Sone Ki Chidiya: India ranked above US, UK, China, Japan in Mughal era

Hyderabad: Since Babur had won the kingdom of Delhi by defeating the forces of Ibrahim khan Lodi at Panipat in 1526 AD and laid the foundation of the Mughal Empire, Indian economy prosper to the level that in 1600 AD it was ranked 4th in the world. In 1600 AD, when Akbar was emperor of India, the country’s GDP per capita was highter than those of France, Germany, Japan, USA etc. According to the data with the University of Groningen in the Netherlands shows that Indians were among the richest people in the world.

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From 16th century to 18th century, the Mughal kingdom was the richest and most powerful kingdom in the world and as French traveller Francois Bernier, who came to India in the 17th century, wrote, “Gold and silver come from every quarter of the globe to Hinduostan.”

GDP per capita (PPP) – Constant 2011 US $ -Source: Maddison Project Database 2018

The Mughals had encouraged trade by developing roads, river transport, sea routes, ports and abolishing many inland tolls and taxes. Indian handicrafts were developed. There was a thriving export trade in manufactured goods such as cotton cloth, spices, indigo, woollen and silk cloth, salt etc.

A very efficient system of administration set up by Akbar facilitated an environment of trade and commerce.

It was this which led the East India Company to seek trade concessions from the Mughal empire and eventually control then destroy it.


Mughals had invested in infrastructure, in building great monuments which are a local and tourist draw generating crores of rupees annually.

As per figures presented by the Ministry of Culture in Lok Sabha, just the Taj Mahal built by Shah Jahan has an average annual ticket sale of over Rs 21 crore. (Last year saw a drop in visitors to the Taj Mahal and figures stood at Rs 17.8 crore.) The Qutub Complex generates over Rs 10 crore in ticket sales, Red Fort and Humayun’s Tomb generate around Rs 6 crore each.

A beautiful new style known as Indo-Islamic architecture which imbibed the best of both was born.

They invested in local arts and crafts, and encouraged old and created new skill sets in India. As Swapna Liddle, covenor of INTACH, Delhi Chapter, says, “To my mind, the greatest Mughal contribution to India was in the form of patronage to the arts. Whether it was building, artisanal crafts like weaving and metal-working, or fine arts like painting, they set standards of taste and perfection that became an example for others to follow, and brought India the global recognition for high quality handmade goods that it still enjoys.”

Also read: Under Muslim rule, India was the richest country with 27% of world GDP: Shashi Tharoor

Siasat Web Team