[Reader-list] POTO to POTA

Supreet Sethi supreet at sarai.net
Fri Dec 14 15:10:59 IST 2001

Here is an  extract from A book called the City of Djinns by William 
Dalrymple - it is a description
 of 13th century Delhi 50 years of welfare state has'nt made any dent in the 
way things work, in our 
city,  so the state has to  intervene by introducing strange laws.This is 
about Delhi hundreds of years 
ago, but it is almost as if it was talking about yesterday !


"...On his succession, the Sultan had embarked on a series of ludicrously 
ill-considered reforms.
 These included an attempt to double the tax revenue from the villages around 
delhi (which caused
 a devastating famine) and an attempt to introduce a token copper currency on 
the Chinese model 
(which ended with massive forgeries and the virtual bankruptcy of the 
exchequer). The humilitating
 failure of these schemes only made tughlak more brutal. According to the 
chronicler Zia-ud-Din Barni,
 'when the Sultan found that his orders did not work so well as he desired, 
he became still more 
embittered against his people and began to cut them down like weeds'.

Like many other tyrant in similar situations, Tughluk's first response was to 
increase the powers
of the secret police. Ibn Battuta, who was not initially in the firing line 
(and anyway rather
approved of ruthless government) was most impressed:
	It was the custom [of Tughluk] to set alongside every amir,
	great or small, a mamluk [slave] to spy upon him and keep
	him informed of all that amir did. He also placed slave girls
	in their houses [to act as spies]. These girls passed on their
	information to the sweepers, and the sweepers in turn passed
	it on to the head of the intelligencers who then informed the Sultan..."

When POTO becomes POTA we might have to look at the history of how ordinary 
people in 13th century Delhi 
coped with the mad king Tughlak. This way, we in 21st century Delhi might be 
able to learn how to avoid the 
new mamluks (the slave spies of the new delhi sultanate)

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