Various Social Reforms In India in pre independece phase

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Title: Unraveling Various Social Reforms in Pre-Independence India for UPSC Aspirants


Indian society has witnessed a plethora of radical changes, particularly in the period leading up to independence. As a prospective candidate for the Union Public Services Commission exams, it’s crucial to comprehend and analyze the various social reforms that pre-independence India underwent to shape socio-political and cultural dynamics in the country.

1. Abolition of Sati – Raja Ram Mohan Roy:

Among the glaring reforms shaping India, the abolition of Sati evolved as one of the most striking ones. It was primarily enforced by Raja Ram Mohan Roy, the founder of the Brahmo Samaj in 1828. Horrified by the inhumane act of burning widows alive on their husband’s funeral pyre, Roy vehemently fought against this cruel practice. His sustained efforts led to the Prohibition of Sati Act of 1829, marking a turning point in Indian society’s oppressive traditions.

2. Women’s Education:

Education for women was almost nil during pre-independence India, with girls being limited to a life confined within domestic walls. Pioneers in reform like Jyotiba Phule and his wife Savitribai Phule established the first girls’ school in Pune, encouraging female education. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar also played a significant role in initiating girl’s education in Bengal.

3. Child Marriage Restraint:

The fight against child marriage was another colossal reform where stalwarts like Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar and Maharshi Karve actively campaigned against it. Their sustained advocacy resulted in the passing of the Age of Consent Act (1891), which elevated girls’ marriageable age.

4. Abolition of Untouchability:

Mahatma Gandhi led the movement against untouchability and caste discrimination. His non-violent protests and speeches heavily criticized this oppressive caste hierarchy. Another iconic figure who played a paramount role in this social reform was Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, who campaigned for Dalit rights and endowment of equality in society.

5. Widow Remarriage:

The social reform of widow remarriage was initiated by Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, who later petitioned the British authorities for legislation supporting the same. The endorsement of the Widow Remarriage Act in 1856 provided a glimmer of hope into the lives of countless widows, and it was a monumental step towards gender equality.

6. Formation of Arya Samaj:

Swami Dayananda Saraswati founded the Arya Samaj in 1875, which played a significant role in reforming Indian society. The motto of the organization was ‘back to the Vedas,’ aiming to revive and purify Hinduism from the ostentatious practices that had crept into it. This institution promoted women’s education, widow remarriage, and vehemently opposed polygamy, casteism, and idol worship.


The above highlights of the essential social reforms leading to India’s independence signify that it was not a single-handed effort. It was a collective endeavor, a reflection of the unity in diversity that India stands for. As a UPSC aspirant, understanding these milestones in society’s transformation becomes highly imperative. Emphasizing and furthering the cause of social upliftment should resonate as a persistent drive to any aspiring civil servant, as the pursuit to refine society should never cease. It is rightly said that society is like a flowing river whose course cannot and should not be halted but merely guided to reach its desired destination.

Prince Luthra (UPSC CSE AIR 577)

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