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IGNOU BHIE 144 Solved Assignment 2022-23
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Submission Date :
- 31st March 2033 (if enrolled in the July 2033 Session)
- 30th Sept, 2033 (if enrolled in the January 2033 session).
Answer the following in about 500 words each in Section A. Each question carry 20 marks.
Answer the following questions in about 250 words each in Section B. Each question carry 10 marks.
Answer the following questions in about 100 words each in Section C. Each question carry 6 marks.
1. What is a historical tradition? Discuss socio-political and economic context of Indian historical traditions.
The European scholars who reconstructed early Indian history in the 19th century regarded it as essentially static and Indian society as concerned only with things spiritual. Indologists, such as the German Max Müller, relied heavily on the Sanskritic tradition and saw Indian society as an idyllic village culture emphasizing qualities of passivity, meditation, and otherworldliness. In sharp contrast was the approach of the Scottish historian James Mill and the Utilitarians, who condemned Indian culture as irrational and inimical to human progress. Mill first formulated a periodization of Indian history into Hindu, Muslim, and British periods, a scheme that, while still commonly used, is now controversial. During the 19th century, direct contact with Indian institutions through administration, together with the utilization of new evidence from recently deciphered inscriptions, numismatics, and local archives, provided fresh insights. Nationalist Indian historians of the early 20th century tended to exaggerate the glory of the past but nevertheless introduced controversy into historical interpretation, which in turn resulted in more precise studies of Indian institutions. In more recent times, historians have reconstructed in greater detail the social, economic, and cultural history of the subcontinent—though politics has continued to influence the study of Indian history.
A major change in the interpretation of Indian history has been a questioning of an older notion of Oriental despotism as the determining force. Arising out of a traditional European perspective on Asia, this image of despotism grew to vast proportions in the 19th century and provided an intellectual justification for colonialism and imperialism. Its deterministic assumptions clouded the understanding of early interrelationships among Indian political forms, economic patterns, and social structures.
Trends in early Indian society
A considerable change is noticeable during this period in the role of institutions. Clan-based societies had assemblies, whose political role changed with the transformation of tribe into state and with oligarchic and monarchical governments. Centralized imperialism, which was attempted under the Mauryan empire (c. 325–185 BCE), gave way gradually to decentralized administration and to what has been called a feudalistic pattern in the post-Gupta period—i.e., from the 7th century CE. Although the village as an administrative and social unit remained constant, its relationship with the mainstream of history varied. The concept of divine kingship was known but rarely taken seriously, the claim to the status of the caste of royalty becoming more important. Because conformity to the social order had precedence over allegiance to the state, the idea of representation found expression not so much in political institutions as in caste and village assemblies. The pendulum of politics swung from large to small kingdoms, with the former attempting to establish empires—the sole successful attempt being that of the Mauryan dynasty. Thus, true centralization was rare, because local forces often determined historical events. Although imperial or near-imperial periods were marked by attempts at the evolution of uniform cultures, the periods of smaller kingdoms (often referred to as the Dark Ages by earlier historians) were more creative at the local level and witnessed significant changes in society and religion. These small kingdoms also often boasted the most elaborate and impressive monuments.
The major economic patterns were those relating to land and to commerce. The transition from tribal to peasant society was a continuing process, with the gradual clearing of wasteland and the expansion of the village economy based on plow agriculture. Recognition of the importance of land revenue coincided with the emergence of the imperial system in the 4th century BCE; and from this period onward, although the imperial structure did not last long, land revenue became central to the administration and income of the state. Frequent mentions of individual ownership, references to crown lands, numerous land grants to religious and secular grantees in the post-Gupta period, and detailed discussion in legal sources of the rights of purchase, bequest, and sale of land all clearly indicate that private ownership of land existed. Much emphasis has been laid on the state control of the irrigation system; yet a systematic study of irrigation in India reveals that it was generally privately controlled and that it serviced small areas of land. (See hydraulic civilization.) When the state built canals, they were mainly in the areas affected by both the winter and summer monsoons, in which village assemblies played a dominant part in revenue and general administration, as, for example, in the Cola (Chola) kingdom of southern India.
The urban economy was crucial to the rise of civilization in the Indus valley (c. 2600–2000 BCE). Later the 1st millennium BCE saw an urban civilization in the Ganges (Ganga) valley and still later in coastal south India. The emergence of towns was based on administrative needs, the requirements of trade, and pilgrimage centres. In the 1st millennium CE, when commerce expanded to include trade with western Asia, the eastern Mediterranean, and Central and Southeast Asia, revenue from trade contributed substantially to the economies of the participating kingdoms, as indeed Indian religion and culture played a significant part in the cultural evolution of Central and Southeast Asia. Gold coins were issued for the first time by the Kushan dynasty and in large quantity by the Guptas; both kingdoms were active in foreign trade. Gold was imported from Central Asia and the Roman Republic and Empire and later perhaps from eastern Africa because, in spite of India’s recurring association with gold, its sources were limited. Expanding trade encouraged the opening up of new routes, and this, coupled with the expanding village economy, led to a marked increase of knowledge about the subcontinent during the post-Mauryan period. With increasing trade, guilds became more powerful in the towns. Members of the guilds participated in the administration, were associated with politics, and controlled the development of trade through merchant embassies sent to places as far afield as Rome and China. Not least, guilds and merchant associations held envied and respectable positions as donors of religious institutions.
These historians, who were generally Progressives in politics, emphasized the importance of class conflict and the power of economic interests in their studies, revealing the influence of Karl Marx (1818–83). Marx and Friedrich Engels (1820–95) worked together in almost total isolation, and when Marx died it would have been difficult for a casual observer not to conclude that his ideas would disappear with him. By 1900, however, Marxism constituted the greatest challenge to the idealist tradition.
Despite the influence of philosophy, sociology, and economics, Marx’s thought was profoundly historical. Hegel had taught him that history was constant change, produced by oppositions, reconciliations, and more oppositions. Acknowledging (in a way) this debt, Marx remarked that he found Hegel standing on his head and turned him right side up again. By this he meant that Hegel had mistaken the real motor of history: it was not the conflict of ideas but the conflict of social classes. Marx admitted, however, that this was not his own discovery; the “bourgeois” historians, such as Vico, had anticipated him. What Marx brought to the idea of class struggle was a conception of how it had developed and how it must eventually turn out.
Marx’s understanding of class struggle was influenced by the work of the English economist David Ricardo (1772–1823), who had developed a model of how “perfect” markets work in a capitalist mode of production. Ricardo had made the conflicting interests of landlords, employers, and workers the centre of his picture of the economy. He argued that, because of Malthusian population dynamics, the wages of workers would always be held at or near subsistence levels. Marx extended the analysis by taking into account increases in population and in the productive powers of the economy. He correctly predicted—at a time when there were very few companies that employed more than 50 workers—that the size of capitalist enterprises would inexorably increase until giant corporations dominated the economy. Equally correctly, he predicted that the proportion of the labour force engaged in agriculture (over half in parts of Europe) and the number of small business owners would sharply decline, so that proletarians—those who had nothing to sell but their labour—would become the overwhelming majority of the population. Marx was less certain about the political consequences of these changes; by the end of his life he thought that capitalism might be brought to an end without violent revolution in some countries (the United States among them), and he saw that not all societies would pass through exactly the same sequence of changes. But he never lost his confidence that the system of private ownership of the means of production, in which enormous quantities of wealth accumulated in fewer and fewer hands, would inevitably be replaced by socialism.
None of this is history, properly speaking. The appeal of Marxism, for some historians, has been the rigour of this economic argument, which promises an eventual system based on moral precepts more appealing than “greed is good”; they also have been attracted to its suggestive implications for a unified approach to history. These are implications only, however. Marxist historiography, as a contemporary Marxist once said, is still “under construction.” Marx’s own historical writings are far from a mechanical application of his system. In his brilliant Der 18te Brumaire des Louis Napoleon (1852; The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte), several classes, not just two, played important roles, and the political skill of Napoleon III is acknowledged—albeit grudgingly—as significant. Although some Marxist historians may still maintain a residual allegiance to the notion that ideas are a mere “superstructural” reflection of the material “base,” the way this relationship is supposed to work has never been satisfactorily demonstrated, and this aspect of Marxism has largely been laid aside.
In recent times the idea has gained currency that Marxism has been “refuted by history.” No successful revolution has broken out in any advanced capitalist country, and the collapse of the Soviet Union and the failure of the regimes in eastern Europe that called themselves Marxist has been taken as the conclusive demonstration that Marx was wrong. But “history” refutes nobody; only historians can do that, and other historians, looking at different evidence or reinterpreting the same, can in turn refute them. A more well-grounded objection might be that there is no way to refute Marx, because his predictions are insufficiently precise; for example, he wrote that no mode of production gives way to its successor before it has exhausted all of its possibilities. The history of historiography suggests, however, that no grand scheme, whether of Augustine, Hegel, or Marx, can be “disconfirmed” by empirical evidence. They are different interpretations of history, more or less persuasive as one judges them on what are essentially aesthetic or moral grounds. The option to refuse to interpret in such a mode is of course always open.
3. Describe charita form of writing. In your opinion how can these textual compositions be treated as historical treatises?
4. Give a brief account of Sangam literature. Can it be justified to call Sangam literature, a history in the making?
5. Write a note on genealogical traditions of western India.
6. Dana-stuti Hymns
8. Ashokan Edicts
9. Muhammad Qasim Firishta
10. Some important nationalist historians
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