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Caste and Social Reform

Apart from demanding equal right for women and social reformers also fought against the caste system that was prevalent in India during the early twentieth century.
  • The Prarthana Samaj adhered to the tradition of Bhakti that believed in spiritual equality of all castes.

  • Paramhans Mandali was founded in 1840, in Bombay, to work for the abolition of castes.

  • Many of these reformers were people of upper castes.

In the nineteenth century, Christian missionaries started setting up schools for tribal groups and "lower"-caste children. These children were trained to find a footing in the changing world. Soon the poor left the villages and started looking for jobs in the cities.

There were plenty of jobs in the cities. Drains had to be dug, roads laid, buildings constructed, and cities cleaned. This required coolies, diggers, carriers, bricklayers, sewage cleaners, sweepers, palanquin bearers and rickshaw pullers. Many started working in plantations in India. Some of them even went to far off countries like Mauritius, Trinidad and Indonesia.

The poor were happy to leave their villages and find work elsewhere. They were happy to escape from the oppression and humiliation they suffered from the upper-caste landlords.

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