Famous Social Reformers of India / World

Social ReformerImportant Contributions
Raja Ram Mohan RoyFounder of Brahmo SamajRaja Ram Mohan Roy was an Indian religious, social, and educational reformer, and humanitarian. He challenged the traditional Hindu culture in the early 1800’s. He founded the Brahmo Samaj and campaign against ‘Sati’, the Hindu funeral practice in which the widow immolated herself on her husband’s funeral pyre.
He was known as “Father of Modern India” and also regarded as the “Father of the Bengal Renaissance”.
Swami Dayanand SaraswatiFounder of Arya SamajSwami Dayanand Saraswati was an important Hindu spiritual leader and social reformer of the 19th century. He was the founder of the Arya Samaj, a Hindu reform movement of the Vedic tradition. He published a number of religious books such as Satyartha Prakash, Bhasya-Bhoomika and Sanskar Vidhi.
Swami VivekanandFounder of Rama Krishna MissionHis real name was Narendranath Datta. He was the disciple of Sri Ramakrishna. He was a key figure in the introduction of the Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world. Swami Vivekananda founded the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission.
Henry Louis Vivian DerozioFounder of Young Bengal MovementHe was an Indian poet and assistant headmaster of Hindu College, Kolkata. He was one of the first Indian educators to disseminate Western learning and science among the young men of Bengal.
Gopal Hari DeshmukhStarted monthly magazine LokhitwadiHe was a social reformer from Maharashtra, India. He promoted emancipation and education of women, and wrote against child marriages, dowry system and polygamy.
Gopal Krishna GokhaleFounder of Servants of India SocietyHe was one of the founding social and political leaders during the Indian Independence Movement against the British Empire in India. He was a senior leader of the Indian National Congress. He not only promoted primarily independence from the British Empire but also social reforms.
K M MunshiFounder of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, an educational trust, in 1938He was an Indian independence movement activist, politician, writer from Gujarat. He was a lawyer by profession but later he turned to literature and politics. He served as the Governor of Uttar Pradesh from 1952 to 1957.
Acharya Vinobha BhaveFounder of Sarvodya Movement, Bhoodan MovementHe was a supporter of non-violence and human rights. He was awarded Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 1958.
Sunderlal BahuganaStarted Chipko MovementHe was a follower of Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of Non-violence and Satyagraha and a social reformer. He starter Chipko movement for the preservation of forests in the Himalayas. He was awarded India’s second highest civilian honour, Padma Vibhushan, in 2009.
Khan Abdul Gaffar KhanFounder of Servants of God or Khudai KhidmatgarHe was a political, spiritual and social leader known for his non-violent opposition to the British Rule. He was also known as Frontier Gandhi. In 1987, he became the first non-Indian to be awarded Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award.
Dadabhai NaorojiFounder of Gyan Prasarak MandaliHe was an Indian political and social leader. He was also known as the Grand Old Man of India. He was a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons, United Kingdom between 1892 and 1895, and the first Asian to be a British MP. His book ‘Poverty and Un-British Rule in India’ brought attention to the draining of India’s wealth into Britain.
Madam H P BlavatskyFounder of Theosophical SocietyShe was an Ukrainian occultist. In 1875, Blavatsky, Henry Steel Olcott, and William Quan Judge established a research and publishing institute called the Theosophical Society.
Mother TeresaFounder of Missionaries of CharityShe was a Roman Catholic Religious Sister, social reformer and missionary of Albanian origin who lived for most of her life in India serving the poorest of the poor. For her social service she was awarded Nobel Peace Prize in the year 1979.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Annie BesantFounder of Home Rule MovementsThe All India Home Rule League was a national political organization founded in 1916 to lead the national demand for self-government, termed Home Rule, and to obtain the status of a Dominion within the British Empire as enjoyed by Australia, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Newfoundland at that time. In 1916, Annie Besant launched the All India Home Rule League along with Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak.
Medha PatkarStarted Narmada Bachao MovementShe is an Indian social activist and social reformer turned politician. She is the founder member of Narmada Bachao Andolan and was National Convener of National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), an alliance of progressive people’s organisations.
Atmaram PandurangFounder of Prarthana SamajPrarthana Samaj critically examined the relations between contemporary social and cultural systems and religious beliefs and gave priority to social reform as compared with the political changes already initiated by the British government.
Jyotiba PhuleFounder of Satya Sodhak SamajHe was an Indian activist, thinker, social reformer, writer and theologist from Maharashtra. He founded the Satya Shodhak Samaj with the main objective of liberating the Bahujans, Shudras and Ati-Shudras and protecting them from exploitation and atrocities.
Sir Syed Ahmed KhanStarted Aligarh MovementSir Syed Ahmed Khan was an Anglo-Indian, Muslim philosopher, pragmatist and social activist of 19th century India. He founded the famous Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in 1875.
J H DunantFounder of Red CrossIn 1901, Dunant was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in founding the International Red Cross Movement and initiating the Geneva Convention.
Robert Baden PowellFounder of ScoutsHe was a lieutenant-general in the British Army. He was a writer and founder of the Scout Movement.
Lady Agnes Baden PowellFounder of GuidesShe was the wife of Robert Baden Powell. She became Chief Guide for Britain in 1918 and was elected World Chief Guide in 1930.
Peter BenensonFounder of Amnesty InternationalHe was a British lawyer and the founder of human rights group Amnesty International.
Melvin JonesFounder of Lions ClubHe was a Chicago businessman. He founded the Lions Clubs International in the year 1917 to take an active interest in the civic, cultural, social and moral welfare of the community.
Alfred NobelFounder of Nobel PrizeHe was a Swedish chemist, engineer and innovator. He was the inventor of dynamite. His fortune was used posthumously to institute the Nobel Prizes and was awarded every year to persons making significant achievement in different fields such as Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and Peace. The Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo (Norway), while the other prizes are awarded in Stockholm (Sweden).