Waqianavis

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Waqianavis a medieval royal functionary in charge of news writing. The Muslim rulers of India instituted a system of collecting information about happenings in various parts of the empire, which may conveniently be called espionage system. In the Mughal period, akbar first introduced the system in the provinces as in the center by appointing waqianavis for collecting information. The waqianavis was appointed in different provinces, and they were made independent of the provincial governors. The system continued till the end of the Mughal rule, though the efficiency of the holders of the office varied from time to time.

In the Mughal administrative system the government of the province was organized on the same lines as the government at the center. Apart from the subahdar every province had its own respective departmental officers, such as, diwan, mir-adl, sadr etc. Among them waqainavis acted as the public reporter or the writer in the imperial offices. The Mughals seems to have overhauled the existing system of secret service men or secret informers of the sultans by adding an open wing of official records. This involved a change in news-writing and news collection. In the Mughal administrative system there was a four fold organisation, the agency consisting of four categories of men who sent reports of two kinds, written and verbal. There were three categories of written reporters and one category of verbal reporters. Among the written reporters were: a. the waqqinavis or waqai'nigar, a writer or surveyor of event; b. the sawanih navis or sawanih nigar, a recorder of events; c. the khufia navis or secret writer.

The verbal reporter was called the harkarah. Officially he was a courier but in fact a spy who carried news verbally. According to Abul Fazl, Emperor Akbar appointed fourteen waqainavises who were experienced and impartial officers. Their duties were to write down the orders and the doings of imperial head. Waqainavis placed the diary before the emperor for his approval that had earlier been corrected by an imperial officer. The finally approved reports were called Yad-Dast or the Memorandum. There were four stages in the reporting of imperial news: the diary, imperial approval, certified memorandum, and abridgment. The waqainavis collected reports of local occurrences through his agents in most small parganas. Further, other officers of the provinces placed the records of daily occurrences every evening before him. After attending the public court of the Subahdar, the waqainavis recorded the events on the spot. He communicated the contents of this newsletter to the subahdar before sending these to the emperor. He was required to send report or gazette of events of a particular area once every week to the emperor.

In order to enable the waqainavis to discharge his duties properly, he enjoyed considerable freedom of authority. He had instructions not to show his reports to the subahdar and was not dependent on any minister but only on the emperor. His post was extremely delicate and hence difficult, and he was expected to develop complete detachment in conduct. Waqainavis was maintained not only for purposes of the civil government but also for military purposes. He used to accompany all expeditionary forces and embassies sent to foreign countries, and also sent the newsletter of the field army to the commanding general before sending it to the emperor. Actually the Waqainavis kept the central government informed of the happenings in the province. [Nasrin Akhter]

Bibliography Abu-l-Fadl, Ain-i-Akbari, (ed.) Blochmann and Jarret, Bib. Ind., Calcutta, 1894; IH Qureshi, The Administration of the Mughal Empire, University of Karachi, 1966; JN Sarkar, Mughal Administration, Calcutta, 1954.