The decline of the central authority of the Mughal empire during the first half of the eighteenth century resulted not only in a change in the power relationship between the center and the provincial government of Bengal, but also in changes in the relationships between the leading military, administrative, and economic groups within Bengal. Shortly after 1700, Murshid Quli Khan, first as Diwan and later as Nawab of Bangal, began a series of revenue and administrative reforms. By increasing revenue collections, he was able to satisfy the demands of the central government for more money from Bengal, and at the same time to pay adequately his mansabdar followers within Bengal and Orissa. He also began to ehnahce his control by acquiring many of the most important official positions in the provincial government for himself and his relatives, and by retaining within Bengal a following of mansabdars who were loyal to himself.

Since many of the smaller and/or less efficient zamindars were unable to pay the increased revenue demand, they lost their zamindaris. Consequently, the pattern of many relatively small zamindaris was replaced by one of relatively few and much larger zamindaris. The result was that the more powerful zamindars tended to become more influential, and to act increasingly ai partners in the Mughal provincial government.

A third element, the bankers, also became important within the ruling group of Bengal after 1700. The Jagat Seths became bankers for the provincial government, and also supplied loans to zamindars to cover their revenue payments.

Thus, by 1739, Bengal was ruled by a loosely organized coalition of military, landed, and monied interests, who provided a reasonably stable alternative to the centralized Mughal government of earlier days.

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