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Question 1

What was the plight of Indian women 200 years ago?

200 years ago most girl children in India were married off at an early age. In those days both Hindu and Muslim men could marry more than one wife. Widows were expected to jump into the funeral pyre of their husbands and perform ‘sati’. Women did not have any right to the family property and had no access to education

Question 2

Mention the caste system that was prevalent in those days in India.

Four main castes were prevalent in India in those days- Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Shudras.

Brahmans and Kshatriyas considered themselves as "upper castes". Traders and moneylenders were called Vaisyas. Peasants, weavers and potters were called Shudras.

At the lowest rung were people who laboured to keep cities and villages clean. They were treated as "untouchable". They were not allowed to enter temples, draw water from the wells used by the upper castes, or bathe in ponds where upper castes bathed. They were seen as inferior human beings.

Question 3

What were the reasons for the awareness among women?

Awareness was created among women and the society in general as people started reading more and more. People started reading books, newspapers, magazines, leaflets and pamphlets as they were much cheaper now. There were debates and discussions about social customs and practices which also helped in creating awareness among the women.

Question 4

Write about Raja Rammohun Roy and his reforms

Raja Rammohun Roy was a social reformer. He started the Brahmo Samaj in Calcutta.

Rammohun Roy strongly felt that unjust practices against women had to end. He also felt that there were many changes that were necessary for the Indian society to develop.

Rammohun Roy and members of his Samaj felt that the best way to ensure such changes was by persuading people to give up old practices and adopt a new way of life.

He wanted to spread the knowledge of Western education in the country and bring about greater freedom and equality for women.

He wrote about the way women were forced to bear the burden of domestic work, confined to the home and the kitchen, and not allowed to move out and become educated.

Rammohun Roy was well versed in Sanskrit, Persian and several other Indian and European languages. Roy pointed out to the people that ‘sati’ was not practiced during the olden days. Through his writings he condemned the practice of ‘sati’. As the British were also opposed to the practice of ‘sati’ they supported Roy and a law was passed banning ‘sati’ in the year 1829.

Question 5

Who was Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar?

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was a Bengali scholar and a pillar of the Bengal Renaissance. He was an academic, philosopher, educator, printer, entrepreneur, writer, translator, reformer and philanthropist. His efforts to simplify and modernize Bangla prose were significant. He also rationalised and simplified the Bengali alphabet.

Question 6

What were the changes that could be seen as women became actively involved in reforms?

The whole scenario changed as women became actively involved in reforms. They wrote books and started schools. They started training centres, and set up women’s associations. Women formed political pressure groups to push through laws for the right for females to vote. They fought for better health care and education for women. They joined various nationalist and socialist movements from the 1920s.

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