The undiluted revelations of
Ibn-e-Battuta recorded in his travels are undoubtedly a piece of
valuable historical information about Financial Management of those
By SYED FAROOQ ALI
April 15 - 21, 2002
Famous Moroccan traveller Abu Abdullah Muhammad
popularly known as Ibn-e-Battuta travelled through Asia and Africa (AD
1325-1354) his travels lasted almost three decades and he passed
through Indian sub-continent attended the Darbar of Sultan Mohammed
Tughlaq in Delhi, and recorded excellent and thought provoking details
of happenings in Shahi Darbar of King Tughlaq, his narrations are
worth considering for the students of Management of today as after
passage of over six centuries the popular anecdote are still valid in
various contexts and organizational cultures.
Mohammad Tughlaq the King and undisputed ruler of
Indian sub-continent inherited power from his forefathers and
continued his rule for 29 years enjoyed authority over his vast
kingdom. Ibn-e-Battuta travelled to Delhi after entering through
Multan and attended Shahi Darbar of King Tughlaq during the years AD
1334, as a praise of his arduous efforts to reach India from distant
Morocco he was honourably appointed by the Shahi Darbar as Qazi with
vast judicial powers, further he was granted a pension of 12000 dinars/annum
and command of five villages. If we look at the back drop of important
historical events during Tughlaq period it will help us in
understanding the narrations of Ibn-e-Battuta in a more precise way.
Mohammad Tughlaq during his reign faced the menace
of Mongol invasion of India but cleverly managed to reconcile it and
averted the danger by paying valuable gifts and send them back without
destroying Delhi, further at a later stage he ordered the Mint to cast
copper coins instead of gold and replaced these with gold coins this
proved to be counter productive and back fired as the market flooded
with fake copper coins and the Tughlaq rolled back his decisions and
ordered the replacement of copper with gold. This exercise depleted
the gold reserves . Another important event which Ibn-e-Battuta
mentioned was of ordering the shifting of capital from Delhi to Daulat
Abad this decision was sudden and resulted in chaos due to forceful
shifting of population on short notice.
Inb-e-Battuta has described King Tughlaq as
powerful and praised his generosity, he has described some of his
gifts which he granted to the people attending his Darbar for example
a traveller from Kazarun named Shahibuddin was given 30,000 dinars and
arrangements of three ships for his journey backhome. Once a poet by
the name of Doctor Shamsuddin wrote a laudatory ode to the sultan in
Persian, the ode contained twenty seven verses and the sultan gave him
a thousand silver dinars for each verse, according to Ibn-e-Battuta
this amount was tenfold than the established norm. Further the sultan
send several thousand dinars to his relations and preachers in Persia
often to offset a long pending debt. The kingly grants were not
confined to cash only they included kinds as well as huge quantities
of grains and meat.
The travel log of Battuta goes on to suggest the
interesting dilemma of Shahi Darbar of Delhi dominated by
authoritarian rule of the king which Batutta has described as follows.
"it happens often that there is a long delay
in the payment of the money gifts of the Sultan and I waited six
months before receiving the twelve thousand dinars promised to
He further recorded that there existed a tax custom
of deducting 10% from all the gifts given by the Sultan.
The same happened in Battuta case the treasure
declined the promised payment. When the treasure delayed the payments
Ibn-e-Battuta borrowed the anticipated money from merchants on the
promise to return it back on receipt from the King, whenever he
approached the minister or the treasurer to receive the promised
payment they avoided it either by disappearance or refusing to pay.
Once Battuta gathered his creditors at the gate of Kings Darbar made a
sit in to pursue the payments the King send a chamberlain to convey
that the money is in his possession and "I shall give you justice
and do not demand it from Battuta".
Batutta further recorded that once the treasure
went to the extent of demanding commission from Ibn-e-Battuta to
release the promised payment, the matter was brought to the notice of
King, investigated for action against the treasures.
Finally Ibn-e-Battuta succeeded in getting the
payment when he made his way into the Darbar presented valuable gifts
and eleven plates of sweet meats to the king.
The treasure finally gets the order and made the
payments of fifty five thousand dinars, which Batutta received and
paid of ten per cent tax.
The undiluted revelations of Ibn-e-Batutta recorded
in his travels are undoubtedly a piece of valuable historical
information about Financial Management of those times when the
operating systems were in their infancy but after a passage of 650
years we will find some of these still applicable to the present day
scenarios of many of our organizations.