From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Jyotiba Phule
Mains level : NA
Maharashtra Governor has recently received flak for his remarks on the social reformist couple Jyotirao and Savitribai Phule.
Who were the Phules?
- Mahatma Jyotirao and Savitribai Phule stand out as an extraordinary couple in the social and educational history of India.
- They spearheaded path-breaking work towards female education and empowerment, and towards ending caste- and gender-based discrimination.
- In 1840, at a time when child marriages were common, Savitri at the age of ten was married to Jyotirao, who was thirteen years old at the time.
- The couple later in life strove to oppose child marriage and also organised widow remarriages.
The Phules’ endeavors and legacy
- Education: Jyotirao, the revolutionary that he was, observed the lack of opportunities for education for young girls and women.
- Leaders of the masses: He started to educate his wife at home and trained her to become a teacher. Together, by 1848, the Phules started a school for girls, Shudras and Ati-Shudras in Poona.
- Widow shelter: The historic work was started by Jyotirao when he was just 21 years old, ably supported by his 18-year-old wife. In 1853, Jyotirao-Savitribai opened a care centre for pregnant widows to have safe deliveries and to end the practice of infanticide owing to social norms.
- Prevention of infanticide: The Balhatya Pratibandhak Griha (Home for the Prevention of Infanticide) started in their own house at 395, Ganj Peth, Pune.
The Satyashodhak Samaj:
- Literally meaning ‘The Truth-Seeker’s Society’ was established on September 24, 1873 by Jyotirao-Savitribai and other like-minded people.
- The Samaj advocated for social changes that went against prevalent traditions, including economical weddings, inter-caste marriages, eradication of child marriages, and widow remarriage.
- The Phules also had far-sighted goals — popularising female education, establishing an institutional structure of schools in India, and to have a society where women worked in tandem with men.