As EARLY AS 1843 an attempt was made to arrange for the preparation of Statistical Accounts of the different districts of the Bombay Presidency. The Government called for reports from the Collectors giving the fullest available information regarding their districts.
However the matter does not seem to have been pursued any further.
It was in 1867 that the Secretary of State for India desired the Bombay
Government to take concrete steps for the compilation of a Gazetteer of the Presidency on the model of the Gazetteer prepared during that year for the Central Provinces. The Government of Bombay then requested some of its responsible officials to submit a scheme for
carrying into effect the orders of the Secretary of State. and, in 1868,
appointed the Bombay Gazetteer Committee to supervise and direct the preparation of the Gazetteer. After a few organisational experiments the responsibility was finally entrusted to Mr. James M. Campbell of the Bombay Civil Service, who commenced the compilation in 1874 and completed the series in 1884.
The actual publication of these volumes was, however, spread over a period of 27 years between 1877 and 1904 in which year the last General Index Volume was published.
The Sholapur District Gazetteer was published in this series in 1884. The Volume was compiled by the Officers belonging to the Civil Services and edited by Mr. James M. Campbell.
Though a Gazetteer literally means only a geographical index or a geographical dictionary, the scope of this particular compilation was much wider. It included not only a description of the physical and natural features of a region but also a broad narrative of the social, political, economic and cultural life of the people living in that region. The purpose which the Gazetteer was intended to serve was made clear in the following remarks of Sir William Hunter, Director General of Statistics to the Government of India, when his opinion was sought on a draft article on Dharwar District in 1871. [ Gazetteer of Bombay Presidency, Vol. I, Part I (History of Gujarat), p. vii.] He said-
" My own conception of the work is that, in return for a couple of days reading, the account should give a new Collector, a comprehensive, and, at the same time, a distinct idea of the district which he has been sent to administer. Mere reading can never supersede practical experience in the district administration. But a succinct and well-conceived district account is capable of ante-dating the acquisition of such personal experience by many months and of both facilitating and systematising
a Collector's personal enquiries....................... But in all cases a District
Account besides dealing with focal specialities should furnish a historical
narration of its revenue and expenditure since it passed under the
British rule, of the sums which we have taken from it in taxes, and of
the amount which we have returned to it in the protection of property and person and the other charges of Civil Government.''
The Gazetteer was thus intended to give a complete picture of the
district to men who were entire strangers to India and its people but
who as members of the ruling race carried on their shoulders the
responsibility of conducting its administration.
The Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency had 27 Volumes, some split up into two or three parts, making a total of 35 books including the General index Volume which was published in 1904. Some of the Volumes were of a general nature and were not confined to the limits of a particular district. The other volumes dealt with various districts of the Presidency and with what were then known as Native States attached to the Bombay Presidency.
The scheme of the contents was more or less the same for all the District Volumes though the accounts of particular items varied considerably from district to district. Information was collected from Government offices and, in respect of social and religious practices, from responsible citizens. Eminent scholars, experts and administrators contributed articles on special subjects.
This Gazetteer compiled over many decades ago had long become scarce and entirely out of print. It contained authentic and useful information on several aspects of life in a district and was considered to be of great value to the administrator and scholar and the general reader. There was a general desire that there should be a new and revised edition of this monumental work. The then Government of Bombay, therefore, decided that the old Gazetteer should be revised and published, and entrusted the work of revision to an Editorial Board specially created for that purpose in 1949. This new edition has been prepared by the Gazetteers Department under the advice of the Editorial Board.
In the nature of things after a lapse of many decades alter their publication, most of the statistical information contained in the old Gazetteers had become entirely out of date and had to be dropped altogether. In this edition an attempt has been made to give an idea of the latest developments whether in regard to the administrative structure or the economic set-up or in regard to social, religious and cultural trends. There are portions in the old Gazetteer bearing on archaeology and history which have the impress of profound scholarship and learning and their worth has not diminished by the mere passage of time. Even in their case, however, some restatement is occasionally necessary in view of later investigations and new archaeological discoveries by scholars, and an attempt has been made to incorporate
in this edition, the results of such subsequent research. The revision of old volumes has, in fact, meant an entire re-writing of most of the chapters and sections. In doing so, statistical and other information is obtained from the relevant departments of Government and articles on certain specialised subjects are obtained from competent scholars.
In this dynamic world, circumstances and facts of life change, and so do national requirements and social values. Such significant changes have taken place in India as in other countries during the last half a century, and more so after the advent of Independence in 1947. The general scheme and contents of this revised series of Gazetteers have been adapted to the needs of altered conditions. There is inevitably a shift in emphasis in the presentation and interpretation of certain phenomena. For example, the weighted importance given to caste and community in the old Gazetteer cannot obviously accord with the ideological concepts of a secular democracy, though much of that data may have considerable interest from the functional, sociological or cultural point of view. What is necessary is a change in perspective in presenting that account so that it could be viewed against the background of a broad nationalism and the synthesis of a larger social life. It is also necessary to abridge and even to eliminate, elaborate details about customs and practices which no longer obtain on any extensive scale or which are too insignificant to need any elaboration. In the revised Gazetteer, therefore, only a general outline of the practices and customs of the main sections of the population has been given.
Every attempt has been made to incorporate as up-to-date information as possible. However, in a monumental work like this, a time-lag between the date of collection of information and its publication is inevitable. It has also been decided to issue Statistical Supplementaries to the parent volume from time to time. The Supplementaries will furnish tabulated statistics pertaining to the important subjects during the subsequent years.
An important addition to this edition is the Directory of Villages and Towns given at the end which contains, in a tabulated form, useful information about every village and town in the district. The district map given in this edition is also fairly large and up-to-date.
The typical names of places and words in Indian languages which occur in Chapters 2, 3 and 19 have been given in an Appendix with their current spelling and diacritical spelling in order to help pronunciation. A key to diacritical marks used is also given in the Appendix.
The revised Gazetteers are published in two series:-
(1) General Series.-This comprises Volumes on subjects which
can best be treated for the State as a whole and not for the smaller
area of a district. As planned at present, they will deal with
Geography, Fauna, Maharashtra-Land and its People, History,
Language and Literature, Botany, Public Administration and Places of Interest.
(2) District Series.-This contains one Volume for every district of the Maharashtra State. The information given in all Volumes follows the same pattern, and the table of contents is more or less the same for all the districts.
B. G. KUNTE,
1st May 1977.
Editor and Secretary.