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  • Eleanor Newbigin, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

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Book description

Between 1955 and 1956 the Government of India passed four Hindu Law Acts to reform and codify Hindu family law. Scholars have understood these acts as a response to growing concern about women's rights but, in a powerful re-reading of their history, this book traces the origins of the Hindu law reform project to changes in the political-economy of late colonial rule. The Hindu Family and the Emergence of Modern India considers how questions regarding family structure, property rights and gender relations contributed to the development of representative politics, and how, in solving these questions, India's secular and state power structures were consequently drawn into a complex and unique relationship with Hindu law. In this comprehensive and illuminating resource for scholars and students, Newbigin demonstrates the significance of gender and economy to the history of twentieth-century democratic government, as it emerged in India and beyond.

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Primary sources

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Unpublished dissertations

Chakrabarti, A., ‘Widowhood in colonial Bengal 1850–1930’, Unpublished thesis, University of Calcutta, 2004
Sinha, C., ‘Hindu Code Bill (1941–56) and feminist consciousness in Bombay’, Unpublished thesis, University of Bombay, 2004
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Online sources

Law Commission of India, ‘Report on property rights of women: proposed reforms under Hindu law’ (May 2000),
Lok Sabha Debates, 29 August 2005,


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