NCERT Class 9 Solutions: Clothing: A Social History (India and the Contemporary World-I) Chapter 8– Part 3

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Q-5. Suggest reasons why women in nineteenth century India were obliged to continue wearing traditional Indian dress even when men switched over to the more convenient western clothing. What does this show about the position of women in society?


19th Century Indian women wearing saree

Indian Women During 19th Century

19th Century Indian women wearing saree

In the 19th century India, women continued wearing traditional Indian dress even if men had adopted more convenient western clothes. This shows that

  • Women during 19th century were oppressed and had lower status than men in society.

  • There never got a chance to be aware of what was going on outside the house and their lives were limited to the four walls of their homes.

  • They were not allowed to become modern or change the traditions. Social evils like purdah were still in practice.

Q-6. Winston Churchill described Mahatma Gandhi as a ‘seditious Middle Temple Lawyer’ now ‘posing as a half-naked fakir’.

What provoked such a comment and what does it tell you about the symbolic strength of Mahatma Gandhi’s dress?


Mahatma Gandhi and Winston Churchill

Mahatma Gandhi and Winston Churchill

Mahatma Gandhi and Winston Churchill

  • Mahatma Gandhi had adopted the dress of the poorest Indian so that Winston Churchill described Mahatma Gandhi as a 'Seditious Middle Temple Lawyer' now 'posing as a half-naked fakir'.

  • He was opposed to Western clothing and adopted the simple dhoti and sometimes a chadder which was his symbolic weapon against British rule.

  • Mahatma wanted to show that he one among the people and represents the poorest of the poor. And people of India responded to his movements with all their heart, Swedish Movement to inspire boycott of British goods was a great success.

  • Churchill had no answer to Gandhiji’s simplicity and popularity but to make seditious remarks. It only shows that British even their top statesmen were becoming desperate. They realized that atrocities they were committing in India were wrong and had no way to justify those.

  • Mahatma Gandhi had started to wear only a short dhoti and he also wore that when he visited England for the Round Table Conference in 1931.

Q-7. Why did Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of clothing the nation in khadi appeal only to some sections of Indians?

Answer 7:

Mahatma Gandhi with ratio on which khadi was prepared

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi with ratio on which khadi was prepared

  • Mahatma Gandhi’s dream was to clothe the entire nation (India) in khadi. His aim was to reduce reduced India’s dependence on British factory made items. Khadi was the symbol of “Swadeshi” the return to ultra-nationalism and pride in our nation. He believed that by ditching British made cloth, India and its people would feel independent psychologically and culturally paving way complete independence. However his vision was disliked by many sections of society.

    • The Dalits deprived by caste norms for centuries adopted and never gave up western dress styles. For them they were political statements of self-respect, e.g., Baba Ambedkar.

    • Khadi was costly so that many poor were not able to it.

    • In Indian culture married women preferred colored sarees due to social constraints to stiff homespun white khadi. For example: Sarojini Naidu and Kamla Nehru.

    • Muslims adopted green robes after the Khilafat Movement, while the Pathan volunteers of the N.W. and Frontier had adopted distinctive red coloured clothes.

  • Therefore, at that time Khadi was not adopted widely due to shifts in cultural tastes, to social and economic uncertainties and some problems of social and political conflict. Also Indian handloom and weaving industry was not ready to meet the demand for increased variety from Indians.

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