Amazing Facts of Imperial Gazetter Sir William Hunter - British India

Sir William Wilson Hunter, Imperial Gazetter
A History of British India by William W. Hunter-Reviews,...
A very few people get name and fame through dedication and  hard work, following a path not undertaken by others before, hence they stand apart from others. One such a man was  Sir. William Hunter of British India. 

William Wilson Hunter KCSI CIE (July 1840 - February 1900),  born on 15 July 1840 in Glasgow, Scotland,  was educated at Glasgow University (BA 1860), Paris and Bonn. He was a well-known  Scottish historian, statistician and  a compiler in the British India. Besides, he was a scholar in Sanskrit. With amazing skill and energy, he collected various statistical data across India and produced  an enormous volume of data that were published in   the Imperial Gazette. The nice thing about him was  he worked hard with bureaucratic zeal of Victorian historians  and his works are frequently referred to even today by researchers.  Hunter said that "It was my hope to make a memorial of England's work in India, more lasting, because truer and more complete, than these monuments of Mughal Empire and of French ambition".

Hunter was of the opinion that 'nothing is more costly than ignorance'.  His aim of work was neither scientific discovery nor  literary graces, but simply an earnest endeavor to render India better governed, better understood. His work helped  fight ignorance, prejudice and false opinions flowing down upon the British from the past and  prepare the foundation for a truer and wider knowledge of India in time. Till his  retirement he was a true bureaucrat and later a dedicated worker till his death. A true Karma Yogi.

The following are inspiring achievements :

.. He began  his huge statistical work (done in India) in 1869, and  published nine volumes in 1881 and before his death he compiled a twenty-six volume set.

.. He  acquired a good knowledge of Sanskrit
LL.D., before passing first in the final examination for the Indian Civil Service in 1862. The ICS, a prestigious  exam, was exclusively  for various  Indian Administration works in British India under the Crown
.. On his first assignment  in the Bengal Presidency in November 1862,  he recorded the local traditions in practice. Based on his work, he later published 'The Annals of Rural Bengal'. His interesting work attracted  a lot of people.

.. He prepared A Comparative Dictionary of the Non-Aryan Languages of India, a glossary of dialects based mainly upon the collections of Brian Houghton Hodgson.

.. On Gov. General  Lord Mayo's suggestion in  1869 Hunter  prepared a compilation of  various gazette,  using  a particular method of  in-depth scheme followed in the  statistical survey of India. He used  the Ain-i-Akbari and Description de l'Égypte as models.

.. On 30 May 1871 on Gov. Gen. Mayo's  advice, he completed his influential work "The Indian Musalmans"  in mid-June 1871 and published it as  a book. It was about  whether Indian Muslim rebellion was driven by religion against the Crown.

Sir William W. Hunter, a book on Indian  Musalmans.
.. In the 3rd  International Sanitary Conference held at Constantinople in 1866 Hunter frankly revealed the Hindu and Muslim pilgrimage centers  were the main  causes  for  Cholera epidemics because of poor sanitary conditions and could be a threat to the Western world. He was concerned about the lack of cleanliness of Pilgrims to the Jagannath temple, Puri.

 .. In 1872 Hunter published his History of Orissa. 

 .. A Statistical Account of Bengal (20 volumes, 1875-1877)  and later yet another work  for Assam (2 volumes, 1879) are of help to the historians now.  Using them as models statistical data for the entire British India was prepared.

.. During this period the
first Census of India, covering a vast area was taken. It brought to light the population of India then was more than that of the whole of Europe minus Russia.

.. The statistical details of  240 administrative districts in 128  volumes  were presented in condensed form in condensed into the nine volumes of The Imperial Gazetteer of India (first edition) in 1881, second edition of 14 volumes published between 1885 and 1887 and  the third one in 26 volumes in 1908.

.. The Atlas of India  was part of the third edition under the editorship of under the editorship of Herbert Hope Risley, et al.
.. Hunter's own work A Brief History of the Indian People, published in 1880  was  translated and used  in Indian schools.
 .. In 1886 he was elected vice-chancellor of the University of Calcutta.

In 1887 he retired from the service,, and settled at Oaken Holt, near Oxford.

.. Hunter himself contributed the volumes on Dalhousie (1890) and Mayo (1891). He already wrote about Lord Mayo published two volumes in November 1875.

 .. On a trip to the Caspian1898 -1899, Hunter contracted  a severe attack of influenza, which affected his heart. He died at Oaken Holt on 6 February 1900.

William Hunter was the earliest British administrator to  show to the world the importance of statistical data in various fields like population, culture, agriculture, geography, etc for the good governance of a country.