Chapter 5

NCERT
Class 10
History
Solutions
3. What did the spread of print culture in nineteenth-century India mean to: (A) Women (B) The poor (C) Reformers?

Question:

Write in Brief

What did the spread of print culture in nineteenth-century India mean to:

(A) Women

(B) The poor

(C) Reformers?

Answer:

(A) Women:The spread of print culture in nineteenth-century India was very important in the following ways for the women:

  • The lives and feelings of women began to be written in clear and intense ways.
  • Women’s reading increased enormously in middle-class homes.
  • Liberal husbands and fathers started educating women at home. When women’s schools were opened after the mid-nineteenth century, they sent them to schools for education.
  • Articles were written in journals about the need for education for women. Sometimes syllabus and suitable reading material was published which could be used for home-based schooling. Thus print culture helped in the improvement of the condition of women in society. Some of them wrote books and autobiographies. For example, Rashsundari Debi wrote her autobiography Amar Jiban which was published in 1876. Kailashbashini Debi (Bengal), Tarabai Shinde, and Pandita Ramabai (Maharashtra) were famous women writers. However, the conservative Hindus believed that a literate girl would be widowed. Muslims too feared that educated women would be corrupted by reading Urdu romances.
  • Women started writing about their own lives. From the 1860s, a few Bengali women like Kailashbashini Debi wrote books highlighting the experiences of women at home doing hard domestic labor and treated unjustly by the very people they served.
  • In 1880, in present-day Maharashtra, Tarabai Shinde, and Pandita Ramabai wrote with passionate anger about the miserable lives of the upper caste Hindu women.
  • In Hindi too, a large segment of printing was devoted to the education of women.

(B) The Poor: Print culture helped the poor people significantly in the following ways:

  • Very cheap small books were brought to the markets in nineteenth-century Madras towns and sold at cross-roads, allowing poor people travelling to markets to buy them.
  • Public libraries were set up from the early twentieth century, expanding the access to books. These libraries were located mostly in cities and towns, and at times in prosperous villages. For rich local patrons, setting up a library was a way of acquiring prestige.
  • From the late nineteenth-century, cases of caste discrimination were published. For example: Jyotiba Phule, the Maratha pioneer of ‘low caste’ protest movements, wrote about the injustices of the caste system in his Gulamgiri(1871).
  • Social reformers tried to restrict excessive drinking among them to bring literacy and sometimes, to propagate the message of nationalism.

(C) Reformers :

  • Reformers used newspapers, journals and books to highlight the social evils prevailing in the society. Raja Ram Mohan Roy published the Sambad Kaumudi to highlight the plight of widows.
  • From the 1860s, many Bengali women writers like Kailashbashini Debi wrote books highlighting the experiences of women about how women were imprisoned at home, kept in ignorance, forced to do hard domestic labor and treated unjustly by the men-folk, they served.
  • In the 1880s, in present-day Maharashtra, Tarabai Shinde and Pandita Ramabai wrote with passionate anger about the miserable lives of the upper-caste Hindu women, especially the widows. The poor status of women was also expressed by the Tamil writers.
  • Jyotiba Phule was a social reformer. He wrote about the poor condition of the ‘low caste’. In his book Gulamgiri (1871), he wrote about the injustices of the caste system.
  • In the 20th century, B.R. Ambedkar also wrote powerfully against the caste system. He also wrote against untouchability.
  • E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker, also known as Periyar, too wrote about the caste system prevailing in Madras (Chennai).

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