The size of population is a main indicator of economic development, but estimating it for the pre-census era is a daunting task. With complex estimations derived from statistics in the handbook of the Mughal Empire (Ain-i-Akbari), and an indication from Irfan Habib, the city population of Mughal India was estimated to be 14.7 millions or 15 percent of the entire 98.3 millions (Shireen 1987, pg. 395). Cultivated area is estimated at 50 percent of what it was in 1900 with the proposition that the wealth was not stagnant since both population and cultivation grown up slowly during the Mughal era.
The monetarily prudent State faced the paradox of defending the small peasantry ("reza riaya") from the control of rustic headmen (Zamindars1 and rural community's headmen) who were revenue collectors for a percentage and also equivalents in the trade of exploitation.
It includes ("inter alia") a listing of the social groups from which revenue was obtained. The following table shows these interdependencies in a limited area in the central Ganga valley2 (Cohn 1969, pg. 56 ff).
The imperial system of revenue collection in the town was incorporated with the local system of supremacy, functioning through complex systam of alliances with local authority holders (such as merchants). The consolidation of power in the towns thus involved an increasing and more entrenched exclusion of the state's resources. Additionally, Hasan (1969, pg. 17) pointed out:
"The Zamindar class played a crucial role in the political, monetary, and social life of medieval India. During the Mughal's era its significance enlarged [...] regardless of the invariable struggle between the Grand administration and the Zamindars for huge shares of the produce, the two became cohorts involved in monetary exploitation".
Although some minor social groups who also paid revenues were missing in the Ain-i-Akbari, it is a reality that the three higher-ranking Jatis - Brahmin, Bhumihar and Rajput - were accountable for the compensation of 90 per cent (in common with the Muslim's Rajput even 94 percent) of the entire revenue demand. At least a reasonably good idea of their statistical strength, not specified in the Ain-i-Akbari, can be acquired from the Census 1931: "the share of these three Jatis to the whole population of the four areas at that period summed up to 20.3 per cent and 22.2 per cent of the Hindu population (Census of India 1931, Vol. XVIII).
Mughal Indians resided mostly in rural communities that were self-sufficient but obliged to nourish towns and arteries of trade. Farmers had to trade half of their production to pay duties (90 percent of the state revenue) and a great deal of this wealth reached the Grand Ruling classes (Ruler and officials or Mansabdars of higher ranks) (Shireen 1987, pg. 398). The