Sources of Modern India
The sources for the history of modern India help us to know the political, socio-economic and cultural developments in the country. From the very beginning, the Portuguese, the Dutch, the French, the Danes, and the English recorded their official transactions in India on state papers. Well preserved records are very valuable to know about their relations in India. The archives at Lisbon, Goa, Pondicherry and Madras were literally store houses of precious historical informations. All these sources must, however, be critically evaluated before they are used for historical writing.
Kinds of Sources
We can write history with the help of sources like written sources and material sources.
After the advent of the printing press, numerous books were published in different languages. Hence, people began to acquire knowledge easily in the fields like art, literature, history and science. The Europeans came to know about the immense Wealth of India from the accounts of Marco Polo and similar sources. The wealth of India attracted Europeans to this country. Ananda Rangam is a name to conjure with in the annals of Tamil history. He was a Dubash (Translator) in Pondicherry to assist French trade in India. He recorded the events that took place in French India. His diaries contain the daily events from 1736 to 1760, which are the only written secular record available during that period. His diaries reveal his profound capacity for political judgement, and is a most valuable source of history. Written sources include Literatures, Travel Accounts, Diaries, Auto Biographies, Pamphlets, Government Documents and Manuscripts.
This is the place where historical documents are preserved. The National Archives of India (NAI) is located in New Delhi. It is the chief storehouse of the records of the government of India. It has main source of information for understanding past administrative machinery as well as a guide to the present and future generations related to all matters. It contains authentic evidence for knowing the political, social, economic, cultural and scientific life and activities of the people of India. It is one of the largest Archives in Asia.
George William Forrest can rightly be called as the "Father of National Archives of India".
Tamil Nadu Archives
The Madras Record Office, presently known as Tamil Nadu Archives (TNA) is located in Chennai. It is one of the oldest and largest document repositories in Southern India. The most of the records in the Tamil Nadu archives are in English. The collections include series of administrative records in Dutch, Danish, Persian and Marathi. Few documents are in French, Portuguese, Tamil and Urdu.
Tamil Nadu Archives has 1642 volumes of Dutch records which relate to Cochin and Coromandal coast. These records cover the period from 1657 – 1845. The Danian records cover the period from 1777 – 1845. Dodwell prepared with great effort and the first issue of the calendar of Madras records was published in 1917. He was highly interested in encouraging historical researches. He opened a new chapter in the History of Tamil Nadu Archives.
Many paintings and statues are the main sources of modern Indian history. They give us a lot of information and the achievement of national leaders and historical personalities. Historical buildings like St. Francis Church at Cochin, St. Louis Fort at Pondicherry, St. George Fort in Madras, St. David Fort in Cuddalore, India Gate, Parliament House, President House in New Delhi, etc are different styles and techniques of Indian architecture. Other objects and materials of religious, cultural and historical value are collected and preserved in Museums. These museums help to preserve and promote our cultural heritage. The national museum in Delhi is the largest museum in India which was established in 1949.
Coins are a good source to know about administrative history. The first coinage in modern India under the crown was issued in 1862. Edward VII ascended after Queen Victoria and the coins issued by him bore his model. The Reserve Bank of India was formally set up in 1935 and was empowered to issue Government of India notes. The first paper currency issued by RBI in January 1938 was 5 rupee notes bearing the portrait of King George VI.
In 1690, Fort St. David was built by the British in Cuddalore.