Last Updated 28 Jan 2021

Social Reforms, India

Category Arya Samaj, Hinduism
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The reform activities united people and the attack on institutions like caste which hampered social unity created a sense of oneness in the people. But most of these reform movements had certain limitations. The questions to which they gave primacy concerned only small sections of Indian society. Some of them failed to emphasize or even recognize that colonial rule was inimical to the interests of the Indian people. Most of them worked within the framework of their respective communities in a way tended to promote identities based on religion or caste.

Many of these limitations were sought to be overcome during the course of the national movement with which many social and religious reformers were closely associated. Indian nationalism aimed at the regeneration of the entire Indian society irrespective of caste and community. It was no longer necessary to confine the movement of social reform to one’s own community. http://www. historytuition. com/indian_society_in_colonial_period/social_reforms/impact_of_the_reform_movements http://www. indianetzone. com/22/indian_socio-religious_reform_movements_19th_century. tm A reform movement is a kind of social movement that aims to make gradual change, or change in certain aspects of society rather than rapid or fundamental changes. A reform movement is distinguished from more radical social movements such as revolutionary movements. Reformists' ideas are often grounded in liberalism, although they may be rooted in utopian, socialist or religious concepts. Some rely on personal transformation; others rely on small collectives, such as Mahatma Gandhi's spinning wheel and the self sustaining village economy, as a mode of social change. 1. Raja Ram Mohan Roy

Raja Ram Mohan Roy was popularly known as the 'Father of Indian Renaissance ' was born on 22nd May 1772 in a Brahmin family in Bengal. He founded the Atmiya Sabha in 1815 and the Brahmo Samaj on 20th August 1828. Through these Institutions he fought against Orthodox Hindus and the fanatic Christian Missionaries. He was against of Sati system, Polygamy, Child marriage, Caste system and Untouchability. He was the great supporter of Inter-caste marriage, women education, Widow remarriages etc. Ram Mohan started publishing Newspapers and Magazines for which he was called the 'Father of Indian Journalism'. . Mahatma Gandhi According to Gandhi " I would make the spinning-wheel, the foundation on which build a sound village life". Gandhian way of education put emphasis on the development of body, mind, heart & soul. His scheme of education he called “Nai Talim” a beautiful blend of craft, art, health & education in one & covers the whole education of the individual till death. His education is more for girls than the boys. Gandhi ji was the first who Break the bridge between touchable & untouchable. He was the devotee of non-violence. 3. Gopabandhu Dash

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Gopabandhu Dash (1877–1928) known as Utkal Mani(Gems of Odisha) was a defining social worker who excelled in the field of politics as well as literature. Gopabandhu was a legend in the Indian culture. He served his people even at the cost of his family. During his study period, he started Kartavya Bodhini Samiti (Duty Awakening Society) to encourage his friends to do their duty as citizens and take on social, economic and political problems. He was leading a team to aid flood victims, when he heard of his son's serious illness but remained to serve the locals rather than return home to his son. e became the founder president of Congress in Odisha. 4. Swami Vivekananda Swami Vivekananda was another important Social Reformer who brought spiritual reawakening among the Indians in the 19th Century, popularly known as the ‘Intellectual Monk of India’ He was born in Calcutta on 12th, January, 1863. He began his life of wondering all over the country with his message of ‘Awakened India’ or ‘Prabhuda Bharat’. He set-up ‘Ramakrishna Mission’ on 1st May, 1897. According to him, ‘Man is the maker of his own Destiny. The whole world has been made by the energy of man, by the power of faith’. 5. Swami Dayanada Saraswati

Swami Dayanada born in 1824 in a small town of Gujarat. Swami Dayananda Saraswati, the founder of the 'Arya Samaj' was one of the maker of Modern India. His Arya Samaj gave emphasis on the liberation of the Hindu Society. He called people ‘Go back to the Veda’ created consciousness among the people. He strongly opposed Idol worship, ritualism, practice of animal sacrifice, the idea of Heaven etc. This movement also challenged the Christian Missionaries who tried to convert the uneducated, poor and depressed classes of the Hindus. 6. Annie Besant Annie Besant was of Irish origin and made India her second home.

She fought for the rights of Indian and was the first woman president of Indian National Congress. In 1893, she left for India having been influenced by the Indian culture and civilization. She was famous as a social worker, educationalist, journalist, prominent Theosophist, social reformer, political leader, women's rights activist, writer and orator. She fought for the Human Rights of Indian women. 7. Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar Dr. B. R. Ambedkar was born on April 14, 1891 in Mhow (presently in Madhya Pradesh). Dr. B. R. Ambedkar is viewed as messiah of dalits and downtrodden in India. He was the chairman of the drafting committee in 1947.

Bhimrao Ambedkar experienced caste discrimination right from the childhood. he was the first who reduce the bridge between tribal & non-tribal. 8. Medha Patkar Medha Patkar was born in Mumbai. On 28 March 2006, Patkar started a hunger-strike to protest against the decision of the authorities to raise the height of the Narmada Dam. She ended her 20-day fast on 17 April 2006, after the Supreme Court of India refused the Narmada Bachao Andolan's appeal to stop the construction of the dam. She was held by the police at Singur on 2 December 2006 after protesting against the acquisition of farmland. She is a great social Reformer & social Activist. . Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade was a distinguished judge, writer cum social reformer of India during the pre-independence era. Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade was a judge, politician, writer cum reformer of India. Politically, Ranade established the Poona Sarvajanik Sabha and was also among those who played a phenomenal role in setting up the Indian National Congress party. Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade was also an active reformer. He set up the Social Conference movement, which worked against infant marriages, widows remarriage, spending heavily in marriages and other social functions.

Ranade advocated for widow remarriage and female education. 10. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee Bankim Chandra Chatterjee was a grat poet and novelist. In his famous book "Kamala Kanter Daffer" pointed out the social evils and blind beliefs prevalent in Indian Soiety, which were pertaining to injustice to the poor and the downtrodden. He advocated remwedial measures for the eradication of all the evils. He wanrs to maintain equality between the rich and the poor. The famous song'Bande Mataram" was his creation. Most Hindus today still adhere to traditional teachings and practice passed down via the four main communities.

What has been termed "modern Hinduism" has grown largely out of a number of quite radical reform movements of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These movements had a relatively small number of followers and by no means replaced or superseded the major traditional forms of Hinduism. Some specific reform movements, like the Arya Samaj and the Ramakrishna Mission, still continue to be influential. The reform movements largely emerged from the growing contact that Hindu thinkers had with Western thought, culture and religion. Below are the four most important movements and the names associated with them. The Brahmo Samaj

The Brahmo Sabha was founded in 1828 by Rama Mohan Roy (left) and in 1843 was restructured and renamed Brahmo Samaj by Devendranatha Tagore, father of the well-known poet, Rabindranatha Tagore. Rama Mohan was extremely learned and strongly influenced by Christianity. He disagreed with the doctrine of reincarnation and fought to abolish certain traditional practices, some of which had been grossly misused. These included caste, polygamy, image worship, sati, and child marriage. His ideas of worship were drawn largely from Christianity. Devendranatha Tagore was greatly influenced by the western philosophy of Locke and Hume.

He tried to reform the Brahmo Samaj but lacking support eventually left. Keshab Chandra Sen joined the Samaj in 1857 and initially worked with Tagore. But later disagreeing with Tagore's ideas, he left to establish his own movement. Today the Brahmo Samaj has but a few thousand members and little visible influence on the Hindu community. It failed to fulfil the hopes of those who saw the future religion of India as a blend of Christianity and Hindu metaphysics. The Arya Samaj The Arya Samaj was founded by Swami Dayananda Sarasvati (left) in 1875 as a radical reform movement.

Dayananda wanted to halt the Christian missionary onslaught and to return to the ancient Vedic tradition. He therefore sought to purge Hinduism of what he considered later additions, such as image worship, pilgrimage and ritual bathing. Although emphasising the ancient Vedic tradition, Dayananda also sought to modernise Hinduism and to re-absorb Hindus who had converted to Islam or Christianity. His movement, with its concerns over the influence of other religions sowed the seeds for the many political parties that desired to re-establish Hindu rule in India.

The Arya Samaj is still an active organisation, both world-wide and in the UK. Its members agree to follow its "Ten Principles" and worship largely through havan (the sacred fire ceremony) and recitation of the Gayatri-mantra. The Ramakrishna Mission Ramakrishna (right) was born Gadadhar Chatterji in a poor but orthodox Bengali brahmana family. As a young man he became the priest at the Kali temple near Calcutta. He was later initiated as a sannyasi and experienced mystical visions, especially of Devi. He was profoundly influenced by Christianity and Islam and emphasised the universality of religion.

He preached that "Jiva is Shiva" (the soul is God). He met many contemporary reformers and it was Keshab Chandra Sen who made him first known to the world. It was Vivekananda (1863–1902), however, who made Ramakrishna really famous. Born into the wealthy Dutt family, he was named Narendranath. He joined the Brahmo Samaj but later became Ramakrishna's favourite disciple, receiving the name Swami Vivekananda. He was expert in presenting Advaita Vedanta and greatly impressed the Western world in his presentation to the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893.

He travelled extensively, promoting wide reform, claiming that other reformers "played into the hands of Europeans. " He established the Ramakrishna Mission, today well known for its social and educational programmes. Gandhi's "Satyagraha" Mohandas Gandhi (1869–1947) is probably the best known Indian of the twentieth century He was primarily an educator and reformer. His ultimate aim was to re-establish Ramarajya, the reign of Lord Rama – or, in more Western terms, the "kingdom of God on Earth. " He, was opposed to British oppression and particularly the way Indian cotton was sent to Manchester and the clothes returned for sale in India.

He tried to free his country from this unhealthy economic dependence and campaigned for India's independence from British Rule. His means to do this was satyagraha – grasping the truth – based on ahimsa (non-violence), with an unswerving faith in God. He followed many orthodox practices and was particularly fond of the Bhagavad-gita. He often referred to the "still small voice within. " He is most well known for his support of the untouchables. He died at the hands of an assassin, disappointed with the partition of his beloved India. Social religious reform movements in India By Ms.

Seema Lal — Presentation Transcript 1. Name- Seema Lal Subject- Social science Category- secondary classes (IX & X) Topic of e-lesson- Socio religious reform movements . Target group- VIII & X Classes. 2. Learning Objectives….. 1. To teach students about rise of series of religious and social reform movements. 2. To make them understand conditions which led to the rise of these movements. 3. To tell students how these movements led to reform of both- society and religions. 4. To help them learn key role played by the reformists to uplift the status of women. 3. Index Social religious reform movements - Information .

Evils in Indian society Varna system / Caste system Raja Ram Mohan Roy Arya Samaj Ramakrishna mission Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar Mahadev Govinda Ranade Annie Beasent &Theosophical society Sir Syeed Ahmed Khan Impact of movements / Limitations Test your Knowledge 4. SOCIO RELIGIOUS REFORM MOVEMENTS 5. VARIOUS SOCIAL AND RELIGIOUS REFORM MOVEMENTS AROSE AMONG ALL COMMUNITIES OF THE INDIAN PEOPLE . IN RELIGION ATTACKED BIGOTRY,SUPERSTITION&HOLD OF PRIESTLY CLASSES. IN SOCIAL LIFE AMIED AT ABOLITION OF CASTES,CHILD MARRIAGE & LEGAL & SOCIAL INEQUALITIES. 6. VARIOUS SOCIAL EVILS EXISTED DURING 18 TH CENTURY.

SEVERAL EVIL CUSTOMS AND PRACTICES HAD BECOME PART OF HINDU SOCIAL SYSTEM. STATUS OF WOMEN DETERIORATED. LIFE OF HINDUS WAS GOVERENED BY CASTE SYSTEM . BACK TO INDEX 7. A SYSTEM IN WHICH WOMAN WAS BURNED ON THE PYRE OF HER HUSBAND. SATI SYSTEM 8. CHILD MARRIAGE 9. NO EDUCATION TO GIRLS ! 10. NO WIDOW REMARRIAGE 11. PARDHA SYSTEM BACK TO INDEX 12. VARNA SYSTEM KASHATRIYAS VAISYAS SUDRAS BRAHMANAS BACK TO IND 13. FOUND BRAHMO SAMAJ IN 1828 . ABOLISHED SATI AND CHILDMARRIAGE . ADVOCATED WIDOW REMARRIAGE. CONDEMNED POLYTHEISM. STOOD FOR MODERN EDUCATION FOR ALL. RAJA RAM MOHANROY 14. HE PERSUADED GOVT.

TO ABOLISH SATI & CHILD MARRIAGE. STOOD FOR EQUAL RIGHTS FOR WOMEN AND THE RIGHT TO PROPERTY TO WOMEN. HE WAS AN INTERNATIONALIST & SUPPORTED CAUSE OF FREEDOM EVERY WHERE. HIS SAMAJ WAS THE FIRST ATTEMPT TO REFORM HINDU SOCIETY. BACK TO IND 15. ARYA SAMAJ SWAMI DAYANAND 16. THE ARYA SAMAJ –1875 DAYANAND SARASWATI FOUNDED ARYA SAMAJ. HE ATTACKED CHILD MARRIAGE. HE WAS AGAINST IDOL WORSHIP. BELIVED IN INFALLIBLITY OF VEDAS. HE OPPOSED CASTE SYSTEM. ADVOCATED EQUAL RIGHTS FOR MEN AND WOMEN. NUMBER OF D. A. V SCHOOLS & COLLEGES WERE STARTED BY THE SAMAJ ALL OVER INDIA. BACK TO IND 17.

RAMAKRISHNA MISSION FOUNDED BY VIVEKANAND - DISCIPLE OF RAMAKRISHNA PARA- MHANSA. HE ESTABLISHED THE MISSION & EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS . UPLIFTED STATUS OF WOMEN . BACK TO IND 18. ISHWAR CHANDRA VIDYASAGAR-1820-91 WORKED FOR THE CAUSE OF EMANCIPATION OF WOMEN. DUE TO HIS EFFORTS LEGAL OBSTACLES TO WIDOW REMARRIAGE WERE REMOVED BY A LAW IN 1856. PROMOTED EDUCATION AMONG GIRLS & SET UP INSTITUTIONS FOR THEM . BACK TO IND 19. MAHADEV GOVINDA RANADE-1842-1901 WAS A SOUL OF THE INDIAN SOCIAL CONFERENCE-1887. CAMPAIGNED FOR ABOLITION OF CASTE,INTERCASTE MARRIAGES WIDOW REMARRIAGE,EDUCATION FOR WOMEN UPLIFTMENT OF LOWCASTES & HINDU MUSLIM- UNITY.

BACK TO IND 20. ANNIE BESANT AND THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY WORKED FOR REVIVAL OF HINDUISM -ITS PHILOSOPHY& MODES OF WORSHIP. HELPED IMPART INDIANS A SENSE OF PRIDE IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY. FOUNDED THE CENTRAL HINDU COLLEGE . ORGANISED HOMERULE MOVEMENT BACK TO IND 21. SYED AHMEDKHAN 22. .ESTABLISHED-MOHAMDEN – ANGLO- ORENTIAL COLLEGE. .INSISTED ON COOPERATION WITH BRITISHERS AND REFORMS AMONG MUSLIMS. .PERSUADED MUSLIMS TO RECEIVE MODERN EDUCATION. ALIGARH MOVEMENT SIR SYED AHMED KHAN BACK TO IND 23. Impact of reform movements. EMANCIPATATION OF WOMEN. WIDOW REMARRIAGE ACT IN 1856. SATI &INFANTICIDE WERE BANNED.

MARRIAGEABLE AGE OF GIRLS WAS RAISED 1860. EDUCATION TO GIRLS BEGAN. BACK TO IND 24. LIMITATIONS OF REFORM MOVEMENTS 1. THEY CONCERNED ONLY SMALL SECTIONS OF SOCIETY. 2. WORKED FOR THEIR RESPECTIVE COMMUNITY. 3. FAILED TO EMPHASISE THAT COLONIAL RULE WAS INIMICAL TO THEIR INTEREST. 25. TESTING OF KNOWLEDGE Q1. WHEN WAS BRAHMO SAMAJ FOUNDED? Q2. WHO FOUNDED ARYA SAMAJ? Q3. WHAT WERE THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF SIR SYED AHMED KHAN? Q4. WHO STARTED HOMERULE MOVEMENT? Q5. LIST EVILS THAT EXISTED IN INDIAN SOCIETY? Q6. WHY REFORM MOVEMENTS DID NOT BECOME POPULAR? BACK TO IND From Social religious reform movements 19th century

Many Indians realized that the reform of social institutions and religious outlook of people was a necessary pre-condition for the growth of national unity. Through successive movements they carried forward the pioneering work started by few enlightened Indians. This was a difficult task as orthodox elements formed large and strong groups in the country. During the second half of 19th century only two important laws were passed by the British government. One of these passed in 1872 sanctioned inter-caste and inter-communal marriages. The other passed in 1891 aimed to discourage child marriage.

Brahmo Samaj Young Bengal Movement Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar Veda Samaj and Prathana Samaj Rama Krishna and Vivekananda Arya Samaj Theosophical Society Sayyid Ahmad Khan and the Aligarh Movement Cultural awakening Seva Sada: It was founded in 1885 by Behramji Malabari (Parsi social reformer). It was a humanitarian organization that specialized in care of discarded and exploited women specially widows. It provided for education and welfare of women and encouraged widow remarriage. Servant of India Society founded by Gopal Krishan Gokhale in 1905 for social service. Indian National Social Conference:

An offshoot of Prarthana Samaj, founded by Ranade and Raghunath Rao. Its conference was held in 1887 at Madras sharing the platform with the annual session of INC. It virtually became social reform cell of INC. Social Service League was founded in 1911 by N. M. Joshi to collect social facts, discuss them and build public opinion on question of social service. Seva Samiti: It was founded by Hridayanath Kunzru in 1914 at Allahabad to organise social service, to promote education and to reform the criminals and other fallen elements of society. Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar:

Pandit Ishwar Chandra was a great educator, humanist and social reformer. He was born in 1820 in a village in Midnapur, Bengal. He rose to be the Head Pandit of the Bengali Department of Fort William College. He firmly believed that reform in Indian society could only come about through educ ation. Vidyasagar founded many schools for girls. He helped J. D. Bethune to establish the Bethune School. He founded the Metropolitan Institution in Calcutta. He protested against child marriage and favoured widow remarriage which was legalized by the Widow Remarriage Act (1856).

It was due to his great support for the spread of education that he was given the title of Vidyasagar. Jyotiba Phule: Jyotiba Phule belonged to a low caste family in Maharashtra. He waged a life-long struggle against upper caste domination and Brahmanical supremacy. In 1873 he founded the Satya Shodak Samaj to fight against the caste system. He pioneered the widow remarriage movement in Maharashtra and worked for the education for women. Jyotiba Phule and his wife established the first girls’ school at Poona in 1851. Saint Ramalinga: Saint Ramalinga was one of the foremost saints of Tamil Nadu in the nineteenth century.

He was born on October 5, 1823 at Marudhur, near Chidambaram. He was the last son of his father, Ramayya Pillai and mother, Chinnammayar. Developing a deep interest in spiritual life, Ramalinga moved to Karunguli in 1858, a place near Vadalur where the Saint later settled down. His divine powers came to be recognised at the early age of eleven. In 1865 he founded the Samarasa Suddha Sanmargha Sangha for the promotion of his ideals of establishing a casteless society. He preached love and compassion to the people. He composed Tiru Arutpa. His other literay works include Manu Murai Kanda Vasagam and Jeeva Karunyam.

His language was so simple as to enable the illiterate people to understand his teachings. In 1870 he moved to Mettukuppam, a place three miles away from Vadalur. There he started constructing the Satya Gnana Sabai in 1872. He introduced the principle that God could be worshipped in the form of Light. Sri Vaikunda Swamigal: Sri Vaikunda Swamigal was born in 1809 at Swamithoppu in the Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu. His original name was Mudichoodum Perumal but he was called Muthukkutty. He preached against the caste system and untouchability. He also condemned religious ceremonies.

Many came to his place to worship him and slowly his teachings came to be known as Ayyavazhi. By the midnineteenth century, Ayyavazhi came to be recognized as a separate religion and spread in the regions of South Travancore and South Tirunelveli. After his death, the religion was spread on the basis of his teachings and the religious books Akilattirattu Ammanai and Arul Nool. Hundreds of Nizhal Thangals (places of worship) were built across the country. Self-Respect Movement and Periyar E. V. R. : Periyar E. V. Ramaswamy was a great social reformer. In 1921, during the anti-liquor campaign he cut down 1000 coconut trees in his own farm.

In 1924, he took an active part in the Vaikam Satyagraha. The objective of the Satyagraha was to secure for untouchables the right to use a road near a temple at Vaikom in Kerala. E. V. R. opposed the Varnashrama policy followed in the V. V. S. Iyer’s Seranmadevi Gurugulam. During 1920- 1925 being in the Congrees Party he stressed that Congress should accept communal representation. Subsequently in 1925, he started the “Self-Respect Movement”. The aims of the ‘Self-Respect Movement’ were to uplift the Dravidians and to expose the Brahminical tyrany and deceptive methods by which they controlled all spheres of Hindu life.

He denounced the caste system, child marriage and enforced widowhood. He encouraged inter-caste marriages. He himself conducted many marriages without any rituals. Such a marriage was known as “Self-Respect Marriage. ” He gave secular names to new born babies. He attacked the laws of Manu, which he called the basis of the entire Hindu social fabric of caste. He founded the Tamil journals Kudiarasu, Puratchi and Viduthalai to propagate his ideals. In 1938 at Tamil Nadu Women’s Conference appreciate in the noble service rendered by E. V. R. he was given the title “Periyar”.

On 27th June 1970 by the UNESCO organization praised and adorned with the title “Socrates of South Asia”. Social Policies and Legislation : Social Policies and Legislation-In the beginning, the British interest was limited to trade and earning profits from economic exploitation. Therefore, they did not evince any interest in taking the issue of social or religious reforms. They were apprehensive of interfering with the social and religious customs and institutions of the Indians because of the fear that they might lose trade advantage. Thus, they adopted the policy of extreme precaution nd indifference towards social issues in India. The one reason why they indulged in criticizing the customs and traditions of India was to generate a feeling of inferiority complex among the Indians. However, in the mid-19th century the social and religious movements, launched in India, attracted the attention of the Company’s administration towards the country’s social evils. The propaganda carried out by the Christian missionaries also stirred the minds of the educated Indians. Western thought and education and views expressed in different newspapers and magazines had their own impact.

Some of the British administrators like Lord William Bentinck had evinced personal interest in the matter. There were primarily two areas in which laws were enacted, laws pertaining to women emancipation and the caste system. Social Laws Concerning Wome : The condition of women, by the time the British established their rule, was not encouraging. Several evil practices such as the practice of Sati, the Purdah system, child marriage, female infanticide, bride price and polygamy had made their life quite miserable. The place of women had come to be confined to the four walls of her home.

The doors of education had been shut for them. From economic point of view also her status was miserable. There was no social and economic equality between a man and woman. A Hindu woman was not entitled to inherit any property. Thus, by and large, she was completely dependent on men. During the 19th and 20th centuries some laws were enacted with the sincere efforts of social reformers, humanists and some British administrators to improve the condition of women in Indian society. The first effort in this direction was the enactment of law against the practice of Sati during the administration of Lord William Bentinck.

Female Infanticide : Female infanticide was another inhuman practice afflicting the 19th century Indian society. It was particularly in vogue in Rajputana, Punjab and the North Western Provinces. Colonel Todd, Johnson Duncan, Malcolm and other British administrators have discussed about this evil custom in detail. Factors such as family pride, the fear of not finding a suitable match for the girl child and the hesitation to bend before the prospective in-laws were some of the major reasons responsible for this practice. Therefore, mmediately after birth, the female infants were being killed either by feeding them with opium or by strangulating or by purposely neglecting them. Some laws were enacted against this practice in 1795, 1802 and 1804 and then in 1870. However, the practice could not be completely eradicated only through legal measures. Gradually, this evil practice came to be done away through education and public opinion. Widow Remarriage: There are many historical evidences to suggest that widowremarriage enjoyed social sanction during ancient period in India.

In course of time the practice ceased to prevail increasing the number of widows to lakhs during the 19th century. Therefore, it became incumbent on the part of the social reformers to make sincere efforts to popularize widow remarriage by writing in newspapers and contemporary journals. Prominent among these reformers was Raja Rammohan Roy and Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar. They carried out large scale campaigns in this regard mainly through books, pamphlets and petitions with scores of signatures. In July 1856, J. P.

Grant, a member of the Governor-General’s Council finally tabled a bill in support of the widow remarriage, which was passed on 13 July 1856 and came to be called the Widow Remarriage Act, 1856. Child Marriage: The practice of child marriage was another social stigma for the women. In November 1870, the Indian Reforms Association was started with the efforts of Keshav Chandra Sen. A journal called Mahapap Bal Vivah (Child marriage: The Cardinal Sin) was also launched with the efforts of B. M. Malabari to fight against child marriage. In 1846, the minimum marriageable age for a girl was only 10 years.

In 1891, through the enactment of the Age of Consent Act, this was raised to 12 years. In 1930, through the Sharda Act, the minimum age was raised to 14 years. After independence, the limit was raised to 18 years in 1978. Purdah System: Similarly, voices were raised against the practice of Purdah during the 19th and 20th century. The condition of women among the peasantry was relatively better in this respect. Purdah was not so much prevalent in Southern India. Through the large scale participation of women in the national freedom movement, the system disappeared without any specific legislative measure taken against it.

Struggle against the Caste System and the related Legislation: Next to the issue of women emancipation, the caste system became the second most important issue of social reforms. In fact, the system of caste had become the bane of Indian society. The caste system was primarily based on the fourfold division of society viz. Brahmins, Kshatriya, Vaishyas and Shudras. On account of their degradation in their social status, the Shudras were subjected to all kinds of social discrimination. In the beginning of the 19th century the castes of India had been split into innumerable subcastes on the basis of birth.

In the meantime, a new social consciousness also dawned among the Indians. Abolition of untouchability became a major issue of the 19th century social and religious reform movements in the country. Mahatma Gandhi made the removal of untouchability a part of his constructive programme. He brought out a paper, The Harijan, and also organised the Harijan Sevak Sangh. Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar dedicated his entire life for the welfare of the downtrodden. In Bombay, he formed a Bahiskrit Hitkarini Sabha in July 1924 for this purpose. Later, he also organised the Akhil Bharatiya Dalit Varg Sabha to fight against caste oppression.

Jyotirao Phule in Western India and Shri Narayana Guru in Kerala respectively established the Satya Shodhak Samaj and the Shri Narayana Dharma Partipalana Yogam to include self-esteem among the downtrodden. In the Madras Presidency also the beginning of 20th century witnessed the rise of Self-respect Movement of Periyar E. V. R. In order to eradicate this evil practice many other individual and institutional efforts were also made. These movements were directed mainly in removing the disabilities suffered by Harijans in regard to drawing of water from public wells, getting entry into temples and admission into schools.

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