Historical Background Uttar Pradesh at a glance

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Historical Background

Uttar Pradesh at a glance

The epics of Hinduism, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, were written in Uttar Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh also had the glory of being home to Lord Buddha. It has now been established that Gautama Buddha spent most of his life in eastern Uttar Pradesh, wandering from place to place preaching his sermons. The empire of Chandra Gupta Maurya extended nearly over the whole of Uttar Pradesh. Epics of this period have been found at Allahabad and Varanasi. After the fall of the Mauryas, the present state of Uttar Pradesh was divided into four parts: Surseva, North Panchal, Kosal, and Kaushambi. The western part of Uttar Pradesh saw the advent of the Shaks in the second century BC. Not much is known of the history of the state during the times of Kanishka and his successors. The Gupta Empire ruled over nearly the whole of Uttar Pradesh, and it was during this time that culture and architecture reached its peak. The decline of the Guptas coincided with the attacks of Huns from Central Asia who succeeded establishing their influence right up to Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh. The seventh century witnessed the taking over of Kannauj by Harshavardhana.

In 1526, Babur laid the foundation of the Mughal dynasty. He defeated Ibrahim Lodi in the battle of Panipat. Babar carried out extensive campaign in various parts of Uttar Pradesh. He defeated the Rajputs near Fatehpur Sikri while his son Humayun conquered Jaunpur and Ghazipur, after having brought the whole of Awadh under his control. After Babur's death (1530), his son Humayun forfeited the empire after being defeated at the hands of Sher Shah Suri at Kannauj. After the death of Sher Shah Suri in 1545, Humayun once again regained his empire but died soon after. His son Akbar proved to be the greatest of Mughals. His established a unified empire over nearly the whole of the India. During his period, Agra became the capital of India and became heartland of culture and arts. Akbar constructed huge forts in Agra and Allahabad. The period of Jahangir (after 1605) saw arts and culture reach a new high. In 1627, after the death of Jahangir, his son Shahjahan ascended the throne. The period of Shahjahan is known as the golden period of India in art, culture, and architecture. It was during his reign that the classical wonder Taj Mahal was built in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. The regime of Aurangzeb saw the peak of Mughal Empire in terms of geographic expansion.

The beginning of the empire is conventionally dated to the founder Babur's victory over Ibrahim Lodi in the first Battle of Panipat (1526). It reached its peak extent under Aurangzeb, and declined rapidly after his death (in 1707) under a series of ineffective rulers. The empire's collapse followed heavy losses inflicted by the smaller army of the Maratha Empire in the Deccan Wars,1 which encouraged the Nawabs of Bengal, Bhopal, Oudh, Carnatic, Rampur, the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Shah of Afghanistan to declare their independence from the Mughals.2

Following the Third Anglo-Maratha war in 1818, the emperor became a pensioner of the Raj, and the empire, its power now limited to Delhi, lingered on until 1857, when it was effectively dissolved after the fall of Delhi during the Indian Rebellion that same year.3

By the mid-18th century, the Marathas had routed Moghul armies, and won over several Mughal provinces from the Deccan to Bengal, and internal dissatisfaction arose due to the weakness of the Mughal Empire's administrative and economic systems, leading to the declaration of independence by the Nawabs of Bengal, Bhopal, Oudh, Carnatic, Rampur, the Nizam of Hyderabad and Shah of Afghanistan. In 1739, the Mughals were defeated in the Battle of Karnal by the forces of Nadir Shah. Mughal power was severely limited and the last emperor, Bahadur Shah-II had authority over only the city of Shahjahanabad. He issued a firman supporting the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and was therefore tried by the British for treason, imprisoned, exiled to Rangoon and the last remnants of the empire were taken over by the British Raj.

The system of British governance was instituted in 1858, when the rule of the British East India Company was transferred to the Crown in the person of Queen Victoria4 (and who, in 1876, was proclaimed Empress of India), and lasted until 1947, when the British Indian Empire was partitioned into two sovereign dominion states, the Union of India (later the Republic of India) and the Dominion of Pakistan (later the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the eastern half of which, still later, became the People's Republic of Bangladesh). At the inception of the Raj in 1858, Lower Burma was already a part of British India; Upper Burma was added in 1886, and the resulting union, Burma, was administered as a province until 1937, when it became a separate British colony, gaining its own independence in 1948.


After Independence, united provinces (alteration of name)order,1950(made by the governor general under section 290 (1) of the Government Of India Act, 1935, on January 24th , 1950 ) the name ‘united provinces’ has been changed to Uttar Pradesh with effect from January 24th 19505 the state was renamed Uttar Pradesh (northern province) by its first chief minister, Govind Ballabh Pant. Pant was well acquainted with and close to Jawaharlal Nehru (the first Prime Minister of free India). He was also popular in the Congress Party. He established such a good reputation in Lucknow that Nehru called him to Delhi, the capital and seat of Central Government of the country, to make him Home Minister of India in 27 December 1954. He was succeeded by Dr. Sampoornanand, a classicist Sanskrit scholar. Following a political crisis in Uttar Pradesh, initiated by Kamlapati Tripathi and C.B.Gupta, Sampurnanand was asked to resign as CM in 1960 and sent to Rajasthan as the Governor of Rajasthan, paving the way for Gupta and Tripathi to become Chief Ministers. Sucheta Kripalani served as India's first woman chief minister from October 1963 until March 1967, when a two-month long strike by state employees caused her to step down. After her, Chandra Bhanu Gupta assumed the office of Chief Minister with Laxmi Raman Acharya as Finance Minister, but the government lasted for only two years due to the confusion and chaos which ended only with the defection of Charan Singh from the Congress with a small set of legislators. He set up a party called the Jana Congress, which formed the first non-Congress government in U.P. and ruled for over a year. Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna was chief minister for Congress Party government for part of the 1970s. He was dismissed by the Central Government headed by Indira Gandhi, along with several other non-Congress chief ministers, shortly after the imposition of the widely unpopular Emergency, when Narain Dutt Tewari – later chief minister of Uttarakhand – became chief minister. The Congress Party lost heavily in 1977 elections, following the lifting of the Emergency, but romped back to power in 1980, when Mrs. Gandhi handpicked the man who would later become her son's principal opposition, V.P. Singh, to become Chief Minister. Creation of the state of Uttarakhand On 9 November 2000, the Himalayan portion of the state, comprising the Garhwal and Kumaon divisions and Haridwar district, was formed into a new state 'Uttaranchal', now called Uttarakhand, meaning the 'Northern Segment' state.

Indian women exploitation is not a contemporary phenomenon. She has been exploited from early times. Women in Indian society never stood for a fair status. The following crimes were done against women in past times.

  • DEVADASIS: Devadasis was a religious practice in some parts of southern India, in which women were married to a deity or temple. In the later period, the illegitimate sexual exploitation of the devadasi‟s became a norm in some part of the country.

  • JAUHAR: Jauhar refers to practice of the voluntary immolation of all wives and daughters of defeated warriors in order to avoid capture and consequent molestation by the enemy. The practice was followed by the wives of Rajput rulers, who are known to place a high premium on honour.

  • PURDAH: Purdah is a practice among some communities of requiring women to cover their bodies so as to cover their skin and conceal their form. It curtails their right to interact freely and it is a symbol of the subordination of women.

  • SATI: Sati is an old custom in Indian society in which widows were immolated alive on her husband‟s funeral pyre. Although the act was supposed to be voluntary on the widow’s part, it is believed to have been sometimes forced on the widow.

The first reform movement of the status of Indian women took place during the nineteenth century among the middle class in Calcutta, during the time period of British Raj. The Home and the World is emblematic of the struggle, which was taking place within the middle class households. These reformers challenged the practices of sati, purdah, and child marriage. During this era, Raja Rammohan Roy and Mahadev Govind Ranade are few renowned names, who were an important part of this reform. In 1856, the widow remarriage was allowed while sati was banned in 1859. During the 1930s, significant progress was made in their status. It was in 1937, when the Hindu Woman’s Right to Property Act was passed for the widows. Tagore’s Home and The World was first published in 1915. Its contents magnify on a single woman, Bimala, who seeks to become independent, after being educated on her husband, Nikhil’s insistence, and steps out of the domestic sphere. The moment she steps out of the traditional boundaries, she is drawn towards his friend, Sandeep who preaches the Swadeshi movement and even worships her comparing her to Goddess Durga. Because her husband is progressive, he does not impose any decision on her and lets her decide between him and his friend. However, this novel is more than just a romantic novel; it also represents Rabindranath Tagore’s inner struggle. His disdain of the nationalistic movement occurs because he feels sympathetic towards those who are alienated from participating in the movement. As mentioned before in the introduction, the Satyagraha movement involved the participation of women in large numbers from all walks of life. After these movements, the latest movement began in the 1970s.

The new woman was to be an educated and brave wife as an appropriate partner of an English-educated nationalist man, able to run an ‘efficient’ and ‘orderly home’ like her Western counterpart, be high-minded and spiritual like the women of the ‘golden’ age, become ‘Grihha Lakshmis’ 16 like the Divine Lakshmi and fulfill her primary role as a courageous mother producing heroic children for the service of the nation. If the model was absurd, and inimitable, and indeed full of contradictions, no one was bothered. That was the new woman the nation needed, and it was women’s duty to live up to it.

In some situations, women actually had more rights than men. For example, captive women had to be ransomed prior to any male captives. Even though sons inherited property, they had a responsibility to support their mother and sisters from the estate, and had to ensure that both mother and sisters were taken care of prior to their being able to benefit from the inheritance, and if that wiped out the estate, the boys had to supplement their income from elsewhere.

When it came to specific religious or sacramental activities, women had fewer opportunities or privileges than men. For example, in monetary or capital cases women could not serve as witnesses. A woman could not serve as a kohen in the Temple. A woman could not serve as queen; the monarch had to be male. A divorce could only be granted by the husband, upon which time she would receive the Ketubah and the return of significant portions of her dowry. The vow of an unmarried girl between the ages of 12 years and 12 years and six months might be nullified by her father and the vow of a wife which affected marital obligations may be annulled by her husband; the guilt or innocence of a wife accused of adultery might tested through the Sotah process, although this only was successful if the husband was innocent of adultery, and daughters could inherit only in the absence of sons.

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