History studies the past to analyse how things have changed and evolved over time. How, when, and where is a topic in class 8 SST-History syllabus and focuses on the importance of dates and the importance of dates while studying history. This chapter aims to give students an idea about the earlier history, and the practice of specifying dates according to each event. This blog provides summary notes of the chapter ‘How, when, and where?’.
Table of contents
How Important are Dates?
In the Chapter How, when, and where class 8, the first section focuses on the importance of dates in history. It is said that from time unknown, scientists have been enamoured by dates. History provides an account of what changes occurred over time; how things were in the past and how that has impacted the present. It recounts stories of the great battles, big events, the rulers, and their policies. The dates of every little detail such as the marriage of a king, the birth of a prince, the year he won a battle have been documented. Therefore for specific events, it is easy to determine the dates in order to keep track of the “when” aspect of historical events.
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In class 8 How, when, and where, it is also elaborated that the selection and the composition of the story of our past aren’t important. It gains importance when we focus on a set of events and deem them significant. In the history of British India, different chronologies were marked by different personalities life events.
How to Periodicise?
To understand the process of periodicisation, the Class 8 History Chapter 1 on ‘How, When and Where’ cites the following example:
James Mill, a Scottish economist and political philosopher published a 3 volume work in 1817, titled A History of British India. Mill, in his book, divided the history of India into 3 phases – Hindu, Muslim and British. Mill in his book was of the opinion that Asian societies were at a lower level of civilization than Europe. According to him, before the British era, India was ruled by Hindu and Muslim despots. It was riddled with religious intolerance, caste taboos, and superstitious practices that dominated social life. According to him, it was British rule that led to the civilization of India and furthered progress and civilization. Indian history is also divided into ancient, medieval, and modern.
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What is Colonial?
The next section in Class 8 Chapter on ‘How, When and Where’ focuses on how the British came to conquer the country and establish their rule, subjugating local nawabs and rajas. Further, we understand how the British established control over the economy and society, collected revenue to meet all their expenses, bought the goods they wanted at low prices, produced crops they needed for export, and the consequent changes. Colonialism brought about changes in values and tastes, customs and practices of the people. When one country subjugates another, there are economic, political, social, and cultural changes, it is referred to as colonization.
How Do We Know?
To track the historical records, there are different factors that historians explore. Some of the major facets of ‘How do we know’ are elaborated in this Class 8 chapter on How, When and Where.
Administration Produces Records
Britishers strictly practised writing memos, notings, and reports which was a part of the administrative culture. These documents have been carefully preserved in all administrative institutions. In the 19th century, there was a practice of copying out and writing these texts and documents by calligraphists. With the spread of printing in the mid 19th century, the copy of these records was printed as a proceeding of the government department.
Importance of Surveys
Surveys became an important part of the colonial administration. By 19th century, the British government routinely carried out surveys to map the entire country. For instance, revenue surveys were conducted to know the topography, the soil quality, the flora, the fauna, the local histories, and the cropping pattern. Later on by the end of 19th century, Census operations were held every ten years which recorded the number of people in all of India, noting information on castes, religions and occupation. Likewise, there are many other surveys – botanical surveys, zoological surveys, archaeological surveys, anthropological surveys, forest surveys.
What the Records do not Tell
These records though rigorous do not adequately explain how the country felt or what lay behind the actions. Many other sources of literature such as diaries of people, accounts of pilgrims and travellers, autobiographies of important personalities, and popular booklets are found other than official records. With the advent of printing in India, newspapers were published and issues were debated in public. This led to the spread of opinions and ideas of the various leaders and reformers. Even then these sources of history have not conveyed how the tribals and the peasants, the workers in the mines or the poor on the streets, lived their lives.
Questions and Answers
1. James Mill divided Indian history into three periods – Hindu, Muslim, Christian.
2. Official documents help us understand what the people of the country think.
3. The British thought surveys were important for effective administration.
British had preserved official documents as they that writing and recording everything will later be easier to study them and debate. Official records of what they thought was right were maintained so that in the future, those records can serve as proofs of all their decisions.
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