|Title: ||The Hindu Code Bill and the making of the modern Indian state|
|Authors: ||Newbigin, Eleanor|
|Issue Date: ||Jan-2008|
|Abstract: ||This dissertation examines debates about women's rights and family law reform in
inter-war and early independence India. Focusing on the Hindu Code Bill, an attempt
to reform and codify Hindu family law that began in 1941 and culminated in 1956, it
argues that these reforms sought to alter the way in which male authority was
exercised within the Hindu family but also to consolidate the power of north Indian
Hindu men over other regional Hindu and non-Hindu communities.
Managed through alliances between colonial rulers and 'local men of
influence', British governance in India helped to ensure and even sharpen the
hierarchical structure of patriarchal authority in India. Enabling a small number of
officials to maintain order over large regions of the subcontinent, colonial modes of
governance served to subordinate not only women but also many men to the authority
of a small number of patriarchs. The family and the personal legal system governing
relations within it were particularly crucial to the framework of colonial power.
Constitutional reform and changes in the political-economy of colonial rule
after World War I began to place this hierarchical structure of power under pressure
and created growing interest, amongst Indian legislators and colonial officials, in its
reform. Though couched in the language of women's rights, reform of personal law
was driven by a desire to reconfigure thd balance of power within both the Hindu
family and the Indian state. Opening up competition between regional Hindu elites
who sought to establish their own practices as the basis of the new Code, after
independence these debates were also drawn into nation- and citizenship-building
projects with important consequences for the emerging secular state. Reflecting the
rising power of north Indian legislators, the Code Bill project served to consolidate
conservative patriarchy of Hindu men from this region as the basis, not only of Hindu
legal identity, but of Indian citizenship.|
|Appears in Collections:||Theses - History|
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