Socio-Religious Reforms: Paramhansa Mandali, Prathna and Arya Samaj, Kayasth Sabha

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Chapter 6: Socio-Religious Reforms

  • The socio-religious reforms are also referred to as the Indian renaissance

  • The socio-cultural regeneration in nineteenth century India was occasioned by the colonial presence, but not created by it.

  • Formation of the Brahmo Samaj in 1828.

  • Paramhansa Mandali, Prathna Samaj, Arya Samaj, Kayasth Sabha: UP, Sarin Sabha: Punjab, Satya Sodhak Samaj: Maharashtra, Sri Narayana Dharma Paripalana Sabha: Kerala

  • Ahmadiya and Aligarh Movements: Muslims, Singh Sabha: Sikhs, Rehnumai Mazdeyasan Sabha: Parsees

  • Their attention was focused on worldly existence.

  • The idea of otherworldliness and salvation were not a part of their agenda.

  • At that time, the influence of religion and superstition was overwhelming. Position of priests strong; that of women weak.

  • Caste was another debilitating factor

  • Neither a revival of the past nor a total break with tradition was contemplated.

  • Rationalism and religious universalism influenced the reform movement.

  • Development of universalistic perspective on religion

  • Lex Loci Act proposed in 1845 and passed in 1850 provided the right to inherit ancestral property to Hindu converts to Christianity.

  • The culture faced a threat from the colonial rule.

Chapter 7

  • First, the Indian intellectuals co-operated with the British in the hope that British would help modernize India.

  • However, the reality of social development in India failed to conform to their hopes.

  • Three people who carried out the economic analysis of British India:

    • Dadabhai Naoroji: the grand old man of India. Born in 1825, he became a successful businessman but devoted his entire life and wealth to the creation of national movement in India

    • Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade: He taught an entire generation of Indians the value of modern industrial development.

    • Romesh Chandra Dutt: a retired ICS officer, published The Economic History of India at the beginning of the 20th century in which he examined in minute detail the entire economic record of colonial rule since 1757.

  • They concluded that colonialism was the main obstacle to India’s economic development.

  • Three aspects of domination of British: trade, industry, finance

  • The problem of poverty was seen as a problem of national development. This approach made poverty a broad national issue and helped to unite, instead of divide, different regions and sections of Indian society.

  • The early nationalists accepted that the complete economic transformation of the country on the basis of modern technology and capitalist enterprise was the primary goal of their economic policies.

  • Because their whole-ted devotion to the cause of industrialization, the early nationalists looked upon all other issues such as foreign trade, railways, tariffs, finance and labour legislations in relation to this paramount aspect. (and hence the obsession of Nehru with industrialization)

  • However great the need of India for industrialization, it had to be based on Indian capital and not foreign capital.

  • The early nationalists saw foreign capital as an unmitigated evil which did not develop a country but exploited and impoverished it.

  • Expenditure on railways could be seen as Indian subsidy to British industries.

  • A major obstacle in the process of industrial development was the policy of free trade

  • High expenditure on the army

  • Drain theory was the focal point of nationalist critique of colonialism.

    • A large part of India’s capital and wealth was being transferred or drained to Britain in the form of salaries and pensions of British civil and military officials working in India, interest on loans taken by the Indian government, profits of British capitalists in India, and the Home Charges or expenses of the Indian Government in Britain.

    • This drain amounted to one-half of government revenues, more than the entire land revenue collection, and over one-third of India’s total savings.

    • The Drain theory was put forward by Dadabhai Naoroji. He declared that the drain was the basic cause of India’s poverty.

    • Through the drain theory, the exploitative character of the British rule was made visible.

    • The drain theory possessed the merit of being easily grasped and understood by a nation of peasants. No idea could arouse people more than the thought that they were being taxed so that others in far off lands might live in comfort.

    • This agitation on economic issues contributed to the undermining of the ideological hegemony of the alien rulers over Indian minds.

    • The nationalist economic agitation undermined the moral foundations inculcated by the British that foreign rule is beneficial for India.

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