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Chapter 1 Solution : How When and Where
Question 1: State whether true or false:
(a) James Mill divided Indian history into three periods − Hindu, Muslim, Christian.
(b) Official documents help us understand what the people of the country think.
(c) The British thought surveys were important for effective administration.
(a) James Mill divided Indian history into three periods − Hindu, Muslim, Christian. False
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(b) Official documents help us understand what the people of the country think. False
(c) The British thought surveys were important for effective administration. True
|Question 2: What is the problem with the periodisation of the Indian history that James Mill offers?|
In his massive three-volume work, A History of British India, James Mill divides Indian history into three periods − Hindu, Muslim and British.
According to his prejudiced version of Indian history, the British rule represents all the forces of progress and civilisation, while the period before British rule represents darkness, ignorance, despotism, religious intolerance, caste taboos, superstitious practises, etc.
However, the periodisation of Indian History on the basis of religion is problematic for several reasons. A variety of faiths, apart from Hinduism and Islam, existed in the periods categorised as Hindu and Muslim by Mill. Also, it is not right to classify an age according to the religion of the rulers of the time. To do so would suggest that the lives and the practises of the others do not really matter.
Another point to keep in mind is that all rulers in ancient India did not share the same faith.
|Question 3: Why did the British preserve official documents?|
For the British, the act of writing was important. Every official document had to be clearly written up and preserved. Once this was done, things could be properly studied and debated. The preserved documents could be used as a point of reference whenever required.
|Question 4: How will the information historians get from old newspapers be different from that found in police reports?|
For writing about any period in history, a historian needs to gather information from various sources so that he/she can get a clearer picture of the life and times of the period concerned. The archived official documents provide the picture from the point of view of the people in power. A police report is one such official document.
Archived police reports help the historian attain a better understanding about the police, its functions, and its relation with the people who were policed, thereby providing the historian with invaluable data regarding an important administrative unit. However, this advantage is also a disadvantage.
The very nature of police records restricts the amount or the kind of information one can possibly get from them. They are official documents relating to a particular official function; hence, they are limited in this sense. Another problem with official recordings is that often they only present what the persons in authority want to be presented.
Therefore, for getting a wider and balanced view of a period in history, a historian also goes through the unofficial records relating to that period, like the diaries of people, accounts of pilgrims and travellers, autobiographies of important personalities, popular booklets, newspapers, etc. Unlike the restricted nature of official documents like police records, recordings such as newspapers have the advantage of providing varied information to the historian.
However, it would not be right to say that such information represents the complete truth. Even a newspaper report may be influenced by the biases and interests of the person writing the report.
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