SOCIOLOGY OF INDIA- II
IGNOU BSOC 104 Solved Free Assignment
BSOC 104 Solved Free Assignment July 2023 & January 2024
Q. 1. Critically discuss the colonial description of society in India.
Ans. The colonial power had made negative image of Indian society, its people and culture and education.
Macaulay’s Minute: British scholar Thomas Babington Macaulay, legal member of the Council of India and a British parliamentarian, gave his important minute that changed the entire course of education, in 1835.
He addressed the committee of Public Instruction and based his argument on the basis of the central themes of the Charter Act of 1813.
In his speech he said “It is I believe no exaggeration to say that all the historical information which has been collected from all the books written in the Sanskrit language is less valuable than what may be found in the paltriest abridgment used at preparatory schools in England…..” So, he suggested that “We ought to employ them in teaching what is best worth knowing, that English is better worth knowing than Sanskrit or Arabic…”
James Mill’s Description of Indian Civilisation: An English historian James Mill did not cherish any positive idea about India. He was of the opinion that all Asian societies were at a lower level of civilization than Europe.
He compared Hindus with the savages of America. He termed the Indian architectural and sculptural creations as arts of the barbarian and according to him India is a half civilized nation.
The colonial scholars considered the Indian way of life as abominable which needed to be metamorphosed and given a western orientation.
He also believed that the English government in India with all its vices is a blessing of unspeakable magnitude to the population of Hindustan.
Mill’s views provided a justification for continued British rule and supported the view that India should be governed according to civilized European standards.
India as Imagined by Hegal, Marx and Engels: Hegal, Marx and Engels figured India as distinctive specimen. Marx described India very early stages of human society in which all men were owners as well as workers.
He also believed that nature of society in India had from the most ancient times until the British conquest.
Engels in “Principles of Communism” referred India and China as countries which for thousands of years have made no progress.
He also refers to semi-barbarian countries which previously had more or less remained outside of the line of historical development. They are now doomed to be taken over by civilization, personified above all by English industry and trade.
Marx described Indian villages to have stereotyped primitive forms. He referred Indian villages as family communities implying that they were held together by ties of consanguinity.
Caste and slavery are mentioned as village features but only in passing and not much in made of them.
Max Weber: According to them Indian society is founded on the traditional spirit of Hinduism, is devoid of the rational spirit to develop rational capitalism in society.
The predominance of otherworldly mysticism – in which salvation can only be achieved through a process of detachment from material wellbeing, has made the people remain grounded on traditional thoughts and actions.
Many scholars opposed Max thesis on the ground that many traditional business communities have contributed to the growth of capitalism; that many have separated their religion from economic activities and have contributed to the growth of capitalism.
Mark Twain: According to Mark Twain – India is land of fantasy; an imaginary land- a fairy land, dreamland. India had the start of the whole world in the beginning of things.
She had the first civilization; she had the first accumulation of material wealth; she was populous with deep thinker and subtle intellects;
Twain said repeatedly that India was his favorite land on the whole ‘Equator journey’. He loved the color and variety of Indian life. In “Following the Equator”.
This is indeed India – the land of dreams and romance of fabulous wealth and fabulous poetry of splendor and rags, of palaces and hovel of tigers and elephants, the cobra and the jungle the… cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history… the one land that all men desire to see and having once seen by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for all the shows of all the rest of the globe combined.
Q. 2. Describe the institutional limitations and women’s movement in India.
Ans. The main objective of these movements were caste reform, improvement in the status of women, promoting women’s education and raised voice against social practices which are based on social and legal inequalities and religious traditions of different communities.
The India society had remained stagnant for many years. Some degrading and inhuman social customs crept into the society.
The weak and the people longing to the low caste were the victims of such customs. Infanticide, system of Sati, polygamy, etc. were the evils from which Indian society suffered.
The spread of English education and Western liberal ideology among Indians and spread of Christianity and missionary activities resulted in a number of movements for social change and religious reform.
The English educated middle class realized that if a new India was to be born the country must get rid of these social customs.
So, the social reform of the 19th century target at relieving the Indian society of all the rigid social conventions and out dated customs. Nearly all the religious reformers contributed to the social reforms movement of the 19th century.
Social reform was a precondition for the reawakening of the people of India and the growth of nationalism. The initiative came largely from male reformers such as Raja Ram Mohan Roy.
He raised issues such as Sati, ill treatment of widows, ban on widow remarriage, polygamy, child marriage and denial of property right to women and the need to educate women.
Movement against Sati: Sati was practiced in many parts f India. It was very common in 19th century Bengal.
The great social reformer Raja Rammohan Roy founded the Brahmo Sabha later called Brahmo Samaj in 1828 to campaign against Sati and other evils affecting women.
Governor-general Bentinck supported Rammohan Roy and banned sati through an act in 1829.
The orthodox Hindus argued that the Shastras did not allow windows to remarry or to enjoy worldly pleasures.
They claimed that women were untrustworthy, too emotional and of low intellect. So, a widow if allowed to live was likely to do restrict things and thus would bring disgrace her family.
Rammohan Roy challenged these views. On the base of his arguments on the shastras, he proved that becoming a sati was not a religious duty.
He showed that women could not be called untrustworthy as deceived women for outnumbered deceived men.
He argued that women could not be called intellectually inferior without giving them a fair opportunity to prove their intellect.
Finally, he stated that it was a crime to allow widows to be killed simply as a precautionary measure. His arguments ultimately led to the ban on sati.
Movement for Widow Remarriage: The condition of Hindu widows was miserable. They had to wear white clothes, shave their heads and give up eating certain kinds of food.
They were not permitted to attend religious ceremonies, as their presence was considered a bad woman. They were not allowed to remarry and escape from this condition.
In the 19th century, social reformers organized movements to improve the condition of widows. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar openly supported widow remarriage and proved that it was not prohibited by the shastras.
Vidyasagar was strongly criticized by the orthodox Hindus. However Governor-General Dalhousie appreciated his efforts and the Widow Remarriage Act was passed in 1856.
Movement against Child Marriage: The custom of child marriage denied girl children the pleasures of childhood. Often, girls who were married too much older men were widowed at an early age.
In Bengal the Brahmo Samaj of India successfully campaigned against child marriage, and the early marriage of girl was declared illegal in 1872.
In Maharashtra, child marriage was condemned by reformers such as M.G. Ranade and Swami Dayanand. There were many debates in India and England on the issue of marriageable age.
Following these, the Age of Consent Act of 1891 raised the marriageable age of girls from 10 to 12 years.
The orthodox Indian and some Indian political leaders protested as they considered this as a deliberate British attempt to interfere with Indian religious and social customs.
The Sarda Act, or Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929 raised the marriageable age of girls to 14 and that of boys to 18.
Movement for Women’s Education: Most Indian women were denied from education for fear that they would neglect housework if educated.
Yet some liberal families and their daughters taught by private tutors even some brave women educated themselves in secret.
Many social reformers of the time promoted women’s education, as they felt this would improve the condition of women.
Among the first to campaign for women’s education was Henry Louis Vivian Derozio – a poet, journalist and reformer of Rammohan Roy’s time and a teacher at the Hindu college. He encouraged his students to think rationally and to challenge social evils.
His follower known as Derozians, started the young Bengal movement. They raised their voice for the improvement in the condition of women besides campaigning for peasants’ right and freedom of the press.
The Brahmo Samaj of India worked for the education of girls and opened schools for them.
Caste System: The caste system which had existed in India since ancient times had divided society into how and low castes.
In Hindu society the Brahmans were the most privileged caste, while the outcastes were the most underprivileged.
The reformers realized that the lower castes formed the majority of the population and depriving them of opportunities was slowing down India’s progress.
So, the reformers worked towards removing caste discrimination. The untouchable formed about one- fifth of India’s population in the 1930s.
Their plight therefore became an important issue in the social reform movements. They raised their voice against Brahman domination and the practice of untouchability.
British rule also helped to reduce caste rigidities because the British laws treated all castes equally; the new transport systems forced people of different castes to travel together; the British economic policies forced people to take up professions based not on caste but on skills and education; and Western education introduced Indians to liberal ideas.
(i) The Matua sect founded by Harichand Thakur of eastern Bengal rejected caste hierarchy and promoted the equality of men and women.
(ii) Guru Ghasidas in Chhattisgarh worked among the untouchable Chamars founded the Satnampanth and followers called Satnamis. They rejected Hindu rituals and Brahman domination and believed in a formless God.
(iii) Jyotirao Govindrao Phule fought against caste discrimination and Brahman domination in Maha-rashtra. He founded the Satyashodak Samaj to win equal rights for all.
(iv) Shri Narayana Guru founded the Shri Narayana Dharma Paripalan Yogam to campaign fror temple entry right for the untouchables.
(v) Kandukuri Veerasalingam founded the Hitakarini Sabha to improve the condition of the untouchables.
(vi) Mahatma Gandhi campaigned to improve the condition of the untouchables and called them Harijans.
(vii) B.R.Ambedkar founded Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha to spread education among the lower castes. He encouraged lower caste people to change their occupations, to get political power and even to convert to Bhuddhism.
(viii) Social and Religious reforms among the Sikhs were undertaken by the Singh Sabhas set up in Amritsar. They promoted reform by spreading modern education through Khalsa schools and colleges.
Q. 3. Discuss the basic features of the Indian Constitution.
Ans. Indian constitution was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 2nd November, 1949. It is the lengthiest constitution with 395 Articles, divided into 22 parts and 9 schedules.
(i) Sovereignty: Constitution in its introduction declares that people of India have supreme right to make decisions on internal as well as external matters. No external power can dictate the government of India.
In other words, Indian citizens are the real force in whom power is vested and Indian state is free from any foreign domination.
(ii) Socialist and Secular: Traditionally, socialist means that the means of production would be owned by state and state will equally distribute the wealth.
But in Indian context, socialist means Indian state would ensure to minimum standard of living for all and a try to reduce gap between the rich and poor.
In 1976 through the 42nd amendment of the constitution, in the preamble of the constitution the terms socialist and secular the terms were incorporated.
The term Secular means citizens have complete freedom to follow any religion but there is no Government treats all religious beliefs and practices with equal respect.
It also aims at the separation of religion from the state but in Indian context, the state treats all religions equal and even facilitates festive rituals on various occasions such as: Kumbh mela, etc. Characteristics of Secular state are:
(i) State have no religion of its own.
(ii) State will treat all religion equal and not giving a preferential treatment to the followers of any faith.
(iii) State will not practice any discrimination against any person due to his faith.
(iv) State providing equal opportunity of employ-ment in government establishment to people of all faiths.
iii) Parliamentary Form of Government: The constitution of India establishes parliamentary form of government both at the centre and the states.
In a parliamentary form of government, the Prime Minister and council of Ministers are responsible for all their actions to the government, particularly to the lower house, Lok Sabha.
When they lose their confidence with people, they should resign or the opposition parties will move a no-confidence motion and remove the government.
The Parliament keeps control on executives by various means i.e. by asking questions by no confidence motion, etc.
Also in Parliamentary system there are two types of head; one is nominal and one is real. In India President is nominal and Prime Minster is real head.
Q. 4. Define social mobility and discuss social mobility in caste in India.
Ans. According to S. Bogardus, Social mobility is any change in social position, such as occupational changes where persons move up or down the occupational scale or relation to office whereby a follower become a leader or a leap from a low economic class to high one or vice-versa.
Individuals with high aspirations try to improve his social status and moves upward through various means.
Caste system is considered as closed system but in reality, it is not so. Social mobility in the caste system is evident in the increasing discrepancy between caste and occupations, withering away of jajmani obligations, the rigidity regarding purity and pollution and acceptance of secular lifestyle.
Caste shows mobility in upward as well as downward direction. According to Srinivas, in past there were two major sources of mobility.
Fluidity of the political system. It made feasible for new castes to assume the status of Kshatriyas and exercise power. M.N. Srinivas gave example of Shivaji who belonged to Shudra caste. After overthrowing the Mughal power in Maharashtra, through the religious right his transition into Kshatriyahood.
The availability of marginal land which could be brought under cultivation. By these two routes to upward mobility leaders from dominant castes such as Reddis, Marathas could seize political power and claim Kshatriya status.
There are many examples are found in the history for the upward movement of caste system. The Pala dynasty of Bengal was Shudra in origin and Patidars of Gujarat originated as peasant caste.
When they got the rank of raja or king, of this caste also adopted the practices and life style of the upper castes and mobilize.
Level of Mobility
Mobility took place at all the levels such as individual, family and group.
Mobility of an Individual within a family: Many individuals despite low caste due to some personality traits such as integrity, honesty, acquisition of education and other achievements may have better status and prestige.
In the same way persons belonging to higher caste may lose his position due to misdeeds and slothful habits which may result in downward mobility for the person.
Mobility of a minority of families within a caste: This type of mobility is associated with socio-economic aspects of the families. Mobility may be consequence of acquisition of land and education.
These factors change the practices with regard to dress, lifestyle and rituals. This mobility is also referred as horizontal mobility.
Mobility of a majority of family or group: This kind of mobility involves collective state of prestige, honour, status and marked by changes in socio-cultural practices associated with purity and pollution.
Some of the practices which were regarded as impure were discontinued by the castes to improve their position.
Q. 5. What is ethnicity? Discuss its different forms.
Ans. The word Ethnicity is a term that describes shared culture – the practices, values and beliefs of a group. This also includes shared language, religion, and traditions among other commonalities.
An ethnic group is a collection of people whose members identify with each other through a common heritage, consisting of a common culture which may also include a shared language.
The groups’ ideology may also stress common ancestry, religion or race. The process that results in the emergence of an ethnicity is known as ethnogenesis.
According to T.K. Oommen ethnic groups is a group of people who share a common history, tradition, language and life- style, but are uprooted from and unattached to a homeland.
Ethnicity is a process which creates a sense of ethnic consciousness among the members of ethnic groups and mobilizes the members of same caste, language and religion to articulate their economic and political interest.
Six forms of ethnic identity and assertion in India are as follows:
Linguistic Ethnicity: Language is one of factors of ethnic identity. Every ethnic group has its own language and makes ethnic identity through its own language. The Dravida Kazhagam movement took shape in Tamil Nadu in 1940-50.
This movement opposed the adoption of Hindi as the national language by the government of India.
According to Vanaik, unlike religion, linguistic consciousness is never a powerful contender for separate nationhood. The language has more legitimacy than religion for administrative restructuring.
Communalism: When ethnic groups try to establish their identity through religion, they give rise to conflict and threaten the community life. According to Bipan Chandra communalism in India is a modern phenomenon.
It has its roots in British imperialism and emerged out of modern politics based on mass mobilization and imaginary communal interest.
Divide and rule policy of British in India caused the distrust between the Hindu and the Muslim so deep that the process of bridging the chasm between the two communities is very difficult.
The Sikh riots in 1984, Gujarat violence in 2021, Hindu-Muslim clashes in Ayodhya in 1992 are some of the example of communal riots which caused the destruction of life and property.
Tribal Movements: The indigenous groups who lived in the forest land are known as Tribals. They have been neglected and oppressed by various people such as landlords, money lenders and Government officials.
They have been removed from their land which resulted loss of their livelihood and great hatred towards the non-tribals (DIKUS). Due to this they started their movement to assert their ethnic identity.
The tribal leader fought against the imperial rulers for their lives and livelihood. Post- independence, the tribal movement were focused for maintaining cultural identity or for the demand of a separate state.
Ethno-Nationalism: According to Walker, the concept denotes both the loyalty to a nation deprived of its own state and the loyalty to an ethnic group embodied in a specific state, particularly where the latter is conceived as a nation-state.
According to many theorist ethno-nationalism is not a major threat to international peace but gained momentum in internal national studies.
In ethno-nationalism, a group develops a loyalty for its nation which is marked by the desire of an ethnic community and the community to have absolute authority over its own political, economic and social affairs.
According to K.N. Panikkar periodically ethnic identities and loyalties surfaced in Indian polity using different strategies and methods and state responded those by methods that relied more on force which led to greater alienation of these communities.
Regionalism: Regionalism is the expression of a common sense of identity and purpose by people within a specific geographical region, united by tits unique language, culture, language, etc.
It encourages people to develop a sense of brotherhood and oneness which seeks to protect the interests of a particular region and promotes the welfare and development of the state and its people.
It also implies excessive attachment to one’s region which is a threat to the unity and integrity of the country.
India has many ethnic differences and these ethnic differences create solid ground for regional feelings and threat to national integration.
Powerful movements led the union government to recognize union territories like Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya and other North-eastern territories to the status of state.
The three new states Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttaranchal were carved out of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh respectively due to the vigorous movements in 1990s. Telangana state was created from Andhra Pradesh due to the movement started in the 1950s.
Casteism: Casteism refers to the blind group loyal towards one’s caste or sub-caste. It aims to work for the social, economic, political and other interest of its own group. Caste plays an important role in Indian politics.
The Bahujan Samaj Party which is a Dalit Based party in Uttar Pradesh and Rashtriya Janata Dal which is a party of intermediate castes in Bihar have reflected the dominance of caste politics in India.
Stephen Barnett referred it the modern transformation of caste to ethnicization. According to Reddy and Susan Baylay the ethnic character of caste lies in its becoming an urgent moral mandate in Independent India, a bond of collective virtues and obligations on the basis of which public spirited people should take decisive action when they hear the call to arms.
Q. 6. Define the concept of tribe.
Ans. India has a large population of tribal people. They mostly live in hilly and isolated place where population is very less and communication difficult.
They are mainly found in the broad central belt of hilly country from West Bengal, Orissa and Bihar on the east through central India, to the some parts of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra on the west.
The main occupations of tribal people are:
- Shifting cultivation
- Forestry and good gathering
- Settled agriculture
- Agricultural labour and animal husbandry
- Household industry
According to D.G. Mandelbaum, the characteristics of Indian tribes are:
- Kinship as an instrument of social bonds.
- Lack of hierarchy among men and groups 3. Absence of strong and formal organization
- Communitarian basis of land holding
- Segmentary character
- Little value on surplus accumulation on the use of capital and on market trading
- Lack of distinction between form and substance of religion
- A distinct psychological make up for enjoying life.
Q. 7. What is a peasant movement? Discuss.
Ans. According to Singha Roy, peasant movement is an organized and collective effort of the peasantry to bring about change in the pattern of ownership, control and use of land share of agricultural produce, wage structure, credit and institutional support system and in other aspect of socio-economic life that have subjugated them in agrarian society.
There is hardly any evidence of peasant uprising in pre-modern India.
This could be due to the traditional social structure which was organized in caste system and provided frame work and relations between various groups that induced lower castes to accept their place in the social order.
Changes in the mode of agriculture have disturbed the traditional agrarian relationships which led to peasant upset.
During British period, land became a saleable commodity and commercialized agriculture developed during the late 19th century.
Social isolation, cultural segregation and economic exploitation have accentuated the historical processes of marginalization and political subordination of the peasants.
The collective realization and awareness of the peasants on these issues have resulted into the outbreak of various historical peasants’ movement in the world.
The impoverishment of the Indian peasantry was a result of the transformation of the agrarian structure during the colonial period due to:
(a) Colonial economic policies
(b) Ruin of the handicrafts leading to overcrowding of land
(c) The new land revenue system
(d) Colonial administrative and judicial system
The peasant faced various problems such as high rents, illegal levies, arbitrary eviction and unpaid labour in Zamindari areas. During Ryotwari system, Government levied heavy tax on land.
Due to this burden, he often approached local moneylender who exploited the farmer’s situation by extracting high rates of interest on money lent. All this led him to the vicious cycle of debt.
The periodic recurrence of famines coupled with the economic depression during the last decades of the 19th century further worsen the situation in rural areas and consequently led to numerous peasant revolts.
Q. 8. What is ‘Great Tradition’ and ‘Little Tradition’?
Ans. Little Tradition and Great Tradition:
Great Tradition: It is associated with the elites, literate and reflective few who are capable of analyzing, interpreting and reflecting cultural knowledge.
Little Tradition: It comprises the belief pattern, the institutions, knowledge including proverbs, riddles, folk tales, legends, myths and folk lore of the folk and the unlettered peasants who imbibe cultural knowledge from the great tradition.
Robert Redfield originated little and great traditions. He conducted his studies in Mexican communities and talked about little community.
Singer and Marriott were influenced by these studies and conducted their intensive study in Indian villages. They elaborated the original model of Redfield in the light of data generated from Indian villages.
The folks and peasantry follow the little tradition- the village tradition. The elites follow the great tradition.
The great tradition consists of the traditions contained in epics, Puranas, Brahmanas and other classical Sanskritic work.
The roles and statuses of Sita and Draupadi constitute the part of the great tradition. The little tradition is the local tradition of great tradition tailored according to the regional and village conditions.
The great tradition is found clearly in twice born castes such as priest and ritual leaders. Some of these corporate groups follow the traits of civilization and the great tradition.
The carriers of little tradition include folk artists, medicine men, tellers of riddles, proverbs and stories, poets and dancers, etc.
Little and great traditions help to analyze social change in rural India. The nature of this change is basically cultural. There is a constant interaction between great tradition and little tradition.
The interaction between them bring about society Change in rural . According to Yogendra Singh, changes in the cultural system follow through the interaction between the two traditions in the orthogenetic and heterogenetic process of individual growth.
The pattern of change however, is generally from orthogenetic to hetero-genetic forms of differentiation or change in the cultural structure of traditions.
Q. 9. Waht is modernization?
Ans. Modernization represents the net balance of changes following from heterogenetic contacts.
In the book ‘Modernization of Indian Tradition’ Yogendra Singh identifies three main streams of traditions in Indian society as Hindu, Muslim and tribal. These three groups constitute major and primary traditions of the Indian society.
He identified the key forces of modernization and analyzes their impact on Indian society and tradition. The sources of modernization are either internal or endogenous or from outside society.
These two sources of modernization need to be analyzed at the level of social structures and traditions.
He also makes clear that it is not necessary that the processes which bring social change in the society also bring change in the traditions. On the other hand, the processes which affect change in traditions necessarily change the society.
Q. 10. Describe the urban working class briefly.
Ans. Some distinctive features of urban working class in India are:
They migrated from rural areas and pay regular visits to their native villages.
Most of the migrant labours retained their traditional occupations.
Most of migrant labours are illiterate and unaware of legal protection.
They are diversified on the basis of caste, religions; region language, etc.
Workers in the organized sector are governed by Payment of Wage Act, 1936 and the Minimum Wage Act, 1948. They also get bonus on profit or productivity. These provisions are ignored by the employers in the unorganized sectors.
Urban working class is more exposed to modern means of communication. This exposure helps them to form organization to fight for their common cause.
Many urban workers work under the miserable work conditions. They live in slum and face unhealthy living conditions, poor housing, lack of drainage and electricity, crime, etc.
Though urban working class is diversified in terms of employment, region caste, etc. but they are unified in terms of lower economic status, against their employers due to exploitation. They have been united to get adequate legal protection.