There was stagnation in the social life. The social system of the Hindus was
predominantly based on the caste system which had arisen in ancient times. In
course of time it had undergone many changes but its hereditary and unequal
basis had remained unchanged. The caste system was one of the most important
causes of social disunity. There were hundreds of castes and sub castes in the
country which led to the fragmentation of society. The sense of belonging to a
caste or sub caste was strong. A large part of the population was considered by
the people of higher castes as untouchable. There were several evil customs and
practices which had become part of the Hindu social system such as sati,
infanticide, child marriage and belief in superstitions.
The status of women in society had deteriorated. A widow’s life particularly if she belonged to a higher caste was miserable. She could not remarry even if she became a widow during her childhood. The Muslims were also divided by caste, ethnic and sectarian differences. The backward economic system together with a social system presented an equally dismal picture. Political loyalties were primarily local or regional. The Marathas who had emerged after the break down of Mughal Empire had no conception of a united Indian nation. Their conception of nationality was narrow and limited and they thought of dominating over other parts of the country rather than welding them into a nation. The concept of nation had not yet developed.