Maratha emerged on a political map of India like a star during later half of 17th century but light of this star failed to last long and by closing decades of 18th century the Maratha were no longer formidable power. The rise of Maratha Empire was rapid but decline was even much faster.
Decline of Marathas as political power was outcome of many factors of which, internal stress is one of them.
During the phase of rising, the Maratha empire based on the idea of a centralized polity. But during the first half of the 18th century, it assumed a form of the confederacy.
At one point, the Marathas were positioned to take over the former Mughal Empire. But the politics of Maratha hampered by many internal issues, viz.
- The absence of a sound revenue administration,
- The absence of a composite ruling class, and
- The Maratha confederates’ shared envy.
From the very beginning, the Maratha police relied on the Chauth and the Sardeshmukhi, which were obtained from beyond the Swarajya regions. But no big efforts have been made to establish a solid tax administration. No effort has been made to integrate new industries.
Maratha’s elite was certain in nature, and with the death of leading figures like Nana Phadnavis, Marathas lost revolutionary leadership. Maratha Sardars’ mutual hostility was endless, hurting Maratha’s solidarity at every critical moment. Even in the Third Anglo-Maratha Wars, the East India Company had gained the patronage of the landed nobility.
As a result, a poor Maratha polity added to internal stress ultimately led to its downfall.