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British Social Policy in India

Updated on September 9, 2016

British in India started with trade acquired paramountcy and were dragged to take social responsibility too in the territories they were in power. Various social legislation were taken to ban the social evils in the society. It was all started from 1800.

In fact, British has no interest in making any social legislation for the betterment of the society since their ultimate aim was to raise substantial revenue from the territories they have under their control in India. However, the factors that lead to make social legislation by English are as follow;

Pressure from the Indian Elites: The Indian educated group always brought heavy pressure of English government to bring various social legislation to control various social evils in the society.

Christian Missionaries: The British after consolidating power in India slowly brought Christian Missionaries as well in to the colony. The missionaries started their activities like spreading Christian religion and western education too. In some parts of British India, the missionaries carrying their activities witnessed various social in the society. They have brought the same to the notice of the British government and recommended immediate social legislation.

Pressure from various groups: British government faced a lot of pressure from many liberals in their territories in India to end the social evils.

Justify the Colonial Rule: last but not the least, the British India to justify their Colonial rule they have brought many social legislation to ban social evils in the society.

Social reforms by the British Government

Female Infanticide: This practice was found among Rajputs and Jats in India. In 1802, Female infanticide was banned. It was during the period of Governor General Wellesly . However, it was never implemented. William Bentinck in 1830s and Harding – I in 1840s implemented the law strictly.

Sati: Practice of burning the widow wife along with the deceased husband was sati and this was prevalent in India almost everywhere. From 1815 to 1823; 3379 cases were reported in Calcutta, 875 cases were reported in Banaras and 408 cases were reported in Dekha. In 1829, William Bentinck passed the Sati Abolition Act. Raja Ram Mohan Roy was the personality behind the initiative of bringing the said act into force.

Slavery: In India, the slavery was not so prevalent. It was during the Muslim regime the slavery was strengthened. In 1833, throughout the British Empire the Slavery was abolished. The same was implemented in India in 1843 during the period of the Governor General Elan Burough.

Human Sacrifice: This inhuman practice was prevalent in India among the Khonds of Orissa. This was also called as Maria. During the period of the Governor General Lord Hardinge I in the year 1846, the said practice was abolished.


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    • Rusti Mccollum profile image

      Ruth McCollum 5 years ago from Lake Oswego, Oregon

      I found this very interesting. Burning the widows is a horrible thought. I can't believe people really did that! Great and very informative hub.