saved their skins by becoming ‘approvers’, or informers. By 1860, Thuggee
was no more, though the office of Superintendent of Thuggee and Dacoity
was maintained until 1904.
Emancipation of Women
The general movement of reform became subsidiary to the government’s
military preoccupations from the end of the 1830s, though there was little
reduction in reformist pressures either in Britain or in India. Much of this
agitation was concerned with the position of women in Hindu society.
    The government was not willing to provide education for women, and did
not do so until the end of Company rule. Most schools for girls were the
product of missionary activity. In response both to missionary pressure and
the infiltration of general ideas of Western liberalism, a certain amount of
agitation did, however, grow up over the status of women in general and
widows in particular.
    A number of Indians proposed legislations to raise the minimum marriage
age, and to permit the remarriage of Hindu widows. The governments
although, preferred not to initiate legislation itself and generally resisted
attempts to pressurise it into enacting legislations, which it believed would
interfere in religious matters. Eventually it allowed itself to be persuaded by
Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar to pass the Hindu Widows Remarriage Act of
    Hindu polygamy was another matter which brought many petitions to the
government between 1855 and 1857. The particular offenders were a
Brahmin caste in Bengal known as Kulins. Legislation was drafted, but the
outbreak of the Mutiny held up proceedings. When the Lieutenant-Governor
of Bengal later asked the Government of India to enact the legislation it
refused on the grounds that it might set a precedent which might not be
approved by others practicing polygamy (principally Muslims) outside
    The period up to 1857 was one wherein certain essential reforms were
achieved as a result of legislative action stimulated by a positive desire for
reform. The limits of security, however, made the government distinctly
reluctant to go further. Western ideas, both secular and religious, had their