Class 8 NCERT Solutions History Chapter 1 - How, When and Where
How, When and Where Exercise 8
(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.
The problem with the periodisation of Indian history by James Mill is that he divided the Indian history into Hindu, Muslim and the British period. It has been argued by many historians that it is not correct to periodise the Indian history on the basis of religion of the rulers. For example, when the Hindu kings ruled in ancient India, many religions existed peacefully. Similarly, it was not correct to periodise medieval India as Muslim History since people belonging to different faiths coexisted during this time. Such periodisation which was based on the religion of the rulers suggests that the lives, practices and the culture of the other people do not matter. Mill also sought to show that before the advent of the British, all the Asiatic societies were at lower level of civilisation.
The British believed in the art of writing and noting down each and every detail which was related to the administration of the country. Thus, they clearly noted down each and every policy, instruction, plans, decisions agreement and the results of the surveys. This helped them in administering the country in a proper manner. These details were also used by them for reference while formulating policies for the country.
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 thought, what they were interested in, what they wished to preserve for posterity and what they wanted to be presented.
But these records did not always help us understand what other people in the country felt and what lay behind their actions.
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.