In what ways were the novels in colonial India useful for both the colonisers as well as the nationalists?
Colonial administrators found useful information for
governing Indian society in the vernacular novels, as these novels were a valuable source of information on Indian life and customs.
The Britishers knew very little about Indian family life and society. The vernacular novels gave details about the domestic life, clothes, religious practices and beliefs of our society. Many of these novels were translated into English, so the Britishers easily got the required information. For the nationalists, the novels were used as a powerful medium to improve Indian society, as well as creating a sense of national pride by recounting glorious tales of the past. Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay’s Anandamath was so powerful that it could inspire an actual political movement.
As long as people shared a common language, the novels created a sense of collective belonging. The novels also made the readers familiar with the ways in which people in other parts of India spoke their language. Novels also helped develop modern scientific and rational thinking, highlighted the social evils and inbuilt contradictions in the Indian social system e.g. caste, untouchability, religion etc.
All these reasons made the novel useful for both the colonisers as well as the nationalists.