent. The rent fixed was one-third for dry lands and one-half for wet lands irrigated by tank or rivers. Tipu considerably enlarged the cultivated area by allowing waste-land rent-free during the first year, charging a quarter during the second year and the normal rate from the third year. He encouraged the cultivation of sugar-cane, mulberry, wheat and barley.

Mysore did not have any sea-port before the advent of Haidar and Tipu. Tipu took great interest in trade and commerce, and encouraged the export of pepper, chilies, sandalwood, cardamom and rice. Bangalore was an important trade centre. Nearly 200 ox-loads of goods passed daily from the Mysore frontier to Kerala. Sirsi in Sunda was a cotton and arecanut centre. Tipu established trade depots at Cutch, Muscat, Pegu, Ormuz, Jiddah, Basra and Aden. Trade relations existed with China. Trade contacts were negotiated with France, Turkey and Iran, American merchants were persuaded to settled down in Mysore.

At the time Tipu came into power, the number of troops was around 88,000 with 1500 Europeans. He introduced several changes in the army. His artillery was in good trim. His cavalry would rise to any occasion. Whereas Haidar depended for his military supplies from outside, Tipu built the necessary infrastructure for all his military needs. His field guns were also cast in Mysore, and were larger in size and longer in range than English guns. The infantry was disciplined after the manner of Europeans, but Tipu used Persian words of command. He divided the army into Kushoons, Risalas and Jauqs. Each Kushoon was commanded by a Sipahdar, a Risala by a Risaladar and a Jauq by a Jauqdar. Next in rank were Sarkhails , Jamadars, Dafadars and Yazakdars.

The navy included three-masted ships with 28 to 40 pieces of artillery, and such other ships as garbs, Katches and galivants of varying keels. Tipu possessed a number of men-of-war, both large and small. They protected merchant-ships from pirates. A Board of Admiralty was set up under Mir Yam. His navy consisted of 22 lines of battle ships and 20 large frigates with 72 to 62 guns. Tipu had studied the Porutugese, the Dutch, the English and the French naval systems. He was able to attract the best professionals of these countries, but the fleet he evolved was his own brain-child. He built shipping yards on the western coast. He had about 10,000 men manning a variety of ships. There were three ship-building yards, ad a naval school to train officers and men.

Thus an exceedingly efficient system of administration was built up by Tipu, who was the first Indian ruler to blend eastern and western methods of administration. Even his adversaries have admitted the effects of his good rule. Edward More, the captain of a detachment that invaded Tipu’s territory in the third Mysore war observed, “When a person travelling through a strange country finds it well-cultivated, populous with industrious inhabitants, cities new-founded, commerce extending, towns increasing, and everything flourishing so as to indicate happiness he will naturally conclude to be under a form of government congenial to the minds of the people. This is a picture of Tipu’s country and this is our conclusion in respect of its government.” If this is the opinion of a bitter foe in the midst of war, it could not be subjective, it should be based on truth, as it was an eye-witness account of one who was traversing right across the country carrying sword and fire. More trustworthy should be the account of a philosopher and a statesman of the order of James Mill, who observed, “He (Tipu) had the discernment to perceive what is so generally hidden from the eyes of rulers in a more enlightened state of society, that it is the prosperity of those who labour with their hands which constitutes the principal cause of the prosperity of the state... His country was accordingly.... the best cultivated and its population the most flourishing in India, while under the English and their dependencies, the population of the Carnatic and Oudh, hastening to the state of deserts were the most wretched upon the face of the earth.”

If history is the vital magistrate, the verdict of a historian of the stature of James Mill, who was in the rival camp, should carry conviction that by all accounts Tipu’s rule was most enlightened and in the best interest of the people.

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