What religious and social reforms did the British make in Indian society? | UPSC General Studies-I


What religious and social reforms did the British make in Indian society?


The following are the religious and social reforms brought by the British during the colonial period:

Female feticide:

  • In the upper Bengali caste and Rajput caste, the killing of female infants soon after birth was common in the Bengal Presidency during the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • The Bengal regulations of 1795 and 1804 declared female feticide illegal and would be treated as murder.
  • In the Regulation Act of 1870: It was made mandatory for the parents to register the birth of all the infants and the girl child was verified from time to time.

Sati Ban:

  • Bengal Regulation Act 1829: The practice of Sati was banned in the Bengal Presidency.
  • Then in 1830: The ban on Sati tradition was extended till the Madras and Bombay Presidencies.

Widow remarriage;

  • Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, the principal of Sanskrit College, Calcutta, was the first to try to legalize widow remarriage.
  • In 1852, Kardondas Mulji, an advocate of widow remarriage, started Satya Prakash in Gujarat.
  • Vishnu Shastri Pandit founded the Widow Remarriage Association in the 1850s.
  • The British Government passed the Widow Remarriage Act in 1856 to legalize the marriage of widows.
  • D.K. Karve also made efforts for widow remarriage in Madras Presidency and he himself married a widow in 1893.

Child marriage:

  • The Indian Christian Marriage Act 1872, which prohibited child marriage, had effect only for Indian Christians and had a limited effect in India as it did not apply to Hindus, Muslims, and other religions.
  • Age of Consent Act 1891: The minimum age of sexual intercourse was raised from 10 to 12 years for all girls, married or unmarried.
  • Saradha Act 1929 or Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929: The age of marriage for the boy was fixed at 18 and that of the girl at 14.
  • The Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act 1978 raised the age of marriage to 21 for boys and 18 for girls.

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