Renaissance in Europe and Development of Science
India and European Colonialism
Colonialism and the Marathas
India: Social and Religious Reforms
Indian Struggle Against Colonialism
Decolonisation to Political Integration of India
World Wars and India
World : Decolonisation
India Transformed - Part 1
India Transformed - Part 2
Contribution of Social Reformers:
1. Sir Sayyad Ahmad Khan:
He was born in 1817 in Delhi. He was fluent in Urdu, Persian, Arabic and English. He had edited ‘Ain-i-Akbari’, a book about Emperor Akbar’s administration, written by Abu’l Fazl. He established ‘Scientific Society’ for Muslims. Members of this society were scholars of History, Science and Political Economy. In 1869, he went to England. After returning from England he founded ‘Mohammadan Anglo-Oriental College’ in 1875. Later it developed into ‘Aligarh Muslim University’. He started a periodical entitled, ‘Mohammadan Social Reformer’. He worked for the propagation of modern education, science and technology.
2. Tarabai Shinde:
She was born in 1839. She wrote an essay comparing the situation of women and men. In this essay, she wrote about women’s rights. She expressed her thought in a very upfront manner. She did not just stop at discussing about reforms like widow remarriage, women’s education, the abolition of Sati but proceeded to demand gender equality. Considering the time frame of her essay, it was indeed, very brave step. She was the first Indian woman to challenge the patriarchal system. She opined that religious systems suppress women because religions are created by men. Mahatma Phule justified her thoughts by giving resolute answers to her critics.
3. Maharshi Vitthal Ramji Shinde:
He opened Marathi schools and schools for technical training in Paral, Deonar in Mumbai, under the umbrella of ‘Depressed Classes Mission’ that was established by him. He worked to create public awareness about the issues affecting the depressed classes, as an entry in temples, (for example, protestations for the right of entry in the Parvati temple in Pune) Agricultural conference and joint electorate system of depressed classes.
4. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar:
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar had determined to work for creating a society based on the principles of ‘Freedom, Equality and Fraternity’. He began a movement for fighting the caste system and bringing equality. He gave a message from the platform of ‘Bahishkrut Hitkarini Sabha’, “Educate yourself, get united and fight”. This movement led to the ‘Satyagraha of Chavadar Tank’ at Mahad. He asserted that the public water bodies should be open to all. He burnt Manusmruti, the book that was the source of social inequality in India. In 1930, he launched a Satyagraha to open the ‘Kala Ram Temple’ in Nasik for all. Karmaveer Dadasaheb Gaikwad headed this Satyagraha.
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar knew the importance of print media. For him, it was the best instrument for creating public awareness and to build the movement for social equality. He began to publish his own newspapers, namely, ‘Mooknayak’, ‘Bahishkrut Bharat’, ‘Janata’ and ‘Samata’. He formed, ‘Independent Labour Party’ for the good future of the working class. Later he formed ‘Scheduled Caste Federation’ to continue the work of shaping a society based on equality. In 1956, along with his numerous followers, he got initiated to Buddhism. Among his contributions, the most important is the drafting of the ‘Constitution of India’.
5. Ramaswamy Naikar:
He was born in ‘Erode’, a city in Tamilnadu in 1879. He began his work in 1920 as a member of the Congress. He became a follower of Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy and worked for propagating the use of ‘Swadeshi’ and for the right of temple entry to all. He participated in the ‘Vykom Satyagraha’ in Tranvancore, against untouchability. He started ‘Swabhiman Andolan’ in Tamilnadu. He fought against the varna system and child marriage. People began to address him as ‘Periyar’ (Great Soul) because of his magnanimous work. He was a great speaker and author. He took a radical position on issues like women’s rights and family planning.
6. Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay:
Kamaladevi was an active volunteer of Congress. Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay (3 April 1903 – 29 October 1988) was an Indian social reformer and freedom activist. She was most remembered for her contribution to the Indian independence movement; for being the driving force behind the renaissance of Indian handicrafts, handlooms, and theatre in independent India; and for the upliftment of the socio-economic standard of Indian women by pioneering the co-operation.
Several cultural institutions in India today exist because of her vision, including the National School of Drama, Sangeet Natak Akademi, Central Cottage Industries Emporium, and the Crafts Council of India. She stressed the significant role which handicrafts and cooperative grassroots movements play in the social and economic upliftment of the Indian people. To this end, she withstood great opposition both before and after independence from the power centres.
In 1974, she was awarded the Sangeet Natak Academy Fellowship, the highest honour conferred by the Sangeet Natak Academy, India's National Academy of Music, Dance & Drama. She was conferred with Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan by Government of India in 1955 and 1987 respectively.
She convinced Mahatma Gandhi to let women participate in the salt satyagraha. She herself participated in the satyagraha. She worked for women’s rights throughout her life. She organised demonstrations to draw attention to the problems of workers and farmers. She emphasised on justice to female agricultural labourers. Similarly, she also insisted that women working in factories should have the necessary facilities. She consistently followed up the issue of maternity leave to women. She was imprisoned for one year by the British for participating in the ‘Quit India’ movement.
Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar CIE (26 September 1820 – 29 July 1891) born Ishwar Chandra Bandyopadhyay, was an Indian educator and social reformer. His efforts to simplify and modernise Bengali prose were significant. He also rationalised and simplified the Bengali alphabet and type, which had remained unchanged since Charles Wilkins and Panchanan Karmakar had cut the first (wooden) Bengali type in 1780. He is considered the "father of Bengali prose". He was the most prominent campaigner for Hindu widow remarriage and petitioned the Legislative council despite severe opposition and a counter-petition against the proposal with nearly four times more signatures by Radhakanta Deb and the Dharma Sabha. But Lord Dalhousie personally finalised the bill despite the opposition and it being considered a flagrant breach of Hindu customs as prevalent then and the Hindu Widows' Remarriage Act, 1856 was passed.
- Veeresalingam Pantulu (16 April 1848 – 27 May 1919) was a social reformer and writer of Madras Presidency, British India. He is considered as the father of the renaissance movement in Telugu. He was one of the early social reformers who encouraged women's education, remarriage of widows which was not supported by society during his time, and fought against the dowry system. He also started a school in Dowlaiswaram in 1874. He constructed a temple known as 'Brahmo Mandir' in 1887 and the 'Hithakarini School' in 1908 in Andhra Pradesh. His novel Rajasekhara Charitramu is considered to be the first novel in Telugu literature. He is often considered as Raja Rammohan Roy of Andhra. He was also known by the title Gadya Tikkana, meaning 'Tikkana of Prose'.