FAQ on Sources of Modern Indian History

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Q: What are some valuable sources for gaining insights into the history of India in the 18th and early 19th centuries?

A: Some valuable sources for understanding the history of India in the 18th and early 19th centuries include memoirs, biographies, travel accounts, newspapers, journals, oral evidence, creative literature, paintings, and archival materials.


Q: Where can I find official records related to modern Indian history?

A: Official records related to modern Indian history can be found in several categories, including central government archives, state government archives, records of intermediate and subordinate authorities, and judicial records. The National Archives of India, located in New Delhi, is a significant repository of government archives.


Q: How did the Survey of India contribute to historical knowledge in the 18th century?

A: The Survey of India, initiated with James Rennell as the first Surveyor General in 1767, played a vital role in mapping unknown regions of India and its borders. The records of the Survey of India, along with journals and memoirs of surveyors, provide valuable information not only on geography but also on contemporary socio-economic conditions and other historical aspects of the time.


Q: Where can I find information about the social and religious policies of the colonial government in India?

A: Information about the social and religious policies of the colonial government in India can be found in the proceedings of the public, judicial, and legislative departments, as well as in the educational records of the central archives. These records provide ample data for studying colonial policies.


Q: How can I access records related to the nationalist movement during colonial rule in India?

A: Records related to the emergence of the nationalist movement during colonial rule in India were initially part of the public series of the home department records. However, in 1907, a new series of records called Home Political was started to exclusively handle political and communal issues. You can find valuable information about the nationalist movement in these records.


Q: Where can I find historical records related to princely states in India?

A: Historical records related to princely states in India can be found in the archives of the state governments. These archives include records from former British Indian provinces, erstwhile princely states incorporated into the Indian Union after 1947, and foreign administrations other than the British. Records from princely states like Jaipur, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Udaipur, and others are valuable sources for studying their history. Additionally, archives of states like Gwalior, Indore, Bhopal, and more hold significant historical materials.


Q: What is the National Archives of India, and what kind of historical records can I find there?

A: The National Archives of India is a repository of historical records related to India. It houses a wide range of records, including government documents, manuscripts, maps, and more, covering various aspects of Indian history.


Q: How can I access the archives of the Bengal presidency for research purposes?

A: Archives related to the Bengal presidency are partly available in the National Archives of India and partly in the State Archives of West Bengal. You can visit these institutions to access historical records.


Q: What kind of information can I find in the Madras Presidency records?

A: The Madras Presidency records, dating back to 1670, contain information about the rise of the English East India Company as a political power in the south, the Deccan, and the Anglo-French struggle, along with English interactions with other Indian powers.


Q: Are there archives related to the history of Western India, such as Maharashtra and Gujarat?

A: Yes, the archives of the Bombay Presidency, located in the Maharashtra Secretariat Record Office in Mumbai, are extremely useful for studying the history of Western India, including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Sindh, and Kannada-speaking districts.


Q: Where can I find historical records related to Portuguese activities in India?

A: Archives related to Portuguese activities in India can be found in Goa, mainly dating from 1700 to 1900. These archives include orders, dispatches from Lisbon, and responses and reports from India to Portugal.


Q: Are there Dutch records available related to their presence in India?

A: Yes, Dutch records from Cochin and Malabar can be found in the Madras Record Office, and records of Chinsura are in the state archives of West Bengal, providing insights into Dutch activities in India.


Q: What happened to French archives from Chandernagore and Puducherry in India?

A: The French authorities took the archives from Chandernagore and Puducherry to Paris when they relinquished these settlements.


Q: Where are the remaining Danish records related to their presence in India?

A: The majority of Danish records, particularly those concerning Tranquebar from 1777 to 1845, are now housed in the Madras Record Office.


Q: What kind of historical materials can I find in the Danish archives related to Tranquebar?

A: The Danish archives related to Tranquebar contain historical materials that shed light on the history of this area during the period from 1777 to 1845 when it was under Danish rule.


Q: Can I access these archives online, or do I need to visit the physical locations?

A: Access to these archives may vary, but many historical records are often best accessed by visiting the physical locations, such as the National Archives of India or state archives. Some digitized materials may also be available online for remote access.


Q: Where can I find historical judicial records related to India's colonial period?

A: Historical judicial records from India's colonial period can be found in various locations. For example, the archives of the Mayor's Court at Fort St. George, dating back to 1689, are housed in the Madras Record Office.


Q: What happened to the pre-Plassey records of the Mayor's Court at Fort Williams?

A: Unfortunately, the pre-Plassey records of the Mayor's Court at Fort Williams have been lost over time, but records from the years 1757-73 can be found in the record room of the Calcutta High Court.


Q: Are there archives related to the Supreme Court of Bengal during the colonial era?

A: Yes, the archives of the Supreme Court of Bengal from 1774 to 1861 can be found in the record room of the Calcutta High Court.


Q: Are there judicial records from Bombay's colonial history available for research?

A: Yes, the records of the Mayor's Court at Bombay, established in 1728, are available in the Maharashtra Secretariat Record Office. This location also houses archives from the Bombay Recorder's Court and the Supreme Court.


Q: What types of information can be found in these colonial judicial records?

A: Colonial judicial records, apart from proceedings and minutes, often contain copies of wills, probates, and letters of administration. These documents are valuable for genealogical studies and investigations related to the social and economic conditions of the respective regions during that time.


Q: What are Parliamentary Papers, and how can they be useful for historical research?

A: Parliamentary Papers are significant archival publications that contain excerpts from the records of the East India Company and the Government of India under the Crown. They include reports of parliamentary select committees, royal commissions on various subjects, and debates on the Indian empire. These papers are indispensable for historical research.


Q: Where can I find information about specific subjects like education, civil reforms, and famines in colonial India?

A: Information about specific subjects like education, civil reforms, and famines in colonial India can be found in the reports of royal commissions constituted to investigate these issues, which are often included in Parliamentary Papers.


Q: What types of publications are valuable for studying the legislative history of India during the colonial period?

A: The proceedings of the Indian and provincial legislatures are valuable publications for studying the legislative history of India during the colonial period.


Q: Are there any regular publications that provide insights into the governance of colonial India?

A: Yes, the weekly gazettes published by both central and provincial governments in India provide regular insights into the governance and administrative decisions of the colonial era.


Q: Where can I access private archives related to the development of modern India?

A: Private archives consist of papers and documents from individuals and families who played a significant role in modern India's development. The Nehru Memorial Museum and Library in New Delhi houses the papers of eminent leaders of the nationalist movement, as well as records from organizations like the Indian National Congress. Additionally, archives of banks, businesses, and chambers of commerce are helpful for studying economic changes in the region.


Q: Can you recommend any valuable sources for understanding India's history through the eyes of travelers and missionaries?

A: Certainly! Travel accounts and writings by travelers, missionaries, and civil servants who came to India provide unique insights into the country's history. Some notable works include Bishop Heber's Journal and Abbe Dubois's Hindu Manners and Customs, which offer information about India's socio-economic life during the decline of Indian powers and the rise of the British.


Q: Who were some famous British travelers known for their travel accounts about India?

A: There were several famous British travelers who wrote travel accounts about India, including George Forster, Benjamin Heyne, James Burnes (Narrative of a Visit to the Court of Sinde), Alexander Burnes (Travels Into Bokhara), C.J.C. Davidson (Diary of the Travels and Adventures in Upper India), and John Butler (Travels and Adventures in the Province of Assam). These accounts provide valuable historical information.


Q: Are there any non-British travelers who wrote about India?

A: Yes, there are notable non-British travelers who wrote about India. Victor Jacquemont, Baron Charles, and William Moorcroft are some examples. Victor Jacquemont's "Letters from India" and Baron Charles's "Travels in Kashmir and the Punjab" are particularly insightful.


Q: Why are these travel accounts considered indispensable for understanding India's history?

A: These travel accounts are considered indispensable because they offer firsthand observations and impressions of India during specific time periods. They provide a valuable complement to official papers and offer a more personal and often detailed perspective on the history, culture, and society of India.


Q: How can these travel accounts be used in historical research?

A: Researchers can use these travel accounts to gain a deeper understanding of India's history by studying the experiences, observations, and narratives of travelers and missionaries. They provide valuable context and insights into the social, economic, and cultural aspects of India during different historical periods.


Q: Why are newspapers and journals from the 19th and 20th centuries important for understanding modern Indian history?

A: Newspapers and journals from this period are crucial because they provide authentic sources of information that document various aspects of modern Indian history, including political, social, and cultural developments.


Q: Who were the pioneers in publishing newspapers in India during the early years of British rule?

A: The first attempts to publish newspapers in India were made by disgruntled employees of the English East India Company who sought to expose malpractices of private trade. For example, in 1776, William Bolts attempted to publish a newspaper, but his plan was halted by the Company's strong response. James Augustus Hickey published the first newspaper in India, "The Bengal Gazette or Calcutta General Advertiser," in 1780.


Q: Why did James Hickey's newspaper, "The Bengal Gazette," face closure within two years?

A: James Hickey's newspaper faced closure within two years because of his outspoken criticism of government officials, leading to the seizure of his press.


Q: When did newspapers in India begin to cater to the intellectual entertainment of Europeans and Anglo-Indians?

A: Newspapers and journals in India primarily aimed at catering to the intellectual entertainment of Europeans and Anglo-Indians during the early period of their existence.


Q: Who were some distinguished journalists who edited or published powerful newspapers in the second half of the 19th century?

A: Distinguished and fearless journalists who edited or published powerful newspapers in the second half of the 19th century included G. Subramaniya Iyer, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Surendranath Banerjea, Sisir Kumar Ghosh, Motilal Ghosh, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, N.N. Sen, Dadabhai Naoroji, G.P. Varma, and others.


Q: How did newspapers contribute to the Indian National Congress in 1885?

A6: Nearly one-third of the founding fathers of the Indian National Congress in 1885 were journalists, highlighting the significant role newspapers played in shaping the political landscape.


Q: What are some noted newspapers and journals from this period?

A: Some notable publications included "The Hindu" and "Swadesamitran" (G. Subramaniya Iyer), "Kesari" and "Mahratta" (Bal Gangadhar Tilak), "Bengalee" (Surendranath Banerjea), "Amrita Bazaar Patrika" (Sisir Kumar Ghosh and Motilal Ghosh), "Sudharak" (Gopal Krishna Gokhale), "Indian Mirror" (N.N. Sen), "Voice of India" (Dadabhai Naoroji), "Hindustan" and "Advocate" (G.P. Varma).


Q: What role did newspapers published by Indian nationalists and revolutionaries abroad play?

A: Newspapers and journals like "Indian Sociologist" (London, Shyamji Krishnavarma), "Bande Matram" (Paris, Madam Cama), "Talwar" (Berlin, Virendranath Chattopadhyay), and "Ghadar" (San Francisco, Lala Hardayal) were published abroad to instill a sense of nationalism among Indians living overseas.


Q: How did newspapers depict life in colonial India from the 1870s onwards?

A: Newspapers began to depict almost all aspects of life in colonial India from around the 1870s onwards, offering a valuable historical record of the time.


Q: Should newspaper accounts from this period be viewed as completely objective sources of information?

A: No, newspaper accounts from this period should not be seen as completely objective, as their perspectives often varied based on the publisher's stance. Accounts published in London by pro-British Raj individuals might differ significantly from reports in Indian nationalist newspapers.


Q: What is oral history, and how does it contribute to the study of history?

A: Oral history involves constructing history using non-written sources, often through personal reminiscences and interviews. It allows historians to expand their understanding of historical events and corroborate findings from other sources. However, some historians remain skeptical of oral history due to potential biases.


Q: Who were some early Indian novelists, and what were their notable works?

A: Early Indian novelists included Bankim Chandra Chatterji, known for "Anand Math" (1882), and Icharam Suryaram Desai, who wrote "Hind ane Britanica." Tamil writers like Girija Devi and Ramatirtha Thammal also contributed to the novel genre with works like "Mohanra Rajani" and "Dasikalin Mosa Valai."


Q: What themes did Indian novelists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries often explore?

A: These novelists shared a strong sense of realism and focused on the lives of marginalized and oppressed sections of society. They often explored social experiences, political overtones, and moral aspects in their works.


A: How did painting contribute to our understanding of colonial India?

A: Paintings from the colonial period provide insights into the socio-economic, political, and cultural life of that era. Company Paintings, for example, depicted people, scenes, trades, festivals, and attire of the time, offering valuable visual records. Paintings from the 1857 revolt period, both British and Indian, help interpret and understand different perspectives on this significant event.


Q: Who were some artists associated with the Bengal School and how did they influence Indian art?

A: Artists like Nandalal Bose, Raja Ravi Varma, Abanindranath Tagore, E.B. Havell, and Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy were associated with the Bengal School, a new art movement rooted in Indian nationalism. Their work often focused on Indian mythology and cultural heritage, contributing to the modern art movement in India and providing insights for art historians.

Disclaimer: All the FAQ questions answers presented here have been collected from the Internet and various textbooks. Itihaschetona.com is not responsible if any information is incorrect. All information is presented for educational purposes only.


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