During the early years, the British were engaged in consolidation of the empire in India and laid emphasis on reorganization of administration as well as regulation of economy. Their priority was to promote and protect the British trade and industry.
For this order and security ought to be maintained. At this time, the British thought it wise not to interfere in the religious and socio-cultural life in India. Religious faiths and social customs are two sensitive aspects with which Indians are emotionally involved.
Little amount of interference might lead to unrest and resentment against the British Rule. Only after 1813, when the British felt politically safe and secured they stopped forward for introducing changes for transformation or modernization of Indian society and culture.
Two factors primarily promoted the British to introduce a series of reforms for modernization of India on Western model. First, the Industrial Revolution had transformed England into an industrial country.
Their industrial interests needed a profitable market for machine-products. They found India the most attractive one. For accomplishment of their aims, India would Bengal transformed to a consumer of British goods.
Modernization of Indian society would develop the taste and demand for consumption of British Industrial products by Indians. Secondly, due to progress in science and technology, new ideas like humanism and rationalism replaced faith and superstition. Those ideas broadened the mind and molded the thought process of the Europeans. A group of European thinkers wanted to spread those ideas all over the world.
In case of India a clash of ideas came upon among the conservatives and the radicals. The conservatives or men of traditional attitude held the view that Indian society and culture was in no way inferior to the European civilization.
They proposed for introduction of changes as few as possible and pleaded that hasty and sweeping changes would affect social stability. On the other hand, the radicals or the men of new thought were critical of Indian society and culture and were in favour of sweeping changes. They considered certain customs as social injustice like caste system, untouchably, the sati, infanticide and the status of women etc.
The radicals received strong support from Rammohan Ray and other progressive Indians. British officials like James Mill, and above all Lord William Bethink, The Governor General of India, Championed the cause of modernization.
Legislations of Bentinck:
Lord William Bentinck came to India as Governor General. His period as governor-general from 1828 to 1835 has been accepted as an important phase of reform. He himself was an advocate of new ideas and always marched ahead with progressive thought. He weighed the welfare of the ruled as the moral obligation of the ruler.
He advocated for good Government and worked for a peaceful, prosperous and modern India. His approach was humanitarian and motto was happiness of the governed. He differed from his predecessors and set precedence for h successors. He abolished of the custom of Sati, suppressed the Thugs, prohibited infanticide and human sacrifice.
Abolition of Sati:
Among the age old customs of India, sati was the most inhuman practice. It was a challenge for any civilized human being. The barbarous and horrifying system of Sati drew the attention of Bentinck. Practice of Sati was the burning of the widow in the funeral pyre for husband.
It was based on the superstition that by practicing Sati, woman would attain divinity and would goods to heaven. Origin of this social evil is yet to Bengal ascertained. X there were socio-economic motives behind this system. Socially, the Sati was revered by the people. Many of the widows preferred to practice the Sati in the hope of attaining heaven.
It was considered as a religious duty. But in most cases the women feared the tortures and miseries of a widow. With clean...
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