Clarify how mid-eighteenth century India was beset with the spectre of a fragmented polity.

Clarify how mid-eighteenth century India was beset with the spectre of a fragmented polity.

Answer

During the first half of the eighteenth century, with Aurangzeb’s misguided policies which weakened the stable Mughal polity and failure of later Mughals like Muhammad Shah’s rule from 1719 to 1748 reshaped the boundaries of the Mughal Empire by the emergence of a number of independent kingdoms.

Major Political units of that time:

  • Through the 18th century, the Mughal Empire gradually fragmented into a number of independent, regional states.
    • –  Successor States Hyderabad, Bengal and Awadh were the three cases where provincial governors under the Mughals set up independent states.
    • –  The second group of regional states were the ‘new states’ or ‘insurgent states’ set up by rebels against the Mughals-the Marathas, Sikhs, Jats and Afghans.
    • –  The independent states like Mysore, the Rajput states and Kerala fall in this category.
  • The Mughal empire’s influence was not as widespread or deep as was believed. Significant parts of India, especially in the North East and South, remained outside it, as did many social groups.Despite fragmented polity there was survival of the Mughal tradition of government, as the prestige of the emperor was quite considerable despite the increasing influence of the rebel chiefs of the Marathas and Sikhs.The third battle of Panipat proved significant as British significantly gained with Maratha defeat and British got a tremendous opportunity to expand their influence in Bengal and India.

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