CATEGORIZATION AND INSPIRATION
The reform movements could broadly be classified into two categories—
- The reformist movements like the Brahmo Samaj, the Prarthana Samaj, the Aligarh Movement,
- The revivalist movements like Arya Samaj and the Deoband movement.
The humanistic ideals of social equality and the equal worth of all individual which inspired the newly educated middle class influenced the field of social reform in a major way.
The social reform movements were linked to the religious reforms primarily because nearly all social ills like untouchability and gender-based inequity derived legitimacy from religion in one way or the other.
REFORMS RELATED TO WOMEN
ABOLITION OF SATI
- Influenced by the frontal attack launched by the enlightened Indian reformers led by Raja Rammohan Roy, the government declared the practice of sati illegal and punishable by criminal courts as culpable homicide.
- The regulation of 1829 (Regulation XVII, A.D. 1829 of the Bengal Code) was applicable in the Bengal Presidency
PREVENTING FEMALE INFANTICIDE
- The Bengal regulations of 1795 and 1804 declared infanticide illegal and equivalent to murder.
- An Act passed in 1870 made it compulsory for parents to register the birth of all babies
- The Brahmo Samaj had the issue of widow remarriage high on its agenda and did much to popularize it.
- Due to the efforts of Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar (1820-91), the Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act, 1856, was passed
- Jagannath Shankar Seth and Bhau Daji were among the active promoters of girls’ schools in Maharashtra.
- Vishnu Shastri Pandit founded the Widow Remarriage Association in the 1850s.
- Karsondas Mulji who started the Satya Prakash in Gujarati in 1852 to advocate widow remarriage.
- Similar efforts were made by Professor D.K. Karve in western India, Veerasalingam Pantulu in Madras, B.M. Malabari, Narmad Dave, Govind Mahadeo Ranade and K. Natarajan among others.
- 1891: The relentless efforts of a Parsi reformer, B.M. Malabari, were rewarded by the enactment of the Age of Consent Act which forbade the marriage of girls below the age of 12.
- 1930: The Sarda Act further pushed up the marriage age to 18 and 14 for boys and girls, respectively.
- 1978: In free India, the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act raised the age of marriage for girls from 15 to 18 years and for boys from 18 to 21.
EDUCATION FOR WOMEN
- 1819: The Christian missionaries were the first to set up the Calcutta Female Juvenile Society.
- 1849: The Bethune School, founded by J.E.D. Bethune, president of the Council of Education in Calcutta was the first fruit of the powerful movement for women’s education that arose in the 1840s and 1850s.
- Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was associated with this school
- 1854: Charles Wood’s Despatch on Education laid great stress on the need for female education.
- 1916: The Indian Women’s University set up by Professor D.K. Karve at Bombay
- 1916: Lady Hardinge Medical College was opened in Delhi
- 1882: Pandita Ramabai Saraswati founded the Arya Mahila Samaj to serve the cause of women. She pleaded for improvement in the educational syllabus of Indian women. She founded a school for child widows in Pune called Sharada Sadan.
- 1904: Ramabai Ranade founded the Ladies Social Conference (Bharat Mahila Parishad), under the parent organization National Social Conference in Bombay.
- 1910: Sarla Devi Chaudhurani convened the first meeting of the Bharat Stree Mahamandal in Allahabad. Its objectives included promotion of education for women, abolition of the purdah system and improvement in the socio- economic and political status of women.
- 1925: the National Council of Women in India, a national branch of theInternational Council of Women, was formed by Mehribai Tata. Cornelia Sarabji, India’s first lady barrister held important positions on the executive committee of the council
- 1927: All India Women’s Conference (AIWC), founded by Margaret Cousins, was perhaps the first women’s organisation with an egalitarian approach. Its first conference was held at Ferguson College, Pune.
RAJA RAMMOHAN ROY (1772-1833) AND BRAHMO SAMAJ
- Father of Indian Renaissance and the maker of Modern India
- 1809: Wrote Gift to Monotheists and translated into Bengali the Vedas and the five Upanishads to prove his conviction that ancient Hindu texts support monotheism
- 1814: set up the Atmiya Sabha (or Society of Friends) in Calcutta
- He declared that Vedanta is based on reason and that, if reason demanded it, even a departure from the scriptures is justified.
- 1820: Precepts of Jesus: tried to separate the moral and philosophical message of the New Testament
- 1828: founded the Brahmo Sabha which opposed idolatry and caste system, discarded beliefs in incarnations and meaningless rituals.
- The long-term agenda of the Brahmo Samaj—to purify Hinduism and to preach monotheism—was based on thetwin pillars of reason and the Vedas and Upanishads.
- 1830: Roy’s progressive ideas met with strong opposition from orthodox elements like Raja Radhakant Deb who organized the Dharma Sabha to counter Brahmo Samaj propaganda.
RAJA RAMMOHAN ROY’S EFFORTS AT SOCIAL REFORM
- Roy attacked polygamy and the degraded state of widows and demanded the right of inheritance and property for women.
- He supported David Hare’s efforts who founded the Hindu College in 1817.
- 1825: he established a Vedanta college where courses in both Indian learning and Western social and physical sciences were offered.
- Rammohan was a gifted linguist Roy condemned oppressive practices of Bengali zamindars and demanded fixation of maximum rents.
- He also demanded abolition of taxes on tax free lands.
DEBENDRANATH TAGORE (1817-1905) AND BRAHMO SAMAJ
- 1842: Maharishi Debendranath, father of Rabindranath Tagore joined the Brahmo Samaj
- 1839: Founded the Tattvabodhini Sabha which along with itsorgan Tattvabodhini Patrika in Bengali, was devoted to the systematic study of India’s past with a rational outlook.
- He propagated Rammohan’s and Brahmo Samaj ideas whose following now included independent thinkers such as Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar and Ashwini Kumar Datta.
- Tagore opposed the Christian missionaries for their criticism of Hinduism and their attempts at conversion.
KESHAB CHANDRA SEN (1838-1884) AND THE BRAHMO SAMAJ
- 1858: made the acharya by Debendranath Tagore of Brahmo Samaj
- Under him, branches of the Samaj were opened outside Bengal—in the United Provinces, Punjab, Bombay, Madras and other towns.
- 1866: Keshab and his followers founded the Brahmo Samaj of India
- Debendranath Tagore’s Samaj came to be known as the Adi Brahmo Samaj.
- 1878: the followers of Keshab set up a new organisation, the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj under Ananda Mohan Bose, Shibchandra Deb and Umesh Chandra Datta.
- 1910: Dayal Singh College at Lahore opened by the Dayal Singh Trust to implant Brahmo ideas
- 1849: Maharashtra, the founders of the Paramahansa Mandali—Dadoba Pandurang, Mehtaji Durgaram and others—began as a secret society that worked to reform Hindu religion and society in general.
- The ideology of the society was closely linked to that of the Manav Dharma Sabha.
- 1867: Keshab Chandra Sen helped Atmaram Pandurang in founding the Prarthana Samaj in Bombay.
- A precursor of the Prarthana Samaj was the Paramahansa Sabha.
- Main Leaders: Mahadeo Govind Ranade, R.G. Bhandarkar, N.G. Chandavarkar, DK Karve, Vishnu Shastri Pandit
- The Prarthana Sabha was very attached to the bhakti cult of Maharashtra.
- There was a four-point social agenda also: (i) disapproval of caste system, (ii) women’s education, (iii) widow remarriage, and (iv) raising the age of marriage for both males and females.
YOUNG BENGAL MOVEMENT AND HENRY VIVIAN DEROZIO
- A young Anglo-Indian, Henry Vivian Derozio (1809-31), who taught at the Hindu College from 1826 to 1831, was the leader and inspirer of this progressive trend.
- The Derozians carried forward Rammohan Roy’s tradition of public education on social, economic and political questions.
- For instance, they demanded induction of Indians in higher grades of services, protection of ryots from oppressive zamindars, better treatment to Indian labour abroad inBritish colonies, revision of the Company’s charter, freedom of press and trial by jury.
ISHWAR CHANDRA VIDYASAGAR
- Vidyasagar’s ideas were a happy blend of Indian and Western thought.
- He believed in high moral values, was a deep humanist and was generous to the poor.
- Vidyasagar started a movement in support of widow remarriage which resulted in legalization of widow remarriage.
- He was also a crusader against child marriage and polygamy.
BALSHASTRI JAMBHEKAR (1812-1846)
- He was a pioneer of social reform in Bombay
- He attacked Brahminical orthodoxy and tried to reform popular Hinduism.
- 1832: He started the newspaper Darpan and is popularlyknown as the Father Of Marathi Journalism.
- 1840: started Digdarshan which published articles on scientific subjects as well as history.
- Jambhekar founded the Bombay Native General Library and started the Native Improvement Society.
- He was the first professor of Hindi at the Elphinston College, besides being a director of the Colaba Observatory.
SATYASHODHAK SAMAJ AND JYOTIBA OR JYOTIRAO PHULE
- Jyotiba Phule (1827-1890), organized a powerful movement against upper caste domination and Brahminical supremacy.
- 1873: Phule founded the Satyashodhak Samaj (TruthSeekers’ Society), with the leadership of the samaj coming from the backward classes
- Phule’s works, Sarvajanik Satyadharma and Gulamgiri,became sources of inspiration for the common masses.
- Phule was awarded the title ‘Mahatma’ for his social reform work.
GOPALHARI DESHMUKH ‘LOKAHITAWADI’ (1823-1892)
- Social reformer and rationalist from Maharashtra
- He wrote for a weekly Prabhakar under the pen name of Lokahitawadi on social reformissues.
- He started a weekly, Hitechhu, and alsoplayed a leading role in founding the periodicals, Gyan Prakash, Indu Prakash and Lokahitawadi.
GOPAL GANESH AGARKAR (1856-1895)
- Educationist and social reformer from Maharashtra.
- He was the first editor of Kesari, the journal started by LokmanyaTilak.
- Later, he started his own periodical, Sudharak, whichspoke against untouchability and the caste system.
GOPAL KRISHNA GOKHALE (1866-1915) AND THE SERVANTS OF INDIA SOCIETY
- 1905: Gokhale a liberal leader of the Indian National Congress, founded the Servants of India Society with the help of M.G. Ranade.
- Aim: to train national missionaries for the service of India; topromote, by all constitutional means, the true interests of the Indian people; and to prepare a cadre of selfless workers who were to devote their lives to the cause of the country in a religious spirit.
- 1911: Hitavada began to be published to project the views of the society.
- After Gokhale’s death (1915), Srinivasa Shastri took over as president
SOCIAL SERVICE LEAGUE, 1911
- Narayan Malhar Joshi founded the Social Service League in Bombay
- Aim: to secure for the masses better and reasonable conditionsof life and work.
- 1920: Joshi also founded the All India Trade Union Congress