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Women Today

  • Most girls from middle-class families go to school, and often study with boys
  • They go to colleges and universities and take up jobs
  • They have to be adults before they are legally married
  • They can marry anyone they like, from any caste and community
  • Widows can remarry
  • All women, like all men, can vote and stand for elections
  • Women have a right to the family property

Even today these rights are not enjoyed by all. Poor people have little or no access to education, and in many families, women cannot choose their husbands.

Plight of the Poor

Apart from the different rights given to men and women in the olden days, people were also divided along caste lines.

  • 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.

Over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, many of these norms and perceptions slowly changed.

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