James Mill divided the Indian history into three periods–Hindu, Muslim, Christian.
Official documents help us understand what the people of the country think.
The British thought surveys were important for effective administration.
What is the problem with the periodisation of Indian history that James Mill offers?
James Mill was a Scottish economist and political philosopher. He divided Indian history into three periods—Hindu, Muslim and British. But this periodisation of Indian history has certain problems which are given below:
(i) We try to divide history into different periods to capture the central features of a time, as they appear to us. But, this division of Mill does not tell us about features of a time or its central features. It only tells us about the prominent religion in different ages.
(ii) This periodisation of history tells us that the period before the British rule in India was one of ‘darkness’ and the British rule in Indian territory has brought prosperity in the country. We cannot accept such conception in the present age.
(iii) He refers to different periods of history as Hindu or Muslim. But, a variety of faiths existed simultaneously in these periods as well.
We cannot characterise an age only on the basis of the religion of the rulers of the time. It means that lives of others do not matter. So, this periodisation of Indian history has certain problems.
Why did the British preserve official documents?
The British felt that all the important documents and letters should be carefully preserved.
Every type of plan, instruction, agreement, policy decision and investigation should be clearly written up. The written records can be referred to studied, analysed and debated, as and when required. It led to rise of administrative culture of memos and reports.
How will the information historians get from old newspapers be different from that found in police reports?
Actually, the police reports are made according to the policies of the government. They will never
tell the historians about the atrocities committed by the government on the people. In fact, minimum
loss of lives were generally shown in police reports. Police basically favours the government. Contrary
to that, newspapers are impartial and they write and publish actual reports in the newspapers.
They write about actual casualties, original incidents and other details. That is why historians get information from old newspapers which was different from that found in police reports.
Look at Sources 1 and 2.
Do you find any differences in the nature of reporting? Explain what you observe.
Both the reports have a huge difference in its nature of reporting. Source 1 sent to home by the Director of Intelligence shows no trouble and atrocity. It shows good governance by the colonial government. However, Source 2 gives a glimpse of ground reality. It describes the situation of the policemen hailed from India. They were deprived from good-quality food and low salaries.