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The undiluted revelations of Ibn-e-Battuta recorded in his travels are undoubtedly a piece of valuable historical information about Financial Management of those times

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 me"

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.