Sunday, 12 August 2012

Nationalist Response to Women's Education

Though not of any direct relevance to our exam, still important facts to be aware of. - Spurthi

A heated debate had taken place in the late nineteenth century between advocates of women’s education, like Lokhitwadi Gopal Hari Deshmukh, Gopala Krishna Gokhale, Jyotirao Phule, Mahadev Govind Ranade, Dondho Keshav Karve, and those strongly against it, like Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Vishnu Shastri Chiplunkar.

Gokhale supported women’s right to education, while Ranade considered women’s education important for the political advancement of the nation and to free women from restrictive life-styles. On the other hand Tilak, a nationalist leader, argued against women’s education, citing the traditional role of women, their
contribution to the nationalist movement by reproduction of the species, their domestic responsibilities, and the likely corruption of women by English-language instruction, and so on. Tilak argued vehemently against the teaching of English to women as being against the sentiments of orthodox Hindus and potentially
destructive of ‘the Hindu household’, and he used his resources to ban educational institutions, especially in Poona.

The author also elaborates on Tilak’s stand in the notorious Rakhmabai case for the restitution of conjugal rights in which a woman had had to face imprisonment on account of her refusal to live with her husband.
The author then discusses in detail two issues of Tilak’s journal, Maharatta, published on 18 September 1887 and 13 November 1887 on the question of the curricula for female education, to demonstrate
Tilak’s stand against women’s education and especially the teaching to women of subjects like arithmetic, English and music, which Tilak considered ornamental and unnecessary

Source: Rao, Parimala V.:  Women’s Education and the Nationalist Response in Western India: Part I-Basic Education.  Indian Journal of Gender Studies 14, 2 (2007): 307-16.

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