NCERT Solutions for class 10th Social Science Chapter 4 History -Print Culture & the Modern World.


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Question 1. Write briefly why some people feared that the development of print could lead to the growth of dissenting ideas.

Answer: People feared that the development of print could lead to the growth of dissenting ideas because print and popular literature encouraged many distinctive interpretations of religious faith and ideas. Manocchio gave a new interpretation of the Bible and formulated a view of God and creation that enraged the Roman Catholic Church. As a result, he was hauled up twice and ultimately executed when the Roman Church began its inquisition to repress heretical ideas.

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Question 2. Why do some historians think that print culture created the basis for the French Revolution?

Answer: Some historians think that print culture created the basis f or the French Revolution because

  1. Printing of the ideas of the Enlightenment thinkers like Voltaire and Rousseau led to them being read by many people. As these writers attacked the despotic rulers and the authority of the Church , the readers saw the world through eyes that were questioning, critical and rational.
  2.  Print spawned a dialogue and debate culture in which all institutions, norms and values were discussed and re-evaluated.
  3. By the 1780s, a lot of literature criticising and mocking the royalty. The underground circulation of such literature increased hostile sentiments against the monarchy.


Write in brief 

Question 1. Give reasons for the following

  1. Wood block print only came to Europe after 1295.
  2. Martin Luther was in favour of print, and spoke out in praise of it. 
  3. The Roman Catholic Church began keeping an Index of prohibited books from the mid-sixteenth century. 
  4. Gandhi said the fight for ‘swaraj’ is a fight for the liberty of speech, liberty of the press and freedom of association.


  1. Marco Polo, the Italian explorer, visited China and learnt the technology of woodblock printing. When he returned to Italy in 1295 he brought this knowledge back with him. Gradually this knowledge spread from Italy to other parts of Europe. 
  2. In 1517, Martin Luther, the religious reformer wrote Ninety Five Theses criticising the corrupt practices of the Catholic Church and pasted these on the church door in Wittenberg. Very soon thousand of copies of Luther’s Theses were printed, spreading his ideas among people. Martin Luther was deeply moved by realising the power of printing which brought reformation movement.
  3. Print and popular literature encouraged many distinctive interpretations of religious faiths and ideas. In the 16th century, Manocchio, a miller in Italy began to read books available readily in his locality. He gave a new interpretation of the Bible, and formulated a view of God, and creation that enraged the Roman Catholic church.

As a result, Manocchio was hauled up twice and ultimately executed when the Roman Catholic Church began its inquisition, and to repress the therapeutical ideas. After this, several control measures were imposed on publishers and booksellers. In 1558, the Roman Church decided to maintain an index of prohibited books.

4. Mahatma Gandhi said these words in 1922 during the Non-cooperation Movement (1920-22). According to him, without the liberty of speech, the liberty of press and freedom of association, no nation can even survive. If the country was to get free from foreign domination, then these liberties were quite important. If there is no liberty of speech, liberty of press and freedom of association, then there is no nationalism. 

Nationalism requires these three prerequisites for its survival. That is why, he said so, particularly about these three freedoms. To Gandhi ji, Swaraj meant to achieve freedom of press before anything else.

Question 2. Write short notes to show that you know about –

  1. The Gutenberg Press 
  2. The Erasmus’s idea of the printed book
  3.  The Vernacular Press Act


  1. The Gutenberg Press ‘Gutenberg’ press was the first printing press of Europe. It was invented by Johann Gutenberg of strasbourg . He grew up in a large agricultural estate and had knowledge and experience in operating olive and wine presses. The olive press provided him the model for the printing press and he used moulds for casting metal types for letters of the alphabet. He invented the printing press around the year 1448.
  2. Erasmus’s Idea of the Printed Book Erasmus, the latin scholar, was not happy with printing of books because he was afraid that this would lead to circulation of books with rebellious ideas. He felt that although a few books may give useful information, the majority of books may be just useless or give stupid, scandalous of irreligious ideas which may lead to incitement of rebellion.
  3. The Vernacular Press Act It was passed in 1878 by the British government in India. This act provided the government with extensive rights to censor reports and editorials in the Vernacular Press. If a Vernacular Paper published any seditious material, the paper was banned and its printing machinery was seized.

Question 3. What did the spread of print and culture in the nineteenth century India mean to

  1. Women
  2. The poor
  3. Reformers

Answer :

  1. Women  Women became important as readers and writers. 

 Reading habits improved among them. With increase in literacy, women took great interest in reading and writing. Many journals started emphasising the importance of women’s education. Many magazines and books were specially published for women.

The print culture gave the women some amount of freedom to read and develop their own views on various issues, especially those related to women. Women novelists such as Jane Austen and Bronte sisters in Europe and Kailashbashini Debi and Pandita Ramab ai in India presented the new type of woman, a woman with the power to think and with the ability to act with determination.

2. The Poor As the literacy rate improved in Europe as well as in India, printed material, especially for entertainment, began to reach even the poor. In England ‘penny magazines’ were carried by peddlers and sold for a penny, so that even poor people could buy them. Those who could not read, could listen to the stories and folklore. These could be read out to them by others.

Books could be hired on a nominal fee from some book owners. Even in India very cheap small books were brought to market in 19th century Madras towns, allowing poor people to have an access to print culture. Public libraries were set up in the early 20th century where poor people could visit and borrow books. 

Gradually, even poor people began to read religious stories , books with simple instructions or stories and folklore.

3. Reformers

  1. Reformers used newspapers, journals and books to highlight the social evils prevailing in society. Raja Ram Mohan Roy published the Sambad Kaumudi to highlight the plight of widows.
  2. From the 1860s, many Bengali women writers like Kailash bashini Debi wrote books highlighting the experiences of women, about how women were imprisoned at home, kept in ignorance, forced to do hard domestic labour and treated unjustly by the menfolk they served.

 In the 1880s, Tarabai Shinde and Pandita Ramabai wrote with passionate anger about the miserable lives of upper-caste Hindu women, especially the widows. The poor status of women was also expressed by Tamil writers.

3. Jyotiba Phule wrote about the poor condition of the ‘low caste people.’ In his book Gulamgiri (1871), he wrote about the injustices of the caste system.

In the 20th century, BR Ambedkar also wrote powerfully against the caste system. He also wrote against untouchability, EV Ramaswamy Naicker, also known as Periyar, wrote about the caste system prevailing in Madras.


Question 1. Why did some people in the eighteenth century Europe think that print culture would bring enlightenment and end despotism?


  1. Spreading of New Ideas After the coming of print culture, the ideas of scientists and philosophers now became more accessible t o the common people. Ancient and medieval scientific texts were compiled and published.
  2. Books as Medium of Progress By the eighteenth century, books became a medium of spreading progress and enlightenment which could change society and the world. It was also believed that the books could liberate society from despotism and tyranny.
  3. Writings of Scholars The writings of thinkers such as Jean Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Paine and Voltaire were also widely printed, and could gain popularity. Thus their ideas about science, rationality and reasoning found their way into popular literature.
  4. Scientific Discoveries Maps and more accurate scientific diagrams were widely printed, when scientists like Issac Newton began to publish their discoveries. They could influence a much wider circle of scientifically-minded readers.
  5. Ideas of Enlightened Thinkers Print popularised the ideas of the enlightened thinkers like Martin Luther who attacked the authority of the church and the despotic power of the state.
  6. A New Culture of Dialogue and Debate The printing press was believed to be the most powerful engine of progress and publi c opinion. Many historians have argued that print culture cre ated the conditions for the end of despotism in France through the Fre nch Revolution.

Question 2. Why did some people fear the effect of easily available printed books? Choose one example from Europe and one from India.

Answer: Not everyone welcomed printed books and those who did, also had fear about them. Many were of the opinion that printed words and the wider circulation of books, would have a negative impact on people’s minds. They feared that if there was no control over what was printed and read, then rebellious and irreligious thoughts might gain i mportance. There was also fear in the minds of scholars that the authori t y of ‘valuable’ literature would be destroyed. The new print medium was crit icised by religious authorities and monarchs, as well as by writers and artists.

Let us consider the implication of this in one sphere of life i n Europe regarding religion. Martin Luther was a German monk, priest , professor and a church reformer. He wrote ninety five theses in 1517 and ope nly criticised many of the practices and rituals of the Roman Catholic church.

A printed copy of this was pasted on a church door in Wittenber g. It challenged the church to debate his ideas. Luther’s Writing s were immediately copied in vast numbers and read widely. This led to a division within the church and led to the beginning of the protestant reformation. 

In India, the British government favoured censorship of the press and passed a law to hinder free circulation of newspapers and and journals. Vernacular Press Act provided the government with extensive rights to censor reports and editorials.

Question 3 : What were the effects of the spread of print culture for the poor people in the nineteenth century in India?

Answer: As the literacy rate improved in India, printed material, especially for entertainment began to reach even the poor in the 19th century. Publishers started producing small and cheap books. These books were sold at crossroads. Public libraries were set up by the Christian missionaries and the rich people. Those who could not read, could listen to stories and folklore. These could be read out to them by others. 

Books could be hired on a nominal fee from some book owners. Ma ny writers started writing about the issue of class distinctio n. The writings of these writers were read by people allover India. Local prote st movements and sects also created a lot of popular journals and tracts criticising ancient scriptures with a view to creating a new and just future. 

Question 4: Explain, how the print culture assisted the growth of nationalism in India.

Answer :

  1. New Ideas and Debates There were many who criticised the existing practices and compaigned for reforms, while others countered the arguments of the reformers. These debates were carried out openly in public and in print. Printed tracts and newspapers not only spread the new ideas, but they also shaped the nature of the debate. All this assisted the growth of nationalism.
  2. Print and Newspaper Despite repressive measures, nationalist newspapers grew in numbers in all parts of India. They report ed on colonial misrule and encouraged nationalist activities. W hen Punjab revolutionaries were deported in 1907, Balgangadhar Tilak wrote with great sympathy about them in his Kesari.
  3. Connecting Various Communities Print not only stimulated the publication of conflicting opinions amongst communities, but also connected communities and people living in different parts of India. Newspapers conveyed news from one place to another, creating a pan-Indian identity.
  4. Various Novels on National History Many novels written by Indian novelists like Bankim’s ‘Anandamath’ created a sense of pan -Indian belonging. Munshi Premchand’s novel, ‘Godan’ highlighten ed how Indian peasants were exploited by the colonial bureaucrats .
  5. Various Images of Bharatmata Painters like Raja Ravi Verma and Rabindranath Tagore drew images of Bharatmata which produc ed a sense of nationalism among Indians. The devotion to mother f igure came to be seen as an evidence of one’s nationalism.

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