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History Class 12 CBSE (Arts) CBSE Topics and Syllabus

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Academic year:


100 Themes in Indian History Part 1
101 Political and Economic History - How Inscriptions tell a story.

Broad overview: Poilitical and economic history from the Mauryan to the Gupta period.

Story of discovery: Inscriptions and the decipherment of the script. Shifts in the understanding of political and economic history.

Excerpt: Asokan inscription and Gupta period land grant.

Discussion: Interpretation of inscriptions by historians.


  • Familiarize thelearner with major trends in the political and economic history of the subcontinent.
  • Introduce inscriptional analysis and the ways in which these have shaped the understanding of political and economic processes.
102 A History of Buddhism - Sanchi Stupa

Broad overview:

  1. A brief review of religious histories of Vedic religion, Jainism, Vaisnavism, Saivism.
  2. Focus on Buddhism.

Story of discovery: Sanchistupa
Excerpt: Reproduct on of sculptures from Sanchi.
Discussion: Waysin which sculpture has been interpreted by historians, other sources for reconstructing the history of Buddhism.


  • Discuss the major religious developments in early India.
  • Introduce strategies of visual analysis and their usein reconstructing histories of religion.
103 The Story of the First Cities - Harappan Archaeology

Broad overview: Early urban centres. Story of discovery: Harappan civilization
Excerpt: Archaeological report on a major site.
Discussion: How it has been utilized by archaeologists/historians.


  • Familiarize thelearner with early urban centres as economic and social institutions.
  • Introduce the ways in which new data canlead to a revision of existing notions of history.
  • Illustrate how archaeological reports
104 Social Histories - Using the Mahabharata

Broad overview: Issues in social history,including caste, class, kinship and gender.

Story of d scovery: Transmission and publications of the Mahabharata.

Excerpt: from the Mahabharata, illustrating howit has been used by historians.

Discussion: Other sources for reconstruct ng social history.


  • Familiarize the learner with issues in social history.
  • Introduce strategies of textual analysis and their use in reconstructing social history
200 Themes in Indian History Part 2
201 Medieval Society Through Traveller'S Accounts

Broad overview:
Outline of social and cultural life as they appearin travelers' accounts.
Story of thef r wrftfngs: A discussion of where they travelled, why they travelled, what they wrote, and for whom they wrote.
Excerpts: from Alberuni, lbn Batuta, Bernier.
Discussion: What these travel accounts can tell us and how they have beeninterpreted by historians.


  • Familiarize the learner with the salient features of social histories described by the travelers.
  • Discuss how travelers' accounts can be used as sources of social history.
202 New Architecture - Hampi

Broad overview:

  1. Outline of new buildings during Vijayanagar period-temples, forts, irrigation facilities.
  2. Relationship between architecture and the political system.

Story of Discovery: Account of how Hampi was found.

Excerpt: Visuals of buildings at Hampi

Discussion: Ways in which historians have analyzed and interpreted these structures.


  • Familiarize thelearner with the new buildings that were built during the time.
  • Discuss the ways in which architecture can be analyzed to reconstruct history.
203 The Mughal Court - Reconstructing Histories Through Chronicles

Broad overview:

  1. Outline of political history 15th-17th centuries.
  2. Discussion of the Mughal court and politics.

Story of Discovery: Account of the production of court chronicles, and their subsequent translation and transmission.

Excerpts: from the Akbarnama and Padshahnama.

Discussion: Waysin which historians have used the texts to reconstruct political histories.


  • Familiarize the learner with the major landmarks in political history.
  • Show how chronicles and other sources are used to reconstruct the histories of political institutions. 
204 Religious Histories - The Bhakti-sufi Tradition

Broad overview:

  1. Outline of religious developments during this period.
  2. Ideas and practices of the Bhakti-Sufi saints.

Story of Transmission: How Bhakti-Sufi compositions have been preserved.
Excerpt: Extracts from selected Bhakti-Sufi works.
Discussion: Ways in which these have been interpreted by historians.


  • Familiarize the learner with religious developments.
  • Discuss ways of analyzing devotional literature as sources of history.
205 Agrarian Relations - The Ain-i- Akbari

Broad overview:

  1. Structure of agrarian relationsin the 16th and 17th centuries.
  2. Patterns of change over the period.

Story of Discovery: Account of the compilation and translation of Ain-i Akbari.
Excerpt: from the Ain-i Akbari
Discussion: Waysin which historians have used the text to reconstruct history.


  • Discuss developments in agrarian relations.
  • Discuss how to supplement official documents with other sources.
300 Themes in Indian History Part 3
301 Colonialism and Rural Society - Evidence From Official Reports

Broad overview:

  1. Life of zamindars, peasants and artisans in the late 18th century
  2. East India Company, revenue settlements and surveys.
  3. Changes over the nineteenth century.

Story of official records: An account of why official investigat ons into rural societies were undertaken and the types of records and reports produced.
Excerpts: From Firminger's Fifth Report, Accounts of Frances Buchanan-Hamilton, and Deccan Riots Report.
Discussion: What the official records tell and do not tell, and how they have been used by historians.


  • Discuss how the events of 1857 are being reinterpreted.
  • Discuss how visual material can be used by historians.
302 Mahatma Gandhi Through Contemporary Eyes

Broad overview: 

  1. The Nationalist Movement 1918 ·48.
  2. The nature of Gandhian politics and leadership.

Focus: Mahatma Gandhiin 1931.
Excerpts: Reports from English and Indian language newspapers and other contemporary writings.
Discussion: How newspapers can be a source of history.


  • Discuss the last decade of the national movement, the growth of communalism and the story of part tion.
  • Understand the events through the experience of those who lived through these years of communal violence.
  • Show the possibilit es and limits of oral sources.
303 Colonialism and Indian Towns - Town Plans and Municipal Reports

Broad overview: The growth of Mumbai, Chennai, hill stations and cantonments in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Excerpts: Photographs and paintings. Plans of cities. Extract from town plan reports.

Focus on Kolkata town planning.

Discussion: How the above sources can be used to reconstruct the history of towns. What these sources do not reveal.


  • Familiarize the learner with significant elements of the National st Movement and the nature of Gandhianleadership.
  • Discuss how Gandhi was perceived by different groups.
  • Discuss how historians need to read and interpret newspapers, diaries and letters as historical source.
304 Partition Through Oral Sources

Broad overview:

  1. The history of the 1940s.
  2. Nationalism, Communalism and Partition. Focus: Punjab and Bengal.

Excerpts: Oral test monies of those who experienced parttion.
Discussion: Ways in which these have been analyzed to reconstruct the history of the event.


  • Familiarize students with the history of the early years after independence.
  • Discuss how the founding ideals of the new nation state were debated and formulated.                                
  • Understand how such debates and discussions can be read by historians.
305 Representations of 1857

Broad overview:

  1. The events of 1857-58.
  2. How these events were recorded and narrated.

Focus: lucknow.

Excerpts: Pictures of 1857. Extracts from contemporary accounts.

Discussion: How the pictures of 1857 shaped British opinion of what had happened.


  • Famil arize the Learner with the history of modern urban centres. Discuss how urban histories can be written by drawing on different types of sources.
306 Map Work
307 The Making of the Constitution

Broad overview:

  1. Independence and the new nation state.
  2. The making of the Constitution.
    Focus: The Constitutional Assembly debates.

Excerpts: from the debates.

Discussion: What such debates reveal and how they can be analyzed.

400 Bricks, Beads and Bones: the Harappan Civilisation

Bricks, Beads and Bones: the Harappan Civilisation

-Beginnings of Harappan Civilisation

-Subsistence Strategies

  • Agricultural technologies

-Mohenjodaro: A Planned Urban Centre

  • Laying out drains
  • Domestic architecture
  • The Citadel

-Tracking Social Differences

  • Burials
  • Looking for “luxuries”

-Finding Out About Craft Production

  • Identifying centres of production

-Strategies for Procuring Materials

  • Materials from the subcontinent and beyond
  • Contact with distant lands

-Seals, Script, Weights

  • Seals and sealings
  • An enigmatic script
  • Weights

-Ancient Authority

  • Palaces and kings

-The End of the Civilisation

-Discovering the Harappan Civilisation

  • Cunningham’s confusion
  • A new old civilisation
  • New techniques and questions

-Problems of Piecing Together the Past

  • Classifying finds
  • Problems of interpretation
500 Kings, Farmers and Towns Early States and Economies

Kings, Farmers and Towns: Early States and Economies

-Prinsep and Piyadassi

-The Earliest States

  • The sixteen mahajanapadas
  • First amongst the sixteen: Magadha

-An Early Empire

  • Finding out about the Mauryas
  • Administering the empire
  • How important was the empire?

-New Notions of Kingship

  • Chiefs and kings in the south
  • Divine kings

-A Changing Countryside

  • Popular perceptions of kings
  • Strategies for increasing production
  • Differences in rural society
  • Land grants and new rural elites

-Towns and Trade

  • New cities
  • Urban populations: Elites and craftspersons
  • Trade in the subcontinent and beyond
  • Coins and kings

-Back to Basics: How Are Inscriptions Deciphered?

  • Deciphering Brahmi
  • How Kharosthi was read
  • Historical evidence from inscriptions

-The Limitations of Inscriptional Evidence

600 Kinship, Caste and Class Early Societies

Kinship, Caste and Class: Early Societies

-The Critical Edition of the Mahabharata

-Kinship and Marriage Many Rules and Varied Practices

  • Finding out about families
  • The ideal of patriliny
  • Rules of marriage
  • The gotra of women
  • Were mothers important?

-Social Differences: Within and Beyond the Framework of Caste

  • The “right” occupation
  • Non-Kshatriya kings
  • Jatis and social mobility
  • Beyond the four varnas: Integration
  • Beyond the four varnas Subordination and conflict

-Beyond Birth Resources and Status

  • Gendered access to property
  • Varna and access to property
  • An alternative social scenario: Sharing wealth

-Explaining Social Differences: A Social Contract

-Handling Texts: Historians and the Mahabharata

  • Language and content
  • Author(s) and dates
  • The search for convergence

-A Dynamic Text

700 Thinkers, Beliefs and Buildings: Cultural Developments

Thinkers, Beliefs and Buildings: Cultural Developments

-A Glimpse of Sanchi

-The Background: Sacrifices and Debates

  • The sacrificial tradition
  • New questions
  • Debates and discussions

-Beyond Worldly Pleasures: The Message of Mahavira

  • The spread of Jainism

-The Buddha and the Quest for Enlightenment

-The Teachings of the Buddha

-Followers of the Buddha


  • Why were stupas built
  • How were stupas built
  • The structure of the stupa

-“Discovering” Stupas: The Fate of Amaravati and Sanchi


  • Stories in stone
  • Symbols of worship
  • Popular traditions

-New Religious Traditions

  • The development of Mahayana Buddhism
  • The growth of Puranic Hinduism
  • Building temples

-Can We “See” Everything?

  • Grappling with the unfamiliar
  • If text and image do not match
800 Through the Eyes of Travellers: Perceptions of Society

Through the Eyes of Travellers: Perceptions of Society

-Al-Biruni and the Kitab-ul-Hind

  • From Khwarizm to the Punjab
  • The Kitab-ul-Hind

-IBN Battuta’s Rihla

  • An early globe-trotter
  • The “enjoyment of curiosities”

-François Bernier: A Doctor with a Difference

  • Comparing “East” and “West”

-Making Sense of an Alien World Al-Biruni and the Sanskritic Tradition

  • Overcoming barriers to understanding
  • Al-Biruni’s description of the caste system

-IBN Battuta and the Excitement of the Unfamiliar

  • The coconut and the paan
  • Ibn Battuta and Indian cities
  • A unique system of communication

-Bernier and the “Degenerate” East

  • The question of landownership
  • A more complex social reality

-Women Slaves, Sati and Labourers

900 Bhakti - Sufi Traditions: Changes in Religious Beliefs and Devotional Texts

Bhakti - Sufi Traditions: Changes in Religious Beliefs and Devotional Texts

-A Mosaic of Religious Beliefs and Practices

  • The integration of cults
  • Difference and conflict

-Poems of Prayer Early Traditions of Bhakti

  • The Alvars and Nayanars of Tamil Nadu
  • Attitudes towards caste
  • Women devotees
  • Relations with the state

-The Virashaiva Tradition in Karnataka

-Religious Ferment in North India

-New Strands in the Fabric Islamic Traditions

  • Faiths of rulers and subjects
  • The popular practice of Islam
  • Names for communities

-The Growth of Sufism

  • Khanqahs and silsilas
  • Outside the khanqah

-The Chishtis in the Subcontinent

  • Life in the Chishti khanqah
  • Chishti devotionalism: ziyarat and qawwali
  • Languages and communication
  • Sufis and the state

-New Devotional Paths Dialogue and Dissent in Northern India

  • Weaving a divine fabric: Kabir
  • Baba Guru Nanak and the Sacred Word
  • Mirabai, the devotee princess

-Reconstructing Histories of Religious Traditions

1000 An Imperial Capital Vijayanagara

An Imperial Capital Vijayanagara

-The Discovery of Hampi

-Rayas, Nayakas and Sultans

  • Kings and traders
  • The apogee and decline of the empire
  • The rayas and the nayakas

-Vijayanagara The Capital and its Environs

  • Water resources
  • Fortifications and roads
  • The urban core

-The Royal Centre

  • The mahanavami dibba
  • Other buildings in the royal centre

-The Sacred Centre

  • Choosing a capital
  • Gopurams and mandapas

-Plotting Palaces, Temples and Bazaars

-Questions in Search of Answers

1100 Peasants, Zamindars and the State: Agrarian Society and the Mughal Empire

Peasants, Zamindars and the State: Agrarian Society and the Mughal Empire

-Peasants and Agricultural Production

  • Looking for sources
  • Peasants and their lands
  • Irrigation and technology
  • An abundance of crops

-The Village Community

  • Caste and the rural milieu
  • Panchayats and headmen
  • Village artisans
  • A “little republic”?

-Women in Agrarian Society

-Forests and Tribes

  • Beyond settled villages
  • Inroads into forests

-The Zamindars

-Land Revenue System

-The Flow of Silver

-The Ain-i Akbari of Abu’l Fazl Allami

1200 Kings and Chronicles - the Mughal Courts

Kings and Chronicles - the Mughal Courts

-The Mughals and Their Empire

-The Production of Chronicles

  • From Turkish to Persian
  • The making of manuscripts

-The Painted Image

-The Akbar Nama and the Badshah Nama

-The Ideal Kingdom

  • A divine light
  • A unifying force
  • Just sovereignty as social contract

-Capitals and Courts

  • Capital cities
  • The Mughal court
  • Titles and gifts

-The Imperial Household

-The Imperial Officials

  • Recruitment and rank
  • Information and empire
  • Beyond the centre: provincial administration

-Beyond the Frontiers

  • The Safavids and Qandahar
  • The Ottomans: pilgrimage and trade
  • Jesuits at the Mughal court

-Questioning Formal Religion

1300 Colonialism and the Countryside

Colonialism and the Countryside

-Bengal and the Zamindars

  • An auction in Burdwan
  • The problem of unpaid revenue
  • Why zamindars defaulted on payments
  • The rise of the jotedars
  • The zamindars resist
  • The Fifth Report

-The Hoe and the Plough

  • In the hills of Rajmahal
  • The Santhals: Pioneer settlers
  • The accounts of Buchanan

-A Revolt in the Countryside The Bombay Deccan

  • Account books are burnt
  • A new revenue system
  • Revenue demand and peasant debt
  • Then came the cotton boom
  • Credit dries up
  • The experience of injustice

-The Deccan Riots Commission

1400 Rebels and the Raj: 1857 Revolt and Its Representations
  • Pattern of the Rebellion 
    • How the mutinies began
    • Lines of communication
    • Leaders and followers
    • Rumours and prophecies
    • Why did people believe in the rumours
  • Awadh in Revolt 
    • “A cherry that will drop into our mouth one day”
    • “The life was gone out of the body”
    • Firangi raj and the end of a world
  • What the Rebels Wanted 
    • The vision of unity
    • Against the symbols of oppression
    • The search for alternative power
  • Repression 
  • Images of the Revolt 
    • Celebrating the saviours
    • English women and the honour of Britain
    • Vengeance and retribution
    • The performance of terror
    • No time for clemency
    • Nationalist imageries

Rebels and the Raj: 1857 Revolt and Its Representations

-Pattern of the Rebellion

  • How the mutinies began
  • Lines of communication
  • Leaders and followers
  • Rumours and prophecies
  • Why did people believe in the rumours

-Awadh in Revolt

  • “A cherry that will drop into our mouth one day”
  • “The life was gone out of the body”
  • Firangi raj and the end of a world

-What the Rebels Wanted

  • The vision of unity
  • Against the symbols of oppression
  • The search for alternative power


-Images of the Revolt

  • Celebrating the saviours
  • English women and the honour of Britain
  • Vengeance and retribution
  • The performance of terror
  • No time for clemency
  • Nationalist imageries
1500 Colonial Cities: Urbanisation, Planning and Architecture

Colonial Cities: Urbanisation, Planning and Architecture

-Towns and Cities in Pre-colonial Times

  • What gave towns their character?
  • Changes in the eighteenth century

-Finding Out about Colonial Cities

  • Colonial records and urban history
  • Trends of change

-What Were the New Towns Like?

  • Ports, forts and centres for services
  • A new urban milieu
  • The first hill stations
  • Social life in the new cities

-Segregation, Town Planning and Architecture Madras, Calcutta and Bombay

  • Settlement and segregation in Madras
  • Town planning in Calcutta
  • Architecture in Bombay

-What Buildings and Architectural Styles Tell Us

1600 Mahatma Gandhi and the Nationalist Movement: Civil Disobedience and Beyond

Mahatma Gandhi and the Nationalist Movement: Civil Disobedience and Beyond

-A Leader Announces Himself

-The Making and Unmaking of Non-cooperation

  • Knitting a popular movement
  • A people’s leader

-The Salt Satyagraha A Case Study

  • Dandi
  • Dialogues

-Quit India

-The Last Heroic Days

-Knowing Gandhi

  • Public voice and private scripts
  • Framing a picture
  • Through police eyes
  • From newspapers
1700 Understanding Partition: Politics, Memories, Experiences

Understanding Partition: Politics, Memories, Experiences

-Some Partition Experiences

-A Momentous Marker

  • Partition or holocaust
  • The power of stereotypes

-Why and How Did Partition Happen

  • Culminating point of a long history
  • The provincial elections of 1937 and the Congress ministries
  • The “Pakistan” Resolution
  • The suddenness of Partition
  • Post-War developments
  • A possible alternative to Partition
  • Towards Partition

-The Withdrawal of Law and Order

  • The one-man army

-Gendering Partition

  • “Recovering” women
  • Preserving “honour”

-Regional Variations

-Help, Humanity, Harmony

-Oral Testimonies and History

1800 Framing the Constitution: the Beginning of a New Era

Framing the Constitution: the Beginning of a New Era

-A Tumultuous Time

  • The making of the Constituent Assembly
  • The dominant voices

-The Vision of the Constitution

  • The will of the people

-Defining Rights

  • The problem with separate electorates
  • “We will need much more than this Resolution”
  • “We were suppressed for thousands of years”

-The Powers of the State

  • “The centre is likely to break”
  • “What we want today is a strong Government”

-The Language of the Nation

  • A plea for Hindi
  • The fear of domination
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