What is proto-history? It has not been defined clearly and its period has also differed from country to country. But generally it has been accepted that it is that part of history about which we have found no written record in any form. In India, we have accepted that this period of history began when the people here started producing cereals.
Remnants of a civilization have been found at different places in Baluchistan, Sindh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and nearby places which prove that prior to Harappa or Indus valley civilization, there existed a village-civilization at these places as far back as 7000 B.C. As no written evidence is available concerning this civilization, it constitutes the earliest part of proto-history of India.
When the period of proto-history ended in India? Scholars have differed concerning it. In fact, concerning Indian history, we find no written historical evidences prior to 300 B.C. e.g., age of the Mauryas. Yet, as literary written evidences are being available from 600 B.C., therefore several scholars have expressed the view that the period of proto-history ended by 600 B.C. in India.
But, there are certain other scholars who have maintained that as Vedic-texts are the sources of knowing the history of the Vedic age, therefore the Vedic-age also is not a part of proto-history in India. They, therefore, have opined that the history prior to the Vedic age only should be included in the proto-history of India. This view has been accepted by the majority of scholars.
Therefore, the Indus valley or the Harappa-civilization has also been accepted as a part of proto-history. Certainly, signs of a script have been found on different seals discovered at different sites of Harappa-civilization but it has not been deciphered so far. Therefore, Harappa-civilization has been considered a part of proto-history of India.
Besides, there existed village-civilizations in interior parts of India at several places in Malwa, South-east Rajasthan, east India and South India even after the destruction of the Harappa-civilization which belonged to Chalcolithic age and, at certain places, people there used iron as well. There are no written evidences concerning these civilizations as well. Therefore, these also constitute parts of proto-history in India.
Thus, the history of the civilization which existed in Baluchistan, Sindh. etc. prior to the Harappa-civilization, the Harappa or Indus-Valley civilization and the village-civilization existing in several interior parts of India and whose people, at certain places, used iron as well constitute the proto-history of India.