Q. 8

What do private letters and autobiographies tell us about an individual? How are these sources different from official accounts?

Answer :

Private letters as well as autobiographies are a crucial source of people’s views and life. Many of the freedom struggle leaders wrote letters and autobiographies which provided a great record regarding them as well as history.

The letters and autobiographies detail the following things regarding an individual:

(A) They throw light on the people’s interests. For example, Nehru wrote letters for his daughter Indira explaining the events of world history which today is known as Glimpses of the World History. These letters exhibit that Nehru possessed great interest in history. These letters also demonstrated the views of the author. For example, Nehru speaks highly of the socialist government of USSR in his autobiography.

(B) These letters as well as autobiographies are one good source of information of the social life of such days in India. Dr. Rajendra Prasad has provided vivid description of the village life which he saw as a toddler in his village.

(C) Above all, these letters and autobiographies are one great source of history as well. Nehru in his autobiography has described in details regarding the obstinate approach undertaken by the Muslim League towards solving the minority issue in India.

These sources showed dissimilarity in comparison to the official accounts which is manifested in the following pointers:

(A) The official accounts are created by individuals who worked under government’s guidelines. Thus, perspectives that run against the government stay stifled. Furthermore, the author would not possess the freedom of the focused region. He would be needed to write only on such topics that were already defined. However, in letters and autobiographies, one can select anything of personal interests. Dr. Rajendra Prasad provides a vivid description of his college and school days in his autobiography which is not possible in government accounts.

(B) The autobiographic letters tend to throw light on the person life of leaders as individuals and exhibit these events moulding the thought procedure of such leaders in future life. Gandhiji explained how he was thrown out of the initial class compartment of the train in South Africa since he was not White. He explains the struggle within on how to protest and later how he considered non-violent approach of protest.

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Read the following excerpt carefully and answer the questions that follow:

Why the Salt Satyagraha?

Why was salt the symbol of protest? This is what Mahatma Gandhi wrote: The volume of information being gained daily shows how wickedly the salt tax has been designed. In order to prevent the use of salt that has not paid the tax which is at times even fourteen times its value, the Government destroys the salt it cannot sell profitably. Thus, it taxes the nation’s vital necessity: it prevents the public from manufacturing it and destroys what nature manufactures without effort. No adjective is strong enough for characterising this wicked dog-in-the-manger policy. From various sources I hear tales of such wanton destruction of the nation’s property in all parts of India. Maunds if not tons of salt are said to be destroyed on the Konkan coast. The same tale comes from Dandi. Wherever there is likelihood of natural salt being taken away by the people living in the neighbourhood of such areas for their personal use, salt officers are posted for the sole purpose of destruction. Thus, valuable national property is destroyed at national expense and salt taken out of the mouths of the people.

The salt monopoly is thus a fourfold curse. It deprives the people of a valuable easy village industry, involves wanton destruction of property that nature produces in abundance, the destruction itself means more national expenditure, and fourthly to frown this folly, an unheard-of tax of more than 1,000 per cent is extracted from a starving people.

This tax has remained so long because of the apathy of the general public. Now that is sufficiently roused, the tax has to go. How soon it will be abolished depends upon the strength of the people.

(i) Why was salt monopoly introduced by the British considered as a curse by the Indians?

(ii) How did Gandhiji illustrate his tactical wisdom with regard to salt monopoly?

(iii) Explain the significance of Gandhiji’s challenge of salt protest.

History - Board Papers

“Tomorrow we shall break the salt tax law”

On 5 April 1930, Mahatma Gandhi spoke at Dandi:

When I left Sabarmati with my companions for this seaside hamlet of Dandi, I was not certain in my mind that we would be allowed to reach this place. Even while I was at Sabarmati there was a rumour that I might be arrested. I had thought that the Government might perhaps let my party come as far as Dandi, but not me certainly. If someone says that this betrays imperfect faith on my part, I shall not deny the charge. That I have reached here is in no small measure due to the power of peace and non-violence: that power is universally felt. The Government may, if it wishes, congratulate itself on acting as it has done, for it could have arrested every one of us. In saying that it did not have the courage to arrest this army of peace, we praise it. It felt ashamed to arrest such an army. He is a civilised man who feels ashamed to do anything which his neighbours would disapprove. The Government deserves to be congratulated on not arresting us, even if it desisted only from fear of world opinion. Tomorrow we shall break the salt tax law. Whether the Government will tolerate that is a different question. It may not tolerate it, but it deserves congratulationthe patience and forbearance it has displayed in regard to this party. … What if I and all the eminent leaders in Gujarat and in the rest of the country are arrested? This movement is based on the faith that when a whole nation is roused and on the march no leader is necessary.

(i) Why did Gandhiji start the Dandi March?

(ii) Why was Salt March notable?

(iii) The power of peace and non-violence was universally felt. Why did Gandhiji say so?

History - Board Papers

The Muslim League resolution of 1940

The League’s resolution of 1940 demanded :

That geographically contiguous units are demarcated into regions, which should be so constituted, with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary, that the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority as in the north-western and eastern zones of India should be grouped to constitute “Independent States”, in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign.

(13.1) Identify the major demands of the Muslim League.

(13.2) Analyse the reasons for the demand of autonomy by the Muslim League.

(13.3) Analyse the distinctive aspects of the Muslim League Resolution of 1940.


Read the following excerpt carefully and answer the questions that follow :

A small basket of grapes

This is what Dr. Khushdeva Singh writes about his experience during one of his visits to Karachi in 1949 :

My friends took me to a room at the airport where we all sat down and talked... (and) had lunch together, I had to travel from Karachi to London... at 2.30 am... At 5.00. p.m. ... I told my friends that they had given me so generously of their time, I thought it would be too much for them to wait the whole night and suggested they must spare themselves the trouble. But nobody left until it was dinner time.... Then they said they were leaving and that I must have a little rest before emplaning. .... I got up at about 1.45 a.m. and, when I opened the door, I saw that all of them were still there.... They all accompanied me to the plane, and, before parting, presented me with a small basket of grapes. I had no words to express my gratitude for the overwhelming affection with which I was treated and the happiness this stopover had given me.

(13.1) Analyse the attitude of the people of Karachi towards Khushdeva Singh.

(13.2) Express the feelings of Khushdeva Singh at Karachi.

(13.3) “Love is stronger than hate.” Elucidate the statement in the context of this narrative.

History - Board Papers