Sunday, January 5, 2020

(Remembering The First Woman Educationist Of India on her on her 189th Birth Day Falling on 3-1-2019)

Er. H.R. Phonsa                                                            Chartered Engineer(I)                
    BE.(Civil) MIE, LMIRC  ,FIV (INDIA)                      ( -0191-2432712,9419134060/93136
    Ex. EXECUTIVE ENGINEER                            OFF/R #63/5 
  Recipient of                                         NANAK NAGAR, JAMMU TAWI 180004.                                             i) Dr Ambedkar National Award 2012         Email:-  and              (ii)Dr. B.R. Ambedkar State Award ( J&K State) 1994   
 iii) Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Distinguished Service Award 2003                                                                            
 iv) Babu Jagjivan Ram centenary state( J&K) Award                                                                                       
  v)  Dr B.R. Ambedkar Plaque of Honour  2009,2011,14,15,16
 vi) Ashoka Mitra Award 2012
Author:- Dr.Ambedkar And His Associates
  Co-Author --- Sadguru Sain Ji Maharaj  Jivan aur Sikhashya     
    Spokesman the Bhartiya Dalit Sahitya Akademy Delhi, J&K ( Regd.)

Mata savitribai Phuley  and  Indian Women Education .      Updated,Enlarged
(Remembering The First Woman Educationist Of India on her on her 189th Birth Day Falling on 3-1-2019)
saviti bai photoIndian cultural   history boasts of having females as goddesses, saints, warriors and poets.  In the modern times we may boast about being the largest democracy in the world and likely hood of being a worldly super power in near future. But the truth is that female oppression is distinctively visible in India till this day, Woman may come from  any caste but her place in the social hierocracy is still low as compared with their male counterparts. Constitution and Highest law court of the land might say anything but in practice rule of religious codes  and priests reign high. The women belonging to the lower strata and  low caste are doubly disadvantaged for one being a woman and second belonging to disadvantaged castes. Women belonging to the lower class face problems and discrimination due to high percentage of illiteracy among the people and also due to the very orthodox religion that they follow. The discrimination faced by these women is mainly the effect of unjust ancient laws and customs passed down from generation to generation. Due to the lack of education among the lower castes, these unjust laws and customs were/ are never challenged but widely accepted. One of the evil practices even followed secretly despite declaring it a punishable crime is female foeticide. Female infants were killed in womb and not allowed to see sun light.  It is believed that girls are a liability for the family. They would cost the family money in the end because of dowry demands. Likewise, the family may feel that they are only rearing girls for someone else, as the girls will eventually become part of the groom's household  forgetting that some else’s girl will be their bride.
 A woman is not fit to be independence so said Manusmiriti (9:3).
 Education to untouchables and all women in Hindu religion was denied or banned. Lack of education in women and untouchable   ( now called Dalits )made room to other  suppressive controls like untouchability,ignoring right to own property, right to protect one’s property ,sati, Deva-dasse, dowery, foeticide, life of dignity, slavery, atrocities, and such like inhuman treatment to majority of population by upper caste Hindus particularly Prohit or Brahmin Caste.  Only   the upper caste and caste supported rules roasted the cake for themselves only. India lost its freedom for centuries as only a microscopic minority    male khashtriyas( about 6% of total population) were assigned the job of the  defense of the country. Only a hand full invaders came looted India  , killed many and ran away with heavy booty including our women folk. With  the establishment of the British East India Company Rule, it paid  no heed towards education in India till 1813. In 1813, for the first time, the Company arranged some funds for promoting education in India. The medium of education was English. By the year 1855, there were only 1474 educational institutions that were run or aided by the government for the population of 200 million. Only 67,569 student were getting education from these intuitions. Since majority teachers in these schools were Brahmins, they refused to educate the Dalit and women students even  in the govt. aided schools .Even upper caste parents disapproved their wards getting education in Institutions where  Dalit students were admitted. There were about  1628 Christian missionary schools with about 64,000 students in them. Since the Wood’s Dispatch of 1854 by 1882, the government took some important steps for higher education, but primary education was almost neglected. In the economical year of 1881-82, out of 70,00,000 rupees spent by government on education, only 16,77,000 were spent on primary education. With this unfortunate background it was extremely difficult to think of educating women and Dalits.
       Bravo to a golden hearted first women known in the Indian history who lived and died for the social upliftment of down trodden including socially  most hated and exploited  creature “Woman” . Her name was Savitribai  who was born on 3rd of January 1831 in Naya Ganj , Tehsil Khandala ,District Satara of Maharashtra. Her father’s name was Khado Ji Nevse Patil . At the time of her birth, nobody could realize that the small ray of light which had descended on the earth in the form of Savitribai shall become a torch bearer for many, who were suppressed, illiterate, ill fed , ill clothed and a lightening for suppressors and oppressors inflicting tyranny in the name of caste and sex, on millions belonging to their own country and religion .                                                                                                  At the tender age of 9 years in 1840, she was married to a great social revolutionary Jyotirao Phule, who was then 13 years old.  So Savitribai obtained her new name as Savitribai Phuley.The union of two small lights later emerged as a big Light House for millions of their fellow countrymen and pulled them out of their ignorance, illiteracy and ill treatment meted out to them by upper caste Hindus in the name of religion. They jointly fought for   the down trodden people of India to live with dignity keeping spine erect. Jyotirao Phule, later affectionately called   Mahatma Jyotirao Phule proclaimed that ILLITERACY THE ILL OF ALL ILLS CAUSES LACK OF INTELLECT, WHICH IN TURN CAUSES LACK OF MORAL, WHICH RESULTS IN STAGNATION, PROMOTING   FURTHER  LOSS OF RICHES  AND FORTUNE WHICH CAUSED FALL OF SHUDRAS. So ban of education to Shudras and women in Brahminical literature caused their all round degradation, so he gave preference to impart education to Shudras and women for their over all upliftment. The Education to Savitribhai was imparted at home by her husband, who had passed his Secondary Education Examination in 1847 from Scottish Mission High School Poona and  had decided not to accept any job under the government.  On reading Paine’s famous book “The Rights of Man” revolutionized the young mind of Jyotirao Phule and he in turn influenced the tender mind of Savitribhai, who also took oath to help her husband for Social Revolution even at the cost of her life and comforts. 
           They jointly opened the very first Girl’s School on 1st January, 1848 against the vicious campaign launched by orthodox upper caste Hindus for such an act of the Phule couple. Education to Shudras and girls( Girls from all castes) was coded as unlawful in the laws of orthodox Hindus, although they claimed to possess the most knowledgeable books called “VEDAS” but practically treating Shudras & women worse than animals. No upper caste Hindu teacher came forward to teach in this newly opened Girl’s School in which 2 untouchables girls, besides4 Hindu Girl’s were admitted. Therefore, Savitribai was appointed as Headmistress of this school on I st January 1848 by Jyotirao Phule. This school was run from the house of a Brahmin in Budhwara Peth, with majority of 4 Brahmin girl students. The orthodox Brahmins raised a great hue & cry against carrying on women education including those of Shudra girls, which stood banned by the Hindu religious norms. As soon as Savitribai came out from her house to go to school, people would throw on her cow dung and mud spoiling here dress, which she washed at the school and at her residence on return. However ill treatment meted out to her by upper caste Hindus did not deter her from her strong convictions and she carried on with the noble cause for the social change. She, instead, opened another school on 15th May 1848 in untouchable’s colony and it was run by her widowed sister –in-law (husband ‘s sister) Smt. Suganabai. On this again the reactionaries, raised objections and threatened Govinda Rao (Jyotirao ’s father) with dire consequences, if, he failed to dissociate himself from the activities of his son & daughter-in-law. So Govinda Rao asked the couple to leave his home as both of them refused to give up their missionary  endeavor. Both shifted to a Muslim Mian Usman Sheikh’s house. Smt. Fatima Sister of Mian Sheikh known as first Muslim women teacher of 19th century,  started educating Dalit children in this school. This was an extremely difficult task during those days of Brahmin domination in government and social circles, but Savitribai did it by dint of her courage, determination, intelligence and her commitment to the cause of Dalit  and woman upliftment through spread of Education  She thought  this to be  the only road to their empowerment.Jyotirao Phule blamed the British Government for spending profusely a large portion of the state revenue on the education of the higher castes, which resulted in monopoly of all higher offices under the Government by the Brahmins. The dedicated couple wanted to break this monopoly so as to prepare the down trodden masses for struggle of having equal rights as human beings in their own motherland. On the insistence of  Jyotirao Phule ,Lord Rippon appointed an education commission under the chairmanship of William Hunter.  Sir Charls Wood the President of the Board of Control of the English East India Company, had an important effect on spreading English learning and female education in India .When in 1854 he sent a dispatch to Lord Dalhousie, the then Governor-General of India. Wood suggested that primary schools must adopt vernacular languages, high schools must adopt Anglo vernacular language and on college level English medium for education. This is known as Wood's despatch. Vocational and women's education were stressed upon. One of the most favourable step taken by the british for well being of Indian orthodox society. Besides other things Woods impressed that at least one government school be opened in every District and the government should always support education for women.
 This  happened for the first time in India to pave way for Education to all.  This commission reiterated the key points of the Wood’s Dispatch, though it suggested paying more attention of primary education and education to backward classes. This memorial document  to Hunter Commission by Mahatma Phule was a document of immense importance to understand the educational developments in Modern India. In this document, Phule argues that the theory adopted by government that education should go down from the upper classes of society to the masses is nothing but a “utopian” idea. He further goes on to ask for a single example of the truth of this theory. To quote him, the higher classes have “kept their knowledge to themselves, as a personal gift, not be soiled by contact of the ignorant vulgar.” He claims that the educational system has become a monopoly of the higher classes and “if the welfare of the Ryot is at heart,  it is the duty of the Government to check a host of abuses, it behooves them to narrow this monopoly day by day so as to allow spouting of the other castes to get into the public services.” Mahatama Phuley made strong demand in memorandum submitted to Hunter Commission in 1882 for free & compulsory education to all. This plea was later accepted on the instance of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and he even incorporated this ideal in the Constitution of Free India as the “The father of Indian Constitution”.
            Widow re-marriage was banned then and the child marriages were very common among the Hindus including Brahmins.  Many Hindu widows resorted to Sati (burning of the bride with the dead body of their husbands) in full public view .The efforts of good hearted Raja Ram Mohan Rai ( 1774-1833) had failed to make any dent on  the mind of orthodox Hindus to  stop this inhuman treatment to helpless women and child..  Many women got windowed in their young age and not all of them could live in a manner in which orthodox people expected them to live especially when  in majority their youth was exploited by their family and relatives males . Some of the helpless widows resorted to abortion or left their illegitimate children to their fate by leaving them on the streets. Out of pity for them Phule  Couple established on orphanage, possibly first such Institution founded and funded by a Hindu ( Phuley Couple was a Hindu couple belonging to Saini sub caste now OBC in many states of India). The Phule couple gave protection to pregnant widows and assured them that this orphanage would take care of their children and Savitribai Phule Shouldered the responsibility of managing the orphanage. It was in this orphanage where a Brahmin young but helpless widow named Kashi Bai gave birth to a boy in 1873 and the Phule couple adopted new born as their son and heir giving him name as Yashuwant. Yashuwant was imparted education by Phuley Couple to become a qualified doctor. During 1876-77 famine Savitribai Phuley fed and cared about 200 children with the help of her doctor son free of cost. She was a great source of strength to her husband.                                                                                                                                                  
Savitribai was not only an educationist but a great philanthropist, social revolutionary, writer and poet. Perhaps she was the first Indian woman revolutionary who worked against all odds for the emancipation of Dalits, week , downtrodden women & children. Her poetry book first published in 1854 was titled as “KABYE PHULE” In one of her poems she makes out that the British succeeded in establishing their rule in India due to denial of Educational opportunities by the Aryans to the original inhabitants of India. During various invasions the 94% of the population was made mute spectator as non but Khatriyas only were authorized to keep arms for  their personal and country defense .. When their motherland was occupied forcibly by the foreign invaders, for which nobody else but Brahmins and caste system were responsible.
 When Savitribai Phuley  was told by her brother to follow the path shown by Bhats (Brahmins) she rebuked him by telling that she was following the just path being followed by her husband and she could not be blind follower of Brahmins like her brother. She also tauntingly said to him, “Go and love the cow and the goat and offer milk to snakes on Nagpanchmi,, even then the Brahmins shall turn you out of Puja Sathal branding you as untouchables. This shows her strong conviction and will power, when actually she was very poised lady having her heart filled with love for all.After the death of her husband in November 1890, she successfully managed for seven years the affairs of “SATYA SHODAK-SAMAJ” established by her husband to look after the needs of unfortunate children.                                                                                                                
During the spread of Cholera in Maharashtra in 1897 she opened a number of helping centers for all sufferers in rural and urban areas. She used to carry Cholera patients personally to the clinic of her son Yashuwant, who cured hundreds of them free of cost.  While carrying personally a cholera ridden Mahar boy to the clinic of her son and to get him admitted there, she got infected from the Mahar boy and she died of cholera on the 10th of March 1897.                                                                                                                                                                                    We salute the iron lady who worked hard to break the shackles of religious progeny, caste and dynasty to establish social order of Universal Brotherhood. She was first Indian women leader, who worked for the upliftment & dignity of women & children and was a staunch opponent of orthodox laws including Untouchability. She was mother to helpless orphans, a teacher to illiterates and solace to ill and suffering masses. She deserved to be honored as “Mother of Women Education in India”    other women who lent helping hand to savitribai Phuley were Pandita Ramabai, a Brahmin woman. Panditia Ramabai who was leading advocate for the rights and welfare for the women in India; Tarabai Shinde, the non-Brahmin author of a fiery tract on gender inequality which was largely ignored at the time but has recently become well-known; and Muktabai, a fourteen-year-old pupil in Phule's school, whose essay on the social oppression of the Mang and Mahar castes is also now famous.                                                                                                                She is even now a source of inspiration for establishing a rule based on equality, justice and fraternity. Let us draw inspiration from her life& works and re-dedicate ourselves for the service of down trodden and Dalits besides those sections of society who are deprived of equal opportunities of life. The earlier the trend of determining dignity of a person on his/her sex  is changed to follow constitutional rule the better will be for the well being of  India including Indian women.
   Dated:- 17-12-2019                                                                                         Er. HEM RAJ PHONSA
                                                                                                      Retd. Executive Engineer
            (i)  The Nagmay Sanskriti     Ujjain (MP) Dated 8-7-1997.
           (ii)  Slavery By Mahatma Jotirao Phule (Vol I) Translated by Prof.P.G. Patil
                     Education Deptt.   Govt of Maharastra Bombay 1991
           iii)Jotibha Phule (Hindi) By Durga Prasad Shukal NCERT April 1991
          iv) Dr Ambedkar & His Mission            By Danajay Keer
          v) Shoshit Samaj Ke Krantikari Pravertak ( Hindi) by C.S. Bhandari Publishars: Samyak Prakashan  32/3 Club Road Pashim Puri N Delhi                                                                                     

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