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Mukhi (mukhia) is the title used for a head of community or village elites[1] and their local government in Western India and the Sindh.[2] It is derived from the word "mukhiya" meaning "foremost" and prior to Indian Independence, they were the most power person in each community imbued with both civil and judicial powers.[3][4]


Mukhi headmen generally came from the wealthiest [5] or most prominent families within their community [6] and acted as the president of the local panchayats.[7][8] According to local traditions, the mukhi could be a hereditary position inherited by the eldest son [7] or an elected position, as were the panchayats. Decisions made by the panchayat were accepted by their communities and did not require enforcement.[9]

In developed areas, many also held high positions in business.[10]


The tradition of mukhis and panchayat raj (village self-government) is thought to be thousands of years old but currently decreasing in influence due to the growth of government and democratic decentralisation.[11]

Since at least the 16th Century, the roles carried out by mukhis included those relating to local revenue gathering and expenditure, policing and justice. By the 19th, under the British rule of India, they became government appointed agents. They led local Panchayats and acted as local representative of the rulers.[12]

In 1876, according to the Village Police Act, the mukhis were also given central roles in the criminal justice system and required to carry out surveillance about suspicious activities and reporting to district level officials.[2] They had powers to resolve conflicts within their community, particularly those relating to marriages,[13] and give consent over the building of properties and [1] officiate over daily events or rituals.[14]

In Hyderabad, the position was always held by a member of the Bhaibund community who presided over the collection of fines for the violation of duties and obligations.[15]


In the Ismaili Nizari tradition, the term is also used for the guardian of each Jama'at Khana where the Mukhi acts as the tangible symbol of the Imam's authority.[1] officiating over daily rituals,[14]

Family name[edit]

Mukhi is also a common name within Sindhi denoting a hereditary relationship to a mukhi [16] and, from a separate root, in other Indian communities as meaning "beautiful".[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c India's Villages. Development Department, West Bengal, 1955
  2. ^ a b Peasant Pasts: History and Memory in Western India. Vinayak, Chaturvedi, University of California Press, 2007
  3. ^ The Thakors of north Gujarat: a caste in the village and the region. Studies in sociology and social anthropology, Lobo, Lancy. Hindustan Pub. Corp., 1995. ISBN 8170750350
  4. ^ Tribe, Volumes 2-6. Tribal Research Institute (Rajasthan, India). Tribal Research Institute and Training Centre, 1966
  5. ^ Villages, Women, and the Success of Dairy Cooperatives in India: Making Place for Rural Development. Basu, Pratyusha. Cambria Press, 2009
  6. ^ The Twice-born: A Study of a Community of High-caste Hindus. Carstairs, G. Morris, Indiana University Press, 1967
  7. ^ a b Gujarat, Part 3. Popular Prakashan, 2003
  8. ^ Research in Sociology: Abstracts of M.A. and Ph. D. Dissertations Completed in the Department of Sociology, University of Bombay. Concept Publishing Company, 1989
  9. ^ Encyclopaedia of Indian Woman: Emancipation Through Legislative Reforms, Volume 5. Akashdeep, 1990
  10. ^ The Global World of Indian Merchants, 1750-1947: Traders of Sind from Bukhara to Panama, Markovits, Claude. Cambridge University Press, 22 Jun 2000
  11. ^ Tribal Culture, Continuity, and Change: A Study of Bhils in Rajasthan. Majhi, Anita Srivastava , Mittal Publications, 2010
  12. ^ Balochistan Through the Ages: Tribes Vol. 2: Selection from Government Record. Baluchistan (Pakistan) Nisa Traders 1979, University of Virginia, Apr 2009
  13. ^ All India Reporter, Volume 3, Chitaley D.V., 1950
  14. ^ a b Encyclopaedia of Ismailism. Mumtaz Ali Tajddin Sadik Ali, Islamic Book Publisher, 2006.
  15. ^ The Amil Community of Hyderabad, Narsain, S.J. 1932
  16. ^ Essential Sindhi Cookbook. Reejhsinghani, Aroona, Penguin Books India, 2004
  17. ^ A Smaller Hindustani and English Dictionary, Taylor & Francis


  • Bherumal Mahirchand Advani, "Amilan-jo-Ahwal" - published in Sindhi, 1919
  • Amilan-jo-Ahwal (1919) - translated into English in 2016 ("A History of the Amils") at sindhis