(i) In 1927, Ambedkar started a temple entry movement, in which his Mahar caste followers participated.
(ii) Brahman priests were outraged when the Dalits used water from the temple tank.
(iii) Ambedkar led three such movements for temple entry between 1927 and 1935.
(iv) His aim was to make everyone see the power of caste prejudices within society.
(i) In 1873, Phule wrote a book titled Gulamgiri, meaning slavery. Some ten years before this, the American Civil War had been fought, leading to the end of slavery in America.
(ii) Phule dedicated his book to all those Americans who had fought to free slaves, thus establishing a link between the conditions of the “lower” castes in India and the black slaves in America.
(i) Jyotirao Phule developed his own ideas about the injustices of caste society. He set out to attack the Brahmans’ claim that they were superior to others, since they were Aryans.
(ii) Phule argued that the Aryans were foreigners, who came from outside the subcontinent, and defeated and subjugated the true children of the country – those who had lived here from before the coming of the Aryans.
(iii) As the Aryans established their dominance, they began looking at the defeated population as inferior, as low-caste people. According to Phule, the “upper” castes had no right to their land and power: in reality, the land belonged to indigenous people, the so-called low castes.
(i) Jyotirao Phule and Ramaswamy Naicker were critical of the national movement as they did not see any difference between the anti-colonial nationalist and the British colonisers.
(ii) According to them, both were outsiders and had used power for suppressing the indigenous people and exploited their land.
(iii) They argued that once the British colonizers had left, the upper-caste leaders of the national movement would continue with their oppressive caste practices, and perpetuate divisions amongst the common masses they were trying to unite in terms of nationalism.
(iv) He believed that the upper-caste nationalists wanted a free-nation only to serve their purposes, and once their goals had been achieved, the caste injustice would be practiced again.
(v) Ramaswamy Naicker's experience as a member of the Congress showed him that the national movement was not free from the evil of caste discrimination.
(vi) At a feast organised by the Congress nationalists, seating arrangements followed caste distinctions – that is, the lower castes were made to sit at a distance from the upper castes.
(vii) He was convinced that untouchables had to fight for their dignity, and for this purpose, Periyar launched the Self Respect Movement.
(viii) The critical views of Phule and Ramaswamy on Indian nationalism forced the upper-caste nationalist leaders to rethink their position on the freedom from the British without the destruction of caste discrimination.
(ix) This resulted in the strengthening of the national struggle, when the masses were united regardless of their caste, religion and gender.
(i) The British period witnessed the emergence of many new cities which created many new opportunities for the so-called people of “low” castes.
(ii) The poor “low” castes began leaving their villages to look for work in the factories, and jobs in municipalities.
(iii) As the cities were expanding, there were new demands of labour,drains had to be dug, roads laid, buildings constructed, and cities cleaned.
(iv) This required coolies, diggers, carriers, bricklayers, sewage cleaners, sweepers, palanquin bearers, and rickshaw pullers.
(v) The poor people also went to work in plantations in Assam, Mauritius, Trinidad and Indonesia.
(vi) Though work in the new locations was often very hard, the poor saw this as an opportunity to get away from the oppression and humiliation of the upper-caste landowners exercised over their lives in the villages.
(i) In the nineteenth century, Christian missionaries started setting up schools for tribal groups and lower-caste children.
(ii) These children were taught in many skills for their survival in the changing world.
(iii) Soon the poor left the villages and started looking for opportunities in the cities.
(iv) People who looked down on the lower caste did not like the Christian missionaries and the economic progress of the lower caste poor people.
(v) Social reformers would have supported the missionaries for their work against the caste practices and other social evils.
(i) When the first schools were opened in the mid-nineteenth century, many people were afraid of them.
(ii) They feared that schools would take girls away from home, prevent them from doing their domestic duties.
(iii) 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.
(iv) They felt that girls should stay away from public spaces.
(vi) Therefore, throughout the nineteenth century, most educated women were taught at home by liberal fathers or husbands.
(i) The reformers used the knowledge of the ancient texts to promote new laws by highlighting the fact that unjust practices had no sanction in the ancient texts.
(ii) Whenever they wished to challenge an irrational practice, the reformers 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.
(iii) For example, Rammohun Roy tried to show through his writings that the practice of widow burning (sati) had no sanction in ancient texts.
(iv) Another social reformer, Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar used the ancient texts to suggest that widows could remarry.
Rammohun Roy - Supported law against sati practice
Dayanand Saraswati - Supported widow remarriage
Veerasalingam Pantulu – Supported widow remarriage
Jyotirao Phule – Supported equality against castes society
Pandita Ramabai – Supported women’s education
Periyar – Supported equality for untouchables
Mumtaz Ali - Supported women’s education
Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar - Supported widow remarriage