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. Class 8 History Chapter 8 focuses on Women, Class and Reform and its history throughout the pre-independence and post-independence era in India. This blog bring you the summarized notes for Women Class and Reform Class 8 as well as important questions and answers.
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Table of contents
The first section of the Women Class and Reform Class 8 chapter 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.
Working Towards Change
Here is how new changes were brought forward in the pre-independence era to encourage women reforms as per the Women Class and Reform Class 8 chapter:
- Discussions and debates about social norms and traditions took on a different flavor. 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.
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Changing the Lives of Widows
As per the Women Class and Reform Class 8, Raja Rammohun Roy played a key role in shining the light of 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 Women, Class and Reform Class 8 chapter:
- 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 believed 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 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, Class and Reform Class 8 chapter mentions the following pointers about women writing in the 19th and 20th century:
- 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 centers, 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.
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Another section in the Women, Class and Reform Class 8 chapter focuses caste and social reforms in terms of women 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 labor. 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 of equality and justice rose. Check out the summary of this sub-section in Women, Class 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.
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 rising 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 laborers, 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 Women, Class and Reform Class 8 chapter 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, and 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.
Important Questions and Answers
Let’s recall what we have studied through these important questions on Women, Class Reform Class 8:
(a) Rammohun Roy
(b) Dayanand Saraswati
(c) Veerasalingam Pantulu
(d) Jyotirao Phule
(e) Pandita Ramabai
(g) Mumtaz Ali
(h) Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar
(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.
(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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We hope the information provided on Women Caste and Reform class 8 is helpful. Check out our Class 8 study notes on more such topics here! Stay tuned to Leverage Edu for more such informative reads, NCERT solutions and educational updates!