Get here the summary, questions, answers, textbook solutions, extras, and pdf of Chapter 7 “Movements Organised by Women, Students, and Marginal People in the 20th Century India: Characteristics and Analysis” of the West Bengal Board (WBBSE) Class 10 (Madhyamik) History (Social Science) textbook. However, the given notes/solutions should only be used for references and should be modified/changed according to needs.
Summary: In India’s history, there have been significant roles played by Dalit, student, and women’s movements. The Indian women were not sitting around while the men fastened their belts to join the fight for freedom. They actively participated in the independence movements that were being led by those who opposed the British. Women started using local goods and boycotting British products during the Anti-Partition movement, which got its start in 1905. Women’s community leaders such as Sarala Devi, Kumudini Mitra, and Nirmala Sarkar called on their followers to join the anti-British movement.
Women enthusiastically embraced Gandhiji’s call during the Non-Cooperation Movement. They participated in gatherings and procession and shunned imports. They knowingly invited arrest. Women from respectable families like Leela Roy, Urmila Devi, and Basanti Devi disobeyed British authority as well. Muslim women joined the movement, too, in addition to Hindu women. Women got involved in the Civil Disobedience Movement when Mahatma Gandhi first started it. The revolt against the British was characterised by picketing and outdoor demonstration. Along with the continued presence of female supporters, the boycott of imported goods and shopping for domestic goods went on. Muslim women from middle and upper class also took part in the civil disobedience movement.
Women took on various forms of involvement in the Quit India Movement. They endured numerous tortures while fighting with true spirit. Here, it is especially important to mention Aruna Asaf Ali, Sucheta Kripalani, and Usha Mehta. The Tamluk Police Station was attacked by Matangini Hazra and her 6,000 supporters, the majority of whom were women, in the context. In India’s armed revolutionary movements, women also had a significant impact. Here, the names of Pritilata Waddedar, Bina Das, and Kalpana Joshi who gave their lives in the name of freedom are worthy of mention. The student body played a significant role in addition to the women. Students left their schools and colleges to join the Anti-Partition Movement during the Anti-Partition agitation.
In order to organise a complex educational system on a national scale and under national control, the National Council of Education was established. Gandhiji’s students left class during the Non-Cooperation Movement and skipped classes at schools and colleges. In front of shops selling British goods, they picketed. Outside of Bengal, the student movement spread to cities like Bombay, Punjab, and Bihar, among other places. The students celebrated a special day on March 12, 1930, the day Gandhiji began his Dandi March. Students attended the gathering that various leaders, including Jyotindra Mohan Sengupta, hosted. The movement attracted students from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar. The armed revolutionary movement also attracted young students from various revolutionary organisations. Benoy, Badal, and Dinesh may be mentioned in this context. To combat the British, these young students turned to violence.
In a last-ditch effort to put an end to the attack, British officers tortured the revolutionaries. The Dalit or Namasudra movement is a further significant movement that needs to be mentioned in this context. The Namasudras were regarded as untouchables in Bengali Hindu society. The social reformers Harichand and Guruchand who fought for the advancement of the namasudras may be mentioned. They were the “Matua” movement’s leaders.
I. Very short answer type questions
1. What was the name of the newly formed province following the Partition of Bengal?
Answer: The newly formed province was known as Eastern Bengal and Assam after Bengal was partitioned.
2. When was the Bengal Partition revoked?
Answer: In 1911, the Partition of Bengal was revoked.
3. Identify two women leaders associated with the Bengal Swadeshi Movement.
Answer: Kumudini Mitra and Nirmala Sarkar were two female leaders who were involved in the Bengali Swadeshi Movement.
4. What event ended the Non Cooperation Movement?
Answer: The Chauri Chaura incident put an end to the Non-Cooperation Movement.
5. What year did the incident at Chauri Chaura occur?
Answer: The Chauri Chaura incident occurred in 1922.
6. When did the Quit India Movement begin?
Answer: The Quit India Movement began in 1942.
7. When did the Congress adopt the Quit India Resolution?
Answer: The Congress approved the Quit India Resolution on August 8, 1942.
8. Why is the “Quit India Movement” also referred to as the “August Revolution”?
Answer: Because it had taken place in August, the Quit India Movement is also known as the “August Revolution.”
9. Who was the editor of the ‘Jayasree’ newspaper?
Answer: Leela Nag was the editor of the newspaper ‘Jayasree.’
10. Identify two secret Bengali revolutionary societies.
Answer: The Bengal Volunteers and Anushilan Samity were two revolutionary secret societies.
11. On the day of the partition, who proposed the “Rakhi Bandhan”?
Answer: On the day of Partition, the eminent poet Rabindranath Tagore proposed the “Rakhi Bandhan.”
12. When was the Dawn Society founded?
Answer: In 1902, the Dawn Society was founded.
13. In which year was the Carlyle Circular issued?
Answer: The Carlyle Circular was issued on October 10, 1905.
14. What year were the Morley-Minto Reforms enacted?
Answer: Morley-Minto Reforms were enacted in 1909.
15. When did Dandi March take place?
Answer: The Dandi March took place on March 12, 1930.
16. What year did the Non-Cooperation Movement begin?
Answer: The Non-Cooperation Movement began in 1920.
17. Who represented India at the Second Round Table Conference?
Answer: In the Second Round Table Conference, India was represented by Mahatma Gandhi and Sarojini Naidu.
18. When was the Gandh-Irwin Pact signed?
Answer: Gandhi-Irwin Pact was signed in 1931.
19. When did the Civil Disobedience Movement begin?
Answer: The Civil Disobedience Movement began in 1930.
20. Who was India’s Governor General at the time the Civil Disobedience Movement began?
Answer: Lord Irwin was the Governor General of India at the time of the Civil Disobedience Movement.
21. Who was Mitra Mela’s founder?
Answer: The Mitra Mela was started by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.
22. Who is known as the “Father of Namasudra Renaissance”?
Answer: Guruchand Thakur is considered the “Father of the Namasudra Renaissance.”
23. Who founded the Namasudra Welfare Association?
Answer: The Namasudra Welfare Association was founded by Guruchand Thakur.
24. Where did the Namasudra movement begin?
Answer: The Faridpur Bakrgunje region was where the Namasudra movement first began.
25. When was the Communal Award announced, and by whom?
Answer: The Communal Award was announced in 1932 by British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald.
II. Short answer type questions
1. What was Sarala Devi Chaudhurani’s involvement in the Anti-Partition Movement?
Answer: Rabindranath Tagore’s niece Sarala Devi Chaudhurani promoted nationalism in Punjab. In her essays for the newspaper “Bharati,” she highlighted the resilience of women. She set up a gymnasium in her home for physical training. Additionally, she kept in touch frequently with the Suhrid Samitiof Mymensingh, a covert revolutionary organisation.
2. Who was Gandhi Budi and why was she notable?
Answer: ‘Gandhi Budi’ was Matangini Hazra, a 72-year-old peasant widow from Midnapore.
During the Quit India Movement, she led a crowd, mostly of women, to occupy the Tamluk Police Station.
3. What was Matangini Hazra’s role in the August Movement of 1942?
Answer: Matangini Hazra, a 72-year-old widow affectionately known as “Gandhi Budi,” was one of the women who gave their lives during the Quit India Movement. During the movement, she led a crowd to occupy the Tamluk Police Station. Carrying the national flag to the Tamluk Court while yelling “Bande Mataram” she became a martyr. She is appropriately referred to as “Laxmi Bai of Midnapore.”
4. When was the Deepali Students’ Sangha established and who were some of its important leaders?
Answer: In 1926, the Deepali Students’ Sangha was founded.
Renuka Sen, Pritilata Waddedar, Sakuntala Ray, Binapani Ray, Usharani Ray, and others were notable Sangha members.
5. Who founded the ‘Voice of Freedom’ and for what reason?
Answer: The “Voice of Freedom” was founded by Usha Mehta.
It served as a radio transmitter that disseminated information about the country’s independence war to its citizens.
6. What were the main goals of the Deepali Sangha?
Answer: Leela Ray founded the Deepali Sangha in Dacca with the intention of advancing women’s education. However, the true goal of this association was to promote female independence.
7. Why did the women of Bengal observe ‘Arandhan’ on October 16, 1905?
Answer: Lord Curzon divided Bengal into two parts in 1905. Bengali women opposed the partition plan in an effort to put pressure on the British government to undo the division. As a form of protest against the partition on October 16, 1905, they observed “Arandhan” day.
8. What was the Carlyle Circular and what was its purpose?
Answer:The British government issued a circular in 1905 that forbade students in schools and The Carlyle Circular was what this was called.colleges from affiliating themselves with any political movement. For participating in the Swadeshi Movement, it was claimed that they would suffer consequences.
9. What were the objectives of the Anti Circular Society?
Answer: The Anti-Circular Society (1905), which Sachindra Prasad Basu founded, sought to inspire students to join the Swadeshi Movement. Additionally, its goals included the sale of locally produced goods and the delivery of education to those who had been expelled from British government-run schools.
10. What were the goals behind the establishment of the Dawn Society?
Answer: The national education movement in Bengal was greatly aided by the Dawn Society, which Satish Chandra Mukherjee founded in 1902. Its goal was to develop Bengali students holistically—physically, mentally, and spiritually—into “perfect men.” Its other goals included providing job-oriented technical education, absorbing the benefits of modern science, and disseminating science to the general public.
11. On which day was “Rakhi Bandhan Day” observed and for what reason?
Answer: Rabindranath Tagore served as inspiration for the establishment of October 16, 1905, as “Rakhi Bandhan Day.” The Partition of Bengal was supposed to go into effect on this day. The Bengali community refused the political division between Bengal, Eastern Bengal, and Assam on this day by tying rakhis on one another’s wrists and celebrating Raksha Bandhan Day as a sign of unity.
12. What does the word “Swadeshi” mean?
Answer: Swadeshi, a word that literally means “of one’s own country,” It refers, more broadly, to national self-sufficiency and Swaraj, or self-rule.
13. Write a note on Corridor Warfare.
Answer: The Writers’ Building was attacked by Benoy Basu, Badal Gupta, and Dinesh Gupta in accordance with the Bengal Volunteers’ plan (December 8, 1930). Simpson, the inspector general of prisons, was killed by Benoy Basu. Inside the Writers’ Building, a confrontation took place between the police and the three armed nationalists. This is referred to as “Corridor Warfare” in history.
14. How did the Mitra Mela contribute to the revolutionary movement in Maharashtra?
Answer: Vinayak Damodar Savarkar founded the Mitra Mela Society in Nasik in 1899, and it turned out to be a significant hub of revolutionary activity in Maharashtra. The society organised for its members’ physical training. The creation of nationalistic poetry and music was encouraged by society. Members of this society held discussions about the lives of various figures, including Mazzini and Garibaldi. The society underwent a change and adopted the name “Abhinaba Bharat” in 1904. Savarkar also sent guns and literature to Maharashtra to aid in the propagation of revolutionary activities.
15. What was the Dandi March?
Answer: Gandhiji and 78 followers began walking from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi, a village on Gujarat’s coast. This is known in history as the Dandi March. He broke the existing salt laws there by producing salt from seawater.
16. Why was February 11 celebrated as Rashid Ali Day?
Answer: Several student movements began in Calcutta in response to the verdict handed down to Abdul Rashid, the captain of the Azad Hind Fauj. Rashid Ali was sentenced to seven years in prison during the trial, which took place in Delhi’s Red Fort. In response, the Muslim Students’ League and the All India Students’ Federation called a Students’ Strike for Captain Rashid Ali’s release from prison. This day was later known as Rashid Ali Day.
17. What were the terms of the Poona Pact?
Answer: The Poona Pact was an agreement that was signed by various parties and it established a common electorate for Hindus. As part of the agreement, a certain number of seats in various provincial legislatures were reserved for the depressed classes and a percentage of seats in the Central Legislatures were also reserved for them. In addition, the pact included provisions for primary elections to be held by the depressed class voters alone, with a selection of four candidates for each reserved seat and the restriction of the general Hindu elections to these candidates only.
III. Long answer type questions
1. What was the role of women in the Anti-Partition agitation and what were the limitations of their involvement in the movement?
Answer: During the Anti-Partition Agitation in Bengal in 1905, women played a significant role in resisting the partition of the region by the British government. They participated in boycotting British goods and promoting the use of indigenous goods as part of the Swadeshi Movement. Women such as Sarala Devi Chaudhurani, Sarojini Naidu, and Khairunnisa used their platforms to encourage women to join the movement and took part in events like ‘Arandhan’ day and ‘Raksha Bandhan Utsav.’ Some women also donated money and jewelry to the Swadeshi fund. However, the participation of women was largely limited to upper-caste Hindu women and there was a lack of organization and representation for women within the movement. Muslim women also did not directly participate, but rather cooperated with their male counterparts. Additionally, the conservative elements of society discouraged many women from participating, and the movement struggled to attract low-class Hindu and Muslim women. The plans and programs of the movement were also determined by male counterparts, leaving women with little agency or influence.
2. What was the role of women in the Non Cooperation Movement?
Answer: The Non-Cooperation Movement, led by Mahatma Gandhi in 1920, saw women respond enthusiastically to the call for passive resistance. They participated in meetings, marched in processions, and picketed in front of government offices, courts, and shops selling British goods. Some women even willingly faced arrest. The participation of women from respected families, such as Basanti Devi, Urmila Devi, and Lila Roy, added significance to the movement. Urmila Devi popularised spinning and weaving among women across the country. Muslim women also participated in the movement by attending meetings, marching in processions, and boycotting foreign goods. Nellie Sengupta led a strike of steamers in 1922, and Rokeya Begum promoted the idea of Swadeshi among women. Many women also participated in demonstrations against the Prince of Wales when he visited Bombay. Marwari women, in particular, played a notable role in the movement, with Gandhi collecting 10,000 rupees and ornaments for the Tilak Memorial Swaraj Fund at a meeting of Marwari women in Calcutta on January 29, 1921. The involvement of women in the Non Cooperation Movement is an important part of India’s history of freedom movements against British rule.
3. Describe the role played by women during the Quit India Movement.
Answer: Women in India fought fiercely and suffered various abuses in their pursuit of freedom for India. The participation of women in the Quit India Movement took many different forms. Usha Mehta established a radio transmitter called ‘The Voice of Freedom’ to disseminate information about the war of freedom. Another leader, Aruna Asaf Ali, broke the self-imposed law and was subsequently arrested, sentenced, and imprisoned in Lucknow. Sucheta Kripalani was another prominent leader of the Quit India Movement. She was responsible for establishing contact with groups operating throughout India and encouraging their anti-British activities. In various disguises, she travelled from province to province to keep the leaders in contact with one another. Matangini Hazra, a 72-year-old widow, deserves particular mention. She led six thousand supporters, mostly women volunteers, to occupy the Tamluk police station. She became a martyr by carrying the national flag towards the Tamluk Court and embracing bullets until her death, chanting the slogan ‘Bande Mataram’. She is rightly called the ‘Laxmi Bai of Midnapore’ and ‘Gandhi Budi’ because she was strongly attracted to Gandhi’s ideas. Other women leaders such as Sumita Sen, Nandita Kripalani, Ela Dutta, Santi Dasgupta, Kanaklata Barua, and Rani Chanda also joined the Quit India Movement over time. A large number of peasant women also joined the movements, protesting against tax and land revenue. Their grievances led them to openly resist the British, which further fueled the movement.
4. Why is Matangini Hazra remembered?
Answer: Matangini Hazra (1869-1942), a peasant widow, is remembered for her sacrifice in the fight for India’s independence. She became actively involved in the Indian Independence Movement as a follower of Gandhi and participated in the Civil Disobedience Movement and the Salt Satyagraha. She traveled on foot to attend various Congress meetings and interacted with many Congress leaders. She was a member of the Indian National Congress (INC) and promoted the use of khadi. She also had several confrontations with the British authorities. In 1933, she managed to show a black flag demonstration in front of the Governor of Bengal, Sir John Anderson, during his visit to Tamluk, despite heavy security. She was arrested and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment. During the Quit India Movement in 1942, she led six thousand supporters, mostly women volunteers, to occupy the Tamluk Police Station. She became a martyr by carrying the national flag towards the Tamluk Court and embracing bullets until her death, shouting the slogan ‘Bande Mataram’. She is known as the ‘Laxmi Bai of Midnapore’ and ‘Gandhi Budi’ because of her strong adherence to Gandhi’s ideas.
5. Explain the role of women in the Civil Disobedience Movement.
Answer: Mahatma Gandhi initiated the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930 with the historic Dandi March. The participation of women in this movement marked a new chapter in the history of the freedom movement. During Gandhi’s salt march, thousands of women came out of their homes to join the movement. Sarojini Naidu, a courageous fighter, stormed the Darshana Salt Works and was subsequently arrested by the British government. Women participated in protest marches, manufactured salt, and picketed in front of shops selling foreign cloth and liquor. The boycott of foreign goods and the purchase of Indian products continued, supported by the presence of women. Many were arrested. In Bengal, there was a strong sense of nationalism among women, with figures such as Basanti Devi, Urmila Devi, Lila Nag, and Sarala Devi joining the movement. In Bengal, various organizations for women sprang up, including the Women Satyagraha Committee and the Nari Satyagraha Samity. The participation of Muslim women was also significant, with even middle and upper-class Muslim women actively participating in the movement, including Daulatunnisa Khatun, Razia Khatun, Halima Khatun, and Rokeya Begum. The police oppression, including the assault and torment of women nationalists during this movement, was particularly alarming.
6. What was the purpose of the Deepali Sangha?
Answer: The Deepali Sangha was an association for women founded by freedom fighter and women’s education advocate Lila Nag in 1923. Its main aims were to improve women’s education, free women from harmful social customs, cultivate feminist consciousness, increase women’s political and social awareness, and develop women in all areas of life. It became a hub for initiating various women’s activities and established branches in different parts of Dacca. Lila Nag also quickly established a high school for girls in Dacca under the Deepali Sangha’s umbrella, and its units were opened in many places where members were taught drill, parade, sword fighting, and lathi wielding. The Deepali Sangha instilled revolutionary political ideas in its members.
7. What was the role of Pritilata Waddedar in the armed revolutionary movement?
Answer: Pritilata Waddedar (‘Waddedar’ was a title given to an ancestor of the family who originally had the surname Dasgupta.) was a Bengali revolutionary who became a martyr for the liberation of India. She was associated with a revolutionary organization called the Deepali Sangha in Dacca. Surya Sen chose Pritilata to lead his team in an attack on the Pahartali European Club. She received training in arms and participated in planning the guerrilla attack on the Club (September 24, 1932), which had a sign that read “Dogs and Indians are not allowed”. Pritilata was successful in attacking the European Club, but she and the other revolutionaries were chased by the police, leading to a direct confrontation between the revolutionaries and the police. Many of the revolutionaries escaped, but Pritilata was fatally wounded and had no way to escape from the British. To avoid being captured, Pritilata took potassium cyanide and committed suicide. Her sacrifice is remembered with honour and respect.
8. Why is Surya Sen remembered?
Answer: Surya Sen, also known as ‘Masterda’, was a prominent Indian independence activist and Bengali freedom fighter who played a key role in the freedom movement in Chittagong, Bengal (now Bangladesh). He is particularly remembered for leading the Chittagong Armoury Raid on April 18, 1930, during which he and a group of other revolutionaries, including Ananta Singh, Ganesh Ghosh, Lokenath Bal, Ambika Chakraborty and 54 teenagers, seized two British armouries in Chittagong, shouting slogans of “Inquilab Zindabad” and “Down with Imperialism”. Surya Sen, dressed in white Khadi dhoti and a longcoat, and wearing a Gandhi cap, took a military salute, hoisted the national flag and declared an Indian Republican Government in Chittagong. The group also managed to capture a telegraph communication and disrupt railway lines, with 65 revolutionaries participating in the action, undertaken in the name of the Indian Republican Army, Chittagong Branch. When the British police learned of the raid, they arrived in Chittagong to take repressive measures. The revolutionaries fled to the Jalalabad Hills and fought fiercely against the British police for 3 days, with 12 revolutionaries losing their lives in the battle. Surya Sen and a few others managed to escape, but he was later arrested and executed. Surya Sen’s leadership inspired younger revolutionaries who were eager to drive the British out of India by force, and he is remembered for his heroic resistance against the British and for igniting patriotism among revolutionaries.
9. What was the Anti-Circular Society and what were its objectives?
Answer: The Anti-Circular Society was a group of students who formed a protest against the repressive measures taken by the Chief Secretary of Bengal, R W Carlyle, in order to suppress the Anti-Partition Movement in 1905. The Carlyle circular prohibited students from participating in meetings, processions, and demonstrations, and even banned the slogan ‘Bande Mataram’. The society was founded in November 1905 by Sachindra Prasad Bose, a student leader at Ripon College (now Surendra Nath College) and a follower of Surendranath Bandyopadhayay. Its president and secretary were Krishna Kumar Mitra and Sachindra Prasad Bose. The main objectives of the society were to unite the students and keep them involved in the movement, encourage the students, and provide alternative education for students expelled from government schools and colleges. The Anti-Circular Society played a significant role in the anti-British student movement and Sachindra Prasad designed a flag for the society in 1906. However, he was arrested and sent to Rawalpindi prison in 1906 due to the efforts of the society to keep the students united.
10. Why is Khudiram remembered in Indian history?
Answer: Khudiram Bose of Bengal (1889-1908) is remembered in Indian history for his extraordinary self-sacrifice in the revolutionary movement. As a student, Khudiram was highly influenced by the ideology of his teacher Satyendra Nath Bose and joined the Jugantar group to carry out revolutionary activities. He was imprisoned for three years for his involvement in the Muzaffarpur Bomb Case (1905). After his release, he participated in a train robbery (1907) to collect funds for the Jugantar group. Barindra Kumar Ghosh of the Jugantar group assigned the task of assassinating the tyrannical Magistrate Kingsford to Prafulla Chaki and Khudiram Bose. However, Kingsford was transferred from Calcutta to Muzaffarpur in the meantime and the two revolutionaries went there. In an attempt to kill Kingsford, they mistakenly threw a bomb at a carriage carrying Mrs. Kennedy and her daughter Ms. Kennedy, killing them both. Prafulla Chaki committed suicide, but Khudiram was arrested and tried in the Alipore Bomb Case (1908). He was sentenced to death and hanged on August 11, 1908. Khudiram’s self-sacrifice and dauntless activities established an exceptional example that inspired Indian youths to fight and lay down their lives for the sake of their country.
11. What was the Lahore Conspiracy Case and what happened to the accused revolutionaries?
Answer: The Lahore Conspiracy Case (1950) was a legal case against revolutionaries who planned a military coup against the British government in India with the help of the members of the Gadar Party during the First World War. However, their plan was betrayed by a member of the Gadar Party, leading to the arrest of several revolutionaries. 291 revolutionaries were accused in the case, including Rashbehari Bose, Vishnuganesh Pingle, Bhai Paramanand, Kartar Singh, and Harnam Singh. The court gave different verdicts for the accused revolutionaries. Some, including Kartar Singh, Vishnuganesh Pingle, and Harnam Singh, were hanged, 114 were sentenced to life imprisonment, and 93 were given prison sentences of varying terms. 42 of them were acquitted. The main accused, Rashbehari Bose, managed to escape to Japan using the pseudonym P N Tagore.
12. What was the Alipore Bomb Case?
Answer: The police conducted a thorough search and investigation following the deaths of Mrs. Kennedy and her daughter Ms. Kennedy, who were killed by a bomb thrown by Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki in Muzaffarpur.
i. Arrest of revolutionaries: The police conducted a search at the garden house in Muraripukur, a center of secret activities, and discovered weapons and ingredients for making bombs. As a result, 47 revolutionaries, including Aurobindo Ghosh and his brother Barindra Kumar Ghosh, were arrested on suspicion.
ii. Beginning of the trial: The arrested revolutionaries were brought to trial in the Alipore session court on May 21, 1908, and this case became known as the famous first Alipore Bomb Case. It was brought against Indian revolutionaries by the British government on charges of conspiracy.
iii. Judges: The judge in this case was P C Beachcroft, who was a classmate of Aurobindo. There were two more Indian judges, Lathuni Prasad and Janki Prasad.
iv. Verdict: The verdict of the case was announced on May 6, 1909. According to the verdict, Barindra Kumar Ghosh and Ullaskar Dutta were sentenced to death, but due to various appeals, their sentences were later commuted to life deportation. Hemchandra Kanungo, Avinash Bhattacharya, Indu Bhushan Roy and others were sentenced to deportation for different terms. Only Aurobindo Ghosh was acquitted.
13. Give a brief description of the Namasudra Movement in Bengal.
Answer: The ‘Namasudra’ community in India was formerly known as ‘chandala’. They lived outside the four-tier system and were considered outcasts.
i. Causes of Namasudra Movement: In Bengali Hindu society, Namasudras were considered untouchables and had no religious rights. They were forbidden by caste Hindus from entering places of worship, drawing water from public wells, or wearing shoes in the presence of caste Hindus. They were also forced to dispose of dead animals, dig village graves, and perform other menial tasks such as manual scavenging, leather working, street sweeping, and cobbling. They also faced severe economic hardship.
ii. Objectives of the Namasudra Movement: The goal of the Namasudra Movement was to acquire special rights to strengthen the social and political position of the Namsaudra and achieve inner peace.
iii. Beginning of the movement: The Namasudra Movement began in the 1870s when chandalas in Bakarganj and Faridpur started boycotting caste Hindus after they refused to dine with a chandala headman. The Namasudras cut off all social and economic ties with higher caste Hindus.
iv. Matua Movement: Harichand Thakur, the leader of the Namasudras, started the Matua Movement, which aimed to uplift the downtrodden, achieve inner peace, and eliminate inequality in society. After Harichand’s death, leadership of the Matua Movement passed to his son Guruchand, who became known as the “Father of Namasudra Renaissance”. He successfully removed the term ‘chandala’, which had been used to denigrate the Namasudras. Harisabhas were established to promote the social upliftment of Namasudras, and Guruchand advocated for the employment
14. Who were the ‘Namashudras’? What was their position in the society?
Answer: The Namashudra community was an Indian ‘avarna’ group that was previously known as ‘chandala’. They lived outside of the traditional caste system and were therefore outcastes. The Namashudras primarily lived in the eastern districts of Dacca, Bakerganj, Faridpur, Mymensingh, Jessore and Khulna. When these districts became part of East Pakistan during the partition of India, the inhabitants were forced to migrate to the states of West Bengal. In Bengali Hindu society, the Namashudras were considered untouchables and were not granted the same religious rights as other castes. They were not allowed to enter places of worship, use public wells, or wear shoes in the presence of caste Hindus. They were also required to perform menial tasks such as disposing of dead animals, digging graves, and working as manual scavengers, leather workers, street sweepers, and cobblers. Children were even sold to pay off debts to upper-caste creditors, and children and women were often forced to work as agricultural labourers. The Namashudras also faced severe economic difficulties and struggled to provide for their families.
15. Who announced the Communal Award and where? What were the provisions of the Communal Award? How did Gandhi react to it?
Answer: The Communal Award was announced by the British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald in the Provincial Legislature on August 17, 1932. It made provisions for separate communal electorates for Muslims, Sikhs, Indian Christians, Europeans, and Anglo-Indians, and also divided the Hindu voters into two categories: caste Hindus (Varna Hindus) and depressed or backward class Hindus. Gandhi strongly opposed this division of Hindus into artificial classes and protested by undertaking a fast unto death on September 20, 1932. This led to the modification of the Communal Award through the Poona Pact of September 25, 1932, which reserved 148 seats for untouchables in the provincial legislatures and provided for their election through joint electorates.
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