Discuss the various aspects of social legislation introduced by the East India Company in the Ist half of the 19th century

The British after 1813 took active interest to transform India socially. Rise of new interests and ideas in the wake of Industrial Revolution required partial serve their interests. In this drive, they were able-supported by the Indian intelligentsia.

Sati, the custom of burning wife along with the funeral pyre of the diseased husband, was outlawed in 1829. The tehn Governor General, William Bentick, made ti a crime to any way associated with burning of a widow on her husband’s funeral. Raja Rammohan Roy was instrumental in activating the company in this regard.

Female infanticide was prevalent in Rajasthan, Bengal and Central India. It was associated with low position of women in the society. In 1802, laws were made ban it in Bengal. Soon, subsequent laws followed making it a heinous crime.

Lord Hardinge suppressed the practice of human sacrifices among tribes of the central India.

In 1856, the government passed an Act enabling Hindu widows to remarry. It acted after Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar and other social reformers carried a crusade in favour of such measure.

In 1811, import of slaves from outside was banned. In 1843 Lord Ellenborough abolished slavery in India. To have slaves was made illegal.

The abominable custom of branding the convicts in criminal cases was abolished in 1849. Another legislation providing for custody of lunatics in the country was made.

During 1831-1837, Bentick made laws banning the Thudi and made it punishable. Dalhousie, by an Act, made it an offence punishable with life imprisonment.

Thus, the first part of the 19th century witnessed British efforts to reform the Indian society. But, these official reforms touched no more than the fringes of the Indian social system. The real work was done in the second half of the 19th centuary. A group of Indians unleashed a crusade to reform and modernise the Indian society. They are able to transform the lives of the vast majority.

September 24, 2016

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