SOCIAL REFORMERS (Syllabus: GS Paper 1 – History)

News-CRUX-10     3rd January 2024        

Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tributes to social reformer Savitri Bai Phule and first queen to fight against the British colonial power in India Rani Velu Nachiyar on their Jayanti.

Savitri Bai Phule

  • Early Life: Savitribai Phule, born on January 3, 1831, in Naigaon village of Maharashtra’s Satara district, belonged to the Mali community. Despite being married off at an early age, her husband Jyotirao Phule played a pivotal role in educating her at home.
  • Pioneering Education for Women: The couple defied societal norms by establishing the first girls’ school in Bhidewada, Pune, in 1848. 
  • Social Reforms and Activism: Savitribai and Jyotirao extended their social impact by opening schools for marginalized communities, leading to discontent among nationalists like Bal Gangadhar Tilak. 
  • Satyashodhak Samaj: The Phules established the Satyashodhak Samaj, aiming to promote social equity irrespective of caste, religion, or class hierarchies. 
  • Relief Work and Social Service: During the 1896 famine and the 1897 Bubonic plague in Maharashtra, Savitribai actively participated in relief work, showcasing her commitment to addressing humanitarian crises.
  • Literary Legacy: Savitribai Phule, a prolific writer, published her first collection of poems, 'Kavya Phule' (‘Poetry’s Blossoms’), at the age of 23 in 1854. Her literary contributions also include 'Bavan Kashi Subodh Ratnakar' (‘The Ocean of Pure Gems’), published in 1892.

Rani Velu Nachiyar

  • About: She was the first Indian queen to wage war with the East India Company in India. 
  • Known by: Tamils as Veeramangai ("brave woman").
  • With the support of Hyder Ali's army, feudal lords, the Maruthu Brothers, Dalit commanders, and Thandavarayan Pillai, she fought the East India company.
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