SOCIOLOGY OF INDIA- I
IGNOU BSOC 102 Solved Free Assignment
BSOC 102 Solved Free Assignment July 2023 & January 2024
Q. 1. Describe the nature and history of emergence of sociology in India.
Ans. We find the growth of sociology as a discipline is a product of Western intellectual discourse.
However, writings about society can be traced back to the ancient Indian mythological, religious and spiritual texts such as the Veda, Upanishads, Puranas, Smritis, writings of Kautilya and Sukracharya that talk volumes about rites, laws, customs, economy, polity, culture, morality, aesthetics and science.
All these writings are replete with insights concerning social order and stability, mobility, human interrelationship and social governance.
For instance, Kautilya’s Artha Shastra is a monumental treatise on political economy and Shukracharya’s Niti Shastra offers vast wisdom on morality, social customs, ethics, folkways and mores.
“Charaksamhita” of 8th century B.C advise the healers to take into account the norms, values and customs of the people who would come to them.
Most of the classical accounts of Indian Society can be found in the writings of Meghasthenes, the Greek ambassador to the court of Chandragupta Maurya.
Detailed socio-cultural description of Indian society is also found in the works of three Chinese travelers,Fa-hien(400-411 A.D), Yoan Change (624-644 AD) and 1-Tsing (671-695 AD).
Similarly, a sort of sociological approach may be marked in the famous Aarab traveler Al-Bironi’s (973-1030) description of the social life and customs of the people.
Valuable information on socio-cultural conditions and daily life of people of India are available from the narratives of Ibn Batutta (1333-1347).
Famous Muslim scholar in Akbar’s court (1556-1605) Abul Fazal is known for his work “Ain-i-Akbari”. It gives a wonderful description of society in all its aspects in Akbar’s time.
Abd-al-Rahman Ibn- khaldun (1332-1406) the famous Islam scholar is known for his popular treatise “Muqaddamah” where he describes the rise and fall of states and gives stress on geographical and climatic factors as causes of social change.
However the above scholars were not sociologists in the modern sense. But they were keen observers of social life and society and thereby providing valuable material for sociology.
During British period, the rapid acquisition of knowledge of Indian Society and the intensification of missionary activities began to develop from 1760 onward.
Missionaries and British officials made earnest effort to study the social life and culture of people of India.
Dr. François Buchanan conducted an ethnographic survey of Bengal in 1807 which is still considered as a brilliant work of sociological importance.
In 1816, Abbey Dubois, a French Missionary in Mysore wrote a book entitled “Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies” which is regarded as a valuable sociological document.
Famous social reformer Raja Rammohan Roy’s writings on religion, women and society continue to excite the intellectual discourse for their rich sociological content.
Besides, Vivekananda Dadabhai Naroji, M.G. Ranade and many others also added the much needed intellectual stimulus to the larger discourse of ‘individual and society’ in India.
The making of Indian Sociology can be traced back to this intellectual climate and its corresponding socio-cultural milieu.
Thus, sociology in India was the product of intellectual response of the Indians to the Western interpretations of Indian society and culture by the Westerners, mainly after the colonial rule of the British began in India.
Anthropology, the kindred discipline with sociology, too was largely the product of European expansion of the world during the last three or four centuries.
The need to govern men of various races and vastly different cultures created the urgency in the European rulers to study the life aces and v and cultures of the ruled.
Q. 2. Discuss the agrarian class structure in India with examples.
Ans. Utsa Patnaik divides India’s agrarian classes into the following categories:
(ii) Rich Peasant (a) Proto-bourgeois (b) Proto-feudal Exploited Classes
(iii) Poor Peasant
(a) Agricultural labourer operating land
(b) Petty tenant
(iv) Fulltime Labourer.
Two criteria she used to define the classes are: possession of the means of production and exploitation of labour.
In agriculture, she says, the landless and near landless who possess no or little means of production are easily identifiable. These people are mainly or wholly dependent on working for others.
The landlords and capitalists focus on adequate means of production. They live on employing others.
She states that the use of outside labour relative to the use of family labour is the reliable index to classify classes in Indian agriculture because those who focus on the means of production and labour in their hands would rely on exploiting the labour of others while those with little or no means of production would be obliged to work for others.
She explains the features of the different classes:
Landlord: The family members of big landowners do not perform manual labour in major farm operations. They may supervise or sometimes operate machinery, which are not manual labour.
Rich Peasants: They do manual work but their resource position is such that appropriation of others’ labour is at least as important as use of family labour.
The middle peasantry is primarily self-employed because on the average the resources per capita just suffice to employ adequately the supply of family labour and to offer a living at a customary subsistence level.
Poor Peasants: The poor peasant family work for wages or lease in land. They cannot make ends meet and have to decrease consumption standards.
Full-time Labourer: They also work for wage. Some may own small strips of land which they do not cultivate but lease Rudra does not see any contradictions between those big landowners who work with capitalistic features and those who operate along feudal lines despite acknowledging the co-existence of both.
Patnaik acknowledges the capitalist and feudal landlords by making a difference that the capitalist landlord hires labour greater than rent whereas feudal landlord hires labour at most as high as rent.
Secondly, Rudra does not differentiate between landlords and rich peasants which Patnaik concedes. Rudra’s rejection is based on the participation in the manual work of cultivation. In India, he says that this criterion is negated by the caste factor.
For example, even a very small and impoverished landholder will not take to the plough because he is from upper caste.
On the contrary, women members of families possessing several hundreds of acres of land do not hesitate to drive their own tractors in Punjab.
Big landowners are a ‘single class’ as well as ‘a hybrid class’. ‘Hybrid class’ means that they are partly feudal and partly capitalist.
Accirding to Rudra, they are the ‘ruling class in Indian agriculture’.Besides the big landowners and agricultural labourers, according to Rudra, other people do not belong to any class.
This classlessness is because of the fact that, while they have contradictions among themselves, they do not have clear contradictions with the two principal classes. Also, the contradictions are of a subsidiary nature.
Only the struggle between the two main classes ‘can provide the motive force for any changes in the agrarian structure’.
Rudra and Patnaik differ on the criterion used to define classes, but they make similar point on the exploiting and exploited classes. Rudra mentions the class contradiction, while Patnaik talks of class exploitation.
Rudra’s views are based on the survey of 261 farms in eleven districts of Punjab in 1968-69 and Patnaik conducted a field work in 1969 covering 66 big farmers in five states – Odisha, Andhra, Mysore, Madras and Gujarat.
John Harriss, who conducted a field work in Tamil Nadu, defines the classes according to two criteria – size of production resources (including land) in relation to household livelihood requirements, and labour relations.
Harriss divides the agrarian classes in the following categories:
(i) Capitalist Farmers: They have assets and produce four times more than they need for basic livelihood. They employ a permanent labour force and they do not contribute personally beyond a very little family labour.
(ii) Rich Peasants: They are like capitalist farmers except that they are substantially dependent on famiily labour.
(iii) Independent Middle Peasants: They have assets that produce 1-2 times their requirements. They employ principally family labour and sometimes engage in wage labour for others.
(iv) Poor Peasants: This class includes marginal farmers and agricultural labourers. They do not have assets to cover their livelihood and depend on wage labour.
Q. 3. Compare the administrative perspective with that of the Orientalist and the Indologists.
Ans. Orientalists and Indologists immensely admired ancient Indian civilisation and were deeply aggrieved by the fall of Indian society from that ideal, while the missionaries were of the view that there was no glorious past and it was always filled with absurdities.
Indologists and Orientalists tended to be from upper class backgrounds and better educated, the missionaries, particularly the Baptists came from lower rungs of the British society with a zeal for reforming both their own and definitely the Indian society. They wanted to change the social order in favour of Christianity.
Indologists and Orientalists however had respect for the Indian system. The interpretation of Indian society by the administrators, who were trained in British universities and indoctrinated by utilitarian rationalism, was more pragmatic and more matter-of-fact.
Their objective was to understand the Indian Society to exploit its resources. The administrators segregated different aspects of the Indian society for their convenience.
For example, B. H. Baden-Powells’ three volumes of The Land System of British India (1892) had a series of arguments about the nature of Indian village and its resources in relation to the state and its demand over these resources.
Baden-Powell mentioned about the state’s claims on the produce of the soil. He mentioned that the government derived its revenue “by taking a share of the actual grain heap on the threshing floor of each holding”.
A wide range of intermediaries between the state and the grain heap developed to get the share.
British Indologist Sir William Jones studied Sanskrit and Indology. He established the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1787. Jones translated the Laws of Manu in 1794.
During the period from 1757 to 1785, the officials of the East India Company in Bengal developed an administrative system capable of maintaining law and order and producing in a regular manner income to support the administrative, military and commercial activities of the company and provided a profit.
The assessment and regular collection of land revenue needed considerable knowledge of the structure of Indian society.
Thus, inquiries into the nature of land tenure were made by collecting documents and records of previous rulers.
Some British also out of interest and curiosity began to study and write on Indian society from first-hand observation in somewhat objective fashion.
For example, William Tenant, a military chaplain in his two volume work, Indian Recreations: Consisting Chiefly of Structures on the Domestic and Rural Economy of the Mahommedans and Hindoos (1804) based his information on personal observations, *conversations and writings of several intelligent natives’ and ‘oral conversation with…military servants’.
Q. 4. Who are the subalterns. Discuss one of the sublatern movements in India.
Ans. The term ‘subaltern’ was widely used initially to refers to inferior rank in army. Italian Neo-Marxist Antonio Gramsci uses the term in much broader sense than its general meaning.
By subaltern, he meant all kinds of non-hegemonic those who did not have powerful and upper class status groups in a class divided society.
Now subaltern means people of inferior rank considered in terms of economic condition, race, ethnicity, gender, caste and sexual orientation.
Subaltern perspective looks into those who are marginalized and contrasts it with the elite perspective which excludes the marginalised from their concerns. Some scholars have conducted studies on the tribal movement and peasant insurgencies and rebellions of colonial India.
They have taken up the resistance and movements which were mainstream historiography or the study of writing histories’.
The movement, protest, resistance of the peasants, tribal and the marginalised groups against the colonial power reflects varied intensities.
The subaltern politics and mobilisation was guided more by the traditional institutions such as clan, territoriality, family network, caste, kinship and deprivation.
The subaltern mobili-zation was more violent, aggressive and spontaneous while the elite mobilisation was cautious, controlled and moderate. The elite politics and mobilisation was governed more by legalistic and constitutional considerations.
Thus, the subaltern studies created an alternative history, ‘the history of the people’. In Elementary Aspects of the Peasants Insurgency in Colonial India (1983), Guha discusses an interesting account of the peasants’ assertions, peasants consciousness, their mystic visions and religiosity and the social bond in his study of the 19th century peasant’s insurgency in colonial India.
Guha, a Marxist subaltern historian, interprets the past to bring about radical change in historiography and a radical transformation in consciousness.
He views that the peasant and tribal insurgents should not be considered as ‘objects’ of history but as ‘makers’ of their own history. They have a transformative consciousness.
Q. 5. Describe the features and types of industires in India.
Ans. Industry refers to collective large-scale manufacturing of goods in well-organized plants with a high degree of automation and specialization.
Although this is a common example of industry, it can also include other commercial activities that provide goods and services such as agriculture, transportation, hospitality, and many others.
Industry can be divided into different categories or levels for a better understanding of the different types and for making it easier to study.
There are plastic manufacturing industry, food industry, auto industry, and so many other types. Services providers like banking also come under industry.
Industries can be categorised into the following types:
(a) Primary Industry: Primary industries are those that extract or produce raw materials from which useful items can be made. Extraction of raw materials includes mining activities, forestry, and fishing.
Agriculture is also considered a primary industry as it produces “raw materials” that require further processing for human use.
(b) Secondary Industry: Secondary industries are those that change raw materials into usable products through processing and manufacturing.
Bakeries that make flour into bread and factories that change metals and plastics into vehicles are examples of secondary industries.
The term “value added” is sometimes applied to processed and manufactured items since the change from a raw material into a usable product has added value to the item.
(c) Tertiary Industry: Tertiary industries are those that provide essential services and support to allow other levels of industry to function.
Often simply called service industries, this level includes transportation, finance, utilities, education, retail, housing, medical, and other services.
(d) Quaternary Industry: Quaternary industries are those for the creation and transfer of information, including research and training.
Often called information industries, this level has seen dramatic growth as a result of advancements in technology and electronic display and transmission of information.
(e) Quinary Industries: Quinary industries are those that control the industrial and government decision-making processes.
This level includes industry executives and management and bureaucrats and elected officials in government. Policies and laws are made and implemented at this level.
Q. 6. What is the meaning of social structure?
Ans. Social structure is a stable institution which is characterized by religious, regional, linguistics and caste diversities.
Whether it’s North India or South India, Hindu or Muslim, Urban or Village, virtually all things, people and social groups are ranked according to various essential qualities.
There have been considerable amount of learning to know the Indian social structure with regard to its combination and its procedure owing largely to the contribution of economics sociologist and social anthropologists.
Many other learning too made an effort to settle very near connection between caste and class in India which are generally on the basis of first hand examination of a geographical nature.
However, these examinations of first hand observation demonstrate a class structure in India and its close connection with class stratification.
Q. 7. Define the concept of tribe.
Ans. Tribes have been defined as a group of indigenous people with shallow history, having common name, language and territory, tied by strong kinship bonds, practising endogamy, having distinct customs, rituals and beliefs, simple social rank and political organisation, common ownership of resources and technology.
The tribes have segmentary, egalitarian system and are not mutually inter-dependent, as are castes in a system of organic solidarity. They have direct access to land and no intermediary is involved between them and land.
The tribal societies are sustained by relatively primitive subsistence technology such as shifting cultivation and hunting and gathering, and maintain an egalitarian segmentary social system guided entirely by non- literate ethnic tradition.
It has been suggested that wherever civilisations exist, tribes can be described, defined and analysed only in contrast to that civilisation which it may fight, serve, mimic or adopt but cannot ignore.
In India, there are numerous examples of tribes transforming themselves into the larger entity of the caste system; others have become Christian or Muslim.
They also join the ranks of peasantry and in modern times become wage-labourers in plantations, mining and other industries.
Q. 8. Discuss briefly the impact of globalisation on family in India.
Ans. In view of rapid technological transformation, economic development and social change, the pattern of family living has been diverse in urban India.
Today, life has been much more complex both in the rural and in the urban areas than what it was few decades ago.
Many couples are in gainful employment. These working couples are to depend on others for child care, etc., facilities. With the structural break down of the joint family, working couple face a lot of problem.
For employment, many rural males come out of the village, leaving behind their wives and children in their natal homes.
The rural migrants are not always welcome to the educated westernised urban family for a longer stay. Their stay many times creates tension among the
family members. In the lower strata of the urban society.
Q. 9. Define the concept of organic solidarity given b Emile Durkheim.
Ans. Organic solidarity, as given by Durkheim, is social cohesion based upon the dependence individuals have on each other in more advanced societies.
It comes from the interdependence that arises from specialization of work and the complementarities between people i.e. a development that occurs in “modern” and “industrial” societies.
Although individuals perform different tasks and often have different values and interest, the order and very solidarity of society depends on their reliance on each other to perform their specified tasks.
“Organic” refers to the interdependence of the component parts. Thus, social solidarity is maintained in more complex societies through the interdependence of its component parts (e.g., farmers produce the food to feed the factory workers who produce the tractors that allow the farmer to produce the food).
As a simple example, farmers produce food to feed factory workers who produce tractors that, in the end, allow the farmer to produce more food.
Q. 10. List the four types of economy based on the way scarce resources are distributed in society.
Ans. Economy Based on Distribution of Scarce Resources:
(i) Traditional Economy: Traditional economy comprises small units of production. Engaged in activities like agriculture, harvesting, food gathering, animal husbandry, fishing, hunting and herbal production, these units cater to the needs of family, tribal group and communities.
They are closely linked with local traditions, customs and beliefs. These units are not profit oriented and their reliance is more on trading and bartering of goods and services among the social communities.
(ii) Centralised Economy: This is an economy in which business activities and the allocation of resources are determined by government order rather than market forces.
(iii) Market Economy: A market economy is a system where the laws of supply and demand direct the production of goods and services. Supply includes natural resources, capital and labour.
Demand includes purchases by consumers, businesses, and the government. The government intervention is minimum.
Capital has a crucial role in managing resources, labour, market forces, profit, capital assets, and even in managing decision-making, political forces, consumers, accumulation of wealth and in managing the social structure of the society to deal with the business interest and the interest of the market forces.
(iv) Mixed economy: A mixed economy combines the advantages and disadvantages of three different types of economies: market, command, and traditional economies. It is the most flexible system.
It protects public interest and allows open market forces and the use of capital. It also allows interference from the government bodies in strategic areas of economic activities to protect public interests.