SOCIOLOGY OF INDIA
IGNOU BSOC 132 Solved Free Assignment
BSOC 132 Solved Free Assignment July 2023 & January 2024
Q. 1. What do you understand by unity in diversity in India? Discuss.
Ans. Let us learn about the meaning of diversity and unity in detail.
Meaning of Diversity
The term diversity is opposite of uniformity. Uniformity means similarity of some sort that characterises a people. ‘Uni’ refers to one; ‘Form’ refers to the common ways. In the ancient times, a man was a nomad.
It was only years later that he started living a social life by mingling with other people of the society. This made man a social animal.
People cannot fulfil all their needs on the own. We depend on each other and also on the social groups to fulfil our needs. This is how we are understanding diversity.
Ordinarily diversity means differences. For our purposes, however, it means something more than mere differences. The famous scholar D.N. Majumdar wrote a book with the title, Races and Cultures of India.
Mark the words in the plural: Races (not Race); Cultures (not Culture). Hence, we can say that diversity means variety. For all practical purposes it means variety of groups and cultures.
Meaning of Unity
Unity means integration. It is a social psychological condition. It connotes a sense of one-ness, a sense of we-ness.
Unity in diversity is a concept of unity without uniformity and diversity without fragmentation that shifts focus from unity based on a mere tolerance of physical, cultural, linguistic, social, religious, political, ideological differences towards a more complex unity based on an understanding that difference enriches human interactions.
There is a difference between unity and uniformity. Uniformity presupposes similarity, unity does not.
Thus, unity may or may not be based on uniformity. Durkheim is of the view that this types of unity a mechanical solidarity.
We came to know that unity does not have to be based on uniformity. Unity, as we noted earlier, implies integration. Integration does not mean absence of differences.
The bonds of unity in India underlying the diversities are discussed below:
Geographical Unity: India, like every other country, has its own fixed boundaries that are natural. On one side there are high Himalayan mountains and the other three sides are practically surrounded by oceans.
India is limited within boundaries that are evidence of geographical unity, a unity which baffles the scholars who themselves live in small European countries and find it difficult to comprehend how such a large country with so much variety of nature can be united.
Religious Unity: Although various religious groups in India present elements of external difference, it is not impossible to trace elements common to all.
Each religion preaches a fundamentally single religious faith and shares a belief in the purity and value of life and faith in an invisible power with every other religious system.
Religious unity in India finds its expression through the places of worship scattered all over the country.
Cultural Unity: Indian culture exhibits cultural unity, reflected in the literature and thought of different communities despite the obvious differences in customs and traditions.
The fundamental approach to literature, philosophy, traditions and customs is typically Indian. The basis of the social and cultural unity of the country is common to every group.
Social institutions like the caste system and the joint family, which are found all over India, are once again typically Indian.
Political Unity: India has political unity as well. Political unity in India is the product of cultural and religious unity.
The concept of “Chakravarty” and religious sacrifices like the “Aswamedha Yajna” only indicate the religious support extended to the idea of political unification of the country.
The very fact that Indian society today maintains both internal and external sovereignty also signifies political unity of this vast land.
Emotional Unity: There is an emotional bond in India that binds all the inhabitants of the land. The very name “Bharatamata” brings all Indians emotionally closer to one another.
Although the existence of a large number of languages in India is detrimental to its emotional integration, Sanskrit, as it is regarded as the mother of all Indian languages, serves as a significant unifying bond in the emotional integration of the land.
Tradition of Interdependence: A remarkable tradition of interdependence has held Indian people together throughout the centuries. One manifestation of it is found in the form of ‘Jajmani’ system.
This system refers to functional dependence of castes. The relations were traditionally between a food producing family and the families that supported them with goods and services.
A Kamin or recipient of specialized services had Jajmani relations with the members of a higher caste, like a Brahmin priest whose services he needed for rituals.
Tradition of Accommodation: We have heard about the remarkable quality of accommodation and tolerance of Indian culture.
There are many evidences of it. The first evidence of it is the elastic character of Hinduism, the majority religion of India.
We know that Hinduism is not a homogeneous religion. It is not a religion of one God, one book and one temple. Rather, it can be described as a federation of faiths.
Q. 2. Discuss the socio-economic conditions in which tribes in central India live. How is the forest land related with them?
Ans. Central India geographically consist of parts of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and West Bengal and whole of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha.
However, the disaggregated data of central India exclusively is not available, therefore the whole of all the above states is included as part of central India to understand the socio-economic status of tribals in this region.
From the above definition central India is roughly half (49 per cent) of the total geographical area of the country. The area is rich in forest (above 20 per cent) and also in biodiversity except in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
Overall it may be concluded that central Indian tribals are lagging behind in all aspects of development and 65 years of planned economy has not been able to bridge the gap.
It should also be noted that there was no lack of concern, but many programmes launched for the development of tribals did not succeed to bring them in the mainstream of development.
The 65 years of planned development has not helped them. However, they live in an area characterised by abundant forests and water resources.
The two cases demonstrate that the tribal people have the ability to learn and adopt new technology, enterprises and skills with appropriate institutional interventions.
Since the area they inhibit has tremendous potential for high value food production including organic food like fruits, pulses, vegetables, poultry, goat, medicinal and aromatic plants, opportunities for their development is vast.
The market for tribal produce however is riddled with imperfection and the tribal community is exploited. Thus, new institutional innovations are required to reap the benefits of market expansion by the tribals.
This could be achieved through the development of inter-linkages between production and market institutions like cooperatives, mutual self-help groups.
In 1974-1975, about 22 per cent of India’s total geographical area was covered by forests.
This forest region, interspersed all over the country, consists of evergreen forests, deciduous forests, dry forests, alpine forests, riparian forests and tidal forests. Some of these forests are conspicuous for their dense growth.
Besides the commercially valuable sal, teak, ironwood, sandalwood and shisam, these forests are rich in the growth of climbers and various kinds of minor forest produce.
While the forest-based industries have relief on the commercially valuable wood, the forest dwellers, a majority of whom are Scheduled Tribes, have depended on the minor forest produce for their subsistence.
According to the 1971 Census Report, a majority of the tribals lived in the countryside and relied mainly on agriculture.
From an economic point of view, the tribes could be classified as semi-nomadic, the jhum cultivators and the settled cultivators, living completely on forest produce. Forests are the main source of subsistence for them.
They collect their food from them; use the timber or bamboo to construct their houses; collect firewood for cooking and in winter to keep warm; use grass for fodder, brooms and mats; collect leaves for leaf plates; and use harre behra for dyeing and tanning.
The forest regions are also inhabited by non-tribals, who depend on forests for fuel, fodder and so on.
The sole object with which State forests are administered is the public benefit. In some cases the public to be benefited is the whole body of tax payers; in others the people on the track within which the forest is situated; but in almost all cases the constitution and preservation of a forest involve, in greater or lesser degree, the regulation of rights and restriction of privileges of users in the forest areas which may have previously been enjoyed by the inhabitants of its immediate neighbourhood.
This regulation and restrictions are justified only when the advantage to be gained by the public is great and the cardinal principle to be observed is that the rights and privileges of individuals must be limited otherwise than for their own benefit, only in such degree as is absolutely necessary to secure that advantage.
In actual practice, however, all these pious declarations were set aside whenever they came in the way of British interests.
For example, forests in Nagaland and the Terai were unscrupulously cut to meet the increasing demand of wood during both world wars.
The National Forest Policy of the Government of India (1952) is an extension of this policy.
This policy prescribed that the claims of communities near forests should not override the national interests, that in no event can the forest dwellers use the forest wealth at the cost of wider national interests, and that relinquishment of forest land for agriculture should be permitted
only in very exceptional and essential cases. The old policy of relinquishing even valuable forests for permanent cultivation was discontinued and steps to use forest land for agricultural purposes were to be taken only after very serious consideration.
To ensure the balanced use of land, a detailed land capability survey was suggested. Conservation of wildlife was to be regularized. The tribals were to be weaned away from shifting cultivation.
Forest dwellers have been dissociated from the management and exploitation of forest wealth.
The British contractual system that still exists in many states has resulted in unscrupulous exploitation of the local people and of the natural vegetation and wildlife that the forest policy was intended to conserve.
Development programs – construction of roads and availability of educational, medical and housing facilities – have allowed economically viable outsiders to enter forest regions.
In order to make quick profits, they have exploited the forest dwellers, displacing them from their land and making them bonded labourers.
Except for the states of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tripura, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Goa, Daman and Diu, the government has been earning huge net forest revenues. Over the years, this revenue has been increasing.
On the other hand, except in a few places, the condition of the forest dwellers has been deteriorating.
The government’s various development programs and the tribal welfare schemes have by and large failed to make any dent in the deteriorating condition of the forests and forest dwellers.
The crux of the problem lies in misdirected policy and its half-hearted implementation.
Q. 3. How does the process of industrialization bring change in India?
Ans. Wilbert Moore viewed social change as a total transformation of the pre-modern society into the modern society. The basic conditions for industriali-sation include change in values, institutions, organisations and motivations.
According to David Mc Clelland, the factors such as values, motives of the person facilitate social change. Modernisation or development, he concluded, can be achieved through a process of diffusion of culture, ideas and technology.
Industrialisation is a process that ensures the growth of industrial society in contrast to the agriculture one by restructuring the economic system for manufacturing goods and services.
In the present India industrialisation was seen as key to achieving economic growth and development. It closely linked to processes of industrialization and modernisation is the process of Urbanisation.
It explains the level of cultural change based on modernisation and is also structural by being an index of economic development.
In sociological literature, a relationship between cultural modernization and urbanization and industrialization is assumed as a matter of logical necessity.
All classical works in sociology are replete with construction of neat dichotomies such as rural-urban, community-society, mechanical solidarity-organic solidarity, sacred-secular, etc., which not only suggest that a transition from one stage to the other would mark the growth of new forms of social structure but also of new levels of moral and cultural patterns.
On the other hand, colonialism created new ones and ended earlier existing urban centres of India and industrialisation.
Q. 4. Define the concept of class and briefly mention different classes in India.
Ans. “Class” is a subject of analysis for sociologists, political scientists, anthropologists and social historians.
However, there is not a consensus on a definition of “class” and the term has a wide range of sometimes conflicting meanings. Some people argue that due to social mobility, class boundaries do not exist.
In common parlance, the term “social class” is usually synonymous with “socio-economic class”, defined as “people having the same social, economic, cultural, political or educational status”, e.g., “the working class”; “an emerging professional class”.
However, academics distinguish social class and socioeconomic status, with the former referring to one’s relatively stable socio-cultural background and the latter referring to one’s current social and economic situation and consequently being more changeable over time.
Various types of land settlements were made during the British rule. Under the permanent settlement a new class of landlords was created out of the erstwhile tax collectors.
They became the hereditary owners of the land. Failure on the part of the zamindars to pay the fixed revenue led to the auction of portions of large estates.
This resulted in the emergence of a new class of landlords who were earlier merchants and moneylenders.
Social Classes in Ten Urban India
The major social classes in urban India are:
Commercial and Industrial Classes: With the establishment of the British rule India started producing for the market. Export-import business was started by a class of merchants. Class of traders engaged in internal trading grew.
Thus, a commercial middle class was established in the country. With modern means of communication capital was invested in the other large scale manufacturing and modern industries.
Investments were made in plantations, jute, cotton, mining, etc.
The Indian commercial and industrial classes participated in the freedom movements.
After independence they were instrumental in promoting industrialization in the country with the involvement of the state. There was considerable diversification in steel industries, paper manufacturing, etc.
Professional Classes: Due to their adminis-trative needs, the British established modern education in India. Schools, colleges and professional institutes were established.
There came into being an expanding professional class comprising of teachers, lawyers, doctors, managers, etc. They played a crucial role in the national movements.
With Independence there was large-scale employment opportunities in various economic activities as well as in the complex bureaucratic set-up.
The professional class has grown in size and scale since independence. However, there is no homogeneity in this class and there exists a hierarchy within it.
Petty Traders, Shopkeepers and Unorga-nized Workers: The petty traders and shopkeepers sell goods to the consumers after processing it from the wholesalers.
They get a profit margin on the goods they sell. They are catering to the swelling urban population.
There had been a rapid rural migration to the urban areas. Due to a lack of education, skills they are absorved in the unorganized sector.
They work in small production units or crafts, industry, manual work and receive low wages with no benefits and security of job.
Working Class: Due to the growth of railways, plantation, mines, modern industries, this class grew is size.
Trade unions emerged to improve their working conditions and wages. There are several legislations to protect their right. The working class in very diverse in terms of its social and historical background.
Q. 5. Why did the colonial rule change the agrarian class formation in India?
Ans. Broadly speaking, the social classes in India evolved during the British colonial rule. It was the outcome of the land revenue system evolved and enforced by the British rule.
The British policies created foundations for the emergence of a feudal- agrarian system that evolved in the rural areas during the British regime was either based on the Zamindari or the Ryotwari type of land systems.
The Zamindari system had three main agrarian classes Zamindars, tenants and agricultural labourers.
The Ryotwari system had two main classes – ryot-landlords and ryot-peasants. The agrarian class structure everywhere had a feudal character.
The Zamindars (i.e. non-cultivating owners of land) were tax-gatherers, the tenants were real cultivators (often without security of land tenure) and the agricultural labourers had the status of bonded labour.
Change in Agriculture: The emergence of new social classes in India was the consequence of far-reaching changes brought about by the British in the economic structure of India.
The altering of the economic arrangement like introduction of new land relation, opening of Indian society for commercial exploitation by the capitalists world, introduction of a new administrative arrangement, a modem education system and the establishment of modern industries were the factors largely responsible for the emergence of the new social classes.
The creation of private property in land by the Permanent and Ryotwari settlements and the Mahalwari systems gave birth to the new classes in the form of large estate owners, the zamindars and peasant proprietors.
The class of tenants and sub-tenants were born with the creation of the right to lease land.
The right to private property in land and the right to employ labourers to work on land created classes like absentee landlords and agricultural labour.
Q. 6. What do you mean by urbanization?
Ans. Industrialisation and urbanisation affected caste structure to a great extent. Industrial growth provided new sources of livelihood to people and made occupational mobility possible.
With new transportation facilities, people travel frequently. People of all castes travelled together and there was no way to follow the prevalent ideology of ritual purity and pollution between castes.
When industrial workers from different castes lived and worked together taboos against food sharing started weakening. Urbanisation and growth of cities also changed the functioning of the caste system.
Q. 7. What are the salient features of family?
Ans. Following are the features of family:
Universality: There is no human society in which some form of the family does not appear. Malinowski writes the typical family a group consisting of mother, father and their progeny is found in all communities, savage, barbarians and civilized.
The irresistible sex need, the urge for reproduction and the common economic needs have contributed to this universality.
Emotional Basis: The family is grounded in emotions and sentiments. It is based on our impulses of mating, procreation, maternal devotion, fraternal love and parental care. It is built upon sentiments of love, affection, sympathy, cooperation and friendship.
Limited size: The family is smaller in size. As a primary group its size is necessarily limited. It is a smallest social unit.
Formative influence: The family welds an environment which surrounds trains and educates the child. It shapes the personality and moulds the character of its members. It emotionally conditions the child.
Nuclear position in the social structure: The family is the nucleus of all other social organizations. The whole social structure is built of family units.
Responsibility of the members: The members of the family have certain responsibilities, duties and obligations. Maclver points out that in times of crisis men may work and fight and die for their country but they toil for their families all their lives.
Social regulation: The family is guarded both by social taboos and by legal regulations. The society takes precaution to safeguard this organization from any possible breakdown.
Social class is a ranking or grouping of individuals according to position in the economic scheme of things. Class in this sense can be based on income, source of income (wealth, salary or wages), and occupation.
In the terms of Karl Marx, class refers to how a group of people relate to the production of goods and services in the society.
Q. 8. Define the concept of Caste and Class.
Ans. Caste is a form of social stratification characterized by endogamy, hereditary transmission of a style of life which often includes an occupation, ritual status in a hierarchy, and customary social interaction and exclusion based on cultural notions of purity and pollution.
Its paradigmatic ethnographic example is the division of India’s Hindu society into rigid social groups, with roots in India’s ancient history and persisting to the present time.
However, the economic significance of the caste system in India has been declining as a result of urbanization and affirmative action programs.
A subject of much scholarship by sociologists and anthropologists, the Hindu caste system is sometimes used as an analogical basis for the study of caste-like social divisions existing outside Hinduism and India.
The term “caste” is also applied to morphological groupings in female populations of ants and bees.
Q. 9. Distinguish between the terms sex and gender
Ans. “Sex marks the distinction between women and men as a result of their biological, physical and genetic differences… Gender roles are set by convention and other social, economic, political and cultural forces.”
Sex and gender distinction is a concept in feminist theory, political feminism, and sociology which distinguishes sex, a natural or biological feature, from gender, the cultural or learned significance of sex .
The distinction is strategically important for some strands of feminist theory and politics, particularly second wave feminism, because on it is premised the argument that gender is not biological destiny, and that the patriarchal oppression of women is a cultural phenomenon which need not necessarily follow from biological sexual differentiation.
The distinction allows feminists to accept some form of natural sexual difference while criticizing gender inequality.
Some third-wave feminists like Judith Butler, French feminists like Monique Wittig, and social constructionists within sociology have disputed the biological-natural status the distinction imputes to sex, arguing instead that both sex and gender are culturally constructed and structurally complicit.
Some feminist philosophers maintain that gender is totally undetermined by sex.
As popularly used, sex and gender are not defined in this fashion. There has been increased usage of the word “gender” to refer to sexual differences, because of the dual meaning of the word “sex” as a biological feature as well as meaning the act of sexual intercourse.
Q. 10. What is partiarchy and matriarchy?
Ans. The patriarchal family was the prevailing type not only in the greater civilization of antiquity but also in the feudal society from which our own society has evolved.
It is a form of family organization in which the father is the formal head and the ruling power in the family.
The authority of the father is absolute and final. The patriarchal family is usually an extended consanguine family in which the patriarch is the senior male member. He presides over the religious rites of the household.
Matriarchal family is that type in which the control of the family is centered around some woman member. It is a system under which status, name and sometimes inheritance are transmitted through the female line.
The chief characteristics of this type of family are matrilineal descent and matrilocal residence. Mother is the basis for all authority. All rights and privileges are decided on the basis of relationship with the mother.
The right of inheritance is decided in the lineage of the mother. In most cases, though not always, matrilineal descent is associated with matrilocal residence, the children being raised in the home of the wife’s relatives.
The husband sometimes is merely a privileged visitor, has a secondary position in the home where his children live.
Such practice is prevalent among the Khasis in Meghalaya. Authority within the family group primarily belongs not to the husband but to some male representative of the wife’s kin.