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Issues of Widowhood: Gender and Resistance in Colonial Western India Rosalind OHanlon 1.

. Historical investigation into the subordinated classes in South Asia has been largely indifferent to issues of gender. 2. Gender is essential to the understanding of power and identity; gender systems were shaped by and have shaped other power systems in the wider realm of colonial social relations. 3. Subaltern studies have interpreted resistance solely in terms of autonomous community struggles, disguising the extent to which they may themselves be structured by power relations, making gender relevant. 4. OHanlon argues that in a historiography so dominated by the idea of community, it is tempting to study women as such a community. Instead, historians must understand how gender relations intersected with and shaped wider social and political relations in colonial India. This represents a more powerful strategy for feminist historians than seeking to accommodate women in the prevailing frameworks of interpretation (wherein the concept of community will always inhibit the study of gender relations). 5. OHanlon discusses the issue of widow remarriage in late 19 th century India. She compares the various male, political perspectives on the issue with that of Tarabai Shinde. Shinde discusses the predicament of Vijayalakshmi, a Brahmin widow who murdered her illegitimate child. Shinde denounces the systematic forms of oppression practiced by men using this illustration. 6. OHanlon discusses the relevance of setting up gender categories in the identification of men as the agents of colonial power. Changing Hindu tradition had very different impacts on men and women, particularly with reference to the application of textual Hindu law and its consequences on social practice in areas affecting women (e.g. right to remarriage). She also discusses the way in which women perceived the changing relations they had with men. 7. The prohibition of widow remarriage till the first half of the 19 th century was a feature of highcaste, Brahmin social practice and, as such, helped create identities of high and low caste status. This prohibition essentially distinguished custom (allowing remarriage in low caste groups) from Hindu law (adhered to by high caste groups). 8. Pressure for legislative intervention among male reformers during the 19 th century continued; as Hindu textual law strictly prohibited it. The Hindu Widow Remarriage Act of 1856 did not result in any substantial liberalisation in high-caste practice. This legislation affected not only high caste women, but also those whose customary practices already permitted it in localised traditions. It remained unclear as to whether the law superseded all previous customary and textual law, or whether it was merely enabling. 9. However, if a widow remarried under the Act, it also disinherited her from all rights in her deceased husbands estate, in accordance with Hindu textual law. Under custom, however, the retained her rights in his property unless custom demanded otherwise. Thus, it is important to consider whether this statute was enabling or compulsorily applied to all Hindus.

10. In this respect, subordinate courts showed greater sensitivity to local customary practice. The High Courts in the Presidencies preferred to adhere to textual law. Customary law was gradually replaced by statutory law. This had long-term impacts on low caste custom. 11. According to the process of sanskritisation, low caste customary law began to prohibit widow remarriage in order to acquire social status comparable to the higher caste groups. 12. The prohibition of widow remarriage essentially offered men a material source of control over women a means to prevent property from moving outside the family unit established by the womans first husband. 13. Non-Brahmin political organisations found themselves torn between emulating Brahminical religious values and rejecting them. Non-Brahmin radicals tried to reform uneducated, backward castes and sought to establish social discipline by controlling sexual relations (to achieve higher levels of morality Lokhande). The need for regulation and public respectability was to be enforced by male seniors in the community. This required a much greater degree of masculine control over women, their social and sexual behaviour. 14. Hindu women were identified with certain aspects of society morality, etc. They were representatives of the passivity of the Hindu masses, helplessness before caste prescriptions, and adherence to unchanging values/duties. Community and solidarity were placed above the individual. 15. The idea of the colonial masculine arose as a result of colonial race theories; Sikhs and Rajputs were identified as martial races that were suitable for the army. 16. Hindu women were identified as a sign for Hindu tradition. Even though the condition of women was widely discussed by men, the former were never given voices of representation. Men, instead, stressed the weakness and ignorance of women. This allowed women to be dominated by men and a manipulative priesthood. Lata Mani argues that the reason for the absence of women in these discussions was the fact that women were not the real cause for concern. Instead, they were arguments about Hindu tradition. Different views emerged while administrators believed that womens status needed to be reformed through legislation and education, traditionalists suggested that women needed to be protected from the former. 17. During the 19th century, administrators enacted specific measures to liberalise the legal position of women. Yet, at the same time, womens rights and powers were eroded by other processes. Anglo-Hindu law (largely textual) displaced local, customary or lower-caste forms of family organisation. This extended the rights of men over women in important areas like inheritance, property rights, personal law and land access. 18. In the Vijayalakshmi case, many stressed only on the degraded lives of widows, and suggested that the only issue to be stressed is that the conduct of women in general was a measure of the moral health of tradition, and, as such, needed to be controlled. Male perspectives thus stressed the immorality of women and suggested that giving widows more freedom would endanger all virtues of Hindu women. The position of women in public discourse therefore included both acute responsibility and powerlessness, at once.

19. Textual and cultural sources emphasised the celebration of the virtuous and dutiful wife (pativrata), yet, at the same time made representations that displayed women as the source of all worldly temptation. Representations of women were not limited to social/sexual/religious spheres but the political sphere as well. 20. Shinde suggested that the incompetence of men with respect to the colonial powers was translated into the representation that women represented weakness. It was, then, not the failings of women but the inabilities of men to affect the habits/actions of their colonial masters that led to this gender relationship.

Codification and the Rule of Colonial Difference: Criminal Procedure in British India Elizabeth Kolsky 1. Before Macaulay codified Indian law, the Company used a plurality of sources, including regional regulations, Acts of Parliament, Hindu and Muslim personal law, Islamic criminal justice and the Roman principles of natural justice. 2. Bentham, Mill and Macaulay all hoped that codification of laws in the colonies would impact legal changes in England. While the English strongly opposed codification (growing civil society and public opinion), the legal system of India was radically transformed. 3. Non-official Europeans who were neither Company servants nor Indian subjects slipped through the dual system of courts. Codification promised a resolution. 4. Although British administrators promised that colonialism would eventually erode the differences between the colonizer and colonized. However, by making the colony progressive, the colonists would lose their ideological foothold Thus, colonial power insisted on differences even when promising universal ideas and institutions (including legal reform). 5. The universal nature of legal reform was lost in the historical, cultural, social and religious aspects used by administrators to legitimise colonial governance. Thus, the codification process was affected by the culture of colonialism. To resolve this conflict, the universal nature of legal codification was disguised by ideas of the Indian difference. 6. Power relations were determined by this colonial difference; however, the project of codification resulted in the challenge of these distinctions by colonial subjects. 7. The Code of Criminal Procedure is used by Kolsky to explore the rule of colonial difference. 8. What was most critical to the case for codification was the abuse committed by non-official Europeans in India. This small but growing community had a tremendous impact on the transformation of the Indian legal system and on the decision to codify Indian law. 9. The problem was that the dual system of courts established by the Company with respect to those people who were neither natives, nor Company officials. This became increasingly problematic

after the abolition of the Companys trade monopoly in 1813 (free trade ideological shift, changed conditions in the world market). 10. Until 1793, Europeans in the mofussil could not be tried in local courts in civil or criminal matters. Europeans were to be governed by the law of the Crown or the Company. 11. In 1829, Charles Metcalfe condemned the dual system and the privileged immunity of European subjects in the mofussil. It was suggestive of both racial privilege and general uncertainty of judicial administration. He recommended he consolidation and codification of law. 12. These issues raised debates about privilege and power and which courts were suitable for which groups of people. 13. While the problem of European criminality was perceived as a threat to the stability of government and needed to be controlled, and although codification provided a solution to the inherent injustice of the dual system, it also endangered the ideology of difference upon which colonial power and English identity rested. 14. Initially, Europeans were discouraged from settling in India and making claims to property, as the Company feared the threat to the stability of its power and profits. 15. Under the opportunities provided by the Charter Act of 1813, all British subjects maintained immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the local Company courts. 16. Thomas Macaulay emphasised the need for legal uniformity in order to transform Indian society. 17. Between 1813 and 1833, the business of the non-official Europeans increased and so did their violent and criminal behaviour. What was even more problematic was that European settlers began to demand longer land leases in the name of increasing output. Indian labourers were caught in this system of loosely regulated capitalism. 18. British criminality not only posed a threat to its political hold, but also contradicted the superior image and standing of the colonizers. 19. The anxiety over European criminality and the lack of jurisdiction over Europeans were major factors in the initial decision to institute uniform legal equality through legal codification. The purpose of law began to be questioned. 20. Liberals in India argued that codification would bring order to the subcontinent by replacing the arbitrary and personal will of the oriental despot with the rational and reliable objective of a universal law. 21. The first confrontation in 1839 dealt with the attempt to extend local jurisdiction in civil matters to European settlers. The sadr diwani adalat was made the court of appeal for these settlers, just as it was for natives of the mofussil. 22. Macaulays Bill was first passed in 1836 and faced plenty of opposition. The notion that freeborn Englishmen had certain inviolable rights was used to resist future codification efforts.

23. When it was first passed in 1861, the Criminal Procedure Code secured legal superiority for Europeans by giving them special privileges (e.g. trial by jury). These rights were a symbolic marker of imperial power. They argued that criminal law under the mofussil would subject them to barbaric Islamic law. Another argument that was advanced suggested that the principle of equality has no application in the social and domestic institutions among natives. 24. These debates illustrated how abstract universal theories ceded to the concept of Indian human nature (colonial difference). 25. During the 1830s and 1840s, various cases of European violence came up against Indians and the Court of Diectors strengthened its resolve to redress the law of criminal procedure. 26. The situation worsened after the revolt of 1857. Europeans argued that as the Indians were essentially conquered people, they were entitled to rights/privileges over those whom they ruled. They rejected the idea of being subjected to a law administered by a discontented population. In the meantime, attempts were made to strengthen central authority to prevent future resistance. Queen Victorias Proclamation guaranteed equality, thus nullifying the argument about the Englishmans natural rights.

A.R. Desai Economy and Culture in Pre-British India Pre-capitalist forms of production were replaced by modern, capitalist economic forms that encouraged the growth of a unified national economy. [Transformation from feudal to capitalist by the political and economic policies of the British] Self-Sufficient Village Economy 1. Independent of foreign relations; no market phenomenon existed within it either. Raw materials were obtained locally. Absence of the idea of commodity. 2. Agriculture and handicrafts, industrial workers, class of menial labour 3. Composed of peasants

4. The village community was the de facto owner of the land; it was divided into holdings and distributed among peasant families (Traditional hereditary right to possess and cultivate holdings) 5. There was a perpetual necessity of collectively meeting the revenue-rent demands of the overlord of the village. 6. Indian feudalism was distinct from European feudalism as no private property in land existed. The king had merely revenue interests in land and not ownership rights. Thus, political conflicts were over produce/revenue. 7. Low stage of the division of labour as there was insufficient differentiation of agriculture and industry. The caste system was enforced rigidly and determined the occupation of the villagers. 8. The individual was bound by the ideological standards of the family, the caste and the village community. The State only had concern for its economic and administrative affairs. Nature of Urban Economy in Pre-British India 1. Towns of political importance capitals of kingdoms/empires. Armies were stationed at these towns. 2. Towns of religious importance centres of worship/pilgrimage. 3. Town of commercial importance situated on sea coasts, river banks strategic trade routes. 4. Handicraft industries flourished in these towns. Urban industry produced luxury goods for the aristocracy (Indian and foreign), equipment/weapons for the armies (demands of the state), engaged in construction of forts, etc. Their goods were limited in their application because they addressed specific and not daily needs. 5. Town handicrafts had reached a high level of development 6. The growth of industry and trade in pre-British India was limited by the self-sufficiency of the villages and the lack of development of the bourgeoisie as representatives of commercial capital and urban industry. Nature of Village Culture in Pre-British India 1. The economic life of villages was stagnated by primitive agriculture and artisan industry. Productivity of labour was low; no real surplus. There was a high degree of insecurity. 2. Caste-stratified society was also not conducive to any development of individual initiative. 3. Life processes in the villages were not altered by changing power relations on a broader level. 4. The absence of unified economic and political life prevented the evolution of any national consciousness. Such economic life comes into being only when productive forces reach a high level of development; the division of labour has become universal, facilitating all-round

economic exchange. No development of transport and communication. There was no common political consciousness either as the State did not exercise any fundamental influence on social, ideological, economic or administrative aspects of village life. Nature of Urban Culture in Pre-British India 1. Towns were relatively more progressive; in contact with the outside world. Towns were seats of government or commercial centres. The town economy was more diverse and differentiated in order to cater to a highly complex social stratum. 2. The mercantile community consumed profits in towns. 3. It was in the towns and not the villages in which a highly developed cultural and economic life flourished. Philosophical and artistic movements progressed. Towns were also the centres of learning Hindu and Muslim. 4. There was economic and cultural exchange between towns. Absence of National Sentiment Capitalist economic forms that were beginning to be introduced in Indian society created new classes, however, the prevalence of feudal structures and imperial pressures prevented any kind of class consciousness. Both the rich, complex and elaborate culture of the feudal and wealthy merchant classes and that of the masses of pre-British Indian society lacked a national form and scope. British Conquest of India Three phases trading, industrial and financial In India, the substitution of feudal economy by capitalist economy was achieved by the capitalist class of Britain and not by any class of indigenous capitalists. A weak native merchant class had existed prior to the period of colonisation (in the towns). They were unable to develop with the advent of the Europeans. For the first time, under the British, foreign powers altered the economic structure of the subcontinent. This was primarily because they had already altered their own feudal relations, and were characteristically capitalist. Land relations in India were altered and new industries sprung up. Indias agricultural production was distorted to meet the raw-material requirements of industrialised Britain. Social structures were altered the class of handicraftsmen disappeared, and a class of capitalist emerged. Also landlords, tenants, industrial labour, etc. Transformation of Indian Agriculture Under British Rule In the case of Indian feudalism, no class of landed feudal nobility existed. During the pre-British period, revenue collectors did not exercise land rights over villages and merely appropriated surplus. This was because the king was not considered the owner of land, and, as such, could not confer such rights upon proprietors. There was no individual peasant proprietorship over land either. No private land ownership existed.

The Permanent Settlement of Bengal 1793 (Lord Cornwallis) in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa; landlords were created out of tax farmers who previously collected revenues under the Mughals. Revenue collectors who became landlords were to make fixed payment to the Company. ( Zamindari System) The landlord system was introduced for three reasons: 1. The Company used British economic considerations with respect to land settlements. However, the English feudal system comprising individual ownership was considerably different. 2. It was more efficient to collect revenue from assigned landlords than from small peasant proprietors. 3. The new class of landlords would provide support to the British (politico-strategic reason). Landlords: 1. Tax farmers 2. Petty chiefs 3. Persons who rendered military aid to the Company Later, the nature of land settlements changes as fixed revenue collection was disadvantageous to the government revenues could be revised. Individual peasant proprietorships also existed Ryotwari System the individual cultivator was turned into the owner of the land he tilled. The agrarian revolution brought about by the British created the prerequisite for the capitalist development of agriculture by introducing individual ownership of land (peasant ownership and large scale landlord ownership). New land revenue system: 1. The village as the unit of land assessment and revenue payment was eliminated individual land holdings. 2. Fixed money payments to the state replaced portions of yearly village produce. Claims had to be met irrespective of the failure of the crop. 3. Village possession of land was never in danger previously non-payment of revenue jeopardised its possession of land. 4. The system of mortgage, sale and purchase of land was introduced 5. Insecurity of possession and ownership came into existence previously unknown 6. The communal character of the village was distorted; co-operative relations dissolved.

7. Judicial functions of village panchayats became obsolete; all land disputes were settled by the courts. 8. The village was no longer the owner of the land. 9. The individual land holder was now directly connected to the centralised state. 10. Production for village use was replaced by the system of markets. The purpose of production was now for the purpose of sale. 11. Commercialisation and Specialisation of Agriculture : Practice of growing specialised crops, sale of cash crops cotton, jute, wheat, oilseeds, etc. Britain needed raw materials (growth of its industries). 12. Farmers began to sell in the market to realise the cash required for revenue payments, and to meet debts of moneylenders. 13. Village industries declined as transport improved villagers had access to manufactured goods. The balance of village economy was disrupted by the introduction of cheap, British-made goods. 14. The village thus became a part of the centralised state structure and not an independent entity. 15. New legal codes and law courts replaced the role of custom in villages. Social Consequences of the Transformation of Indian Agriculture 1. Land fragmentation: Subdivision of land made holdings progressively smaller and less economical (private ownership). 2. The joint family system joint property also resulted in land fragmentation. 3. Growing practice among landholders to rent or sub-rent the land. 4. Over-pressure on agriculture brought about by the economic destruction of urban and village handicraftsmen and artisans (de-industrialisation of India). This pressure accelerated the process of fragmentation. 5. Growth of population 6. Unhealthy dependence on agriculture peasants were impoverished (indebtedness) and were unable to improve the methods and techniques of production. Lack of capital resulted in the adherence to primitive methods. 7. Land revenues kept increasing 8. As agriculture was opened up to larger markets, Indian agriculture became subject to the irregularities of the world market. 9. The commercialisation of agriculture made producers dependent on merchants for sale. The latter appropriated large profits.

10. No proper irrigation, famines irregular surplus indebtedness 11. Various taxes were imposed on the villagers 12. Mass ejection of tenants in the Zamindari zones, and large-scale land transfers from peasant proprietors to moneylenders in the Ryotwari zones. Agriculture could not improve as owners were not cultivators they leased out land further. The class of intermediaries thus grew. The cultivating tenant thus bore the burden of this chain of intermediaries above him. 13. Moneylenders took advantage of peasants (corruption); legal redress was expensive. 14. Thus, a process of class differentiation took place. Cultivators eventually became serfs. The class of land labourers grew rapidly. Moneylenders became landlords. 15. Mass mobilisation of the people was impossible (unless undertaken by the state) in a society that had become increasingly fragmented.

Decline of Town Handicrafts The pre-British Indian states were the largest customers of handicrafts, and as such, the insdutry disappeared when the British took over political control of these states (directly/indirectly). Industries which supplied goods to the military disappeared. The Industrial Revolution in Britain created an industrial class that obtained state power and ended the monopoly of the capitalist Company (Charter of 1813). The Company had become an instrument of the industrial classes of England after 1814. The government prevented the flooding of Indian goods into the British market through several measures. British goods were forced on Indians without any duties. The export trade of India was thwarted to promote British industries. However, foreign markets were small compared to the Indian market itself. The Ruination of the Indian Market for Handicrafts 1. Native states destroyed by the Company 2. Methods adopted by the British government proved detrimental to Indian industry 3. It imposed customs and transit duties to prevent internal trade among Indian merchants 4. India became a market for finished British goods (forcing of British free trade on India) 5. Heavy duties on goods imported into England 6. Special privileges to the British in India 7. Railways allowed the penetration of British goods into villages/towns

8. The shipping, paper and iron smelting industries were hugely affected 9. Unlike in England, the decline of handicrafts was not replaced by indigenous manufacturing industries, only the products of those in England. This brought about the disequilibrium of agriculture and industry in India. 10. The English sought to keep India dependent on agriculture: (1) to prevent competition in industry, (2) to ensure supply of raw materials for its own industries 11. India was transformed into an industrial market for British goods (it was now based on exchange relations, unifying the subcontinent). Decline of Village Artisan Industries The village artisan industry was limited, had a simple division of labour and low levels of specialisation. The handloom industry in the villages was adversely affected by the influx of cheap, machine-made textiles. So also village carpenters, potters, dyeing industries, blacksmiths, etc. Changed status of surviving village artisans: They worked on a cash basis (previously they were like servants of the village) and had independent economic relations with the members of the village. The artisan was transformed into a wage worker, and became dependent on the merchant for sale. Attempts to revive these industries, by the Indian National Congress etc did not yield appreciable results. Backward techniques and lower productivity made them unlikely to succeed. This made the village dependent on manufactured goods from outside (no longer autonomous).

Rise and Development of Modern Indian Industries The establishment of modern, machine-based industries helped in the consolidation of the national economy. Progressive movements emerged from industrial cities that became centres of social, political and cultural life. The establishment of the railways in the mid 19 th century created a condition for the growth of modern industry in India (for the raw market and commodity market requirements of the British). The British introduced industries like indigo, jute and coal. One of the striking features of economic development during this period was the concentration of enterprise in the hands of a few (w.r.t. trade, banking and industry). Trusts controlled a substantial sector of the nations economic life. The English managing-agency firms were stronger than their Indian counterparts (Andrew Yule, Skinner). Their superior financial strength helped them establish power and control over industries. Finance capital also operated through the system of banks. The RBI was founded in 1934, while the Imperial Bank was founded in 1920. Joint-stock banks and Exchange banks also existed.

Nationalists argued that the substantial British domination of Indian banking was a decisive obstacle to the development of free industry in India. In terms of financing Indian owned industries, the decisions of British owned banks and the government depended on British economic interests and not those of Indian expansion. This control was important as with the development of the Indian industries and the increase in competitive power of Britains non-Indian rivals (Germany, Japan, USA) reduced Britains share in the Indian market. There was obvious disproportion between the amount invested in Indian industry and the degree of industrialisation. This was due to the fact that foreign capital had been intentionally invested in nonindustrial economic fields that were more profitable (light industries). Indias industrialisation was slow for a number of reasons: 1. Investment of foreign capital in only profitable light industries; 2. Indian industries developed only after developed countries were industrialised; 3. Developed countries were backed by their governments; Britain did not protect India in the world capitalist market till very late; 4. The absence of well-established, heavy metallurgical industries; 5. Dependence on British capital; 6. Indian industries had entered a phase of monopoly that was not preceded by a long period of competition this was unhealthy for the economy. All progressive nationalist groups demanded the industrialisation of India. It was considered a material premise for its economic prosperity, democratic social progress and cultural advancement. Industrialisation was also recognised as the main remedy for relieving the over-pressure on agriculture.

Obstacles to rapid industrialisation: 1. Basic economic policies of the government; 2. Immense poverty of the agrarian population, the potential market for industrial goods; 3. Financial weakness of the Indian bourgeoisie; 4. Intense competition with international rivals.