Why did Surveys become a Common Practice under the Colonial Administration?

By Shivank Goel|Updated : September 5th, 2022

Surveys became a common practice under the Colonial administration as the British government believed proper knowledge about a country was extremely important before administering and managing it.

A 'survey' is a practice of collecting information or data about a particular region, area, or country.

The British government carried out various surveys in the early 19th century to gather a clear idea of the whole country, which could help them in better understanding and administration. Apart from the regular surveys, the British government also carried out other kinds of surveys like botanical, archaeological, forest, etc., to know the intricacies well.

Why were Surveys important for the British Administration?

As mentioned above, surveys were critical for the British government to rule India in a better manner. The British, in a way, started the practice of surveying and also introduced census operations. These census operations were conducted every ten years from the end of the 19th century. The British government believed that before ruling a country, it was necessary to know it well. Proper administration could only happen if they knew every minute detail about India and its people.

During the census operations, the British government collected data concerning the total number of people in all Indian provinces, including separate records of caste, religion, and occupations. They also held revenue surveys in all the villages. Also, they tried to know other essential details, such as the topography, the soil quality, the flora, the fauna, the local history, and the cropping pattern.

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  • The British government conducted various surveys on India, such as revenue surveys, botanical, archaeological, forest surveys, etc.

  • The British government considered ‘surveying’ an important practice so that they know the country well before administering and managing it properly.

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