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Ethnographic state in India Essay (Critical Writing)


Indians rebelled against British in 1857. The rebellion made British realize that their influence against the Indians had diminished, making the London-based British government to enhance direct control against the Indians than before. The then Indian country relied on British East India company capabilities to govern.

The British did their best to understand the Indian fork-lore and control the population of India so that they could be able to control them easily and without hardship. The British concentrated much on female infanticide and widow immolation.

This was more in the northern and western parts of the country (Muckerjee 98). The colonial rulers tried measures like manipulating people into divulging confidential information so that they could get information on the ground and be able to get information at first hand.

Also officers that were serving in the Indian Civil Service after the rebellion brought up an opinion that in order to avoid future unrest they had to obtain a better understanding of the colonial subjects and especially those from the rural areas (Muckerjee 104).

The British government faced challenges in their movement since they had earlier made the people of India become an official British government publication and this could go a big mile in hindering the success of their actions against the Indians. This was later in quoted by Robin Moore in his report.

He stated that their ignorance of the customs and beliefs of the Indian people had a hit against the British and that this had resulted to a distant loss of administrative power to British government (114).

The British officials had assigned some two personnel by the names Watson and Kaye to compile photographs in the attempt to document the Indian people in a statistical, methodical and ethnographically manner.

According to Moore (1908) this collection included physical attributes, aspects of life and ways of dressing. These characteristics would complement the studies that were written. These studies revealed the characteristics that were common in Indian communities (78).

But the educated Indians were not happy that their own Indian people had been suggested unfairly and dispassionately. An Indian Sadhana Naithani noted the relations that existed between the Indians and the British.

This relation existed through institutions, English officers, peons, office clerks or domestic servants. He also got such relations from oriental literature and intellectual anthropological studies (Moore 1908).

The British ethnographic studies and their categorizations made emphasis on official publications and they made that an essential part of the British administrative technique. The technique was from Herbert Hope Risley who was an English administrator in the Indian Civil Society (Risley 88).

He believed that the technique was a way to hold together the myriads units of Indian society. He observed the marriage patterns among the Indian communities. These were done according to class or social groups. These two delineations were viewed as a caste system. Some believed that this caste can be likened to race.

He also believed that changes in the occupation sector in a community could possibly lead to an instance of endogamy. Risley wrote about ways that promoted ethnographic acts among to the Indians.

Hence Risley promoted so much racism to the Indians in the name of making the British not lose its power against the Indian country (200). Some Indian administrative officers also desired to produce anthropological studies. These studies would show a linkage between all communities in India.

Works Cited

Moore, Robin. Imperial India, 1858- 1914 in A. Porter (ed), The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. III. London: Oxford, 1999. Print.

Muckerjee, Raj. Awadh in Revolt: A Study in Popular Resistance, 1984. Delhi: Raja, Print.

Risley, Herbert. The people of India. Delhi: Nabu Press, 1908. Print

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Cameron, E. (2019, July 3). Ethnographic state in India [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/ethnographic-state-in-india/

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Cameron, Ernest. "Ethnographic state in India." IvyPanda, 3 July 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/ethnographic-state-in-india/.

1. Ernest Cameron. "Ethnographic state in India." IvyPanda (blog), July 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ethnographic-state-in-india/.


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Cameron, Ernest. "Ethnographic state in India." IvyPanda (blog), July 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ethnographic-state-in-india/.

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Cameron, Ernest. 2019. "Ethnographic state in India." IvyPanda (blog), July 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ethnographic-state-in-india/.

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Cameron, E. (2019) 'Ethnographic state in India'. IvyPanda, 3 July.

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