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MHI-04: Political Structures in India

MHI-04: Political Structures in India

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2022-23

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Assignment Code: MHI-04/AST/TMA/2022-23

Course Code: MHI-04

Assignment Name: Political Structures in India

Year: 2022-2023

Verification Status: Verified by Professor


Total Marks: 100


Note: Attempt any five questions. The assignment is divided into two Sections 'A' and 'B'. You have to attempt at least two questions from each section in about 500 words each. All questions carry equal marks.




Q1. Write a note on early Tamil polity as described in Sangam literature. 20

Ans) The Sangam Age, after the collection of historic Tamil heroic poems that has come to be known as Sangam literature, was the previous name for the early historical period in South Indian history. Older scholars have developed what is known as Sangam polity based on the poems' political allusions. They assumed without question that the ruling Cera, Cola, and Pandya dynasties—celebrated in the heroic poems—were monarchical dynasties. The Ceras ruled over the south-western, the Colas the north-eastern, and the Pandyas the south and south-eastern portions of Tamilakam (the Tamil macro region including Kerala).


The Ceras

The Cera region consisted of a variety of ecological zones, with hills and forests predominating. Although forest wealth was the primary resource, the Cera's resource base was also diverse. Unrelatedly, a poem makes mention of the gold that was brought ashore by boats, as well as the hill and sea products of Ceran Cenkuttuvan.


The Ceras is notable for being consistently praised for carrying out velvi (Vedic sacrifices), even though they are also mentioned as being followers of Murugan and the war goddess Korravai. The Vedic gods Surya, Agni, Marut, the Pancabhutas, the constellations, and the Navagraha’s are all compared to Ceras in the poems. The Ceras is described in poetry as donning garlands made of seven crowns. According to a poem, Kopperunceral Irumporai guards his people in the same way that a mother raises her child. All of these characteristics of the Ceras point to a strong influence of Vedic brahmanic and Buddhist culture. The anthology reveals the gradual emergence of a political ideology and its cultural accoutrements, which heavily borrow from Vedic itihasa-puranic-sastraic Brahmanism.


The Colas

The Cola who is referred to in the poems as "kaviri kilavon" owned land in the Kaveri delta that was abundant in paddy and sugarcane. The chiefs enati (Senapati) Tirukkuttuvan, enati Tirukkilli, and enati Tirukkannan are lauded in a few poems as the enati of the Cola. The Cola's military and tributary responsibilities fell to Pannam, the kilan of Cirukuti, and Aruvantai, the kilan of Ampar. It is evident from the Cola case that the Ventar used to force people to pay for puravu (paddy). The maravar warrior chiefs or men) of Cola Nalankillio are referred to as pataimakkal, which means fighters, in a poem. There is a well-known legend that Karikala Cola is what makes the anicut grow. Among the Cola kings, Karikalan, Perunar Killi, Killivalavan, and Nalan Killi are some of the most significant.


The Pandyas

A mixed ecological region, dominated by pastoral and coastal tracts, existed in the Pandya. A Pandyan refers to himself as the ruler of the country with the newest resources. As Pandya subordinates with military responsibilities, Nakan, the Kilavan of Nalai, and Nampi Netunceliyan are mentioned. People who live under his shade are how Pandya Netunceliyan describes his own people. Pandya Maran Valuti is praised in a poem for being fierce enough to terrify the north Indian Kings. Among the Pandya kings, Mutuku Tumi Peruvaluti and Maran Valuti are among the most significant.


Q2. Analyse the various approaches to the study of early medieval polity. 20

Ans) Historians have largely characterised early mediaeval India as a dark period of Indian history marked only by political disunity and cultural decline. Despite having such a description applied to it, historical research on this time period has largely been ignored. The numerous significant and fascinating aspects of this era have only recently come to light, and we are entirely grateful for this. With their new perspectives, recent studies have helped dispel the idea that this time period was a "dark age."


In fact, the very lack of political unity that earlier scholars saw as a bad quality is now recognised as the factor that had made it possible for the emergence of rich regional cultures during the mediaeval period. The early mediaeval historiography that already exists has been divided into hypotheses based on essentially two sets of propositions. The idea that traditional polity is essentially changeless is one of these presumptions. According to this theory, historians have labelled early mediaeval Indian politics as "traditional" or "Oriental despotic" (originally derived from Marx) Marx's depiction of an oriental despotism, according to Hermann Kulke, was the "outcome of occidental prejudice against an alleged oriental despotism."


The majority of recent studies on this era also operate under the additional premise that Indian politics may change in the future, as opposed to the earlier assumption that Indian politics are immutable. The "imperial model" or centralised state model is possibly the first type of model with the assumption of change. According to historians who adhered to the imperial model, change was therefore conceptualised in terms of dynastic change as well as change in the size of the empire's territory. The standard established by "imperial rulers down to the time of Harsha who endeavoured to stem the tide of disintegration and fragmentation" was considered to have been broken (B.D. Chattopadhyay, The Making of Early Medieval India).


According to this model, the early mediaeval era represented a deviation from the ideal imperial system. In other words, change is viewed in this context as a bad change toward an unstable state rather than the norm of a centralised unitary state. This method is also not very useful for understanding the mechanisms involved in state formation during the study period. This is due to the fact that it only briefly discusses important structural issues after describing military conquests and dynastic history. This method, which was primarily used by nationalist Indian historians, carries the risk of leading to communal interpretations of Indian history because it takes the "Hindu political order" as its model or standard.


According to B.D. Chattopadhyay, administrative measures like appointing Brahmadeyas and Devadas’s helped give the temporal power in the regions they controlled legitimacy. The temporal and sacred arenas were connected in this way. The approval of "spiritual authority" was necessary for temporal power to function, and this authority required the support of temporal power to survive. The precepts of Bhakti served as the foundation for the integration of the various cults and practises of the lineage groups during the process of lineage society's spread.


Q3. Discuss various interpretations explaining the nature of the Mughal state. 20

Ans) Different explanations for the nature of the Mughal state have been offered by historians. An understanding of the Mughal state is impossible without discussing the theory of sovereignty or kingship. On the Mughal state, there is a vast library of historical writings. A significant contribution to the understanding of the Mughal empire was made by W.H. Moreland's study of the agrarian system of the Mughals. The Aligarh school of historical analysis is the most significant one in terms of the Mughal state. The state has primarily been evaluated by historians from this school in the context of its economic structure.


According to scholars from the Aligarh school, the Mughal state's primary characteristics were its monetary (silver rupiya, gold muhr, copper dam, and paisa) and fiscal system, as well as the Mansa Dari ranking system and system of revenue distribution (jagirs). According to historians like J.F. Richards, the development of ports like Surat, Thatta, Goa, Hughli, Balasore, and Masulipatnam is a particular example of the Mughal period's flourishing overseas trade. T. Ray Chaudhury claims that "the simple desire of a small ruling class for more and more material resources explains most of the actions of the Mughal state"; in the case of the Mughals, he claims "their" economism was simple, straight forward, and almost palpable...there was no containing it until it collapsed under the weight of its own contradictions.


The similarities that existed between the Mughal and Afghan structures have not been emphasised in studies of Mughal institutions. If such a comparison were made, it would be possible to highlight the parallels and differences between the Afghan and Mughal systems. It's intriguing to learn that the Afghans of Lodi supported the idea of shared sovereignty and power distribution. Bahlul Lodi treated his nobles or aristocracy as equals in accordance with the tribal egalitarian ideals.

However, under Sikandar Lodi, the loosely coupled group of tribal chiefs was forced to submit to the king's authority without upsetting the nobles. Ibrahim Lodi, who destroyed the nobles' influence and worked to establish an indivisible sovereignty that wouldn't jeopardise the integrity of the empire, pursued this practise with even more vigour. Initially, egalitarian clan and kin ties and social and tribal traditions based on dispersed authority also had an impact on Afghan politics. But these had to be put aside in order to build a strong state. According to Moreland, Nurul Hasan, and I.A. Khan's analysis of the Afghan fiscal system, Sher Shah in particular was responsible for Afghanistan's rulers' pioneering work in the area of fiscal and land revenue administration.


Under Jahangir and Shahjahan, kingship continued to be divinely appointed. According to Sir Thomas Roe, a representative of the English monarch to the Mughal Emperor Jahangir, the latter "Falling upon his father's concept, has dared to enter farther in, to profess himself for the Mayne of his religion to be a greater Prophet than Mahomet; and hath formed to himself a new law, mingled of all." During the reign of Jahangir, Mirza Nathan, a Khanzada (Persian noble), served as an imperial mansabdar and used terms like pir-o-murshid (Sufi saint of virtue) and qibla (The western part of the mosque in front of which prayer is offered). The western portion of the mosque where Jahangir's prayers are offered. This demonstrates that the king's image was elevated to the status of a Sufi saint.





Q6. Write a note on the Mauryan administration. 20

Ans) With the advent of the Maurya Empire, a much more distinct picture of the administrative structure in a large monarchical state is revealed (c. 325 to 187 BC). At its height, the Maurya empire encompassed a vast area that stretched from Afghanistan in the north-western corner to Karnataka in the southern corner and from Kathiawar in the western corner to Orissa (and possibly North Bengal as well) in the eastern corner. It was in fact a nearly all-Indian empire, with Pataliputra serving as its capital (Patna). Historians can now comprehend the Mauryan governmental structure thanks to the availability of a wide range of primary sources. The Greek accounts of Megasthenes (and later Greek writers' summaries and quotations from them), Asoka's decrees, and the Arthasastra shed light on the Mauryan government.


For the first time, the possibility of a national, provincial, and local level administrative organisation is observed in the Mauryan domain. The Maurya emperor was the key component of the entire Maurya administration, particularly the central administration. What were considered "metropolitan" (Magadha) and "core areas" appear to have been home to the central administrative apparatus (located in the Ganga Plains). Despite ruling nearly, the entire subcontinent, the Maurya rulers used the rather straightforward title Raja (literally translated as Malka and basileos respectively in the Aramaic and Greek edicts of Asoka.)


The Greek ambassador to Chandragupta Maurya's court, Megasthanese, makes clear to us the emperor's administrational zeal and his incredibly hectic daily schedule. This closely resembles Asoka's personal efforts and aspirations (Pakama/Prakrama) to distribute statecraft matters (Athakamma). In order to ensure the happiness of his subjects (Prajasukha), Kautilya urges the ruler to put their needs before his own. According to the Arthasastra, what is advantageous for the subjects is also advantageous for the ruler.


Asoka announced an even higher ideal of paternalistic rule, saying that all men were his children (Sabe munise paja mama). Asoka also believed that all of his efforts were a way for him to pay back the debt he owed to his subjects. In fact, the Maurya king served as the head of the entire realm's executive branch. The Maurya emperor directly appointed and held accountable all major government officials. The majority of early Indian theoretical texts regarded the king (Dharmapravartaka) as merely an enforcer of the established norms, customs, and law and not as a creator of law. Since the Arthasastra acknowledged the royal proclamation (Rajasasana) as a reliable source of law, it appears that it broke with this tradition. Significantly, the Rajasasana of Kautilya closely resembles Asoka's decrees as administrative promulgations.


Megasthenese, six boards, each with five members, were given charge of managing the Maurya army (therefore in all 30 members). There are no such boards in the Arthasastra, which gives the appropriate Adhayakshas control over the forces of infantry, cavalry, chariot, and elephant. An espionage network was closely linked to the military government. Most likely the first Indian empire to create and use a regular secret service was the Mauryas. Megasthenese made eloquent remarks about the reliability of these covert agents. The roving (Sanchara) and stationary (Samstha) spies, which are further divided into nine types, make up the two broad categories into which the secret agents (Gudhapurusha) are divided in the Arthasastra. The Arthasastra advised using spies not only to gather sensitive information but also, if necessary, to get rid of a suspicious party using coercion, fraud, or other shady tactics.


Q7. Analyse the judicial system prevailing in Ancient India. 20

Ans) The protection that people are entitled to from the government includes the administration of justice as a crucial component. The king should typically preside over the legal proceedings, but Manu (VIII.1-2) and Yajnavalkya (II.1) believed that he should not be the only one to administer justice. So, a king should have knowledgeable Brahmanas and wise advisors by his side. Manu believed that the king should appoint a learned Brahmana to carry out his duties if he was not present at the court, and three sabhyas should be associated with this Brahmana. Yajnavalkya and Narada also contain this clause, though they do not impose any restrictions on the number of sabhyas. According to Manu (VIII.306) and Yajnavalkya (I.359), carrying out justice is equivalent to making a sacrifice that can bring about the highest spiritual benefits. Brihaspati cites this formula on numerous occasions and is unafraid to characterise a legal proceeding (vyavahara) as a sacrifice (yajna).


The king should therefore scrupulously adhere to the guidelines established by the text, just as if he were making a sacrifice. He is constrained by the sastras' rules just like a sacrifice is by the ritual book. However, the king must constantly look for the truth and watch out for making rash decisions. Furthermore, he cannot apply a legal principle until he is completely familiar with the situation. According to Brihaspati, "A judgement should not be passed in reliance upon the text of the sastras alone," as doing so results in the loss of Dharma.


Criminal law reflected the advantages and disadvantages of caste. The severity of the punishment varied for crimes of the same nature depending on the criminal's caste. In general, Brahmanas were not to be subject to the death penalty. The worst penalty for a Brahmana was exile, but even in that case, he was permitted to take all of his possessions with him. Caste plays a clear role in Manu's law on defamation. A Kshatriya was required to pay a fine of 100 pandas for defaming a Brahmana, a Vaishya between 150 and 200, and a Sudra was subject to corporal punishment. In contrast, a Brahmana who disparages a Kshatriya, a Vaishya, or a Sudra should be fined 50, 25, and 12 pandas, respectively. The standard punishment for a Brahmana who disparaged another Brahmana was twelve pandas.


The writers of Smriti provide detailed descriptions of legal procedures. According to the general smriti rule, the plaintiff is the person who first presents his or her complaint to the court. Before the defendant files their answer, a plaint may be amended at any time. In order to prevent the defendant from fleeing, Narada grants the plaintiff the right to keep the defendant under four different types of legal restraint. These processes include arrest before judgement and temporary injunctions until the king's summons arrive. The defendant must respond to the plaintiff's claim after it has been made. Narada states that there are four possible responses: denial, confession, a special plea, and a plea of previous judgement. Although the defendant was only given a brief window in some situations to file his reply, it was expected that he would do so on the same day.

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