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Important Questions & NCERT Solution - Women, Caste and Reform - Social Studies (SST) Class 8

Q1. What was the condition of women in the earlier days ?

  1. Women were married at an early age. 
  2. Women were forced to burn themselves on the funeral pyre of their husbands. Woman who died in this manner, whether willing or otherwise, were called “sati” meaning virtuous women. 
  3. Women’s right to property were also restricted. 
  4. Women had virtually no access to education. In many parts of the country people believed that if a woman was educated, she would become a widow. 

Q2. Describe the social conditions in the earlier times. ?

  1. Brahmans and Kshatriyas considered themselves as “upper castes”. 
  2. Other such as traders and moneylenders (often referred to as Vaishyas) were placed after them. 
  3. Then came peasants and artisans such as weavers and potters (referred to as shudras). 
  4. At the lowest sung were those who laboured to keep cities and villages clean or worked at jobs that upper castes considered “polluting”, that is it could lead to the loss of caste status. 
  5. The upper castes also treated many of these groups at the bottom as “untouchable”. 

Q3. Describe the contribution of the following towards the upliftment of women. ?

1. Raja Ram Mohan Roy: - 

  • He founded a reform association known as the Brahmo sabha (later known as the Brahmo samaj) in Calcutta. People such as Rammohan Roy are described as reformers because that change was necessary in society, and unjust practices needed to be done away with. They thought 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 wrote about the way woman 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. 
  • He tried to show through his writings that the practice of widow burning had no sanction in ancients’ texts. Due to his efforts the evil practice of sati was banned in 1829 by the British. 

2. Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar:- 

  • One of the most famous social reformers
  • Ishwarchandra Vidasagar, used the ancient texts to suggest that widows could remarry. His suggestion was adopted by British officials and a law was passed in 1856 permitting widow remarriage. 
  • Vidyasagar in Calcutta and many other reformers in Bombay set up schools for girls. 

3. Swami Dayanand Saraswati:- He founded the reform association called Arya Samaj, also supported widow remarriage. 

4. Jyotiba Phule: - Schools for girls were established by the Arya Samaj in Punjab and Jyotiba Phule in Maharashtra. 

5. Mumtaz Ali: - 

Was an Islamic reformer who Reinterpreted verses from the Koran to argue for women’s education. 

6. Veersalingam Pantulu: - Formed an association for widow remarriage. 

7. Pandita Ramabai:- 

  • A great scholar of Sanskrit felt that Hinduism was oppressive towards women, and wrote a book about the miserable lives of upper –caste Hindu women. 
  • She founded a widows’ home at Poona to provide shelter to widows who had been treated badly by their husbands’ relatives. 

8. Periyar:- 

  • Was an outspoken critic of Hindu scriptures, especially the codes of Manu, the ancient lawgiver, and the Bhagavad Gita and the Ramayan. 
  • He said that these texts had been used to establish the authority of Brahmans over lower castes and the domination of men over women.

Q4. Why in the earlier days most parents were apprehensive of sending their girls to schools ?

Ans. Most parents were apprehensive of sending their girls to school because they feared that schools would take girls away from home, prevent them from doing their domestic duties. Moreover, girls had to travel through public places in order to reach school. Many people felt  that this would have a corrupting influence on them. They felt that the girls should stay away from public spaces. 

Q5. Discuss few examples of educated women and the impact they had on society. ?

1. Muslim women like the Begums of Bhopal played a notable role in promoting education among women. They founded a primary school for girls at Aligarh. 

2. Another remarkable women Begum Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain started schools for Muslim girls in Patna and Calcutta. She was a fearless critic of conservative ideas, arguing that religions leaders of every faith accorded an inferior place to women. 

3. By the 1880s, Indian women began to enter universities. Some of them trained to be doctors, some became teachers. Many women began to write and publish their critical  views on the place of women in society. 

4. Tarabia Sinde:- a women educated at home at Poona, published a book, Stripurushtulna, ( A comparison between women and Men), criticizing the social differences between men and women.. 

5. Pandita Ramabai:- A great scholar of Sanskrit, felt that Hinduism was oppressive towards women, and wrote a book about the miserable lives of upper –caste Hindu women. She founded a widows’ home at Poona to provide shelter to widows who had been treated badly by their husband’s relatives. Here women were trained so that they could support themselves economically. 

Q6. Describe the role of the following organizations towards abolition of caste based discrimination. ?

1. Brahma Samaj: - The Brahma Samaj formed in 1830, prohibited all forms of idolatry and sacrifice believed in the Upanishads, and forbade its members from criticizing other religions practices. It critically drew upon the ideals of religious especially of Hinduism and looking at their negative and positive dimensions. 

2. Prarthana Samaj: - Established in 1867 at Bombay, the prarthana samaj sought to remove caste restrictions, abolish child marriage, encourage the education of women, and end the ban on widow remarriage. Its religious meetings drew upon Hindus, Bhuddhist and Christian texts. 

3. Paramhans Mandali: - In Bombay, the Paramhans Mandali was founded in 1840 to work for the abolition of caste. Many of these reformers and members of reform associations were people of upper castes. 

Q7. How did new opportunities open up for the people of the lower caste under the British ?

During the course of the nineteenth century, Christian missionaries began setting up schools for tribal groups and “lower” – caste children. These children were thus equipped with some resources to make their way into a changing world. 

At the same time, the poor began leaving their villages to look for jobs that were opening up in the cities. There was work in the factories that were coming up, and jobs in municipalities. 

There were new demands of labour –drains had to be dug, roads, laid, buildings constructed, and cities cleaned. 

This required coolies, diggers, carriers, bricklayer’s sewage cleaners, sweepers, palanquin bearers, rickshaws pullers. The poor from the villages and small towns, many of them form low castes, began moving to the cities where there was a new demand for labour. 

Some also went to work implantations in Assam, Mauritius, Trinidad and Indonesia work in the new locations was often very hard. 

But the poor, the people from low castes, saw this as an opportunity to get away from the oppressive hold that upper –caste landowners exercised over their lives and the daily humiliation they suffered. There were other jobs too. The army, for instance, offered opportunities. A number of Mahar people, who were regarded as untouchable, found jobs in the Mahar Regiment. The father of B.R. Ambedkar the leader of the Dalit Movement, taught at an army school. 

Q8. Describe the reform movement by the people of the lower castes against caste discrimination across India. ?

The Satnami movement in Central India, founded by a leader named Ghasidas who came from a “low” caste, worked among the leather workers and organized a movement to improve their social status. 

In eastern Bengal, Haridas Thakur’s Matua set worked among ‘low’ caste chandala cultivators. Haridas questioned Brahmanical texts that supported the caste system. 

In 1972 Ambedkar started a temple entry movement, in which his Mahar caste followers participated. Brahman priests were outraged when the Dalits used water from the temple tank. 

Convinced that untouchable had to fight for their dignity, Periyar founded the self Respect Movement. He argued that untouchables were the true upholders of an original Tamil and Dravidian culture which had been subjugated by Brahmans. He felt that all religious authorities saw social divisions and inequality as God –given. 

Q9. How did the knowledge of ancient texts help the reformers promote new laws ?

Whenever they wished to challenge a practice that seemed harmful, they tried to find a verse or sentence in the ancient sacred texts that supported their point of view. 

They then suggested that the practice as it existed at present was against early tradition. 

Thus, the knowledge of ancient texts helped the reformers promote new laws. 

Q10. Why were Christian missionaries attacked by many people in the country Would some people have supported them too If so, for what reasons?

Ans- Christian missionaries attacked by many people in the country because they feared that the missionaries would change the religion of tribal groups. Some people may have supported them because:- 

They were setting up schools for tribal groups and “lower” – caste children. 

These children were thus equipped with some resources to make their way into a changing world. 

Q11. How did Jyotiba the reformers justify their criticism of caste inequality in society ?

Jyotiba Phule argued that the Aryans were foreigners who came from outside the subcontinent and deflated and subjugated the true children of the country those who had lived here from before the coming of the Aryans. 

As the Aryans established their dominance, they began looking at the defeated population as inferior, as low –caste people. According to Phule, the “upper” caste had no right to their land and power: in reality the land belonged to indigenous people, and so –called low castes. 

Phule claimed that before Aryan rule there existed a golden age when warrior – peasants tilled the land and ruled the Maratha countryside in just and fair ways. 

Q12.Why did Phule dedicate his book Gulamgiri to the American movement to free slaves ?

Phule dedicated his book to all those Americans who had fought to free slaves thus establishing a link between the conditions of the “lower” caste in India and the black slaves in America. 

Phule extended his criticism of the caste system to argue against all forms of inequality. 

He was concerned about the plight of “upper” –caste women, the miseries of the labourer, and the humiliation of the “low” caste. 

This movement for caste reform was continued in the twentieth century by other great dalit leaders like Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in western India and E.V. Ramaswamy Naiker in the south. 

Q13. What did Ambedkar want to achieve through the temple entry movement ?

Ans. In 1972, Ambedkar started a temple entry movement, in which his Mahar caste followers participated. Brahman priests were outraged when the Dalits used water from the temple tank. Ambedkar led three such movements for temple entry between 1927 and 1935. His aim was to   make everyone see the power of caste prejudices within society. 

Q14. Why were Jyotiba Phule and Ramaswamy Naicker critical of the national movement Did their criticism help the national struggle in any way ?

They were critical of the national movement run by the upper caste leaders because they held that this would serve the purpose of the upper caste. After the movement these people again would talk of untouchability. Even Periyar left the congress in the earlier days of an incidence of untouchability. 

Yes, their criticism helped the national movement struggle as unity. In forceful speeches, writings and movements of such lower caste leaders did lead to rethinking and self – criticism among upper caste nationalist leader.

The document Important Questions & NCERT Solution - Women, Caste and Reform | Social Studies (SST) Class 8 is a part of the Class 8 Course Social Studies (SST) Class 8.
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FAQs on Important Questions & NCERT Solution - Women, Caste and Reform | Social Studies (SST) Class 8 PDF Download

1. What is the significance of women's role in the caste reform movement?
Ans. Women played a vital role in the caste reform movement by challenging the existing social norms and advocating for the rights of oppressed castes. They participated in various activities like organizing meetings, setting up schools, and promoting women's education. Women like Pandita Ramabai, Tarabai Shinde, and Savitribai Phule were instrumental in bringing about social change in the country.
2. How did the caste system impact women's lives in India?
Ans. The caste system in India has had a profound impact on women's lives. Women were considered inferior to men and were expected to follow strict norms of purity and chastity. They were denied education and employment opportunities and were forced into arranged marriages at a young age. The caste system also perpetuated gender-based violence and discrimination against women.
3. What were the major reforms initiated by social reformers to eliminate caste discrimination?
Ans. Social reformers initiated several reforms to eliminate caste discrimination in India. They advocated for the abolition of the caste system, promoted inter-caste marriages, and worked towards the upliftment of the oppressed castes. They also focused on women's education and empowerment and stressed the importance of individual freedom and human rights.
4. Who were some of the prominent women social reformers in India?
Ans. India has had several prominent women social reformers who have contributed significantly to the country's social and political landscape. Some of the notable names include Pandita Ramabai, Tarabai Shinde, Savitribai Phule, Begum Rokeya, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, and Amrita Pritam.
5. How has the caste system evolved over time in India?
Ans. The caste system in India has evolved over time. While it still exists in some parts of the country, there have been significant changes in the way it operates. The government has implemented several affirmative action policies to promote social justice and uplift marginalized communities. There has also been a growing awareness of the need to eliminate caste-based discrimination and promote equality among all members of society.
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