1. What social ideas did the following people support.
Rammohun Roy – Banned practice of Sati
Dayanand Saraswati – Widow Remarriage
Veerasalingam Pantulu – Widow remarriage
Jyotirao Phule – Equality amongst all castes
Pandita Ramabai – Women’s education and Widow Remarriage
Periyar – Equality amongst all castes
Mumtaz Ali – Women’s education
Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar – Women’s education and Widow remarriage
2. State whether true or false:
(a) When the British captured Bengal they framed many new laws to regulate the rules regarding marriage, adoption, the inheritance of property, etc.- TRUE
(b) Social reformers had to discard the ancient texts in order to argue for reform in social practices.- FALSE
(c) Reformers got full support from all sections of the people of the country.- FALSE
(d) The Child Marriage Restraint Act was passed in1829.- FALSE
3. How did the knowledge of ancient texts help the reformers promote new laws?
Rammohun Roy was well versed in Sanskrit, Persian and several other Indian and European languages. He
tried to show through his writings that the practice of widow burning had no sanction in ancient texts.
The strategy adopted by Rammohun was used by later reformers as well. Whenever they wished to challenge a practice that seemed harmful, they tried to find a verse or sentence in the ancient sacred texts that supported their point of view. They then suggested that the practise as it existed at present was against early tradition.
4. What were the different reasons people had for not sending girls to school?
Vidyasagar in Calcutta and many other reformers in Bombay set up schools for girls. When the first schools were opened in the mid-nineteenth century, many people were afraid of them. They feared that schools would take girls away from home, prevent them from doing their domestic duties. Moreover, girls had to travel through public places in order to reach school. Many people felt that this would have a corrupting influence on them. They felt that girls should stay away from public spaces.
5. Why were Christian missionaries attacked by many people in the country? Would some people have supported them too? If so, for what reasons?
Christian missionaries had set up schools for the schools for tribal groups and lower caste children. Caste-based discrimination was not followed in the schools run by these missionaries. Children studying in the schools set up the missionaries were equipped with some resources which could make the tribal children capable of facing the changing world, and thus these people supported missionaries. While on other hand, the upper caste of the people who looked down on the lower caste did not like the progress of these tribal people, they believed that this will ruin their customs and social practices and thus these people were against the missionaries.
6. In the British period, what new opportunities opened up for people who came from castes that were regarded as “low”?
In the British period, the expansion of cities happened which created a new demand for labour. The poor from the villages and small towns started moving to the cities for taking new jobs. They also worked in the building of roads, digging of drains etc as new offices and places were coming up. They worked in municipal corporations as sweepers and sewage cleaners. Some also went to work in plantations in Assam, Mauritius, Trinidad and Indonesia.
Some of them also found opportunities in the army, eg the Mahars. In spite of the fact that working in new locations was often hard, the poor took this as an opportunity for them to get away from the hold of the upper-caste landowners.
7. How did Jyotirao, the reformers justify their criticism of caste inequality in society?
One of the most vocal amongst the “low-caste” leaders was Jyotirao Phule, he developed his own ideas about the injustices of caste society. He set out to attack the Brahmans’ claim that they were superior to others since they were Aryans. Phule argued that the Aryans were foreigners, who came from outside the subcontinent, and defeated and subjugated the true children of the country – those who had lived here from before the coming of the Aryans. As the Aryans established their dominance, they began looking at the defeated population as inferior, as low-caste people.
According to Phule, the “upper” castes had no right to their land and power: in reality, the land belonged to indigenous people, the so-called low castes.
8. Why did Phule dedicate his book Gulamgiri to the American movement to free slaves?
In 1873, Phule wrote a book named Gulamgiri, meaning slavery. Some ten years before this, the American Civil War had been fought, leading to the end of slavery in America. Thus establishing a link between the conditions of the “lower” castes in India and the black slaves in America, he dedicated his book to all those Americans who had fought to free slaves.
9. What did Ambedkar want to achieve through the temple entry movement?
In 1927, Ambedkar started a temple entry movement, in which his Mahar caste followers participated. Brahman priests were outraged when the Dalits used water from the temple tank. His aim was to make everyone see the
power of caste prejudices within society
10. Why were Jyoti Rao Phule and Ramaswamy Naicker critical of the national movement? Did their criticism help the national struggle in any way?
Jyoti Rao Phule and Ramaswamy Naicker both were critical of the national movement because they thought that there were no differences between anti-colonialists and the colonialists. Both, according to them, were outsiders and had subjugated and oppressed the indigenous people.
Phule was always against the upper caste people as he called them the outsiders, he believed that the upper-caste people were involved in the nationalist movement against the British so that they could again use their power and oppress the people belonging to lower castes, once the Britishers would leave.
Ramaswamy Naicker was a part of Congress party and his experiences led him to realise that the party was not free from the evil of casteism. When a feast was organised by the nationalists within the party, different seating arrangements were made for the people of upper and lower castes. This made Naicker believe that the lower castes have to fight their own battle.
Their criticism helped in shaping the opinion of nationalist leaders. Reformists started restructuring their thoughts to get rid of the caste inequalities. Thus, the national struggle became the tool to eradicate the differences related to castes, religions and gender.