Sources of Modern History of India

Archives refer to a collection of historical records and documents, usually primary source documents, which provide information of the past. Four types of archival materials –

  • central government archives
  • state government archives
  • records of intermediate and subordinate authorities
  • judicial records
Some famous British travelers wrote travel accounts
  • 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
  • John Butler-Travels and Adventures in the Province of Assam
Some Non-British travelers who wrote about India
  • Victor Jacque Mont- Letters from India describing the journey in the British Dominions of India, Tibet, Lahore, and Cashmere during the years 1828-1829—1831
  • Baron Charles – Travels in Kashmir and Punjab
 Newspapers and Journals

The Bengal Gazette or Calcutta General Advertiser (first newspaper in India) in 1780 published by James Augustus Hickey. This was sized after two years. After that The Calcutta Gazette1784, The Madras Courier1788, The Bombay Herald1789 published.

Newspaper and journals before Independence

These Newspapers depict aspects of life in colonial India from around the 1870s onwards. From 1920s newspapers tracked major events around the time of the freedom struggle.

newspapers and journals published in abroad

news papers published in abroad

Literature was also playing an important role during the time, some of these are-

  • Anandamath (1882)– lyric ‘Vandemataram’ written in this and the novel was based on the Sanyasi Revolt (the 1760s).
  • Rajasimha- Bankim Chandra Chatterji
  • Hind ane Britannia– Icharam Suryaram Desai (1853-1912)
  • Mohana Rajani (1931)- Girija Devi    – Tamil writer
  • Dasikalin Mosavalai (1936)- Ramatirthammal- Tamil writer
  • Keelubommalu (The Puppets, 1956)- G.V. Krishna Rao- Telugu
  • Balyakalasakhi (The Childhood Friends, 1944)- Vaikom Muhammad Basheer
  • Tottiyude Makan (Son of a Scavenger, 1948) and Chemmeen (Shrimps, 1956)- Thakazhi Siva Sankara Pillai- Malayalam.
Some information about the colonial period can be found in paintings:
  • The Paintings also referred to as ‘Patna Kalam’ under the patronage of the East India Company. The Trades, festivals, dances, and the attire of people of that time are visible in these paintings.
  •  The ‘Relief of Lucknow’, painted by Thomas Jones Barker in 1859 shows the British as heroes.
  • ‘In Memoriam’ painting by Joseph Noel Paton, recorded in painting two years of the revolt of 1857.

In Calcutta during the nineteenth century, Kalighat painting raised which depicted mythological figures and ordinary people engaged in their everyday lives. Raja Ravi Varma- associated with painting.

Major Approaches to the History of Modern India– chapter 2

(Term historiography—the study of historical interpretation.)

For understanding modern history can be read under four approaches-

  • the Colonial (or the Imperialist),
  • Nationalist,
  • Marxist,
  • Subaltern

Other approaches are also used as Communalist, Cambridge, Liberal and Neo-liberal, and Feminist interpretations.

Colonial Approach / Historiography

The term ‘colonial approach’ used in two senses first relates to the history of the colonial countries, even second refers to the works which were influenced by the colonial ideology of dominancy. It leads to domination and justification of the colonial rule and praised for the Western culture and values and deals with the glorification of the individuals who established the colonial empires. For example- James Mill, MountStuart Elphinstone, Vincent Smith were writers of the colonial approach.

Nationalist Historiography/ Approach

This approach shows the national movement as a movement of the Indian people, which grew the awareness among all people of the exploitative nature of the colonial rule. Nationalist historians of modern India didn’t exist before 1947, they mainly dealt with the ancient and medieval periods of Indian history before 1947.

  • For the adverse economic aspects of alien rule detailed and scientific critique of colonialism was developed by nationalists like Dadabhai Naoroji, M.G. Ranade, G.V. Joshi, R.C. Dutt, K.T. Telang, G.K. Gokhale, and D.E. Wacha..
Marxist Historiography/ Approach
  • Rajni Palme Dutt – India Today
  • A.R. Desai- Social Background of Indian Nationalism

    Marxist historians clearly see the primary contradiction between the interests of the colonial masters and the subject people, as well as the process of the nation-in-the-making.

    Subaltern Approach/ Historiography

    They believe that the Indian people were never united in a common anti-imperialist struggle, there was no such entity as the Indian national movement. Example- Ranjit Guha editorship.

    View – A few historians have of late initiated a new trend, described by its proponents as subaltern, which dismisses all previous historical writing, including that based on a Marxist perspective, as elite historiography, and claims to replace this old, ‘blinkered’ historiography with what it claims is a new people’s or subaltern approach.                                                                                                                                Bipan Chandra

    Communalist Approach

    In their view, India’s medieval history was one long story of Hindu- Muslim conflict. As a corollary of this view, it was then argued that the 19th- and 20th-century Muslims had the ‘happy’ and ‘proud’ ever-present memory of having been the ruling class, while Hindus had the ‘sad’ and ‘humiliating’ memory of having been the subject race.

    Cambridge School

    According to their thought, the fundamental contradiction under colonial rule was not between imperialism and the Indian people, but among the Indians themselves.

    Liberal and Neo-Liberal Interpretations

    According to these interpretations- the economic exploitation of the colonies was not beneficial to the British people as a whole. Proponents of these thoughts are Patrick O’Brian, Hopkins and Cain.

    Feminist Historiography

    Women’s history began with the women’s movement of the 1970s by this emergence of women’s studies in India. In the colonial period, two works based on women’s questions in India—The High Caste Hindu Woman (1887) by Pandita Ramabai, and Mother India (1927) by Katherine Mayo—attracted international attention.

    You can also read:

    Thank you 🙂 

    Spread Your Love


    Indian press - newspaper and journals before Independence · July 3, 2021 at 10:36 am

    […] Sources of Modern History […]

  • Advent of Portuguese in India - Modern History PCSSTUDIES · July 15, 2021 at 4:11 pm

    […] Sources of the modern history of India […]

  • Leave a Reply