Tod’s Romantic approach as opposed to James Mill’s Utilitarian approach to British government in India
in Knowledge, mediation and empire
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James Mill (1773-1836) never visited India, adhered to Jeremy Bentham’s rational, utilitarian philosophy and in his History of British India (1817), attributed India’s "low" and "rude" state of civilisation in the 1800s to an absence of reliable, historical records and to a too great submission to superstition and despotism. James Tod, on the other hand, spent 22 years in India, respected the non-European uniqueness of Rajput historical chronicles, and spent much energy in establishing a coherent narrative of the past exploits of the various Rajput clans, in order to secure policies that would ensure Rajput support for the British Government in India. In 1831-32, in their recommendations to the British Parliament in the context of the renewal of the East India Company’s Charter, the respective views of Mill and Tod, while seeming to be poles apart at first, reveal, in fact, similar high ideals for a British Government in India beneficial to all concerned, while undergoing similar bureaucratic pressures. In reality, James Mill actually supported innovative reforms and liberating change for India, while Tod combined an ethos of Romanticism with an agenda of down-to-earth improvements.

Knowledge, mediation and empire

James Tod’s journeys among the Rajputs




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