How important are dates

How, When and Where of Class 8

How Important are Dates?

History is about changes that occur over time. It is about finding out how things were in the past and how things have changed. Most of us have our moments of wonder, when we are curious, and we ask questions that actually are historical. Like when did people begin to drink tea or coffee? When were railways built and how did people travel long distances before the age of railways? How people got to hear about things before newspapers began to be printed? All such historical questions refer us back to notions of time.

But time does not have to be always precisely dated in terms of a particular year or a month. All these things happened over a stretch of time. There was a time when history was an account of battles and big events. Historians now look at how people earned their livelihood, what they produced and ate, how cities developed and markets came up, how kingdoms were formed and new ideas spread, and how cultures and society changed.

Which Dates

The dates we select, are not important on their own. They become vital because we focus on a particular set of events as important. For e.g. in the histories written by British historians in India, the rule of each Governor-General was important. All the dates in these history books were linked to these personalities - to their activities, policies, achievements. If we have to focus on the activities of different groups and classes in Indian society we need another format for our history. This would mean that the old dates will no longer have the significance the earlier had. A new set of dates will become more important for us to know.

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