Eminent Personalities Of Modern India
Ishwara Chandra Vidya Sagar
A Bengali social reformer and educationist, he worked for the cause of the spread of female education. He set up a chain of schools for girls in Calcutta and was associated with J.D. Bethume, the founder of Female education in India. But he was more known for his campaign for Widow remarriage and organized a widespread campaign for the case. It was because of his efforts that the Widow Remarriage Act was passed in 1856.
Originally called Mulshankar, a native of Kathiawar, he studied at Mathura and founded the Arya Samaj in 1875 at Bombay. He was a great socio-religious reformer who aimed at strengthening Hinduism by removing the various inconsistencies in it and his slogan was “Back to the Vedas” as he considered the supreme. He decried untouchability and casteism, advocated western education and a higher status for women in society. He also authored Satyartha Prakash in Hindi and Veda Bhashya in Sanskrit.
A follower of Raja Rammohan Roy, he strengthened the Brahmo Samaj after Roy’s death by founding the Tattvabodhini Sabha along with Tattvabodhini Patrika, a magazine to propagate his ideas. He was for a rational outlook towards religion and supported widow remarriage, abolition of polygamy and women’s education. He remained the head of Brahmo Samaj till 1866 and was the father of the great poet, Rabindranath Tagore.
Keshab Chandra Sen
A giant intellectual and social reformer from Bengal joined the Brahmo Samaj in 1857 and popularized the movement within and outside Bengal. His liberal and cosmopolitan outlook resulted in a split in Brahmo Samaj and he started the Brahmo Samaj of India and the Indian Reform Association in 1870. It was because of his efforts that the British passed the Native Marriage Act in 1873, fixing minimum ages for the bride and groom.
Dr Atmaram Pandurang
He founded Prarthana Samaj in 1867 under the guidance of Keshab Chandra Sen. He preached monotheism and social reform by advocating inter-caste marriages, widow remarriage and improvement of a lot of the women and Depressed Classes.
Justice M.G. Ranade
An eminent jurist, social reformer and statesman, he infused life into Prarthana Samaj. . He believed that social reforms should precede demands for political independence and formed the Indian National Social Conference which held its sessions along with the Congress, of which also he was a founding member. He played a key role in the spread of western education and helped establish the Deccan Educational Society in 1884 at Poona. He was nominated as a judge in the Bombay High Court and critically analyzed British economic policies in his book “Essays on Indian Economics”.
Also called Munshiram, he was an Arya Samaj leader and the founder of the Gurukul Movement which laid emphasis on the traditional pattern of education. He also established the first Gurukul Patasala at Lahore in 1902. He also participated in the Non-Cooperation Movement and preached from atop the Jama Masjid as a symbol of communal harmony during the movement. He was murdered by a fanatic in 1926 during a communal riot.
Originally Gadodhar Chattopadyaya, he was a priest in the Dakshineshwar Temple in Calcutta. He emphasized the concept of one god and said that Krishna, Allah and Christ are the names of the same god. He believed in idol worship and laid emphasis on selfless devotion to god. He influenced Swami Vivekananda, who founded the Ramakrishna Mission to propagate his ideas.
An Irish lady and a disciple of Swami Vivekananda, she helped popularize the teachings of Ramakrishna. She was known as Sister Nivedita. She criticized the British Rule in India as unjust and exploitative, thereby providing inspiration to nationalists.
An Irish lady, came to India in 1893, joined the Theosophical Society and was responsible for its growth all over India. She founded the Central Hindu College at Benares in 1898 along with M.M. Malavya. She was the chief organizer of the Home Rule Movement in the Madras Presidency in 1916 and was the first lady President of the Indian National Congress in 1917. She accepted the Montford Reforms and left the Congress in 1920.
Gopal Hari Deshmukh
An ardent social reformer and intellectual, he was associated with various reform organizations. He was known by his pen name “Lokahita Vadi” and advocated the reorganization of Indian society on rational lines based on humanistic and secular values.
Born in a low caste Mali Family, he was the first to launch a protest against upper-caste dominance and Brahmanical supremacy. He started schools to educate the Depressed Classes and formed the Satya Sodhak Samaj for their Welfare. He wrote the books Gulam Giri in 1872 and Sarvajanik Satya Dharma Pustak.
A famous Moderate nationalist leader and social worker from Poona, he founded the Servants of India Society in 1905 to work for the betterment of the masses and it produced a dedicated band of social workers. He was an outstanding legislator, especially in the field of financial administration and was the President of the Indian National Congress in 1905 at Benares. He also helped set up the Deccan Educational Society at Poona in 1884.
Syed Ahmed Khan
A famous Muslim social reformer, he worked for the East India Company and supported the British during the 1857 revolt. After retirement, he worked for the spread of western education among the Muslims and his movement came to be known as the Aligarh movement. He wanted to remove the decadent social customs in a Muslim society like the purdah and raise the status of Muslim women. He ran a journal called Tahzib-ul-Akhlaq and founded the Mohamaddan Anglo-Oriental College at Aligarh to foster western learning which grew into the Aligarh Muslim University. He was a member of the Imperial Legislative Council and though he was initially nationalist and secular, he later turned communal.
Hakim Ajmal Khan
A nationalist Muslim, he was one of the founders of the Ahrar Movement where he advocated the participation of Muslims in the freedom movement. He even participated in the Non-Cooperation Movement. He was an eminent educationist and one of the founders of the Jamia Milia Islamia and Tibbia College.
Delhi Behram Malabari
A Parsi reformer, he started a crusade against child marriage and it was because of his efforts, the Age of Consent Act was passed in 1891 which forbade the marriage the girls below the age of 12. He was the editor of Indian Spectator and Voice of India. ” E.V. Ramaswamy Naiker: The leader of the anti-Brahmin Self Respect Movement, he waged agitation for forcible temple entry, burning of Manusmriti and wedding without Brahmin priests. He started the Journal Kudi Arasu in 1929 in Tamil to propagate his ideas. Later, he founded the radical Dravida Kazhagam which was anti-Brahmin, anti-Hindi and even went to the extent of advocating outright atheism, purification of the Tamil language and the breaking of Hindu idols.
Bankim Chandra Chatterjee
The first graduate of Calcutta University, a civil servant, and a great novelist, he inspired the nationalists through his novel Anand Math which contains the National Song- Bande Mataram.
An active social worker in the field of women’s welfare, he worked for the cause of women’s education and widow remarriage. He established the first Women’s University in Pune in 1916 and opened a Widow’s Home and founded the Nishkamkarma Matha to render training to women.
He founded the Indian Association in 1876 and became famous by launching an All India agitation against the reduction of the age limit for the Indian Civil Service examination. He edited the newspaper “Bengalee” and was a fighter for the freedom of the Press. He was also a prominent Moderate nationalist leader in the Congress. He was a prominent leader during the Swadeshi movement and the movement against the Partition of Bengal. He left the Congress in 1919 and joined the Liberal Party.
A successful barrister and a moderate leader, he was one of the founders of the Bombay Presidency Association and the Congress. A brilliant orator and legislator, he played an important role in undermining the moral influence and prestige of the Government in the Councils. He virtually ran the affairs of the Congress from 1905 to 1915 and expelled the extremists after Surat Split in 1907. He was the President of Congress in its 1890 session.
A barrister and a nationalist Muslim leader, he was one of the founders of the Bombay Presidency Association and the Congress. He presided over the third session at Madras in 1887 and became its first Muslim President. He was also a member of the Bombay Legislative Council and the President of Anjuman-e-Islam which worked for educational advancement and social reform of Muslims.
A nationalist Muslim, he was one of the founders of the Indian National Congress and was nominated to the Imperial Legislative Council. He presided over the 1896 session of Congress at Calcutta. He was the President of Bombay Municipal Corporation for 25 years. He encouraged Muslims to join the Congress.
One of the founders of the Madras Mahajan Sabhad the Congress, he was nominated to the Madras Legislative Council where he piloted many schemes on social reforms. In 1919, he presided over the Congress session at Nagpur and drafted the Swaraj Constitution for India, presented at the Madras Session in 1927.