Market Regulation and Price Control Policy of Alauddin Khilji

1. Alauddin Khalji had organized a vast army in order to check the incessant invasions of the Mongols and to attain victories for the expansion of his territory. As the number of soldiers reached 4,75,000, the expenses in the army were enormous. No doubt, the Sultan had increased his income by introducing reforms in the revenue system and reduced the salaries of the soldiers but it too proved in­sufficient to meet the entire expenses of the Sultanate. Besides this, it was essential to make the lives of the soldiers comfortable to avoid revolts out of frustration. Hence he fixed the prices for the satis­faction of the soldiers. Barani writes in this context, “If Alauddin would have paid even ordinary salaries to his soldiers and their officers, the treasury of the State would have exhausted within five or six years. Therefore, Alauddin reduced the salaries of his soldiers with a view to limiting the expenditure on the army. But because he desired that his soldiers should live comfortably, he reduced and fixed prices of all articles.”

2. Along with territorial expansion, the administrative expendi­ture had enhanced a lot. The Sultan wanted to lessen this financial burden, so he resorted to the policy of price control.

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3. No doubt, the Sultan had gathered immense booty from the victories over Rajasthan, Gujarat and Southern India but he distributed this booty among his supporters and Jalali nobles lavishly which devalued the currency in the market. Hence the prices of things began to shoot up and Alauddin was forced to introduce his system of price control and market regulation.

4. Some historians opine that he introduced price control in the interest of his public. Dr. Ishwari Prasad has written, “Alauddin did much to relieve human want and miseiy by his control of market.” Once Alauddin said to one of his officials, “Even if I give wealth to the people, they will not be pleased, therefore I have decided to bring down the prices of the things.” Dr. K. S. Lai writes in this context, “It was simple arithmetical calculation and simple economic principle, since he had decided to reduce and fix the salary of the soldiers, he also decided to reduce and fix the prices of articles of common use.” But he further writes, “In these circumstances the control of price was the outcome of an imperative necessity rather than of philanthro­pic motives.” Barani, the contemporary historian, has also mentioned that he had not introduced the price control system for the benefit of the people but it was the dire necessity of the time.

Dr. U. N. Dey holds an altogether different opinion about his price control system. He remarks plainly that his chief aim was to check the shooting prices. In his words, “As for the amount of salary we find that Alauddin gave 234 tankas per year, i.e., 19-5 tankas per month. This amount certainly was not a small sum for the first decade of the 14th century when we find that Akbar calculated the salary of a tabinan at the rate of Rs. 240 per annum while during the reign of Shah Jahan it was Rs. 200 per annum. Thus, Alauddin paid a soldier only Rs. 6 per annum less than what Akbai paid and Rs. 34 per annum more than what Shah Jahan paid. We cannot, therefore, say that Alauddin paid a low salary to his soldiers.”

It is also evident from the accounts of the contemporary historians that the prices fixed by Alauddin Khalji were not very low. We know that during the reign of Firoz Tughluq the rates were quite low and people had not to suffer the tortures and torments which were exercised on them during the reign of Alauddin Khalji. Hence, Dr. Dey’s opinion is quite correct that there was some margin of profit for the businessmen in the prices fixed by the Sultan of Delhi.”

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