Sociologist Satish Saberwal elaborates upon the modern context by sketching three aspects to the modern framework of change in colonial India:
- -modes of communication
- -forms of organisation, and
- -the nature of ideas
New technologies: speeded up various forms of communication. The printing press, telegraph, and later the microphone, movement of people and goods through steamship and railways helped quick movement of new ideas. Within India, social reformers from Punjab and Bengal exchanged ideas with reformers from Madras and Maharashtra. Keshav Chandra Sen of Bengal visited Madras in 1864. Pandita Ramabai travelled to different corners of the country. Some of them went to other countries. Christian missionaries reached remote corners of present day Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya.
Modern social organisations like the Brahmo Samaj in Bengal and Arya Samaj in Punjab were set up. The All-India Muslim Ladies Conference (Anjuman-E-Khawatn-E-Islam) was founded in 1914. Indian reformers debated not just in public meetings but through public media like newspapers and journals. Translations of writings of social reformers from one Indian language to another took place. For instance, Vishnu Shastri published a Marathi translation of Vidyasagar’s book in Indu Prakash in 1868.
New ideas of liberalism and freedom, new ideas of homemaking and marriage, new roles for mothers and daughters, new ideas of self conscious pride in culture and tradition emerged. The value of education became very important. It was seen as very crucial for a nation to become modern but also retain its ancient heritage. The idea of female education was debated intensely. Significantly, it was the social reformer Jotiba Phule who opened the first school for women in Pune. Reformers argued that for a society to progress women have to be educated. Some of them believed that in pre-modern India, women were educated. Others contested this on the grounds that this was so only of a privileged few. Thus attempts to justify female education were made by recourse to both modern and traditional ideas. They actively debated the meanings of tradition and modernity. Jotiba Phule thus recalled the glory of pre-Aryan age while others like Bal Gangadhar Tilak emphasised the glory of the Aryan period. In other words 19th century reform initiated a period of questioning, reinterpretations and both intellectual and social growth.