More than two and a half centuries ago, in 1792, when the East India Company got their first taste of British rule from then Governor General Warren Hastings. The company was founded by European merchants and adventurers who sought to make great profit through trade with Asia.
But it would not be until 1835 that the British Parliament passed its landmark act on Indian Education Act which closed down all schools controlled by Christian missionaries. This marked an important turning point in history as regards education systems across nations
The “Social Reformers of India” are people who work to change society. The contributions that the social reformers have made to society has been significant.
This page will provide you with a list of India’s Social Reformers and their contributions to society. We’ve also discussed who social reformers are and what their key efforts and changes in Indian society are.
Introduction to Indian history and social reformers
Many cultures are made up of people of diverse faiths, genders, colors, castes, religions, and other characteristics. We expect them to live in peace with one another, with no prejudice. Brotherhood, freedom, and equality will exist in an ideal state when all elements of society are together.
However, human civilization in India demonstrates that a variety of exploitative acts are prevalent. These activities stem from superiority, authority, and human hunger for power, as shown by the so-called upper caste exploiting the so-called lower caste. For example, a white would exploit a black believer in one religion while downgrading other religions, men would dominate females, and so on.
In the long term, these exploitative and discriminating acts manifest as societal problems, leaving a scar on the face of civilized society. Throughout India’s history, many talented people have lived and worked for the upliftment and advancement of the underprivileged. Many severe societal ills, such as Sati Pratha, racism, and others, were eliminated as a result of their efforts.
In this article, you will learn about the lives and deeds of many notable Indian social reformers, as well as what a social evil is, its causes, and who a social reformer is.
What does it mean to be a social reformer?
A social reformer is someone who is concerned about people and humanity above all else and seeks to alter the current condition of affairs for the good of society. Social reformers in India are those who have made significant positive changes in Indian society for the sake of development and the elimination of prejudice.
Also, a person with an educated cognitive process, who cannot bear the suffering of the lesser members of society, and, above all, a person who believes in the responsibility he has been given to leave the world in a better state than it was. Ordinary people who wish to do extraordinary things for mankind are called social reformers.
India is blessed to have many outstanding people who have dedicated their lives to improving society and uplifting the poor. Among them are the following:
In this article, you’ll get a glimpse into the lives and deeds of these remarkable Indian social reformers, and you’ll be inspired by their contributions to today’s India.
List of Indian Social Reformers and their Contributions
1. Ram Mohan Roy, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Raja Ram Mohan Roy,
Religious superstitions, the caste system, sati pratha, and other societal ills afflicted India around the turn of the nineteenth century. Ram Mohan was the first to recognize inhumane acts and create a mental makeup to combat societal problems. As a result, he is known as the “father of modern India” and the “architect of the Indian Renaissance.”
Ram Mohan was born on May 22, 1772, in Radhanagar, West Bengal’s Hoogli district. Ramakant Roy and Trivani Devi were his parents’ names. His father had a very high status in the Nawab’s court.
Ram Mohan received his schooling in Varanasi and Patna, and from 1803 until 1814, he worked for the East India Company. He was born into a conventional Brahmin household and married off at an early age, having been married three times before the age of 10.
Finally, on September 27, 1833, he died of meningitis in Bristol, England.
Reforms and Work
Raja Ram Mohan Roy was a man of great curiosity and open-mindedness. He was inspired greatly by western progressive ideas and was well-versed in the teachings of several faiths. Upanishad’s Vedanta philosophy, Christianity’s Ethics and Morals, Sufi philosophy’s Mysticism, and Islam’s monotheism impacted him.
His main emphasis was on the evil that surrounded Hindu culture at the time, such as:
Ram Mohan denounced idolatry and set out to illustrate his point using Vedic scriptures.
His primary contribution, for which he is well-known around the world, was his unwavering commitment to ending the practice of sati pratha. When his older brother died and his sister-in-law was made a sati, he fought back. He started a drive to eliminate the practice, and he was successful in persuading the British government to adopt an Act to do so. Bentinck, the Governor-General of West Bengal, then enacted the Bengal Sati Regulation Act of 1829.
On August 20, 1828, Ram Mohan founded the Brahma Samaj, subsequently known as the Brahmo Samaj, a movement and organization dedicated to improving the plight of women, fighting Brahmanism, denouncing idol worship, supporting monotheism, and so on.
Other Significant Works
In 1820, he published a book called “Percepts of Jesus”: The Guide to Peace & Happiness; in this book he explained the morality and simplicity of Christian religion.
In 1821, he also launched two journals, Pragya Chaand and Samvad Kaumudi, to convey his thoughts and ideals to the general public. He also began publishing a Persian newspaper.
Apart from this, Ram Mohan established one Vedanta College & Hindu College in Calcutta.
Participation in Society
Raja Ram Mohan Roy’s efforts and accomplishments were the first to touch on contemporary concepts, yet he was beset by old age societal evils and British exploitation. His dissemination of modern ideas marked the beginning of India’s long battle for freedom. As a result, his work is comparable to a foundation stone in the development of contemporary Indians.
2. Swami Vivekananda (Swami Vivekananda) was a Hindu
Vivekananda, born to Vishwanath Datta & Bhuveneshwari Devi in Calcutta on 12th Jan 1863, was a one-of-a-kind person.
Narendranath Datta (his childhood name) was an extremely clever student, with exceptional reading and memory abilities, and he was also a voracious reader. He was a gifted student who was passionate in a wide range of topics, including social studies, music, culture, art, biology, and philosophy.
He was mostly interested in religious literature and philosophy, and he studied books by Charles Darwin, Herbert Spencer, Spenoza, Auguste Comte, John Stuart Mill, Hegel, Kant, and others. He knew all of Hinduism’s religious and philosophical works, including the Mahabharata, Ramayana, Vedas, and Upanishads.
All of those writings turned him into a recluse, and his hunger for knowledge and truth brought him to Swami Ramakrishna Paramhansa, who converted him into Swami Vivekananda.
Reforms in the Social Sector
Vivekananda’s writings and speeches were full with warnings against all kinds of religious and social problems, even though he didn’t launch any particular social change.
His major focus was on removing the weakness of India’s youth of the time, both mental and physical. Further, to gain strength, he suggested attaining knowledge and physical exercise. For Swami, strength is life & weakness is death, for the entire wrong happenings of the country, whether political or social, the solution is self-respect in India’s philosophy and culture.
Next, he was against religious dogmas and beliefs, and he continually fought against the societal problems that afflict mankind in his speech. He saw that women are capable of much more than simply staying at home and that they had the power to transform the nation.
His actual contribution was to resurrect the original meaning of Hinduism by propagating the authentic culture and philosophy to the globe via his statements at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893, proving that Hinduism is not inferior to any other religion.
Swami Vivekananda died on July 4, 1902, at Belur Math, Bengal, India, while in meditation.
3. Saraswati Swami Dayananda Saraswati Swami Dayananda Saraswati Swami
Swami Dayananda Saraswati’s childhood name was Mool Shankar. He was born on 12th Jan 1824, a Maurvi, Gujarat. He left home when he was 21 years & kept wandering in the company of one Dandi Swami Poornanada, who had him the name Swami Dayananda Saraswati.
Reforms in the Social Sector
He was a great believer in the teachings of Vedas and gave the slogan: “Return to Vedas”. He criticized Hindu religious texts like Puranas for perpetuating superstitions and idol worship. He tried to reinitiate true Hindu philosophy, beliefs & argued against all the wrongs that were propagated in the name of Hinduism.
He also went for societal problems like the caste system based on birth, arguing that it should be based on labour and profession. He also supported and pushed for women’s right to education, as well as female social workers and their right to social position.
Swami began campaigning against child marriage, untouchability, and a variety of other issues. He favored inter-caste marriages and widow remarriages, as well as Sudras’ freedom to study Veda and pursue higher education.
In 1875, he founded the “Arya Samaj” to spread his beliefs. The goal was to reform and revitalize Hinduism, establish Vedic religion in its genuine form, socially, politically, and spiritually unite India, and reverse the effects of Western culture on Indian civilization and culture.
Apart from all of Arya Samaj’s wonderful actions, the “Shuddhi Movement,” which permitted those who had converted to other faiths to return to Hinduism, became contentious.
But, as Annie Besant reminded him, Swami’s contribution to reducing societal problems in India gave him a feeling of pride, as he was one of many who proclaimed, “India is for Indians.”
4. Vidyasagar Ishwar Chandra
Ishwar was one of the most astounding social reformers of the 19th century. He was born on 26th Sept 1820 in Paschim Midnapur District of West Bengal to Thakurdas Bandhopadhyaya & Bhagwati Devi.
Ishwar’s upbringing was spent in poverty, with little opportunities to meet basic needs. He was, nevertheless, a great student who used to study beneath street lighting since he didn’t have any at home. He got many scholarships as a result of his good grades in school and college, and he used to work part-time teaching jobs to support his family and studies. He studied Astronomy, Law, Sanskrit Grammar, Literature, and other subjects in Sanskrit College Calcutta.
Vidyasagar was also a fearless social reformer who never shied away from confronting India’s looming societal ills.
Reforms in the Social Sector
Vidyasagar’s primary contribution was to improve women’s status. He was a strong supporter of widow remarriage. Looking back on those times, the plight of Hindu widows was appalling, thus he worked tirelessly to improve their situation.
He urged the British government to adopt a legislation allowing widow remarriages, and the Widow Remarriage Act of 1856 was enacted, providing widows full support and the ability to marry again and have legitimate children.
He also fought against child marriage and polygamy, claiming that these practices are not sanctioned in Hindu sacred teachings. He made a significant contribution to education.
In a famous book called Barno-Porichay, which means “Introduction to the letter,” he activated and made known the Bengali language to the people of the time by making the literature easy. This book is now regarded a classic in the Bengali language.
Ishwar was known for his generosity and was always willing to assist anyone in need, including destitute children and individuals living on the streets. He maintained Raja Ram Mohan Roy’s reform effort and stayed engaged in the “Brahmo Samaj” activities.
He died in Calcutta on July 29, 1891.
5. Phule, Jyotiba
Jyotirao Govindrao Phule was born in a family of vegetable dealers in Satara, Maharashtra, on April 11, 1827. He was unable to complete his education due to his family’s financial difficulties, but he was able to do it with the support of a few individuals who saw his promise.
Phule married Savitribai Phule when he was 12 years old. When one of his Brahmin friends attacked him, he became aware of the caste prejudice and divide that existed in society. Phule’s life was forever changed as a result of this tragedy.
Jyotirao started to see and recognize many types of social ills that were being performed in society and determined to resist them. “The Right of Man,” a work by writer Thomas Paine, provided him further impetus to launch a campaign against current societal problems such as poor peasant circumstances, women’s plight, untouchability, and the caste system.
Works and Reforms in the Social Sector
Phule’s initial effort was in the area of women’s education, and his first disciple was his wife, who constantly supported him and shared his aspirations.
Jyotiba built a school for girls in 1848 to satisfy his dreams and principles of constructing a fair and equal society. It was the country’s first school. His wife worked as a trainer/teacher there.
However, Phule was compelled to leave his house due to an extremely unusual gesture of considering the girls’ education. However, societal pressures and threats did not prevent him from continuing to conduct his job and raising public awareness about social ills.
In 1851, Phule established a larger and better school for females, which became well-known, and where there was no discrimination based on caste, creed, or religion, and where everyone was welcome to learn.
Jyotiba was also actively interested in the reconciliation and abolition of lower caste and untouchable regimes. As a result, he was the one who made the term “Dalit” untouchable as a descriptor for someone who is exploited, sad, or damaged and is not part of the so-called Verna system.
He founded the Satyashodhak Samaj, also known as “The Society of Truth Seekers,” on September 24, 1873, in order to improve the lower castes and untouchables. Its principal goal was to build an equal and fair social order devoid of discrimination based on gender, religion, or caste. This samaj was also against religious dogmas and superstitions like as idolatry, illogical rituals, and others.
So, in his work and thought, Jyotiba Phule dedicated his whole life to the downtrodden and weaker sections of society; he was far ahead of his time.
6. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar)
Grate social reformer Dr. Bhimrao is also known as Babasaheb was born on 14th April 1891 in Mhow, a military cantonment town of Central Province of the country. His father, Ramji, was a Subedar in army & mother Bhimabai was a homemaker.
Babasaheb belonged to the Mahar caste, which was considered untouchable. As a result, he has been subjected to numerous forms of societal prejudice since he was a toddler. His father, an army officer, now had all the means he needed to establish a better life for himself and his son, Bhimrao, despite social opposition.
Bhimrao and other “Dalit” children were treated as untouchables at school, and they were separated from other students of higher castes and were not permitted to drink from public water fountains.
He excelled in school and proceeded to the United States for post-graduation and research after finishing his schooling in Bombay. He received his PG and Ph.D. from Columbia University in New York City, then went on to finish his masters and doctorates at the London School of Economics.
Reforms and Work in the Social Sector
Despite the obstacles, Dr. Bhimrao received the finest education from extremely reputable institutions due to his merit and skill. In addition, he has a legal degree.
Fighting for the rights of the lower castes and untouchables was one of his most important contributions to the eradication of societal problems. He fought for separate electorates for lower caste and untouchable people at the time of the Government of India Act, 1919, and urged quota for them.
Dr. Ambedkar created a series of periodicals, including Bahiskrit Bharat, A Weekly, and Mook Nayak, a periodical, to raise awareness and fight for the rights of the untouchables and lower castes.
On July 20, 1924, he created the Bahishkrit Hitakarni Sabha in Bombay with the goal of raising socio-political awareness among untouchables and making the government more responsive to their issues. He urged Dalits to band together, advocate, and educate for their due position in society.
He began a series of public campaigns against discrimination against untouchables, including the burning of the Manusmriti, an ancient Hindu document that sanctioned the caste system and the rights of low castes to visit Hindu temples, as well as the opening of public water supplies to untouchables.
Ambedkar took part in the British-announced notorious Communal Award, which said that there was a provision in British India for a distinct electorate for a variety of ethnicities. As a result, untouchables were seen as a distinct electorate.
Gandhiji and other Congress leaders rejected the idea, claiming it was divisive and sectarian, dividing Hindus into two factions. However, Dr. was in favor because he believed that by establishing a distinct electorate, more and more members of the legislature from the poorer classes would be elected.
Dr. Ambedkar’s most significant contribution to the development of contemporary India was his leadership of the constitution writing committee. Dr. was compelled to speak out for OBCs, STs, SCs, and women’s rights. Special processes were also introduced for their elevation and the abolition of different forms of prejudice they encounter.
He later turned to Buddhism after becoming dissatisfied with Hinduism’s discriminatory customs, superstitions, and caste structure.
As a result, he fought against prevalent social ills in India throughout his life, both socially and politically, and made a significant contribution to ensuring that India’s downtrodden people had a proper position in the country.
He was undoubtedly a one-of-a-kind personality, having been born in the country. He died in Delhi on December 6, 1956, following a protracted illness caused by diabetes.
7. Amte Baba
Baba Amte was one of contemporary India’s most well-known social reformers. He was born on December 26, 1914, in Wardha, Maharashtra. Murlidhar was his childhood name, and his parents’ names were Devilal Singh and Laxmibai Amte.
His father was a high-ranking British government official, and as a result, he was affluent and lived a lavish lifestyle throughout his adolescence. However, he was always a liberal thinker who was friends with people of many faiths and classes.
He majored in law and was assured that he would have a genuine professional path at Wardha. He also took part in Gandhiji’s Gandhiji’s Gandhiji’s Gandhiji’s Gandhiji’s Gandhiji’s Gandhiji’s Gandhiji’s Gandhiji’s Gandhiji’s Gandhi affected him, and he lived his life in accordance with his ideas.
Reforms and Work
His effort for the rehabilitation, empowerment, and care of persons with leprosy has made a significant contribution to India and society. Leprosy was a condition that carried a lot of stigma at the time, more so than it does today. And Baba wanted to spread the word about how non-contagious the illness is, so he let the virus from a leprosy patient to be injected into him to show it.
In Maharashtra, he established three Ashrams for the rehabilitation, care, and treatment of leprosy sufferers shunned by society and family. At addition, on August 15, 1949, he established a hospital in Anandvan.
He also tried to raise public awareness about the need of animal conservation, ecological balance, and forest preservation. He was a member of the Narmada Bachao Andolan and advocated for the rights of those who had been displaced as a result of the building of the Sardar Sarovar Dam.
As a result, he dedicated his whole life to the betterment of society and India’s future. He died at Anandvan, Maharashtra, on February 9, 2008.
8. Mother Teresa is a well-known figure in the
Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu was a Roman Catholic religious sister and notable social reformer who was born on August 26, 1910 in Skopje, Macedonia. She was born to Nikolle and Dranafile Bojaxhiu and attended Loreto Abbey, Rathfarnham, and the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary for her schooling.
Something compelled her to listen to a call to religious life for the first time when she was 12 years old. She chose to become a nun at the age of 18 and joined the Loreto Sisters of Dublin. She was given the name “Mary Teresa” and moved to Darjeeling, India, after working in Dublin for many years.
She arrived in Calcutta and was assigned to educate the girls at Saint Mary’s High School. This school was established to educate the daughters of the city’s poorest Bengali households. After six years of service, on May 24, 1937, she was given the title of “Mother,” as is customary for Loreto nuns, and was given the name “Mother Teresa.”
She left the Loreto Convent in August 1948 and set out to find her vocation. She completed six months of basic medical training and dedicated the rest of her life to Calcutta’s unloved, uncared-for, undesired, and untouchable citizens.
Service to the Community
She dedicated her life to helping the society’s underprivileged and needy. She started her mission in India, in Calcutta, in 1948, and was effective in bringing people of many faiths and castes together to aid India’s destitute and needy.
Untouchables and lower caste individuals who were not treated or touched by vaidya or physicians perished as a result of their loved ones’ lack of care and medication. She decided to build a school and a home for persons who are rejected by their family owing to incurable conditions after seeing their plight. She founded “The Missionaries of Charity” in 1950, having 12 members at the time.
She also looked after the destitute, the ill, and the dying. She and her mission members went out into the city streets to rescue dying and homeless individuals. They would serve, feed, and clean them with all of life’s basics so that they might live out their days with dignity. So far, she has placed 20 missionaries in the homes of homeless individuals.
She was given the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and the Bharat Ratna in 1980 for her long life of devoted devotion to the poor and helpless. She died in Kolkata on September 5, 1997, at the age of 87, from an old-age ailment.
The social reformers of India are among those who have left their imprint on history. Everyone should pay tribute to those who have put forth a lot of effort to bring about the country’s transformation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What were the contributions of the Indian social reformers?
A: There have been many social reformers of India, but two well-known figures were Mahatma Gandhi and B.R. Ambedkar.
What are the contribution of social reformers?
What were the contribution of Indian social reformers Class 5?
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