W.B.C.S Main Exam-Political Science Optional-2018-Question
1)Explain Rammohon Ray’s concept of modernity.
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In 1823, when the British imposed censorship upon the Calcutta (Kolkata) press, Roy, as founder and editor of two of India’s earliest weekly newspapers, organized a protest, arguing in favour of freedom of speech and religion as natural rights. That protest marked a turning point in Roy’s life, away from preoccupation with religious polemic and toward social and political action. In his newspapers, treatises, and books, Roy tirelessly criticized what he saw as the idolatry and superstition of traditional Hinduism. He denounced the caste system and attacked the custom of suttee (ritual burning of widows upon the funeral pyres of their deceased husbands). His writings emboldened the British East India Governing Council to act decisively on the matter, leading to the prohibition of suttee in 1829.
In 1822 Roy founded the Anglo-Hindu School and four years later the Vedanta College in order to teach his Hindu monotheistic doctrines. When the Bengal government proposed a more traditional Sanskrit college, in 1823, Roy protested that classical Indian literature would not prepare the youth of Bengal for the demands of modern life. He proposed instead a modern Western curriculum of study. Roy also led a protest against the outmoded British legal and revenue administration in India.
In August 1828 Roy formed the Brahmo Samaj (Society of Brahma), a Hindu reformist sect that utilized Unitarian and other liberal Christian elements in its beliefs. The Brahmo Samaj was to play an important part, later in the century, as a Hindu movement of reform.
In 1829 Roy journeyed to England as the unofficial representative of the titular king of Delhi. The king of Delhi granted him the title of raja, though it was unrecognized by the British. Roy was well received in England, especially by Unitarians there and by King William IV. Roy died of a fever while in the care of Unitarian friends at Bristol, where he was buried.
Roy’s importance in modern Indian history rests partly upon the broad scope of his social vision and the striking modernity of his thought. He was a tireless social reformer, yet he also revived interest in the ethical principles of the Vedanta school as a counterpoise to the Western assault on Indian culture. In his textbooks and treatises he contributed to the popularization of the Bengali language, while at the same time he was the first Indian to apply to the Indian environment the fundamental social and political ideas of the French and American revolutions.
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