NCERT Class 8 History Chapter 7 Women, Caste, and Reform: Notes, Solutions, Free PDF

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NCERT Class 8 History Chapter 7

In today’s modern world, girls attend school and study alongside boys. In addition, in today’s world, girls have equal rights to study, the right to marry even when the partner is from a different caste, widows can marry again, girls have the right to choose the state representative, and many more equal rights. NCERT Class 8 History Chapter 7 focuses on Women, Caste and Reform and its history throughout the pre-independence and post-independence eras in India. This blog brings you the summarised notes, NCERT solutions and PDF for this Class 8 History chapter.

Download NCERT Solutions to Class 8 History Chapter 7 Women, Caste, and Reform (Free PDF)

Also Read: How When and Where Class 8

Overview of NCERT Class 8 History Chapter 7: Women, Caste, and Reform

The first section of the Women, Caste and Reform Class 8 History Chapter 7 talks about how women’s rights were very different two hundred years ago. Many children were marrying at a young age. Women were required to practice Sati in some regions of the region. Women’s property rights were also restricted, and there was no access to education. Brahmans and Kshatriyas were regarded as the “higher castes.” Others, such as merchants and moneylenders (also known as Vaishyas), were assigned after them. Then came peasants and artisans such as Shudras, such as weavers and potters. Finally, those on the lowest rung worked to keep cities and villages safe or for upper castes. These classes were regarded as “untouchable” by the upper castes.

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Working Towards Change

Here is how new changes were brought forward in the pre-independence era to encourage women’s reforms as per the NCERT Class 8 Chapter 7 Women, Caste and Reform:

  • Discussions and debates about social norms and traditions took on a different flavour. The emergence of new means of communication such as books, journals, magazines, leaflets, and pamphlets was a significant factor. 
  • In the new cities, men and women might debate and address a wide range of topics, including social, political, fiscal, and religious ones.
  • In Calcutta, Raja Rammohun Roy (1772-1833) founded the Brahmo Sabha (later known as the Brahmo Samaj). 
  • Rammohun Roy believed that society needed to improve and that unfair policy needed to be eliminated. In addition, his scriptures sanctified this was eager to expand Western education awareness across the world and achieve greater rights and equality for women.

Check Out: Women Empowerment Speech

Changing the Lives of Widows

As per the Class 8 History Chapter 7, Raja Rammohun Roy played a key role in shining the light on the situation of widows in India. Let’s take a look at how widow remarriage was encouraged and Sati was abolished:

  • Rammohun Roy initiated a movement to end the tradition of sati. Via his letters, he attempted to demonstrate that the ritual of widow burning was not sanctioned in ancient documents. 
  • Sati was outlawed in 1829. Later reformers used Rammohun’s tactic to challenge a negative trend by looking for a verse or clause in ancient holy scriptures that shared their perspective.
  • Via ancient texts, Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar proposed that widows might remarry. Legislation allowing widow remarriage was passed in 1856. 
  • By the second half of the nineteenth century, the widow remarriage trend had expanded to other areas of the world. Swami Dayanand Saraswati founded the Arya Samaj to encourage widow remarriage.

Girls Began Going to School

Back in the 19th century, there were many initiatives taken for girl education. Here is the summary of this section of the NCERT Class 8 History Chapter 7 Women, Caste and Reform:

  • Education for girls was needed to improve their situation. The first schools were founded in the mid-nineteenth century. Many people worried that schools would take girls away from their homes and discourage them from doing domestic duties. 
  • Many people believe that girls should avoid public places. As a result, the majority of educated women were trained at home by liberal fathers or husbands.
  • Arya Samaj established schools for girls in Punjab in the late nineteenth century, and Jyotirao Phule established schools in Maharashtra. 
  • People in upper-class Muslim households learned to read the Koran in Arabic from women who came home to study. Then, beginning in the late nineteenth century, the first Urdu novels were published.

Women Writing about Women

While many women were way behind in getting the education needed to become independent and literate, there were many women writers mainly from the upper strata of society which became the voice of other oppressed women. Women, Caste and Reform Class 8 chapter mentions the following pointers about women writing in the 19th and 20th centuries:

  • Begums of Bhopal were influential in promoting women’s education in the early twentieth century. In Aligarh, they founded a primary school for girls. In addition, Begum Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain founded Muslim girls’ schools in Patna and Calcutta. 
  • By the 1880s, Indian women began attending colleges, where they were educated to be physicians and teachers. Pandita Ramabai wrote a book about the miserable lives of upper-caste Hindu women.
  • Hindu nationalists believed that Hindu women followed Western ways, polluting Hindu society and weakening family values. 
  • However, women had written books, edited magazines, founded schools and training centres, and established women’s organizations by the end of the nineteenth century. They also formed political organizations to advocate for female suffrage (the right to vote) and equal health care and education for women. 
  • In the twentieth century, Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhas Chandra Bose supported women’s demands for greater autonomy and rights.

Must Read: When People Rebel Class 8

Caste and Social Reform

Another section in the Women, Caste and Reform NCERT Class 8 History Chapter 7 focuses on caste and social reforms in terms of women’s reforms, here is the summary of this section.

  • The Prarthana Samaj followed the Bhakti tradition, which held that all castes were morally equal. On the other hand, the Paramhans Mandali, which was established in Bombay in 1840, worked for caste abolition.
  •  During the nineteenth century, Christian missionaries started to provide schools for tribal children and “lower” caste children.
  • All at the same, the poor from villages and small towns, as well as people from lower castes, started to migrate to cities, where there was a new demand for labour. Some went to plantations in Assam, Mauritius, Trinidad, and Indonesia. 
  • It was an opportunity for the poor and citizens from lower castes to break the oppressive hold upper-caste landlords had on their lives, as well as the constant humiliation they faced.

Demands for Equality and Justice

As more and more reformers got inclined towards highlighting issues faced by lower castes, the demands for equality and justice rose. Check out the summary of this sub-section in the Women, Caste and Reform Class 8 chapter:

  • Non-Brahman castes began organizing protests against caste injustice and demanded social equality and justice by the second half of the nineteenth century.
  • Ghasidas founded the Satnami movement after working as a leatherworker and organizing a campaign and to boost their social standing. 
  • Haridas Thakur challenged Brahmanical texts that supported the caste system in eastern Bengal. Shri Narayana Guru taught the principles of peace to his people. He spoke against treating people unequally based on their caste.

Gulamgiri

As the caste system was at its highest during this time in India, many reformers also raised their voice against Gulamgiri or slavery prevalent in upper castes. Jyotirao Phule, the famous Indian reformer wrote a book on this topic and talked about the prevalence of slavery in India. Let’s know more about the impact of Gulamgiri in raising the voice of lower castes in India:

  • Jyotirao Phule was born in 1827 and formed his theories about caste society’s injustices. According to Phule, the upper castes had no claim to their land and influence.
  • He claimed that previous to Aryan rule, there was a golden age in which warrior-peasants tilled the land and equally governed the Maratha countryside. 
  • He suggested that Shudras and Ati Shudras band together to fight caste discrimination. Phule formed the Satyashodhak Samaj to promote caste equality.
  • In 1873, Phule published Gulamgiri, which translates as “slavery.” Ten years before, the American Civil War resulted in the abolition of slavery in the United States. 
  • He devoted his book to all the Americans who struggled for the abolition of slavery. Phule was worried about upper-caste women’s condition, the plight of labourers, and the humiliation of the lower castes.

Who could enter temples?

A key aspect of the rules defined for lower castes was that they weren’t allowed to enter the temple or drink from the same temple tank as the Brahmins. B.R. Ambedkar organised many temple entry campaigns to encourage the lower castes to stand up for the inequality against them.

  • In 1927, Ambedkar initiated a temple entry campaign, which was backed by the Mahar caste. When the Dalits drank from the temple tank, the Brahman priests became offended. 
  • Between 1927 and 1935, Ambedkar led three such temple entry campaigns. He aimed to show everybody the strength of caste biases in society.

The Non-Brahman Movement

Another important section in the Women, Caste and Reform NCERT Class 8 History Chapter 7 is on the Non-Brahman Movement. Check out the summary of this pivotal anti-cast movement:

  • The non-Brahman movement was started by non-Brahman castes who had gained access to education, money, and power. 
  • They said that Brahmans were the descendants of Aryan immigrants from the north who had taken southern lands from the region’s initial people, the indigenous Dravidian races.
  • E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker, or Periyar, entered Congress but left when he discovered that lower castes were forced to sit apart from upper castes. So, Periyar founded the Self-Respect Movement, arguing that untouchables were the rightful defenders of a pre-Brahman Tamil and Dravidian civilization that Brahmans had subjugated.
  • Periyar was an outspoken critic of Hindu scriptures, especially the Codes of Manu, the ancient lawgiver, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Ramayana. These texts, he said, were used to define the authority of Brahmans over lower castes and the dominance of men over women.
  • These claims were questioned, leading to some rethinking and self-criticism among upper-caste nationalist politicians. However, orthodox Hindu society responded by establishing Sanatan Dharma Sabhas and the Bharat Dharma Mahamandal in the north and organizations such as the Brahman Sabha in Bengal. 
  • The objective of these associations was to uphold caste distinctions as a cornerstone of Hinduism and show how this was sanctified by scriptures.

NCERT Solutions Class 8 History Chapter 7: Women, Caste, and Reform

In this part of NCERT Class 8 History Chapter 7 notes, our subject experts have provided answers to questions mentioned under the Let’s Recall and Let’s Discuss sections following the chapter. 

Let’s Recall

Ques 1. What social ideas did the following people support?

a. Rammohan Roy

b. Dayanand Swami

c. Veerasalingam Pantulu

d. Jyotirao Phule

e. Pandita Ramabai

f. Periyar

g. Mumtaz Ali

h. Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar

Ans:

a. Rammohan Roy Abolition of Sati and Women Education
b. Dayanand Swami Widow remarriage 
c. Veerasalingam Pantulu Widow remarriage 
d. Jyotirao Phule Annihilation of caste and Women education
e. Pandita Ramabai Women’s rights, freedom and education
f. Periyar Equality for untouchables and oppressed class
g. Mumtaz Ali Women empowerment
h. Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar Widow remarriage 

Ques 2. Which of the following are True or False:

a. When the British captured Bengal, they framed many new laws to regulate the rules regarding marriage, adoption, inheritance of property, etc.

b. Social reformers had to discard the ancient texts in order to argue for reform in social practices.

c. Reformers got full support from all sections of the people of the country.

d. The Child Marriage Restraint Act was passed in 1829.

Ans:

a. True

b. False

c. False

d. False

Let’s Discuss

Ques 3. How did the knowledge of ancient texts help the reformers promote new laws?

Ans: Ram Mohan Roy possessed a deep knowledge of Sanskrit, Persian, and various Indian and European languages. He made efforts in his writings to demonstrate that the ancient texts did not endorse the practice of widow burning. This approach, used by Ram Mohan Roy, served as a model for later reformers. When these reformers sought to question harmful practices, they would search for specific verses or statements in ancient sacred texts that aligned with their beliefs. They would then argue that the contemporary practice contradicted the traditions of the past. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, for example, also utilized ancient texts to argue in favour of allowing widows to remarry.

Ques 4. What were the different reasons people had for not sending girls to school?

Ans: In the past, people in India did not send girls to school because of the following reasons:

  • They were afraid that schools might take their girl child away from home.
  • Also, parents feared that girls would not perform their household chores if they went to school.
  • In addition, society thought that girls should stay inside and movement outside their homes would corrupt them. 

Ques 5. Why were Christian missionaries attacked by many people in the country? Would some people have supported them too? If so, for what reasons?

Ans: Christian missionaries faced hostility from the local population due to their involvement in religious conversions of impoverished and tribal individuals, essentially converting Hindus into Christians. These missionaries also established educational institutions for underprivileged and tribal children. However, a significant portion of society that held a disdainful view of these marginalized groups opposed the idea of providing education to tribal individuals. Consequently, this led to attacks on Christian missionaries.

Ques 6. In the British period, what new opportunities opened up for people who came from castes that were regarded as “low”?

Ans: Individuals from impoverished rural areas and small towns, including many from oppressed caste backgrounds, started migrating to urban centres where there was a growing need for labour. Some also chose to work on plantations in regions like Assam, Mauritius, Trinidad, and Indonesia. For the poor and those belonging to lower castes, this migration represented a chance to escape the oppressive control imposed on their lives by oppressor-caste landowners and the daily humiliations they endured.

Ques 7. How did Jyotirao, and other reformer justify their criticism of caste inequality in society?

Ans: Jyotirao Phule, a staunch advocate for the eradication of caste-based inequality, held the belief that the upper castes, whom he referred to as ‘Aryans,’ were not the indigenous inhabitants of their territories. He expressed his views by explaining to people that the land had historically belonged to the oppressor-caste communities and that the Aryans were outsiders. Phule envisioned a future golden age where oppressor-caste individuals would live in harmony without the interference of the upper castes.

Ques 8. Why did Phule dedicate his book Gulamgiri to the American movement to free slaves?

Ans: In 1873, Jyotirao Phule authored his book titled ‘Gulamgiri,’ which translates to ‘Slavery.’ During the years 1861 to 1865, the American Civil War took place. This conflict primarily arose from the enduring dispute over the enslavement of Black people. Phule dedicated his book to all those Americans who had fought to emancipate slaves, thereby drawing a parallel between the plight of the “lower” castes in India and the Black slaves in America.

Ques 9. What did Ambedkar want to achieve through the temple entry movement?

Ans: In 1927, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar initiated a temple entry movement in which his followers from the Mahar caste took part. This movement provoked anger among Brahman priests when Dalits, or people from lower castes, used water from the temple tank. Dr. Ambedkar’s objective was to highlight and challenge the pervasive influence of caste-based prejudices within society.

Ques 10. Why were Jyotirao Phule and Ramaswamy Naicker critical of the national movement? Did their criticism help the national struggle in any way?

Ans: Jyotirao Phule and Ramaswamy Naicker were both critical of the Indian national movement because they believed that it did not adequately address the issues of caste discrimination and inequality. They saw little difference between the anti-colonialists and colonialists in terms of their stance on caste-related issues.

Phule, for instance, was suspicious of upper-caste individuals who sought to fight against British colonial rule, as he believed that they were motivated by a desire to replace British rule with their own dominance. He consistently criticized upper-caste individuals, whom he referred to as “outsiders.”

Ramaswamy Naicker, on the other hand, was associated with the Congress party but became disillusioned by its failure to address caste-based discrimination effectively. This led him to be hesitant about participating in an anti-British national movement that did not prioritize creating a casteless society.

Their criticisms played a crucial role in shaping the national struggle. Reformists began reevaluating their positions and worked toward reducing the caste-based divisions within society. The national movement gradually transformed into a means to combat caste disparities and promote social, religious, and gender equality.

FAQs

What social ideas did the following people support?

(a) Rammohun Roy supported the ban of the practice of sati.
(b) Dayanand Saraswati supported widow remarriage.
(c) Veerasalingam Pantulu also supported widow remarriage.
(d) Jyotirao Phule supported equality amongst all castes.
(e) Pandita Ramabai supported women’s education and remarriage of the widows.
(e) Periyar supported equality amongst all castes.
(f) Mumtaz Ali supported women’s education.
(g) Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar supported women’s education and remarriage of the widows.

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.
(b) Social reformers had to discard the ancient texts in order to argue for reform in social practices.
(c) Reformers got full support from all sections of the people of the country.
(d) The Child Marriage Restraint Act was passed in 1829.

(a) True
(b) False, In fact, the Social reformers used the ancient texts to justify their point of view.
(c) False, Reformers were opposed by the orthodox Hindus and Muslims.
(d) False, The Child Marriage Restraint Act was passed in 1929.

How did the knowledge of ancient texts help the reformers promote new laws?

The reformers used ancient texts to convince voters that such social evils, such as widow burning, caste divisions, child marriage, and so on, needed to be abolished. They felt that if they used ancient religious texts to support their beliefs, it would undoubtedly have an effect on people’s minds. As a result, they used quotes from ancient texts to support their claims.

What were the different reasons people had for not sending girls to school?

The following were some of the reasons given by people for not sending girls to school:
-They were concerned that schools would take girls away from their homes to discourage them from doing domestic duties.
-Girls had to ride across public areas to get to school. People became concerned that this would have a corrupting effect on them.
-They felt that girls should avoid public places.

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 established schools for tribal children and lower caste children. Discrimination based on caste was not practiced in the missionaries’ schools. Children attending these schools were given tools to help them navigate a changing environment. Soon after, the poor began to leave the villages in search of work in the towns. 
However, the majority of people who looked down on the lower caste were not pleased with the success of these tribal people. As a result, they were mostly targeted by the country’s orthodox or conservative people.
Christian missionaries may have received help from social reformers for their efforts against social evils.

In the British period, what new opportunities opened up for people who came from castes that were regarded as “low”?

Following that, new opportunities arose for people from low-caste backgrounds:
-The expansion of cities during the British era provided a new market for labor.
-The poor from villages and small towns began to migrate to cities in search of new employment.
-They worked as sweepers and sewer cleaners in municipal corporations.
-They also helped with road construction, drain digging, and other tasks. Some went to plantations in Assam, Mauritius, Trinidad, and Indonesia.
-They also found jobs in the army.
-Though working in new places was always tricky, the poor saw this as an opportunity to break free from the upper-caste landowners’ grip.

How did Jyotirao, the reformer, justify his criticism of caste inequality in society?

Jyotirao Phule developed his theories about caste society’s injustices. He challenged the Brahmans’ argument to be superior to others because they were Aryans. He argued that the Aryans were foreigners who conquered and enslaved the true children of the nation who had lived here prior to the Aryans’ arrival. He stated that the upper caste had no claim to their land or control. The land belonged to the low caste people who were the land’s original settlers.

Why did Phule dedicate his book Gulamgiri to the American movement to free slaves?

The Civil Rights Movement in America contributed to the abolition of slavery and racial discrimination in the world. Jyotirao Phule devoted his novel ‘Gulamgiri,’ which means slavery, to the American slave-freedom struggle. He saw parallels between the plight of lower castes in India and the plight of black slaves in America.

What did Ambedkar want to achieve through the temple entry movement?

The Dalits were forbidden from entering the majority of temples. However, when the Dalits drank from the temple tank, the Brahman priests became shocked. So in 1927, Ambedkar launched the temple entry campaign, in which people from lower castes joined temples and drew and used water from temple wells. Ambedkar hoped that through this campaign, Dalits would recover their self-esteem.

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 also criticized the national revolution, believing that there were no distinctions between anti-colonialists and colonialists. Both, they said, were foreigners who used force to conquer and exploit the native population.
Phule believed that the upper castes were active in the nationalist movement against the British to re-establish their dominance and dominate the lower castes after the Britishers left. However, Phule was still anti-upper caste voters, whom he referred to as “outsiders.”
Ramaswamy Naicker was a member of the Congress Party, and his experiences taught him that the party was not free of the evil of casteism. For example, as the party’s nationalists organized a feast, separate seating arrangements were made for people from the upper and lower castes. This convinced Naicker that the lower castes must fight their war.
Their criticism influenced the views of nationalist politicians. As a result, reformists began to restructure their thinking to eliminate caste inequality. As a result, the national struggle became a vehicle for eradicating caste, religious, and gender distinctions.

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