How did the early social reformers and nationalists view caste in India?

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How did the early social reformers and nationalists view caste in India?

Early social reformers and nationalists in India had varied views on caste. Some saw it as a traditional and integral aspect of Indian society, while others viewed it as a source of oppression and inequality that needed to be abolished.

Social reformers such as Raja Rammohan Roy and Jyotirao Phule saw caste as a source of oppression and inequality. They believed that the caste system perpetuated discrimination and denied opportunities to individuals based on their birth. They called for the abolition of caste and the promotion of equality and social justice. Rammohan Roy, for example, advocated for the rights of women and the lower castes and sought to abolish practices such as sati (the practice of widows immolating themselves on their husband’s funeral pyre). Phule, on the other hand, focused on the rights of lower castes, particularly the Dalits (formerly known as untouchables) and advocated for their education and upliftment.

Nationalists such as Mahatma Gandhi also had complex views on caste. While he acknowledged the oppressive aspects of the caste system, he also saw it as an integral aspect of Indian society. Gandhi believed that caste had a spiritual significance and that it could be reformed, rather than abolished. He sought to eliminate the discriminatory practices associated with caste and to promote inter-caste harmony. He also called for the upliftment of the lower castes and the elimination of untouchability.

On the other hand, B. R. Ambedkar, a leading Dalit leader and social reformer, had a more radical stance on caste. He saw the caste system as a form of oppression and discrimination and believed that it was not reformable. He advocated for the abolition of caste and the creation of a society based on equality and justice. He also played a crucial role in the drafting of the Indian constitution, where he pushed for the rights and protection of the Dalits and other marginalized communities.

Early social reformers and nationalists in India had diverse views on caste. While some saw it as an integral aspect of Indian society that could be reformed, others viewed it as a source of oppression and inequality that needed to be abolished. However, they all agreed on the importance of promoting equality, social justice and the upliftment of lower castes and marginalized communities.

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