Social and Cultural Developments

Validity: 9 Months
What you will get
Course Highlights
  • Based on latest Pattern
  • English Medium eBooks
Click to Bookmark
EN हिंदी

Social and Cultural Developments

Q1. Examine the forces at work for the introduction of western education in India. Analyse the thrust given to it by the Christian Missionaries. (2019) 

Ans. As the British became the paramount power in India, the Company assumed the responsibility of promoting education with the Charter Act of 1813  mandating an annual grant of 1,00,000 Rupees for the native education. However, this was the outcome of several ideological currents in Britain. 

  • Free Traders in Britain wanted India to serve as a supplier of raw material and consumer of British goods. Therefore, it was considered necessary to impart western education to Indians, so they could acquire a taste for British goods. 
  • The Evangelicals in Britain considered the conquest of India to be a sin but still, it had become important to educate the masses as a part of Britain's civilizing mission and spread the word of Christ through proselytizing activities of the missionaries. 
  • Another ideological current was Utilitarianism which favored the introduction of western education in India so that the Indians could occupy subordinate positions in the administration and lower the cost of governing India. 
  • However, although the Charter Act of 1813 mandated a grant for promoting education, the subject of learning remained disputed, giving rise to the AnglicistOrientalist controversy. It was only after the Macaulay's Minute of 1835 that the dispute was settled in favour of western education through the English medium. 
  • The entry of Christian Missionaries in India after the Charter Act of 1813 gave a further push to western education, especially when the Anglicist- Orientalist controversy was going on. For the missionaries, western education was crucial in weaning away the natives from their traditional beliefs and accepting Christianity. 
  • Apart from proselytizing, the missionaries also gave a boost to women's education at a time when neither the government-nor the Indian society were in favour of it. 

Thus, the Christian Missionaries made a crucial contribution in spreading western education across India, especially in the remote and isolated areas.

Q2. What was the significance of Orientalist-Anglicist controversy in nineteenth century India? Analyse. (2018) 

Ans. The Orientalist- Anglicist controversy arose from a provision of Charter Act of 1813, which directed the Company to sanction Rs.1 lakh annum for encouraging learned natives, revival of literature and promotion of knowledge of sciences in India.

                 However, this provision did not specify what was to be the medium of instruction, along with the debate over the introduction of western education in India. 

Significance of Orientalist - Anglicist controversy : 

  • This controversy signified the struggle of contesting ideologies within the imperial structure. 
  • The Orientalists, who dominated the early part of Colonial rule, believed that it was necessary to understand and respect native traditions and customs in order to continue to rule over them. Thus, they advocated minimum interference within the native society and using the funds for promoting native education through Madrasas and Pathshalas. 
  • On the other hand, Anglicists believed that the objective of British rule was to civilize India and introduce modern institutions, which required western education to be the instrument for this.
  • Hence, they wished to direct the Company's resources solely for the purpose of western education. 
  • The General Committee on Public Instruction became the field for this debate and its course depended on ideological affiliations of its members. 
  • The debate was settled in the favour of Anglicists with the arrival of·William Bentinck in 1828 as the Governor-General and Lord Macaulay as the law member. 
  • Macaulay's Minute (1835) reflected their contempt for oriental learning and advocated western education in the English medium, for not only modernizing India but also for creating a class of Indians loyal to the British. 

This controversy thus signifies the contest between various ideologies to emerge as a dominant influence on British policies and victory of Anglicists marked the shift towards Paternalism and Victorian Imperialism as a dominant influence on British India. 

Q3. Assess the role of the press in arousing awareness on important social issues in the second half of the nineteenth century. (2017) 

Ans. Western education and development of the press are considered two of the most important British contributions which allowed social issues to be discussed broadly. 

Role of Press :

  • Press became an instrument for the social workers in disseminating western ideas, indigenous demands and also pressurizing the government in dealing with them. 
  • Gopalhari Deshmukh's periodicals like Hitechchu, Indu Prakash and works of Phule (Gulamgiri), G. G. Agarkar (Sudharak), Balshastri Jambhekar (Darpan), etc played a crucial part in the movements for caste equality, women education and upliftment of Indian society. 
  • Similarly, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan's Aligarh Movement, which emphasized reforms within the Islamic society, propagated his ideas through Tahdhib -ul- Akhlaq. 
  • Apart from the socio-religious issues, class issues of the working class were also voiced through the press and allowed individuals like GM Lokhande to lay a strong foundation for the future labour movements.
  • The success of the press in creating public awareness lies in its ability to transcend regional and linguistic barriers for the flow of ideas. 
  • By the end of the 19th century, periodicals were being published in every major vernacular and those who could not read benefitted from discussions. 
  • This instrument was later harnessed for the cause of the Nationalist Movement as well. 

Thus, due to its massive outreach and style of writing of individuals, the press was able to create public awareness on social issues in the 19th century.

Q4. Do you agree with the view that the growth of vernacular literature in the 19th and the 20th centuries paved the way for social reform and cultural revival in India? (2016) 

Ans. The 19th and 20th centuries saw a proliferation in literary works, which simultaneously impacted the social and cultural dynamics of India as well. 

  • The introduction of western education through the English medium of instruction and of Press in India led to the widespread dissemination of Enlightenment ideas. 
  • These ideas began to induce a change in the thought process of educated Indians, who now began to question social evils while some also yearned to regain the former purity of their beliefs. 
  • However, this knowledge was limited to a small section of upper and middle class Indians who now began to act as conduits for transferring the ideas to the masses through vernacular print media. 
  • Towards the end of the 18th century, vernacular journals and newspapers began to come up in Presidency towns, which later spread out to the countryside as well.
  • These became the instruments of social reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, who began to advocate the abolition of social evils like sati on grounds that these were not sanctioned by the religious texts.
  • Similarly, writers like Bhartendu Harish Chandra and Bankim Chandra Chatterjee began to emphasize on the cultural revival of the ancient land which was being devastated under colonial rule. 
  • The print media became a field to challenge both, native orthodoxy as well asColonial supremacy and this struggle gave rise to icons of national identity. 
  • Bharat Mata, as visualized in Anandmath, as well as Vande Mataram from it, became the central points of cultural revivalism.
  • The success of vernacular literature lies in its massive reach among the indigenous population of all strata, and its ability to effectively transmit western ideas to them.

Thus, the vernacular literature did play major role in ushering the social reforms

and cultural revivalism of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Q5. "The current practice of categorization of 'Early Modern India' is based on a shift from the old imperialist periodization of 'Muslim India' - 'British India' to the more secularist one of 'Medieval India' - 'Modern India', which puts Indian history in a universalist chronological structure." Critically examine. (2012) 

Ans. The shift from the imperialist periodization of 'Muslim India'- 'British India' to 'Medieval India'- 'Modern India' represents a shift towards secularist historiography.

The former periodization is based on the religion/identity of the ruling class and creates a narrative of a Hindu India (Pre- Turkish invasions) followedby Muslim India where Muslims formed the ruling class and followedby a British India where natives were reduced to subordinate positions and the ruling class was composed ofthe British or other Europeans who represented Christianity. 

                                                                                 This categorization though appears coherent but tries to create a binary relation between the ruling class and common folk. At no point in Indian history did the ruling class belong exclusively to any particular religion, even during ancient India various rulers had different faiths like Shaivism, Buddhism, Jainism. 

In medieval times also, an Islamic State could only be established in theory, but not in practice. Lastly, during British rule also, a large number of Princely States continued to be ruled by Princes belonging to the native faith. 

The Medieval India-Modern India categorization is more in sync with a universalist, secular chronology.MedievalIndia represents a stage where feudalism emerged as a dominant part of the power structure, while Modern India represents a stage which saw a decline in feudal tendencies and growth of modern institutions. However, feudal institutions like zamindari continued well into the Modern India age as well. 

Also, the Medieval-Modern distinction based on feudal and modern institutions is not found universally, hence, cannot be called a universalist chronology in itself.

Q6. "Orientalism produced a knowledge of the past to service the needs of the Colonial States." Elucidate. (2011) 

Ans. The early Colonial administrators believed that it was necessary to understand and respect Indian systems and customs for the British to continue their rule over India. 

          Thus, the study of ancient texts was undertaken by the British scholars like Sir William Jones and a detailed narrative ofIndian history was produced, with the assistance of Pandits and Maulvis. It showed the ancient glory of India, which was followed by a period of decay, which led to the decadent society at that time during the Colonial rule. This became a means to justify British rule in India as necessary in order to elevate the Indian society to modernity and regain its lost glory. 

The ancient glory of India was also linked intimately with the arrival of Aryans, and thus created an ancestral/racial link between the Englishmen and Indians. This link was used to establish British Paternalism as the dominating ideology of colonial rule in the 19th century.

Post-1857, however, this very information was used to decry Indians as childish, who required an authoritarian ruler and all earlier talks of self-rule for Indians disappeared. 

Thus, the Orientalists produced knowledge which suited the colonial interests.

Q7. "The vernacular press in the nineteenth century was both newspaper as well as 'viewspaper' that enlightened dormant masses." Comment (2008) (2011) 

Ans. The vernacular press in India mainly grew after 1835 after Lord Macaulay and Metcalfe supported the case of the free press in India. These vernacular newspapers like Kesari, Amrita Bazar Patrika, Sudharak, Indu Prakash, etc. created a strong public opinion against excesses and inequalities of colonial administration and played a significant role in fostering patriotism and developing nationalism. 

  • In the period of late 19th century and early 20th century when the National Movement was limited to the educated middle class, the major political work was still that of politicization, political propaganda, and education along with the formation of opinion and national ideology among the masses. The vernacular press proved a crucial tool in the hands of nationalists for this purpose. 
  • The Indian National Congress which emerged as a political educator in India comprised of many journalists in its initial years who published several vernacular newspapers, like the Swadesamitran under the editorship of Subramanian Iyer, Kesari under Tilak, and Bengalee under Surendranath Banerjee. Through these newspapers, these nationalist leaders expressed their views against colonial power and highlighted the drain of wealth from India and thus played an important role in the growth of nationalism in India. 
  • These newspapers were not only confined to urban intelligentsia but reached remote villages and would then be read by a reader to ten others. Thus, these newspapers not only became the political educator but reading or discussing it became a form of political participation. 
  • These vernacular newspapers made the masses aware of the atrocities of the British and thus helped in the mobilization and consolidation of public opinion.For example, the terrible famine of 1876-78 which took a toll of over six million souls and the lavish expenditure on the imperial durbar in 1877 sparked public outrage and made the press restive. Although the Vernacular Press Act, 1878 did succeed partially in subverting the tone of these vernacular newspapers for a short period of time, they soon became a tool for mobilizing and consolidating public opinion through their views. Thus, they created politically active masses and created a platform for a mass movement in the future under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi.

Q8. Examine the impact of British rule on Indian Society in the 19th Century. (2004) 

Ans. The British rule introduced new political,social and economic ideas in India, which left a deep impact on Indian society. To begin with, the land revenue policy introduced the concept of private property and on the whole led to the concentration of land in the hands of a few, while the rural masses were pushed into debt. The 19th century also saw the process of deindustrialization as a result of the colonial - economic relationship and led to artisans returning to their villages, increasing pressure on land for sustenance.

Impact :

  • In the social sphere, the ideas of Enlightenment left a significant impression on the minds of the newly educated class of Indians. 
  • They began to identify and oppose prevalent social evils and also led significant reform movements that led to the banning of Sati (1829),Child infanticide (1848),and ended the prohibition on Widow Remarriage (1856). 
  • Western education also created a "middle class" consisting of professionals, lawyers, doctors, government officers,who later played a significant role in shaping the nationalist movement as well. The inhumane issue of caste-based on discrimination was also resisted and led to the formation of organizations like Prathana Sabha, Sri Narayana Guru Dharma Paripalana etc. that worked towards its eradication. 
  • In the political sphere, British rule introduced the concept of representative government and mass-based politics. 
  • The second half of the 19th century saw the formation of numerous political organizations all across India, which tried to bring reforms in governance and administration by building pressure on the government. The protests organized by British elites in India against the Ilbert Bill also taught Indian leaders a valuable lesson about mass-based politics.
  • The nascent spirit ofNationalism was further propagated across the subcontinent through newspaper journals, Railways, public meetings, etc, and a sense of unity developed with the combined opposition to British Colonialism. 

Thus, the British rule left a widespread impact on Indian society across all spectrums.

Q9. The Christian Missionary propaganda from 1813 onwards was "often insensitive and wounding." Comment. (1999) 

Ans. Early colonial administrators believed that promoting Christian Missionaries and their proselytizing activities would increase the hostility of natives towards the British rule. Hence, the efforts of Evangelists like Charles Grant, William Wilberforce were resisted until the Charter Actof 1813,that opened the doors India for missionaries. 

             However, the missionaries were driven by a goal to spread Christianity across India and in this process, they openly began to decry the religious beliefs and practices of the natives. The issues of deprivation ofrights ofwomen in the Indian society, caste discrimination, etc. were key points ofthe missionary propaganda, which created resentment and fear in the minds of natives.

                                                                         Native gods and saints were denounced as false deities with Jesus Christ as the only saviour of mankind. Even the British residents aided missionary activities within their concerned Princely States and an active effort was made to convert prominent members of the native society into Christianity. 

Ultimately, the fears of early colonial administrators came true as the threat of forced conversions was one of the main factors of the 1857 Rebellion and a large number of participants were driven by a zeal to protect their faith from Christianity.

Q10. 'India broke her British fetters with western hammers.' Comment. (1997) (2002) 

Ans. The British introduced western education in India to create a class of loyal Indians who would appreciate and further strengthen the British rule. It also, however, introduced the ideas of Enlightenment to the educated Indians and made them aware of the obligations of the State in the modern world. 

                                                             Thus, Indians selectively absorbed the western knowledge that was imparted in public institutions to point out the inconsistencies in British claims of modernizing India and several organizations like the British Indian Association, began to rise to pursue reforms. 

However,it was the ilbert Bill Conspiracy, during which Indians got acquainted with organized political protests by the British elite in India. 

                                                                        Therefore, native organizations began to proliferate in the 1880s along with newspaper and political meetings and eventually led to the first all India political organization in the form of the Indian National Congress. 

Thus, Indians adopted the political, social and economic ideas that were promoted through western education, along with western means of agitation and ultimately used these very tools to break the British fetters.

Q11. What was the Anglicist-Orientalist controversy about? How was it resolved and with what results? (1990) 

Ans. The controversy centred around the point whether instruction should be given through English or through Arabic or Persian .

Anglicist-Orientalist controversy :

                                The Charter Act of 1813 directed the Company to sanction Rs. 1 lakh annum for promoting modern sciences, native learning in India. However, the medium of instruction was not specified. The disagreement on issues of whether funds should be sanctioned exclusively for western education or for native learning as well and whether the medium of instruction should be English or vernacular, gave rise to the Orientalist- Anglicist controversy. 

How was it be solved :

  • Orientalists believed that in order to rule India, it was necessary to understand and respect their traditional practices and hence suggested that the funds should also be sanctioned to promote native learning. 
  • On the other hand, the Anglicists believed that the goal of British rule should be to replace the decadent system of Indians with that of the modern world and hence wanted funds to be sanctioned only for western education. 
  • Even the medium of instruction in public institutes was a matter of debate, with Orientalists and Utilitarians like Mill Favouring vernacular languages while liberals favoured English as the medium of instruction. 
  • Ultimately, Lord Macaulay's Minutes on Education (1835) ended the debate, in favour of western education with English as the medium of instruction. This was justified on grounds that it would provide the much needed Indian subordinate officials to aid in administration while it will also create a class of educated Indians, who would be loyal supporters of Colonial rulers in India.

Result :

    The result of the introduction of public sponsored western education was the development of a class of Indian Intelligentsia, who initially supported British rule but soon equipped with this new knowledge, they began to analyze the inconsistencies in British claims and policies and laid the foundation of resistance to Colonialism and Imperialism. 

Q12. 'Nowhere was the influence of the missionaries felt more than in relation to the women's movement.'Comment. (1989) 

Ans. The missionaries who came to India for proselytizing activities and further advancing the civilizing mission of the British, influenced a great number of developments in India, including the women's movement.

Influence of Missionaries :

  • For the most part of Colonial rule, women remained the subject of reforms by Indian elites and Colonial rulers. 
  • However, the contact with missionaries made Indian women aware of freedom being enjoyed already by women across the world. 
  • The missionaries, from the mid - 19th century, provided a thrust to female education, along with numerous women missionaries themselves heading institutions in India. 
  • They served as examples as well as produced future women leaders who, with the onset of the 20th century, began to demand equal agency in matters of reform and politics. 

Thus, the example of women missionaries and women-led organizations served as an inspiration for the women leaders of the 20th century and hence showing the impact of missionary efforts.

Q13. Review the educational policy of the English East India Company. To what extent did it serve the imperial interests of Great Britain? (1988) 

Ans. In the early years of Colonial rule, the Company was hesitant to introduce sweeping changes in the Indian education set up. Therefore, under the influence of Orientalism, traditional education continued in Madrasas and Pathshalas. 

Education policy :

  • The Calcutta Madrasa (1781) and Sanskrit College (1791) at Banaras were established by the Company to provide a supply of lower rank officials to aid in the administration of law and correspondence. 
  • With the Charter Act of 1813, the Company was directed to allocate Rs. 1 Lakh/ Annum to promote education and western sciences, however, the OrientalistAnglicist debate over the medium of instruction led to delay in its implementation. 
  • Still in 1817,a grant was sanctioned for Calcutta College and three more Sanskrit colleges were opened. Macaulay's Minute however ended the debate over the medium of instruction in the favour of English and proposed the downward filtration theory. According to it, only a small section of upper middle class Indians were to be imparted western education in English, who would then disseminate this knowledge to the masses in vernaculars. 
  • However, the responsibility to educate masses was acknowledged for the first time in Wood's Despatch of 1854, which recommended vernacular primary schools, Anglo-vernacular high school and English medium for higher education. 
  • It also recognized the need for female and vocational education and grants in aid to encourage private enterprise. 
  • During the early years of Orientalism, education was supported to provide low ranking officials for administrative purposes. 
  • It was under Lord Dalhousie that the idea of the English educated class of Indians, who were to be Indian only bloodbut English by tastes, who would remain loyal to the Colonial rule, was propounded. Supporting education also validated the British claim of modernizing India. 

Thus, the lack of effort in spreading education to the masses shows that the education policy of the Company was largely driven by its imperial interests.

Q14. Impact of western contact on social changes in the first half of the 19th century. Critical Note. (1981) 

Ans. The thrust given to western education with the Charter Act of 1813,providing Rs. 1 lakh for native education and resolution of Orientalist- Anglicist debate, played a crucial role in the early social reform movements of the 19th century. 

Impact of Western contact on Social change :

  • Enlightenment ideas of Rationality, Universalism, Equality, were introduced to India and enabled Indians to identify the prevalence of social evils in the Indian society and work towards reforms.
  • The ideas of representative government also inspired the newly educated Indians to seek assistance from the British Government in purging these evils and consequently, the government legislated on issues like Sati (1829), female infanticide, Widow Remarriage, etc. Along with these, the introduction of Rule of Law also gave an impulse to end caste-based discrimination and achieve more than just legal equality. 
  • However, it were the Indians who applied these modern principles to examine social evils and suggest reforms.
  • The movements for social reform were spearheaded by Indians like Raja Ram Mohan Roy,Debendranath Tagore, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, though a number of Englishmen were active participants. 
  • Also,these early reformers relied largely on ancient scriptures to justify their stand and prove that such evil practices were not sanctioned by religion.
  •  It was based on these arguments that the British Government was able to legislate on these subjects. 
  • Even the remedies for these evils that were suggested by Indians were not solely the product of western thoughts. While the reformists were in favour of adopting modern institutions and practices, the revivalists wished to purge their true socio religious beliefs from these evils and return to the original system. 

Thus, while the western contact facilitated the initiation of social reforms, these were largely driven by an agency of Indians who wished to purge these evils, which themselves were not sanctioned according to their respective religions.

Q15. Examine the main trends in social reform and social change in India between 1829 and 1929. (1979) 

Ans. The thrust given to western education during the Colonial rule, introduced in India the concept of Enlightenment, while an emphasis on English medium led to the spread to these ideas beyond geographical boundaries.

Social Reform : 

  • The newly educated class of Indians, equipped with ideals of Liberty, Equality, Rationalism and Universalism, etc. began to analyze the social conditions ofIndia itself and this led to an urge for social reforms on modern lines. 
  • Prevalence of social evils like sati, female and child infanticide, caste discrimination, etc. came under strict scrutiny by the Indian intellectuals and were supported to an extent by the British Government as per the Utilitarian Philosophy.
  • The government did legislate to better the condition of women,however,the process continued from the abolition of sati in 1829 to the Sarda Act of 1829.
  • Within the domain of social reforms, two trends diverged on the basis of reformist and revivalist.

Social change :

  • The movement of social change crystallized with the establishment of Brahmo Sabha in 1828 by Raja Ram Mohan Roy and later organizations like Prarthana Samaj, etc. However, this faced resistance from the orthodox people who started parallel organizations to oppose these changes. For example, Dharma Sabha was started by Radhakanta Deb. 
  • In the second half of the 19th century, caste-based organizations became the focus of the work ofJ yotiba Phule and organizations like Prathana Samaj, Sri Narayana Guru Dharma Paripalana, etc. 
  • While some wished to end the discrimination only, some began to voice the abolition ofthe caste system itself. This led to the rise of Non- Brahmin Movement especially in southern parts ofIndia and culminated in the formation of political parties like the Justice League and Self - Respect Movement. 

While both acknowledged the prevalence of these social evils, the former wished to reform these by adopting modern instruments while the latter wished to return to old and pure faith purged of those evils.

Gradually, the revivialist trend incorporated with political issues like the Age of Consent Act 1891, Cow Protection,etc, emerged as a precursor to communal politics.