Prelims 2021

Q. Consider the following statements:
1.The Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms of 1919 recommended granting voting rights to all the women above the age of 21.
2.The Government of India Act of 1935 gave women reserved seats in the legislature.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2
Correct Answer: b) 2 only

Question from UPSC Prelims 2021 GS Paper

Explanation : 

Historical Reforms on Women’s Suffrage

The Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms of 1919 played a significant role in shaping the governance of British India, but contrary to popular belief, they did not extend voting rights to all women above the age of 21. These reforms introduced a system known as “dyarchy,” which aimed to increase Indian participation in government. However, the grant of suffrage to women was limited and subject to restrictions like property ownership, education, and marital status, rather than being a universal provision.

In contrast, the Government of India Act of 1935 made more substantial strides towards women’s political representation. This Act not only expanded the electorate but also reformed the legislative structure of British India. It marked a significant step in the political empowerment of women by providing for reserved seats in the legislature, although it continued to impose qualifications based on property and education.

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