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Glimpses of the Past, CBSE Class 8 English Honeydew Book Lesson 3 Explanation, Summary, Difficult words

By Ruchika Gupta

 

Glimpses of the Past Class 8 English Honeydew Book Lesson 3- Detailed explanation of the lesson along with the meanings of difficult words. Also, the explanation is followed by a Summary of the lesson. All the exercises and Question and Answers given at the back of the lesson have been covered.

Class 8 English (Honeydew Book) Chapter 3 - Glimpses of the Past

By S. D. Sawant

glimpses of the past

 

Glimpses of the past- Introduction

The lesson gives us a short and precise description of events that took place in our country from 1757 to 1857. It enlists incidents that led to widespread revolts, known as the First War of Independence. It provides a glimpse of how the British East India Company expanded its power in India and exploited Indians, how they robbed landlords and farmers of their land, created situations that led to famines and pushed patriots to launch widespread massacres.

 

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Glimpses of the past- Explanation of the text

 

lata mangeshkar singing

1. The Martyrs

The scene represents a function that took place in Delhi. Lata Mangeshkar can be seen singing “Ae mere watan ke logon”. Alongside her, Indira Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri can also be seen.

2. The Company’s conquests (1757-1849)

Conquests- the subjugation and assumption of control of a place or people by military force; conquering
Short-sighted- lacking imagination or foresight
Superior- higher in quality
Subdue- overcome or bring under control; conquer
Dethroned- remove (a monarch) from power

The year 1757 bears the mark of being an important year in Indian History. The Company Rule, also known as the Company Raj refers to the rule of British East India Company over parts of the Indian Subcontinent. The East India Company was a private company owned by stockholders and reporting to the administration in London. The company came to India and set-up a few factories at different places. However, the company’s beginnings on Coastal India offered no clues to what would become of a lengthy presence on the Indian Subcontinent.

Slowly and gradually, they began expanding and extending their dominance in India. One of the reasons they were able to do so is that they possessed superior weapons. Secondly, they took advantage of the prevailing disturbed circumstances among the Indian rulers. The Indian princes were not at peace amongst themselves. Indian princes, however, were “short-sighted” which means they only considered immediate benefits but ignored its long-term consequences. So, they took help from the English merchants to be able to defeat their rivals. This helped the British East India Company in successfully taking over control from the Indian rulers. The British adopted the “Divide and Rule” policy.

Amongst all the short-sighted Indian rulers, there was one ruler of Mysore, Tipu Sultan who understood their policy and fought against them till his last moment. The Indians, however, had varied opinions and reactions. The first set of people were very happy with the Britishers and were also grateful because they thought peace could finally prevail. They thought it put an end to war and looting by thugs. On the other hand, people saw what was actually happening. They knew that even if some of the princes were cruel, they were at least of their land. They had realised that they were now slaves of the Englishmen.


 

 

3. British Rule (1765- 1836)

Preached- publicly proclaim or teach Untouchability- the practice of ostracising (excluding) a minority group by segregating them from the mainstream by social custom or legal mandate (now outlawed in India)
Child marriage- marriage of a girl or boy before the age of 18
Scorned- feel or express contempt or disdain for
Merchants- a person or company involved in wholesale trade, especially one dealing with foreign countries or supplying goods to a particular trade
Arrears- money that is owed and should have been paid earlier
Inevitably- as is certain to happen; unavoidably
Famines- extreme scarcity of food
Cripple- cause (someone) to become unable to walk or move properly

These years led to the rise of widespread myths and taboos like untouchability, child marriage, inferiority of women, etc. Our own religion leaders taught everyone the idea of Untouchability. Untouchability refers to the practice of ostracising (excluding) a minority group by segregating them from the mainstream by social custom or legal mandate (now outlawed in India). They were not allowed to come near those who considered themselves superior, not allowed in temples and thelist of how they were discriminated against and deprived of the basic rights goes on. The religious leaders even preached that people who “cross the seas'' will no longer belong to their religion. Women were considered the root cause of a lot of problems like poverty and other miseries. This is the reason why teenage girls were forced to marry, thereby leading to Child Marriage (now outlawed in India). These practices were not only being done, but were also being promoted.

The Britishers started looking down upon Indians and initiated brain-washing the rulers against them. They alleged that Indians were not worthy of trust and “incapable of honesty”. This was a way of making the natives slaves and getting control over them.

Not only this, the British merchants levied heavy taxes on the poor farmers in greed of immediate profits. As a result, the farmers had to give up their lands. If this was not enough, they even threatened the farmers to imprison them if they did not clear their arrears. They continuously found ways to exploit the people and earn profits. For example, the goods manufactured in England were being imported to India and no import duty was levied on them. The England produce was sold at high prices whereas thre Indian produce was taken away at much less prices, increasing poverty and the misery of farmers. Not only this, such policies of the British East India Company destroyed the Indian industries. Small businesses and individual artisans were ruined.

All this resulted in famines or extreme scarcity of food. Approximately fifteen lakh Indians starved to death between 1822 and 1836.

 

4. Ram Mohan Roy (1772-1833)

Learned man- a person great and varied learning
Despise- feel contempt or a deep repugnance for
Reform- make changes in something in order to improve it
Superstitions- a widely held but irrational belief in supernatural influences, especially as leading to good or bad luck, or a practice based on such relief
Outstretched- extend
Gripping - (here) holding
Cello- a musical instrument like a large violin

Raja Ram Mohan Roy was a well-educated man from Bengal. He was one of the first to realise that there was something wrong with our country. He was of the belief that Indians must not consider themselves inferior or look down upon themselves. He believed that our ancient culture was great and the people were destined for greater achievements. According to him, the first step was to change the society by abandoning the prevailing superstitions. It was the root cause of all the problems.

Once, while having a conversation with his wife, he told her “Cows are of different colours but the colour of their milk is the same.” This means that different teachers might have different opinions but the essence of each religion is the same.

He took keen interest in science and modern knowledge. According to him, knowledge should be practical and scientific. He even published newspapers which the Britishers stopped out of suspicion in 1823.

He was inquisitive to know what made the Britishers so powerful, so he crossed the seas and travelled to England. There, he is known to tell Britishers that “we” as a nation, accept their rule. He added that they must accept Indians as subjects and not forget their responsibility and duty towards their subjects.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy is known for his efforts to abolish the practice of Sati and child marriage.

5. Oppression (1765- 1835)

Oppression- prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or exercise of authority
Prosper- succeed in material terms; be financially successful

The Britishers continued to find new ways to bring misery and suffering to Indians. For instance, they passed unfair regulations that kept them at an advantage like the Regulation III in 1818 under which an Indian could be jailed without a proper trial in court.

As they continued to suppress Indians, they created all sorts of favourable circumstances to uplift their officers. The British officers drew huge amounts of salaries and could deepen their pockets by making a fortune out of their private businesses.

The Britishers were exporting goods in huge quantities from Britain. By 1829, they were importing goods worth seven crore rupees to India. As a result, the Britishers grew richer and richer leaving the Indian industries high and dry.

Governor-general Bentink had conveyed to Britain that “The bones of cotton weavers are bleaching the plains of India” to highlight the plights and misery of the traditional cotton weavers in India. This means that the cotton weavers were forced to starve because of the cotton mills set up by the Britishers. They produced much cheaper cloth with the help of machines that led the traditional Indian handicrafts to extinction.

6. Dissatisfaction (1835-56)

Clerk- Clerks perform a variety of clerical and administrative duties such as answering the telephone, typing documents, filing, and liaising with clients
Petty- of secondary or lesser importance, rank or scale
Incidentally- used to add a further comment or a remark; by the way
Intellectuals- a person possessing a highly developed intellect
Grievances- a real or imagined cause for complaint, especially unfair treatment

Back then, all the teachings were in the form of Persian and Sanskrit. So, in 1835, a British officer named Macaulay suggested that they must translate all of it in English so that the education is delivered in their language.

They did so to produce clerks to get their unimportant clerical tasks and administrative duties like answering the phone, typing documents, filing and liaising with clients done. In the process of doing so, they manufactured a whole new generation of masterminds who wanted to uplift their brothers too, by educating them. They wanted to strengthen their financial prospects that could lead to a promising future. But they needed to convey this to the British Parliament. Britishers, on the other hand, couldn't care less about the needs of the Indian people.

By this time, Indian people had become more worried. Their Kings were now being treated as puppets. They had lost their old jobs and land. Britishers were forcing some of them to change their religion. Indians were tired of talking and wanted to do something.

By 1856, the Britishers had acquired all parts India.

7. The Sparks (1855- 57)

Peasants- a poor smallholder or agricultural labourer of low social status
Santhals- a member of a large indigenous group living mainly in eastern India
Rebellion- an act of armed resistance to an established government or leader
Massacred- deliberately and brutally kill (many people)
Discontent- dissatisfaction with one’s circumstances
Brewing- something is about to happen and something is being prepared
Angrez- Englishman
Sepoys- an Indian soldier serving under British or other European orders
Revolted- take violent action against an established government or ruler
Adjutant- a military officer who acts as an administrative assistant to a senior officer
Pittance- a very small or inadequate amount of money

 

 

The ever-increasing taxes levied on the peasants continued to pressurise them and worsen their financial situation. The Santhals in Bengal became disheartened and hopeless after they lost their land to the Britishers under the new land rules. In 1855, they launched a rebellion and massacred Europeans and all those who supported them. The people working under the East India company were highly dissatisfied too. The fact that they gave Englishmen good pay, mansions and other help while they gave Indians only inadequate pay and slow promotions, further agitated Indians. They felt bad that the Britishers urged them to move out of their land to cross the sea and work for them which was even against their religion. They were motivated to drive the Britishers out. An Indian soldier serving under British or European orders, named Mangal Pande, even attacked the adjutant of his regiment but was later executed. Around thousands of other Sepoys like Mangal Pande took violent action against the British but were only robbed of their uniform in turn to make the Sepoys feel humiliated.

 

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Some of the Englishmen even began to understand how Indians thought, how their mind works and their customs. They told Brahmin soldiers that the bullet they were supposed to bite, is covered with grease made of cow and pig fat.

Next, chapatis were being sent to each home in every village conveying that their services could be required to fight the Englishmen. People agreed. Lotus flowers were circulated among the Indian soldiers. The nation stood against them with the support of the masses in the form of shelter and other help to the patriots.

8. Revolt (1857)

Sore- upset and angry

The urge to free the nation of the Britishers continued to grow. The city of Meerut also experienced a violent outbreak. The Sepoys marched and moved to Delhi to support their Emperors like Bahadur Shah. The revolt continued to spread and grow. They even got the support of the landlords that had also lost their land due to the new land rules. People were angry and wanted to fight the Britishers.

9. The Fight for Freedom (1857)

Upsurge- an upward surge in the strength or quantity of something; an increase
Pitched battle- a violent confrontation involving large numbers of people

Many former rulers were bitter too because the Englishmen had taken control of their kingdoms. Leaders like Maulvi Ahmedulla of Faridabad motivated people to free the country of all the Englishmen. People of Bareilly, Kanpur and Allahabad rose forward too. Former rulers like Begum Hazrat Mahal of Lucknow joined them because her kingdom had been taken by the British, thereby strengthening their power.

Entire North India came together in large numbers to fight a pitched battle against the Britishers. In the light of this, Azimulla Khan expressed his thoughts to Tatya Tope that they should have Peshwa Nana Saheb as their leader in this war of Independence against the English.

In this revolt against the British, eight year old Kunwar Singh of Bihar was hit by a bullet in the wrist which he dedicated to Mother Ganga as an offering.

 

Glimpses of the Past- Question and Answers

Comprehension Check

 

1. Look at picture 1 and recall the opening lines of the original song in Hindi. Who is the singer? Who else do you see in this picture?

A. The opening lines of the song that can be depicted in picture 1 are- “Aye mere vatan ke logon, tum khub laga lo naara yeh shubh din hai ham sab kaa, lahara lo tiranga pyaara par mat bhulo sima paar, viron ne hai praan ganvaaye kuchh yaad unhe bhee kar lo - (2) jo laut ke ghar naa aaye - (2)” The song is sung by Lata Mangeshkar. In the picture, we can also see Indira Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri.

2. In picture 2 what do you understand by the Company’s “superior weapons”?

A. The British East India company used “superior weapons” to conquer most parts of India. Superior weapons refer to their strategizing abilities that enabled them to take advantage of the already existing tensions among Indian princes. It also refers to the better quality of weapons and power that they possessed.

3. Who is an artisan? Why do you think the artisans suffered? (picture 3)

A. Artisan refers to a worker, skilled in a particular trade, especially one that involves making things by hand. The artisans suffered because the Britishers were importing goods from Britain without paying any import duty that made them cheaper than what was being made by the local artisans. They imported cotton from the cotton mills that left the cotton weavers to die due to starvation.

4. Which picture, according to you, reveals the first sparks of the fire of revolt?

A. Picture 7, according to me, reveals the first sparks of the fire revolt.

 

Working with the Text

Answer the following questions.

1. Do you think the Indian princes were short-sighted in their approach to the events of 1757?

A. Yes, Indian princes were “short-sighted” in their approach to the events of 1757 which means they only considered immediate benefits but ignored its long-term consequences. They were not at peace amongst themselves. So, they took help from the English merchants to be able to defeat their rivals. This helped the British East India Company in successfully taking over control from the Indian rulers. The British adopted the “Divide and Rule” policy.

 

2. How did the East India Company subdue the Indian princes?

A. The British East India Company took advantage of the prevailing tensions among the Indian princes of various provinces. They eagerly helped them in their wars against each other and subdued the Indian princes one by one. They adopted the policy of “Divide and Rule”.

 

3. Quote the words used by Ram Mohan Roy to say that every religion teaches the same principles.

A. In the words of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, “Cows are of different colours, but the colour of their milk is the same”. He used these words to explain that, regardless of every teacher having varied opinions, every religion has the same essence and is based on similar principles.

 

4. In what ways did the British officers exploit Indians?

A. The British officers kept on finding ways to exploit Indians. They levied heavy taxes upon the farmers which forced the poor farmers to give up their lands. They even threatened to imprison them if they did not clear their arrears. Not only this, they even passed Regulation III that allowed them to imprison any Indian without following a proper trial procedure in court. They removed all the import duties on goods being imported from Britain. By 1829, goods worth seven crore rupees were being imported to India. This led to extinction of small businesses and individual artisans. It caused massive famines leading to deaths in large numbers. They even pressurised Indians to convert into Christianity. Those working under the East India company were exploited and given inadequate wages. They were hardly promoted.

 

5. Name these people.

(i) The ruler who fought pitched battles against the British and died fighting. (ii) The person who wanted to reform the society. (iii) The person who recommended the introduction of English education in India. (iv) Two popular leaders who led the revolt (Choices may vary.) Answer- (i) Tipu Sultan of Mysore (ii) Raja Ram Mohan Roy of Bengal (iii) Lord Macaulay (iv) Nana Sahib Peshwa, Kunwar Singh 6. Mention the following. (i) Two examples of social practices prevailing then. (ii) Two oppressive policies of the British. (iii) Two ways in which common people suffered. (iv) Four reasons for the discontent that led to the 1857 War of Independence. Answer- (i) Untouchability and Child Marriage (ii) 1. No import duty on goods imported from Britain 2. Introducing Regulation III that allowed them to send Indian to jail without a trial in court (iii) Two ways in which common people suffered. 1. Untouchability 2. Child marriage (iv) 1. Inadequate wages, slow promotions to those working under the East India Company. 2. Landlords were sore after they lost their land and estate under the new land rules. 3. Brahmin soldiers when they discovered that the bullet grease they were supposed to bite was made of cow and pig fat. 4. Former rulers who had lost their kingdoms. Glimpses of the Past- Grammar Exercises 1. Change the following sentences into indirect speech. (i) First man: We must educate our brothers. Second man: And try to improve their material conditions. Third man: For that we must convey our grievances to the British Parliament. The first man said that ______________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________ The second man added that _______________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________ The third man suggested that ________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________ Solution- The first man said that they must educate their brothers. The second man added that they must also try to improve their material conditions. The third man suggested that they must convey their grievances to the British Parliament. (ii) First soldier: The white soldier gets huge pay, mansions and servants. Second soldier: We get a pittance and slow promotions. Third soldier: Who are the British to abolish our customs? The first soldier said that ___________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________ The second soldier remarked that __________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ The third soldier asked __________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ Solution- The first soldier said that the white soldier gets huge pay, mansions and servants. The second soldier remarked that they get pittance and slow promotions. The third soldier asked who were the British to abolish their customs.

 

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