How, When and Where – Class VIII, NCERT Social Science – Our Pasts III, Chapter 1

NCERT Textbook Exercise Questions

Q.1: State whether true or false:

a) James Mill divided Indian History into three periods- Hindu, Muslim, Christian. (false)

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)

Q.2: What is the problem with the periodisation of Indian History that James Mill offers?

Ans: In 1817, James Mill, a Scottish Economist and Political Philosopher, published a book: A History of British India, in which he divided Indian History into three periods – Hindu, Muslim and British. According to Mill before British came to India, Hindu & Muslim despots ruled this country. He said that religious intolerance, caste taboos and superstitious practices dominated social life. He also felt that without British help India would have never progressed.

But Mill’s conception of dividing Indian History on the basis of religion has many flaws and so, is not acceptable. We can not characterize an age only through the religion of the rulers of the time. We know that a variety of faiths and religions existed simultaneously in these periods. Also all rulers in ancient India did not share the same faith. It is this country from where two other religions like- Buddhism and Jainism developed and spread to other parts of the world while Hindu religion also existed.

Q.3: Why did the British preserve official documents?

Ans: The British preserved the important official documents because these served as records of what the officials thought, what they were interested in and what they wished for. According to the British, writing was more important than speaking as the documents in archives and museums can be utilized for reference at a much later period whenever required for studying or debating. These can also serve as an information or proof of any decision or action taken earlier on some matter.

Q.4: How will the information historians get from old newspapers be different from that found in police reports?

Ans: Information is essential for writing history of a time which can be gathered from various sources. Apart from official documents in the archives, historians gather information also from old newspapers, diaries of people, accounts of pilgrims, autobiographies of important personalities and booklets etc. Information found in newspapers is varied, based on incidents that have happened across the country whereas; the police reports are limited and localized. Because of this fact sometimes the information historians get from police reports is not as useful as it is from old newspapers. However for any incidence the newspaper may not quote all the reasons behind this and biased as per the thinking of reporter while in police records we could find some evidences for an incident and unbiased reports.

Long and Short type Questions with their Answers

Q.1: Why do we continue to associate history with a string of dates?

Ans: History is a record of significant events that have occurred over a time or on a particular day in the past. History is a subject which deals with past events like – when a battle was fought, period of dynasties, when a king was crowned, birth of any religion and other changes etc. History is also important to know the exact date and year of any particular event. Hence, we continue to associate history with a string of dates since, details of any such events which have occurred in the past can not be determined without referring to the specific dates. So in other words we can say that history is synonymous with dates.

Q.2: What is history? Why and how do we periodise a time in history? (What is Periodisation?)

Ans: History is a record of significant events written in chronological order. It is the subject from where we find out how things were in the past and how things have changed in the past.

We periodise a time in order to characterize it into different periods on the basis of some significant events that have happened during those days. These demarcations of time into different periods in the past is known as ‘Periodisation’, which become important for history as they help to reflect our ideas quickly about the happenings and changes from one period to the next.

Q.3: What is the meaning of ‘Colonization’ in history?

Ans: We find in the history that whenever one country invaded or conquered another it brought about some changes in the society in term of values, customs and practices. These kinds of political, economic, social and cultural changes as a result of subjugation of one country by another are termed as ‘Colonization’ in history.

Q.4: According to historians what is the meaning of the term ‘Colonial’?

Ans: During the British rule in India people have never enjoyed equality, freedom or liberty. During this period Indian economy was exploited and channelized for the development of British economy. In history this period of British rule has been termed as ‘Colonial’ by many historians.

Q.5: Who were ‘Calligraphists’?

Ans: Calligraphists were experts in the art of beautiful handwriting. In the early years of the 19th century important documents were carefully copied and beautifully written by the calligraphists.

Q.6: By which criteria do we choose a set of dates as important?

Ans: The dates we choose are the dates around which we compose our story of the past. These dates are not important on their own. They become important because we take a particular set of events as important which has happened around that time. The importance of dates change with the change in our emphasis. We explain this with the following example:

British historians in India emphasized the rule of each Governor – General. We read about the deeds of other Governor – General like, Hastings, Wellesley, Bentinck, Dalhousie, Canning, Lawrence, Lytton, Curzon, Ripon, Harding Irwin. All the dates were linked to these personalities describing their activities, policies and the achievements.

Q.7: How old advertisements help us?

Ans: Old advertisements help us understand how markets for new products were created and new tastes were popularized.

Q.8: What is survey? Give examples of different types of surveys conducted?

Ans: Survey means to study or investigate important facts and figures regarding a particular subject, topic or country for acquiring additional and specific information for further study or investigation. In the early 19th century detailed surveys were conducted throughout the country in almost all the major fields such as, the topography, studying the cropping pattern, botanical surveys, zoological surveys, archeological surveys, anthropological surveys and forest surveys etc in order to collect necessary information regarding the country.

Q.9: What can a historian derive from surveys?

Ans: Surveys in any field is very important and crucial in the sense that it helps one to collect the right data, figures, information and reports regarding a subject. To a historian, surveys are equally important because a historian is related to history and all the information are related to the past. To the historians, archeological surveys are important because it deals with the past. A historian can come across certain information like – the ancient civilizations, the behaviors of human beings in the past, structure of the society, the culture and the traditions, habits and their livelihood. These are important because the historians can assess actual information prevalent during the period and what transformations has been brought or will be taking place in future.

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