Topic outline

    • How, When and Where

      Q28. Why we continue to associate history with a string of dates?
      What was the reason behind the use of dates in history?

      Ans. This association has a reason. There was a time when history was an account of battles and big events. It was about rulers and their policies. Historians wrote about the year a king was crowned, the year he married, the year he had a child, the year he fought a particular war, the year he died, and the year the next ruler succeeded to the throne. For events such as these, specific dates can be determined, and in histories such as these, debates about dates continue to be important.


      Q29. How did James Mill view India?

      Ans. James Mill’s view about India

                               i.        Mill thought that all Asian societies were at a lower level of civilisation than Europe.

                             ii.        According to his telling of history, before the British came to India, Hindu and Muslim despots ruled the country. Religious intolerance, caste taboos and superstitious practices dominated social life.

                            iii.        British rule, Mill felt, could civilise India. Mill, in fact, suggested that the British should conquer all the territories in India to ensure the enlightenment and happiness of the Indian people. For India was not capable of progress without British help.

      Q30. What is the problem with the periodisation of Indian history that James Mill offers?
      The Periodisation of Indian History made by James Mill during 1817 was unjustified. Why?

      Ans. James Mill divided Indian history into three periods—Hindu, Muslim and British. This periodisation has its own problem.

                                i.        It is not correct to refer to any period of history as ‘Hindu’ or ‘Muslim’ because a variety of faiths existed simultaneously in these periods.

                               ii.        It is also not justified to characterise an age through the religion of the rulers of the time. To do so is to suggest that the lives and practices of the others do not really matter.

                              iii.        It is worth-mentioning that even rulers in ancient India did not all share the same faith.


      Q31. Historians divide Indian history into ancient, medieval and modem. But this division too has its problems. What are these problems?
      Historians divided history into ancient, medieval and modern period. What is the problem with this periodisation?
      'Dividing Indian history into ancient, medieval and modern periods by historians too has its problem' Explain.
      Historians have divided Indian history into 'ancient', 'medieval' and 'modern'. What problems does this division have?

      Ans. Moving away from British classification, historians have usually divided Indian history into ‘ancient’, ‘medieval’ and ‘modern’. This division too has its problems.

                                i.        It is a periodisation that is borrowed from the West where the modern period was associated with the growth of all the forces of modernity – science, reason, democracy, liberty and equality. Medieval was a term used to describe a society where these features of modern society did not exist.

                               ii.        It is difficult to accept this characterisation of the modern period because under British rule people did not have equality, freedom or liberty. Nor it was the period one of economic growth and progress. Many historians therefore refer to this period as ‘colonial’.

      Q32. How important are dates?
      “History is boring because it is all about memorizing dates.” Is such a conception true?
      In the common-sense notion, history was synonymous with dates. Discuss

      Ans. History is certainly about changes that occur over time. It is about finding out how things were in the past and how things have changed. As soon as we compare the past with the present we refer to time, we talk of “before” and “after”. But time does not have to be always precisely dated in terms of a particular year or a month. Sometimes it is actually incorrect to fix precise dates to processes that happen over a period of time. Similarly, we cannot fix one single date on which British rule was established, or the national movement started, or changes took place within the economy and society. All these things happened over a stretch of time. We can only refer to a span of time, an approximate period over which particular changes became visible.

      Q33. How did surveys become important under the colonial administration?
      Explain the importance of survey under the colonial administration.
      Why did surveys become a common practice under the colonial administration?

      Ans. The practice of surveying also became common under the colonial administration. The British believed that a country had to be properly known before it could be effectively administered. By the early nineteenth century detailed surveys were being carried out to map the entire country. In the villages, revenue surveys were conducted. The effort was to know the topography, the soil quality, the flora, the fauna, the local histories, and the cropping pattern – all the facts seen as necessary to know about to administer the region. From the end of the nineteenth century, Census operations were held every ten years. These prepared detailed records of the number of people in all the provinces of India, noting information on castes, religions and occupation. There were many other surveys – botanical surveys, zoological surveys, archaeological surveys, anthropological surveys, forest surveys.


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