Social Movements in British India
As we continue to develop this site, we will be adding materials related to social movements in British India between 1870 and 1900. We will continue to emphasize the newspapers for which the Kiplings wrote (The Pioneer and The Civil & Military Gazette), though the writings featured in this section of the site will be authored by other journalists and commentators.
As of spring 2017, we have been working on two particular thematic cluster: one related to Rukhmabai, a young Indian woman married as a child who was sued by her husband for refusing to cohabit with him, and another relating to Famine.
In the Rukhmabai case, the initial decision by Judge Pinhey of Bombay ruled in her favor (in spring of 1886). but the judgment was reversed on appeal by the Bombay high court in March 1887. The case was widely discussed by British and Indian commentators throughout the 1880s. While British commentators largely saw the Rukhmabai case as an instance of "barbarous" and backwards Indian social customs regarding child marriage and women's rights, Indian commentators were somewhat more divided. The British involvement in the case forced Indian commentators and activists to consider the merits of Hindu marriage law, an issue that continued to be a source of controversy through the remainder of the British colonial period and continued to be debated after independence. In the short run, however, the debates over Rukhmabai facilitated the passage of a new Age of Consent Act in 1891 that raised the age of consent in Hindu marriage. Alongside British commentators, then, this collection contains essays by Indian commentators such as Surendra Nath Ghose and B.M. Malabari, whose views were published in English (Anglo-Indian) newspapers at the time.
For the Famine, the best point of introduction to the current contents of the collection would be the Famine tag.