NCERT Class 8 History Chapter 1 - How, When and Where Notes

Chapter 1 - How, When and Where Notes

1. How important are dates?
• History is not just about dates of battles or crowning of kings.
• History tells us about changes that occur over time.
• All events cannot be dated in terms of a particular year or a month.
• History books not just write about the dates but also about how culture and society changed.

2. Which Dates?
• It depends on which events are we focusing upon.
• If British historians write the history of their rule in India the dates and events would be different.
• If we write the history, the events and dates would be different.

3. How do we periodize? 
In 1817, James Mill, a Scottish economist and political philosopher, published a massive three-volume work, A History of British India. In this he divided Indian
history into three periods - Hindu, Muslim and British.
Mill thought that all Asian societies were at a lower level of civilisation than Europe. 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. British rule, Mill felt, could civilise India.
In this idea of history, British rule represented all the forces of progress and civilisation. Historians had divided Indian history into ‘ancient’, ‘medieval’ and
‘modern’.

4. What is Colonial? 
When the subjugation of one country by another leads to these kinds of political, economic, social and cultural changes,it is referred to as colonisation.

5. One important source is the official records of British administration.

6. The British believed that the act of writing was important. Every instruction, plan, policy decision, agreement, investigation had to be clearly written up. Once this was done, things could be properly studied and debated. This conviction produced an administrative culture of memos, notings and reports.

7. The British also felt that all important documents and letters needed to be carefully preserved. So they set up record rooms attached to all administrative institutions. The village tahsildar’s office, the collectorate, the commissioner’s office, the provincial secretariats, the lawcourts - all had their record rooms.
Specialised institutions like archives and museums were also established to preserve important records.

8. In the early years of the nineteenth century these documents were carefully copied out and beautifully written by calligraphists - that is, by those who
specialised in the art of beautiful writing.
By the middle of the nineteenth century, with the spread of printing, multiple copies of these records were printed as proceedings of each government department.

9. Surveys become important
Under the colonial administration, the practice of surveying became common. By the early nineteenth century, detailed surveys were being carried out to map the entire country.

10. 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.

11. From the end of the nineteenth century, Census operations were held every ten years.

12. 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.

13. What official records do not tell?
Official records will not help us to understand what other people in the country felt, and what lay behind their actions. Records like diaries of people, accounts of pilgrims and travellers, autobiographies of important personalities, and popular booklets are found other than official records.
Printing was introduced and newspapers were published and issues were debated in public. Leaders and reformers wrote to spread their ideas, poets and novelists wrote to express their feelings. But, from these sources, history cannot be explained and how the tribals and the peasants, the workers in the mines or the poor on the streets, lived their lives.

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