Readings in Indian Sociology: Volume I: Towards Sociology of Dalits [1 ed.] 9789351500285, 9351500284

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Readings in Indian Sociology: Volume I: Towards Sociology of Dalits [1 ed.]
 9789351500285, 9351500284

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Towards Sociology of Dalits

Readings in Indian Sociology Series Editor: Ishwar Modi Titles and Editors of the Volumes Volume 1 Towards Sociology of Dalits Editor: Paramjit S. Judge Volume 2 Sociological Probings in Rural Society Editor: K.L. Sharma Volume 3 Sociology of Childhood and Youth Editor: Bula Bhadra Volume 4 Sociology of Health Editor: Madhu Nagla Volume 5 Contributions to Sociological Theory Editor: Vinay Kumar Srivastava Volume 6 Sociology of Science and Technology in India Editor: Binay Kumar Pattnaik Volume 7 Sociology of Environment Editor: Sukant K. Chaudhury Volume 8 Political Sociology of India Editor: Anand Kumar Volume 9 Culture and Society Editor: Susan Visvanathan Volume 10 Pioneers of Sociology in India Editor: Ishwar Modi

READINGS IN INDIAN SOCIOLOGY VOLUME 1

Towards Sociology of Dalits

EDITED BY Paramjit S. Judge

Copyright © Indian Sociological Society, 2013 All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. First published in 2013 by SAGE Publications India Pvt Ltd B1/I-1 Mohan Cooperative Industrial Area Mathura Road, New Delhi 110 044, India www.sagepub.in SAGE Publications Inc 2455 Teller Road Thousand Oaks, California 91320, USA

Indian Sociological Society Institute of Social Sciences 8 Nelson Mandela Road Vasant Kunj New Delhi 110 070

SAGE Publications Ltd 1 Oliver’s Yard 55 City Road London EC1Y 1SP, United Kingdom SAGE Publications Asia-Pacific Pte Ltd 3 Church Street #10-04 Samsung Hub Singapore 049483 Published by Vivek Mehra for SAGE Publications India Pvt Ltd, typeset in 10.5/12.5 Adobe Garamond Pro by Zaza Eunice, Hosur and printed at Saurabh Printers Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Available

ISBN: 978-81-321-1379-9 (PB) The SAGE Team: Shambhu Sahu, Sushant Nailwal, Vijaya Ramchandran, Thomas Mathew, Asish Sahoo and Rajinder Kaur Disclaimer: This volume largely comprises pre-published material which has been presented in its original form. The publishers shall not be held responsible for any discrepancies in language or content in this volume.

Dedicated to the Pioneers of Indian Sociology

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Contents

List of Tables Series Note Foreword by Prakash N. Pimpley Preface Introduction by Paramjit S. Judge

ix xi xv xvii xix

Part I: State of Dalit Studies in Sociology 1. Situating Dalits in Indian Sociology 3 Vivek Kumar 2. Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and the Nation: Situating G. S. Ghurye 23 T.K. Oommen Part II: Caste, Untouchability and Exclusion 3. Untouchability as a Social Problem: Theory and Research R.D. Lambert 4. Untouchability—A Myth or a Reality: A Study of Interaction between Scheduled Castes and Brahmins in a Western U.P. Village S.S. Sharma 5. Scheduled Castes and Urbanization in Punjab: An Explanation Victor S. D’Souza 6. The Khatiks of Kanpur and the Bristle Trade: Towards an Anthropology of Man and Beast Maren Bellwinkel-Schempp

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Part III: Mapping Conflict 7. Dalit Struggle, Nude Worship, and the ‘Chandragutti Incident’ Linda J. Epp 8. Psychological Conflict Between Harijans and Upper Class/Middle Class Caste Hindus: A Study in Andhra Pradesh (India) Venkateswarlu Dollu

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Part IV: Interrogating Change: Theory and Practice 9. Reservations and the Sanskritization of Scheduled Castes: Some Theoretical Aspects Gopal Guru 10. Purity, Impurity, Untouchability: Then and Now A.M. Shah 11. Stigma Goes Backstage: Reservation in Jobs and Education Tulsi Patel Index About the Editor and Contributors Appendix of Sources

159 169 184

203 208 210

List of Tables

Introduction Table I Number of Scheduled Castes and Their Percentage in Each State and Union Territory Table II Five Most Widely Spread Scheduled Castes in India Chapter 4 Table I Extent of Intensity of Interaction among Brahmins and Scheduled Castes Table II Acceptance of Scheduled Castes by Brahmins and Vice-Versa in Public- and Private Places Table III Reason for Non-Acceptance of Scheduled Castes According to the Brahmins and Scheduled Castes Chapter 5 Table I Distribution of Towns in 1961 in Punjab by Size Class and Index Scores of Representation of Scheduled Caste Population Table II Distribution of Towns in Punjab in 1961 by Functional Classification and Index Scores of Representation of Scheduled Caste Population

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61 62 63

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Chapter 8 Table I Harijan Responses Regarding Untouchability and Caste Hindu Hostilities 144 Table II Caste Hindu Samples Attitudes Towards Untouchability 146

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Table III Caste Hindus Responses Regarding Type of Violence by the Harijans Against Them Table IV Caste Hindu Responses with Regard to Certain Concessions from the Government Table V Caste Hindu Responses Regarding Harijan Hostilities Against Them

148 149 152

Series Note

The Indian Sociological Society (ISS), established in December 1951, under the leadership of Professor G. S. Ghurye at the University of Bombay celebrated its Diamond Jubilee in 2011. Soon after its foundation, the ISS launched its biannual journal Sociological Bulletin in March 1952. It has been published regularly since then. The ISS took cognisance of the growing aspirations of the community of sociologists both in India and abroad to publish their contributions in Sociological Bulletin, and raised its frequency to three issues a year in 2004. Its print order now exceeds 3,000 copies. It speaks volumes about the popularity of both the ISS and the Sociological Bulletin. The various issues of Sociological Bulletin are a treasure trove of the most profound and authentic sociological writings and research in India and elsewhere. As such it is no surprise that it has acquired the status of an internationally acclaimed reputed journal of sociology. The very fact that several of its previous issues are no more available, being out of print, is indicative not only of its popularity both among sociologists and other social scientists but also of its high scholarly reputation, acceptance and relevance. Although two series of volumes have already been published by the ISS during 2001 and 2005 and in 2011 having seven volumes each on a large number of themes, yet a very large number of themes remain untouched. Such a situation necessitated that a new series of thematic volumes be brought out. Realising this necessity and in order to continue to celebrate the Diamond Decade of the Indian Sociological Society, the Managing Committee of the ISS and a subcommittee constituted for this purpose decided to bring out a series of 10 more thematic volumes in such areas of importance and relevance both for the sociological and the academic communities at large as Sociological Theory, Untouchability and Dalits, Rural Society, Science

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and Technology, Childhood and Youth, Health, Environment, Culture, Politics and the Pioneers of Sociology in India. Well-known scholars and experts in the areas of the chosen themes were identified and requested to edit these thematic volumes under the series title Readings in Indian Sociology. Each one of them has put in a lot of effort in the shortest possible time not only in selecting and identifying the papers to be included in their respective volumes but also in arranging these in a relevant and meaningful manner. More than this, it was no easy task for them to write comprehensive ‘introductions’ of the respective volumes in the face of time constraints so that the volumes could be brought out in time on the occasion of the 39th All India Sociological Conference scheduled to take place in Mysore under the auspices of the Karnataka State Open University during 27–29 December 2013. The editors enjoyed freedom not only in choosing the papers of their choice from Sociological Bulletin published during 1952 and 2012, but they were also free to request scholars of their choice to write forewords for their particular volumes. The volumes covered under this series include: Towards Sociology of Dalits (Editor: Paramjit S. Judge); Sociological Probings in Rural Society (Editor: K.L. Sharma); Sociology of Childhood and Youth (Editor: Bula Bhadra); Sociology of Health (Editor: Madhu Nagla); Contributions to Sociological Theory (Editor: Vinay Kumar Srivastava); Sociology of Science and Technology in India (Editor: Binay Kumar Pattnaik); Sociology of Environment (Editor: Sukant K. Chaudhury); Political Sociology of India (Editor: Anand Kumar); Culture and Society (Editor: Susan Visvanathan); and Pioneers of Sociology in India (Editor: Ishwar Modi). Towards Sociology of Dalits (edited by Paramjit S. Judge with a foreword by Prakash N. Pimpley) is the first volume of the series titled Readings in Indian Sociology. This volume consists of 11 articles with a comprehensive introductory chapter which provides a panoramic outline of the content of Dalit studies in India over time and space. The location of Dalits has been inseparably linked with the caste and economy of the Indian society, giving rise to the practice of untouchability duly supported by the tradition and religious ideology. The response of the Indian sociologists to the plight of Dalits was marked by indifference in the initial stages. Later on, in the 1970s, the sociologists began in right earnest and at present, there is an exclusive and interdisciplinary domain of sociological knowledge dealing with Dalits. Three major

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issues discussed in the various chapters of this volume are untouchability and exclusion, conflict and change. It can hardly be overemphasised and can be said for sure that this volume as well as all the other volumes of the series Readings in Indian Sociology, as they pertain to the most important aspects of society and sociology in India, will be of immense importance and relevance to students, teachers and researchers both of sociology and other social sciences. It is also hoped that these volumes will be received well by the overseas scholars interested in the study of Indian society. Besides this, policy-makers, administrators, activists, NGOs and so on may also find these volumes of immense value. Having gone through these volumes, the students and researchers of sociology would probably be able to feel and say that now ‘We will be able to look much farther away as we are standing on the shoulders of the giants’ (in the spirit of paraphrasing the famous quote by Isaac Newton). I would like to place on record my thanks to Shambhu Sahu, Sutapa Ghosh and R. Chandra Sekhar of SAGE Publications for all their efforts, support and patience to complete this huge project well in time against all the time constraints. I also express my gratefulness to the Managing Committee Members of the ISS and also the members of the subcommittee constituted for this purpose. I am also thankful to all the editors and all the scholars who have written the forewords. I would also like to thank Uday Singh, my assistant at the India International Institute of Social Sciences, Jaipur for all his secretarial assistance and hard work put in by him towards the completion of these volumes. Ishwar Modi Series Editor Readings in Indian Sociology

Foreword

I

nterest in Dalit studies for students of Indian society as a distinct field as distinct from studying caste is of a relatively recent origin. Surprisingly, the fact that almost one in five persons has lived under subhuman conditions for a millennia, without rebellion, is a miracle in itself. Not that efforts were not made, especially during the Raj for the ‘betterment’ of the Dalits, but it needs to be remembered that these were ameliorative efforts. It was left to Dr. Ambedkar to put the Dalit question in the proper perspective. In the mid-1970s, it transpired that as part of the then recently started MPhil programme a course on Dalit studies was started in the Department of Sociology, Panjab University, Chandigarh. Our putative objective was to understand how it happens that such a massive system of inequality can be sustained for such a long time. It soon appeared that many of the then prevalent interpretations would not work. Take, for example, Swami Dayanad Saraswati’s Shuddhi of the former ‘outcastes’ and their assimilation as full-fledged members of Hindu society. Or to look at Gandhi’s attempt to show that no work is either impure or is below one’s dignity. One can cite numerous illustrations of genuinely well-meaning efforts to improve the conditions of the Dalits. The problem with such an approach was that it was based on the assumption that it is an attitudinal problem and once you show people their mistakes, rational men as they are, they will mend their ways. The Dalit question is not a psychological or merely an attitudinal question, but presents before us a whole spectrum of political economy of inequality and it operates through instruments of power. If this be so, a question could be further posed which is as follows: Can acquisition of power by a subaltern group have a chance in this system? During intense debates with the students for many years, the conclusion drawn was that

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the political mobilisation of the Dalits is the most effective strategy in improving their conditions. Much water has flown since 1970s. A course on Dalit studies during the 1970s was a scarce event, but now times have changed. There is stupendous growth of Dalit studies in the country. The Dalit strategy for better future has taken a different twist from the classical political mobilisation method. Dalit literature was in the process of consolidation in the 1970s, but now it has visible presence all over India. Professor Paramjit S. Judge has shown a continuing interest in Dalit studies and the Introduction to this volume is abundant proof. With the support of Indian Sociological Society (ISS), this book will fulfil a longstanding need of scholars. Apart from the substantial ground covered in the volume, a few pointers for the future should be identified if Dalit sociology is to be developed and established as a distinct discipline. Certain pointers are: the current interpersonal relations between various castes; inter-caste relations at the workplace; and the second generation of the middle-class Dalits. The University Grants Commission (UGC) initiated the major project by opening centres for the study of social exclusion in various universities of the country where the Dalit issues have begun to figure prominently. However, there is a need not only to disseminate knowledge but also to sensitise minds to issues concerning discrimination, exclusion and humiliation of Dalits. Eleven articles, which were published at different points of time in the Sociological Bulletin, the official journal of the ISS, included in this volume, also show the different approaches and issues of concern which occupied the minds of the sociologists regarding the Dalits. Paramjit S. Judge has done well to put them together and show the state of sensitivity of the Indian sociology on the Dalit issues. Much more is required if we wish to have an egalitarian society in which individual not the affiliation to the collectivity will be the basis of the discourse of social justice. Prakash N. Pimpley

Preface

A

ny work on Dalits involves a comprehensive examination of virtually all aspects of the Indian society excepting parts of the north-eastern region. It is an all-out effort to examine 16 per cent of the population of the country which in actual numbers is huge. There are two axes along which the sociological imagination takes its flight. The first axis is the form and content of relationship between collecitvities, which generally entail class, caste, race, gender, religion and ethnicity. People are divided along class lines in a hierarchy. The hierarchical order forms the essence of the relationship between classes, castes, sexes and ethnic groups. The second axis is the examination of relationship between individuals, groups and communities. The sociological analysis of the Dalits in India implicates all these axes of examination. Adequate focus on Dalits remained missing in the earlier phases of the development of the discipline. Oommen’s remark that in the context of the Dalits, Ghurye’s position entailed cognitive blackout (see the article titled ‘Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and the Nation: Situating G. S. Ghurye’ in this volume) seems to be applicable to most of the writings of the period. Emancipation of Dalits is prerequisite for the emancipation of Indian society. The visibility of a small number of Dalit intellectuals does not tell the story of all the Dalits. Nor has the improvement in the conditions of some of them removed the caste stigma. Caste is both an existential and experiential category in which one’s belongingness is loaded with history, culture and personality. Expressions of joy and sorrow are not the individual domains but are a matter of constructing the self and others. The project of modernity to liberate an individual from the load of particularistic identities has failed in India largely due to the failure of the postcolonial society to build powerful institutions

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supporting the individual citizen and his rights. The individual seeks security, protection and existence through the articulation of collective identity. We may place the significance of Dalit studies in the context of the emancipation of the Indian society. I would like to thank Professor Ishwar Prasad Modi, President of the Indian Sociological Society, for giving me this responsibility and supporting me throughout the completion of the volume. Selection of articles from Sociological Bulletin was one of the difficult tasks, for there was a need to have a sense of intellectual history of sociology in India as well as the contemporary relevance of the issues. In view of the fact that the study of Dalits involves different dimensions of sociological enterprise, some of the articles had been published in other edited volumes. All except one were excluded. I am grateful to Professor P. N. Pimpley for agreeing to write the foreword to the volume. Professor P. N. Pimpley is one of those sociologists who initiated the Dalit studies in their respective regions. I have had the privilege of being his student and studying the course on the Dalits at MPhil level. My special thanks to Professor M. Rajivlochan for giving suggestions regarding the organisation of the volume and making critical remarks on the introductory chapter. I must record my sense of gratitude to my wife, Professor Gurpreet Bal, who has always helped me in my work. She is always the first to read whatever I write and also to give objective and critical evaluation. Paramjit S. Judge

Introduction Paramjit S. Judge

I

D

alits as the exclusive focus of study and analysis have engaged scholars and social scientists in a committed and concerned manner during the last two decades. Earlier, they constituted a part of the study of castes and the caste system. However, certain issues, within the framework of caste as structural principle as well as ideology, attracted considerable attention of social scientists between 1947 and 1990, such as untouchability, reservation policy, mobility and politicisation of depressed castes. Research on Dalits gained momentum in the 1990s and at present, it has emerged as the major field of intellectual discourse. There are two aspects of the manifestations of the sustained interest in Dalit studies. First, any work on issues such as modernity, social transformation, voting behaviour, election studies, nation-building, social justice, democracy, human rights, equality and development takes direct and indirect cognisance of the Dalits in one way or the other. Such studies may not be essentially directing their focus of analysis on the Dalits, but Dalits figure like the ‘Polish Question’ from the 19th-century Europe. In case no reference is made to the Dalits while addressing the above-mentioned issues, the concerned scholar may be criticised for that. Such a situation may not inevitably be logically necessary, but it has rightly become a normative necessary. It has begun to dawn upon the scholars and experts to take the Dalit issue more seriously instead of rambling in hope of end of caste and attainment of

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equality. What was considered to be peripheral and a category without much of autonomy—the so-called ‘social’—baffled everybody at the empirical level, for social as a category showed autonomy and resilience and on top of that it showed tremendous degree of adaptability to the emerging socio-economic and political systems to which we may call modern liberal democratic capitalism. It also created a great sense of guilt—the normative necessity—in the minds and hearts of a large number of sensitive intellectuals belonging to the non-Dalit castes. At present, it seems inevitable because the kind of dehumanised conditions in which the Dalits lived for centuries was enough to create such a sense of historical responsibility. The second aspect of keen interest in Dalit studies is a result of many circumstances of both objective and subjective kinds whose emergence accelerated at a breathtaking pace during the 1990s. One of the major developments in the early 1990s was the emergence of the Bahujan Samaj party (henceforth BSP) as the major political force in Utter Pradesh—the largest population among the states of the country. The arrival of the BSP on the political centre stage was a consequence of the vision of one leader, Kanshi Ram, who gave paradigmatic shift to the issue of Dalit empowerment. It was a move away from the social movement approach towards the power politics at the formal level. Capturing formal political power in a state raised the aspiration levels of the Dalits throughout the country. Mayawati, the protégé of Kanshi Ram, consolidated the new political approach and has treaded the path of populism by forging alliances with different politico-ideological trends. In addition to the dramatic rise of the BSP, there is a formation of critical middle-class Dalits who have largely benefitted from the state policies. A part of the Dalit middle class was comprised by the intellectuals. Creative writers and social scientists initiated a new chapter in the history of Dalit studies. Finally, the Indian state began to focus its attention on the Dalits through the provision of funds and opening of new centres, such as Ambedkar Centres, Centres for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, which began to conduct studies exclusively on the excluded sections of the Indian society among whom the Dalits figured most prominently. After precisely making sense of its recent rise, the field of Dalit studies has become quite comprehensive in the sense that it is an

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interdisciplinary area of research. We now find anthropologists, sociologists, political scientists, economists, historians and legal experts working in this area. As a result of the contributions of the experts from various social science disciplines, we are witnessing the evolution of a highly fertile, rich and contested field of Dalit studies. Furthermore, most of  the regions of India have been studied quite extensively and interestingly, majority of the studies are empirical in nature; in other words, we have a panoramic knowledge of Dalits in India. As a result, the extensity and intensity of research, using both qualitative and quantitative methods, are the hallmark of Dalit studies in India. The completion of 50 years of Independence of India was also an embarrassing moment for its leaders, because the Indian state had substantially failed to redress the issue of caste-based discrimination with determination and effectiveness. It is to be reminded that the caste-based inequalities and discrimination are violation of the spirit of the Indian Constitution and the universal principle of equality. Dalit studies acquired a strong and visible normative content in social sciences and powerfully reminded that the time had arrived to think afresh about the issue of value neutrality. Rather than being value-neutral or value-loaded, the 21st century is essentially the century of value-based research. Value-based research is based on the domain assumption that there are grey areas of society that need to be addressed, because human societies have reached a level of development of institutions and practices where equality, justice, freedom and rights are natural expressions of meaningful life with dignity. Race, gender, caste, religion and ethnicity are contexts of discrimination and dehumanisation for the powerless and the marginalised sections. Caste as the context of value-based research has two conceptual trajectories which translate into institutional practice. First, caste is a birth-ascribed status and is immutable and it implicates permanence of position which cannot be changed with the effort of individual will. Second, caste system consists of a large population of people who have been located at the bottom of the hierarchy. Called as untouchables (achhut), these people suffered the worst forms of discrimination and denial of even meaningful and humane living. These trajectories are intertwined, but the only distinguishing mark is that sociologists have studied caste more than the untouchables. However, the study of untouchables/Dalits cannot bypass the question of caste. In other words, caste is implicated in any study of the Dalits.

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This volume is the collection of articles published in the official journal of the Indian Sociological Society, Sociological Bulletin, at different points of time. The discussion in this introductory chapter is divided into two broad sections. The first section takes into consideration various issues dealing with caste and the Dalits across time and space with special reference to the contemporary trends in Dalit studies. The discussion has been divided into four parts in this section. The first part is aimed at making sense of various conceptualisations of caste. The purpose is not to give a comprehensive review of literature, but to take up central conceptual frames within which caste has been located in various writings. The second part takes stock of the practices of untouchability, discrimination and exploitation of the Dalits in the Indian society. The third part deals with the issues of conflict and struggles of the Dalits in India. Obviously, the third part is based on the assumption that the Dalits never accepted their position in the caste hierarchy as well as the fact that historically the nature of struggle changed across time. The final part of the first section takes cognisance of changes which have occurred in the conditions of the Dalits. The second section of this chapter provides introduction to various articles included in the volume.

Sociology of Dalits The broad category of ‘Dalit’ has essentially come into wider and popular use after the Dalit movements powerfully rejected the term ‘Harijan’ given to the large mass of depressed castes by Mahatma Gandhi with whom, after the Poona Pact, the Dalits remained in a considerable uncomfortable relationship. The expression ‘scheduled castes’ was used till the word ‘Dalit’ virtually vanished all other signifiers to denote and connote the untouchables of India till 1950 when untouchability was constitutionally demolished and subsequently its practice was considered to be a punishable offence after 1955. Making a case for the distinct area of research requires outlining certain significant dimensions of the issues and all the gamut of areas to earmark its boundaries—though not essentially separating it from others. Here, an attempt has been made to examine and raise questions about four dimensions, namely caste, untouchability and exclusion, conflict and struggle, and change and mobility, all pertaining to the Dalits.

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Caste and Dalits An examination of caste is a prerequisite for understanding the social location of the Dalits, but it may amount to truism by virtue of the fact that all Dalit castes are located at the lowest rungs of the caste hierarchy. It is important to take cognisance of the fact that whatever approach we may adopt in order to examine the Dalits, the understanding of caste becomes necessary. However, social anthropologists and sociologists who made the study of caste as their lifelong academic and intellectual engagement might not have dwelt upon the issue of the Dalits. They largely remained indifferent passers-by when it concerned the Dalits. In other words, if the study of Dalits necessitates the understanding caste, then in the understanding of the caste it did not create the necessity in the minds and methods of the sociologists that examination of the Dalits could be considered essential or indispensable. The consequence of such a mindset led to an understanding of caste through the eyes of Brahmin and Hindu theology. Social anthropology, particularly the British tradition, strongly emphasised the ethnography as the best method of collecting data along which the canons of scientific research were strongly upheld and observed. The canons of value-neutral social science began to influence and shape the Indian social anthropologists who shifted to sociology with great ease and also unnoticed. Valueneutrality as it was practiced and understood implicated the ideology free analysis of social facts. Approaching caste system through the Dalits would have involved normative concerns for the most dehumanised and marginalised sections of the society. Trained in the Western liberal tradition of equality and freedom, these social anthropologists would have been intellectually compelled to take a position against the appalling conditions of the Dalits, which involved moving away from their neutral stances. As a result they stayed away from giving the major space to the Dalits. One is reminded of Wittgenstein’s famous remarks thus (1961: 74), ‘What we cannot speak about we must pass over it in silence.’ The silence over the approach to the study of caste through the eyes of the Dalits could be put under suspicion. In the words of Wittgenstein (1961: 73), ‘Doubt can exist only where a question exists, a question only where an answer exists, and an answer only where something can be said.’ However, when silence is kept where something could be said we experience

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politics of silence. Caste question for the Indian sociologists has remained the crucial issue for the last eight decades and the understanding of Dalits remained a secondary concern. The life world of caste was ideally presented as dominated by the Brahmins and when the ethnographic approach to the study of caste struck its roots the diversity of social life and variations in the caste across regions were christened under the expression ‘field-view’ of caste without bringing much change in the Brahminic approach to understand it. Let us take up briefly for discussion the way caste has been understood in the sociological imagination. We can make three broad divisions of various elucidations of caste, namely caste as objective reality, caste as subjective reality and caste as unity of subjective and objective reality. Caste as Objective Reality. Caste is treated as observable structure and it is largely conceptualised in terms of a set of features which makes it comprehensible. Of all such attempts, Ghurye (1969) could be taken as the representative of most of them. According to him, there are six features of caste thus: segmental division of society, hierarchy, restrictions on feeding and social intercourse, civil and religious disabilities and privileges of the different sections, lack of unrestricted choice of occupations, and restrictions on marriage. All these features are empirically observable and in certain ways cover caste and caste system in a comprehensive way. It is interesting to note that Ghurye’s understanding of caste as the segmental division of Indian society covers three dimensions, namely it is the status determined by birth; each caste has its own panchayat; and each caste has its culture in terms of special deities, customs about marriage and death and so on. Berreman (1979) treats the issue of cultural plurality in the context of caste system at length and in the process invokes Max Weber and Irawati Karve, thereby implying that caste as a cultural group is a widely accepted understanding of one aspect of caste and caste system. There are two other important features identified by Ghurye which require special mention. The first is the lack of unrestricted choice of occupation. We have considerable number of expressions like ‘hereditary occupation’ or ‘caste occupation’ to denote the inseparable relationship between caste and class/ economic status. At the empirical level such a situation never existed for a considerable number of castes if not all. All Brahmins were not priests and all Chamars were not involved in leather work. However, a Brahmin

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could not engage in leather work and a Chamar could not become a priest under the traditional caste system. Whereas Ghurye (1969) takes cognisance of hypergamous and hypogamous practices while stating that there are restrictions on marriage, caste endogamy is widely regarded as the defining feature of caste. In this regard, Ambedkar (1990) was of the view that intercaste marriage would serve as ‘the solvent of caste’ implying thereby that caste endogamy constitutes the essence of caste. It is interesting to note that notwithstanding the regional variations there is a complex system of mate selection in India making it virtually impossible to break the hegemonic control of the caste from our lives. Ambedkar (ibid.) maintained that it is not desirable ‘to agitate and to organise intercaste marriages’ to end the hold of caste. Despite the fact that there are cases of intercaste marriages, the general principle of mate selection remains almost the same and it is controlled and regulated by family and kinship through the institution of arranged marriage. Therefore, at present we have two worlds—one where the mate selection is based on mutual love and the individual freedom of choice, and the other where tradition and custom continue to reign supreme thereby maintaining the caste hegemony. In the end, it may be argued that the objective view of caste takes into consideration various external features of caste which could be observed as institutions and practices. Despite the regional character if caste which Srinivas (1966) has correctly pointed out, there are certain aspects that cut across regions and form the core of caste. For example, virtually all regions have Brahmin and Chamar/Bhangi castes. There are numerous castes whose names are coterminous with their occupations and those castes exist wherever those occupations exist and the only variation is that such castes may have names in the language spoken in that region. In the Indian subcontinent the influence of Islam has changed various castes at two levels, namely the names of certain castes has changed. For example, the Muslim Bhangi in Punjab is known as Mussali. Second, there are certain castes in certain regions that have disappeared from the Hindu social system due to conversion to Islam. For example, Kanjar, Teli, Bharain and Malah have disappeared among the Punjabi Hindus due to conversion. We may now turn to the second view of caste.

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Caste as Subjective Reality The relationship between experience and social structure is twofold. First of all one’s location in the social structure is the source of the world view of the individual. The observation is quite close to one of the most familiar observations of Marx, that is, social existence determines consciousness. Second, it is the experience which forms the basis of interpreting and explaining social structure. Conceptualising caste as subjective reality would imply the varieties and modes of making sense of one’s location in the social structure by treating one’s individual existence as unique or by relating to the same set of people with whom one shares the common existence. Phenomenologists would characterise such a sharing common existence in this context as ‘common stock of knowledge’. Therefore, caste becomes an existential category which is experienced in everyday life interactions within and without group commonalities. Bouglé (1971) underlined three tendencies, namely repulsion, hierarchy and hereditary specialisation as the spirit of caste. It is important for us to understand that whereas hierarchy and hereditary specialisation are external and thus objective facts about caste, repulsion remains highly subjective. Repulsion is a refusal to like others and know them. Repulsion emanates from the subjective consciousness of the individuals and it manifests in everyday interactions. However, the important question with regard to such a characterisation is connected with the source of repulsion. Why do members of a caste feel repulsion? Is it that every caste is pitted against every other? Could we think of certain categories of castes which are targets of repulsion or vice versa? To understand repulsion, one may look for Dumont’s (1998) effort to understand hierarchy as a result of the fundamental opposition between ‘pure’ and ‘impure’. Such an opposition is constructed on a principle in which certain castes are rendered impure and pure. Though Dumont is classified as Indologist, but one may discover numerous references to the actual empirical situations and regional differences in his work. Dumont emphasised purity and impurity in various aspects of social life, such as clothes, food, sex, touch, intimate interaction and so on along which the binary opposition between pure and impure creates hierarchy. It is important to mention that Dumont takes into cognisance most of the objectively observable features of caste, but linking the division between pure and impure to the ideology of Hinduism seems important in his understanding. He has not been the first to do so. As a matter of fact, ideology of Hinduism in the form of Karma–Dharma

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principle has remained important basis of understanding caste despite the fact that the entire principle forms the part of Vaishnav tradition in which other religious traditions and ideologies might have been ignored. Most of musings on the subjective conceptualisation of caste are strongly connected with the objective aspects of understanding caste. However, in recent years an attempt has been made to understand caste as part of experience. The existence is treated as unique and thus it has been argued that the experience of being an untouchable is untenable for the non-untouchable. Guru (2002) questioned social science theoretical practice which seems to be ignoring the Dalit experience. There is also a reason for this kind of situation, which, according to him, could be located in the inability of the non-Dalits to have the experience and articulate the same in theory building. Though Guru forgets to take cognisance of the fact that all experiences are articulated through language, yet the experience of certain Dalits have been such which could be seen and imagined by the upper caste members as deplorable without necessarily empathising with them. Even then language remains important in making sense of what is being experienced. Wittgenstein (1961: 56) comments, ‘The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.’ If a particular experience becomes unique, then it has to be articulated to one self through the existing stock of knowledge and meanings. Moreover, it is not necessary that only dehumanised conditions provide unique experience which the others cannot comprehend and thus privileging the one who is experiencing it. Every experience is unique because it occurs at individual level. Collectivities do not think, rather individuals would think as Weber would say (Parkin: 1982). It is the prediction that the individuals belonging to the group sharing common existential circumstances have the most likelihood of having a common experience. However, the subjective reaction to a situation may be unique to an individual. As Dostoevsky’s novel, Crime and Punishment, depicts a character who is battered by his wife and he tells another character that it seems normal to him. In such a situation, it is the observer who has better understanding of the situation than the one who is experiencing it. Therefore, if a person belonging to the low caste whose caste occupation is carrying night soil on his head and he has been doing this job for generations, then it begins to get routinised as a normal activity for livelihood. The observer would find it highly inhuman to carry night soil on head. The one who understands the condition as inhuman is the

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one who can construct a theory and not the one who is undergoing it. Repetitive behaviour begins to acquire normal and natural activity and in cases where the behaviour is linked with the conditions of life, it becomes a reified reality. It is in this context that Guru (2009) introduces the concept of humiliation to characterise the subjective conditions. Humiliation is entirely individual and requires a complex set of awareness of meanings of the words and situations. Guru (2009: 1) approaches the concept in the following manner: Humiliation is almost endemic to social life that is active basically through asymmetries of interesting sets of attitudes—arrogance and obeisance, selfrespect and servility, and reverence and repulsion. It continues to survive in different forms depending upon the specific nature of the social context. For example, in the West it is the attitude of race that is at the base of humiliation. In the East, it is the notion of untouchability that foregrounds the form and content of humiliation . . .

Since there could be other contexts of humiliation, it is important to confine ourselves to the understanding of caste in the light of the subjective concept of humiliation. There are two elements in Guru’s comments cited above: first, he recognises humiliation in the context of asymmetrical relations and second, he pinpoints it to untouchability as the base. We do not know whether a state of humiliation is in perpetual order or it is an experience when the victim experiences untouchability. Till 1947, most of the railway stations in India had separate water pots for Hindus and Muslims and it was the Hindu upper castes which saw to it that they did not dine with the Muslims. Interestingly, Guru leaves it to the reader to locate untouchability in the asymmetrical social order. We do not have sufficient data to argue that such a practice was in operation only against the low caste Muslims. In the case of caste, the picture was quite clear. Conceptualising caste as humiliation is an incomplete exercise in understanding the subjective aspect. It is important to keep in mind that if untouchability is humiliation to the victim, then it could be a matter of pride for the victimiser. Pride in having a particular caste status is as common as the feeling of humiliation for a social location. Everybody cannot feel humiliated for having caste status, for it is a contradiction in terms. Caste as pride is quite visible in the cultural expression of the caste, the classical example of which is the Jats of Punjab. The

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numbers of songs mentioning Jats are numerous and continue to grow. This has been happening for centuries. It is ironical to note that Waris Shah’s Heer presents Jats in negative manner and there are numerous lines making adverse comments or mocking at the Jats (Judge and Bal 2008), but it is one of the most popular texts in Punjab. Obviously, Jats are dominant in Punjab’s social, cultural and political life and having pride is natural outcome of the privileged position. The similar pride has also embraced the humiliated castes in Punjab. There are Chamar songs, Mazhabi songs and Balmiki songs. Here are some samples of Chamar songs: Tor vekh ke Chamaran di sarhe duniya [People feel jealousy when they see Chamar walking] Bhangarhe paunde, khushi mananunde, gabharoo putt Chamaran de [Sons of Chamars dance and enjoy]

Similar songs are available about Mazhabi Sikhs and Balmikis in Punjabi, where affiliation to the caste is demonstrated as a matter of pride. Hurting pride and dignity is what humiliation is. Caste as Unity of Subjective and Objective Reality Most of the conceptualisations combine the subjective and objective dimensions of caste with only certain differences in emphasis. We have considerable number of writings which take cognisance of taxonomy of caste, subcastes, gotras and deal in great details about how they exist and work. It is interesting to note that there are no castes in the Brahmin Varna. Among the Brahmins there exists a hierarchy of sub-castes which reflects in the way rules of mate selection are observed. All other varnas are comprised by a large number of castes and in some cases the location of a caste in varna system remains ambiguous and doubtful. If we begin by treating caste as a system/structure which could be objectively examined, then it is important to know how such a hierarchical structure has been maintained. Therefore, caste as subjective reality does not merely subsume experience and humiliation/pride, but the ideological basis on which the entire structure has been legitimised. Let us begin by arguing that caste like race is a form of inequality, which differs from others in terms of the basis on which it is founded. We may begin by referring to Weber (1978) that inequality is a function of power. He identifies class, status and party as the three forms of

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inequality implying that there are three sources of power. Castes are an instance of status groups. Such groups, according to Weber, keep their separate identity by imposing prohibition on intermarriages and social interaction. Such an implication fits into the theoretical system of Weber, for he understands power as the ability to carry out one’s will even against the resistance of others. In view of the fact that Weber (1958) also wrote on India as well as caste system and understood caste in terms of the dominant position of Brahmins and the karma theory, it always remains an issue of contention whether power is an autonomous category or a derivative force. Starting looking into caste from the standpoint of Brahmin and Kshatriya is looking at the system the way it has been presented and interpreted by the power holders. Why do we not reverse our gaze? We examine caste from the standpoint of the lower castes that is going along with Ambedkar. Mencher (1992: 92) makes an attempt to look at caste system upside down and he avers that, Looked at from the bottom up, the system has two striking features. First, from the point of view of people at the lowest end of the scale, caste has functioned (and continues to function as very effective system of economic exploitation). Second, one of the functions of the system has been to prevent the formation of social classes with any commonality of interest or unity of purpose.

Mencher goes on to regard the second feature as the major force in sustaining the caste system, but despite very insightful views the question remains, what is it that prevents the formation of social classes? Caste is like race and/or nation in terms of overcoming class differences from within, particularly when it deals with the lower castes. As a starting point we begin by historical materialist analysis offered by Omvedt (1994: 30). She begins by the basic concept of ‘exploitation’ instead of class and combines it with the powerful legitimising force of varnaashrama dharma. Omvedt reconstructs the Marxian methodology in a convincing manner. It should be reminded that Weber (1958) was of the view that human differentiation in India got the religious and magical backing. A strong and all-pervading belief in reincarnation and karma, according to Weber (1958), was the legitimising force. Interestingly, Weber agrees with Marx on the issue of the position of the artisan in the Indian society in the sense that the village artisan was

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dependent on the fix payment rather on selling his product in the market, thus giving tremendous stability to the existing social structure. Weber’s effort to combine economy, status group, and religion and magic in understanding the caste system paves the way for taking stock of Marx’s commentary on Indian society. Marx (1954) based his understanding of Indian villages largely from the reports of the British administrators in India. The primary concern of Marx was to make sense of the relatively unchanging character of Indian society. Since Marx always maintained that population increase was the major reason for the emergence of new division of labour, the question was whether there had been no population increase thus preventing any possibility of change of the already existing production relations. This could not have been the case. Thus Marx argued that in the event of population increase the division of labour never changed, for a portion of the population would move out the village and established a new settlement, which was the exact replica of the original. Such an argument assumes the existence of vast empty spaces for this to happen. The second aspect which Marx borrowed from the British officers was that village was autonomous little republic about which he argued that the Indian villages were predominantly the unit of production and consumption which explained the tremendous stability of its social structure. Elsewhere, Marx and Engels (1976: 55) commented, ‘When the crude form of the division of labour which is to be found among the Indians and Egyptians calls forth the caste-system in their state and religion, the historian believes that the caste-system is the power which has produced this crude social form.’ In the light of the above discussion, it becomes clear that the existence and persistence of caste in India should be based on two major domain assumptions. First, the caste system is at the outset a system of production relations of a particular kind and may be tentatively regarded as Asiatic mode of production implying that there has been a fundamental difference in the evolution of production relations between India and the West. Second, this mode of production got congealed in space and over time. What had been various forces that led to the freezing of such relations is a matter of conjecture. We may now move to define caste system in terms of what constitutes the system of production. It has been my contention that caste system is essentially a division between physical and non-physical work (Judge 2002). In a way the binary opposition

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between twice-born and once-born about which Dumont (1998) has written is primarily the division between the ways the work has been valued over a period of time. The working class, namely labourers, artisans, peasants and other servants were engaged in those occupations which made them unclean, whereas others, namely traders, shopkeepers, rulers and priests did not engage in this physical work. At the descriptive level, there could be numerous exceptions. For instance, a beggar does not do physical labour, but all beggars in India belong to numerous castes and all are not twice-born. A Poor Brahmin in the traditional-historical sense might have been making both ends meet, but he remains straddled at the top position. On the other hand, a person belonging to Bhatra or Jogi caste (having the caste occupation of begging) will always have low caste status. Swordsmanship and cooking involves physical labour, but both are carried out by upper castes. Despite all these exceptions in the ideal typical sense, the caste system represents the overlapping of physical– non-physical and impure and pure natures of work. Desai (1976) is of the opinion that the strength of the caste system lies in India’s low economic development as a result of which the occupational diversification remained more or less absent and the relationship got frozen in terms of their correspondence with occupations. However, the persistence of caste system even after radical economic changes in Indian society poses serious challenges to the sociologists. One may seek questions about all inequalities which are immutable, for instance gender, race or ethnicity, whether high level of economic development has completely eroded them. The answer is that there has been a visible and radical change in certain societies, but inequalities remain. Similar argument is rarely offered in the case of caste and as a result it has emerged as an exotic and classical example of resistance to positive and desirable change. Change is taking place in every aspect of Indian society, but looking for change or continuity is a matter of priority for many and sufficient evidence is available to substantiate both kinds of hypotheses. However, caste identity and its persistence should be examined independently of other immutable inequalities. Even when the material basis of caste system has disappeared, its perpetuation is assumed in the form of emergence of caste identities in both the private and the public spheres. This brings us to the important element of caste, namely culture as a symbolic universe. Caste is not just a graded position in the

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hierarchy, but it also presents a distinct and exclusive symbolic universe comprised by norms, values, customs, myths and legends, food behaviour, taboos and so on. As a reminder, no social political system persists without the construction of myths and ideologies. Apthekar (1939) has underlined how the Christian missionaries used to construct stories to tell the Black slaves that why they should serve their white masters. Marx (1976) has without doubt emphasised that the prevailing ideas of a society are the ideas of the ruling class. Fanon (1963) has gone beyond the construction of ideology through the normative discourses to deconstruct the biological sciences to highlight how the biological theories argued that due to his more developed medulla oblongata, a Black person was closer to the animal world. The more it faced the challenge of rapid change the more it began to become exclusive. In Marxian terms, it may be stated that despite changes in the base, the superstructure is still in existence. Why is it so? The next sections of the chapter would be an attempt to take up the issue.

Untouchability, Discrimination and Exclusion In continuation with our understanding of caste from the perspective of Dalits, the foremost concepts signifying both structure and process are normative and in the light of the universal principle of equality and justice their operation or practice is undesirable. Let us begin by understanding the magnitude of the problem. According to the Census of India (2011), the percentage of the population of the scheduled castes (SCs) is 16.2. It is a huge population which is unevenly distributed in India. By their sheer size the SCs are capable of influencing the policy decision of the Indian government if they are united. However, this is not the case. There are two kinds of heterogeneity among them, namely caste and class. They are divided along various castes. Table I clearly shows the diversity and heterogeneity among them in most of the states. Karnataka has as many as 101 castes of the SCs and Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal and West Bengal have more than 50 castes of them each. These castes are not horizontally located in the caste hierarchy; or in other words, they are not equally treated by the upper castes. It should also be noted that these castes are not uniformly distributed in the country. In fact there are only few castes which could be found in most of the

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Table I Number of Scheduled Castes and Their Percentage in Each State and Union Territory (a) S. NO.

States

No. of Scheduled Castes

Percentage of the Scheduled Castes 2001

1

Andhra Pradesh

61

16.19

2

Arunachal Pradesh



0.56

3

Assam

16

6.85

4

Bihar

23

15.72

5

Chhattisgarh

44



6

Goa

05

1.77

7

Gujarat

36

7.09

8

Haryana

37

16.35

9

Himachal Pradesh

57

24.72

10

Jammu & Kashmir

13

7.59

11

Jharkhand

22

12

Karnataka

101

16.20

13

Kerala

69

9.81

14

Madhya Pradesh

48

15.17

15

Maharashtra

59

10.20

16

Manipur

07

2.62

17

Meghalaya

16

0.48

18

Mizoram

16

0.03

20

Orissa

95

16.53

21

Punjab

39

28.85

22

Rajasthan

59

17.16

23

Sikkim

04

5.02

24

Tamil Nadu

76

19.00

25

Tripura

34

17.37

26

Uttar Pradesh

66

21.15

27

Uttaranchal

65

23.02

28

West Bengal

60

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(b) S. No.

Union Territories

No. of Scheduled Castes

Percentage of the Scheduled castes

1

Andaman & Nicobar Islands



2

Chandigarh

36

17.50

3

Dadra & Nagar Haveli

04

1.86

4

Daman & Diu

05

3.06

5

Lakshadweep



6

Pondicherry

16

16.19

7

Delhi

36

16.92

Source: Government of India sources accessed on 22 March 2013. Table II Five Most Widely Spread Scheduled Castes in India S. No.

Caste

Number of States

Union Territories

1

Chamar/Mochi

25

04

2

Balmik, Mehtar, Lalbegi, Bhangi

21

04

3

Dom, Doom, Dumna, Bansphor

22

02

4

Pasi

13

02

5

Nat

11

02

Source: The table has been worked out from the Government of India.

states. In terms of spread, it is clear from Table II that Chamars and Bhangis are the two largest castes. As a matter of fact, the caste names are also influenced by linguistic expression of occupation due to which caste names change though occupations remain common. However, it is not necessary that such a condition should be treated as a rule. For example, the main caste of cultivators in Punjab, Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan is that of Jats, but it is not evident from any source that all cultivators in other states; for example, Patidars in Gujarat, Marathas in Maharashtra, Vokkaligas in Karnataka have anything to do with them or with each other. There is also a hierarchy among various Dalit castes (Judge 2003). These hierarchies are local and are characterised by claims and counterclaims of superiority. Caste hierarchy among the Dalits is one of the major reasons for

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their failure to get organised for better articulation of interests. Some of the castes have been more mobile than others as a result of which they have been able to benefit from the state policies including the reservation policy. In this regard, the Mahars of Maharashtra and the Chamars of Punjab are notable in their mobility. Creating quota within quota as a political demand has emerged due to the lopsidedness of the benefits accrued to various castes through reservations. Punjab has initiated the caste-wise reservation in government jobs for the SCs and it has divided the Dalits more than ever. However, despite heterogeneity and hierarchy among them the Dalits have been facing various kinds of disability, discrimination and exploitation. Historically, various forms of disability imposed upon the Dalits, which were prevalent even during the colonial period, have disappeared in the public sphere. However, certain observations are necessary in order to understand the magnitude of the problem. The foremost among them was untouchability and its manifestations in different walks of life. Essence of untouchability lies in the fact that even the human body has been endowed with certain characteristics which can pollute others by virtue of touch. We also have instances where the shadow or footprints of an untouchable could pollute the upper caste people. Accepting food from members of such castes was far beyond the imagination. Besides the touch, other forms of disabilities were also imposed on them. For example, women belonging to some castes (Nadars of Tamil Nadu and Satnamis of Madhya Pradesh to name two such instances) were not even allowed to cover their breasts. Similarly, growing moustaches and having longer names with proper suffixes were prohibited. Religious disabilities included prohibition against entering the temple, to meditate and to recite sacred hymns and so on. Rules of caste endogamy were also very strict and under certain circumstances the provision of hypergamy and as an exception hypogamy existed to limited extent. Exclusion from power and better occupations were prerequisites for the perpetuation of the above mentioned disabilities. We, therefore, find the untouchables engaged in low level of menial occupations. Interestingly, liquor distillation was also regarded as low in India and in most of the cases liquor distillers belonged to the low untouchable castes. Bailey (1957) identified Ganjam distillers and Boad distillers as the low castes. Similarly, in Punjab the distillers were known by the caste name of Kalal. Despite its polluting character, distilling and selling liquor was highly remunerative. In most of the cases, the members of the

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caste of distillers were able to improve their life conditions and then become ex-untouchables. The post-Independence period was characterised by the state intervention in the caste system through various methods hoping against hope that the possibility of casteless society existed. The Untouchability Offences Act of 1955 and later on the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, provided for protection to the untouchables in particular. However, the story of independent India is not without hiccups and the withering away of caste has not occurred. It would be presumptuous to say that nothing has changed, but there is a reasonable evidence to argue that untouchability, discrimination and atrocities against the Dalits have waned, but there is a well-recorded evidence of atrocities on them too. Kamble (1981) has collected evidence of atrocities on the Dalits from various sources covering the period between 1947 and 1978. Let us refer to two cases of atrocities on the Dalits—one that occurred in 1949 and the other which occurred in 1979. Let us start with the first incident of atrocity which took place in Trikkaripur, District South Kanara, Karnataka, on 19 June 1949 thus: SCs worshipped Ram Nilliam shrine in Trikkaripur after promulgation of the Temple entry Act. But during a recent festival SCs were not permitted to enter the festival area. Paddy and money had been collected from SCs on printed receipts and contributed mats for the occasion. Party of goondas was organised to keep away the SCs from the temple premises. (ibid.: 3)

Obviously, it is a case of untouchability and discrimination and Kamble (1981) informs that the police stationed there was indifferent to the whole affair. Let us now move to the second event that took place in Sirsam village in Marathwada thus, ‘The SCs cannot attend the Panchayat meeting because they are held in the Sarpanch’s house and the SCs being untouchables are not permitted in the house’ (Ibid.: 522). Untouchability as a practice has not ceased to exist. In a study conducted by a group of social scientists and activists in 560 villages of eleven states of the country, it was found that untouchability was still going on (Shah et al. 2006). However, in recent years in the understanding of the continuing underprivileged conditions of the Dalits a new concept of ‘exclusion’ has emerged as a signifier. As a concept, exclusion has its origin in the

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West and its specific circumstances. Exclusion is used as an umbrella term to cover deprivation and discrimination which emanate from poverty and other immutable characteristics of certain sections of society. Thus gender, caste, race and ethnicity could be considered diverse bases of exclusion. During the last six years the literature on caste-based exclusion has become visible and some of the studies have shown that in spite of various legal provisions the labour market has tremendous bias against the untouchable castes (Thorat and Newman 2007, Thorat and Attewell 2007). In other words, discrimination against the Dalits has entered the modern capitalist market which is expected to be egalitarian. Social exclusion of Dalits in India is not confined to the labour market; it rather tends to cover the entire gamut of their existence. We have considerable number of cases of honour killings in which a Dalit boy had married an upper caste girl. In most of the cases, a Dalit is less likely to have upper caste friend. In villages the upper castes consciously make it sure that no Dalit moves in their locality. There are separate religious places of the Dalits. Whatever belongs to the Dalits is made obvious and visible for the upper castes to know and abstain from. Religion, which has been dealt with a degree of ambivalence by most of the intellectuals due to their secular moorings, has always remained a major area of contention. Religion is a manifestation of collective consciousness which binds people into a community. Over a period of time, Dalits in India have converted to Islam, Christianity, Sikhism and Buddhism. In their respective religious communities (excepting Buddhism) they have been facing social exclusion. It should be noted that all these religions are egalitarian in ideology, but in actual practice there are castes among them and the Dalits continue to occupy the lowest rungs of each community. Their existing conditions amply demonstrate that without any fundamental change in their economic circumstances religious conversion does not make any difference. Srinivas (1966: 60) makes an interesting observation in this regard thus: Converts to Christianity from Hinduism did not exercise much influence in Indian society as a whole because, first, these also generally came from the low castes, and second, the act of conversion alienated them from the majority community of Hindus. Finally, conversion to Christianity often only changed the faith but not the customs, the general culture, or the standing of the converts in society.

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Conflict, Struggle and Movements The asymmetrical relation implicating all aspects of social existence of the Dalits could not be taken for granted as an internalised and reified reality. Despite the powerful impact of religious ideology in the making of caste system, it is difficult to ignore the desire for a better and respectable living among the underprivileged as equals in the society. Unequal system of power and privileges creates conflict and tensions, individual and collective, local and regional on many occasions when the efficacy and legitimacy of the system is questioned. Over a period of time, various castes among the Dalits have come into conflict with the upper castes on different issues. Bringing in the issue of conflict and struggle is venturing into the public sphere of power relations, that is, politics. Caste conflicts/struggles are not private affairs of two castes, rather these occur in the political arena and depending upon the contexts and conditions cross the pure boundaries of social relations between two collectivities. Certain analytical distinctions could be made in the caste struggles between colonial and postcolonial periods. The British package of Western modernity superseded the precolonial/medieval period in which all attempts sought to construct the equality of men before God. We thus have a considerable number of religious leaders called as sants, bhagats, gurus, pirs and so on who carried out a crusade against caste system in their writings and personal practices. Many of them belonged to the Dalit and other lower castes. Notable among them were Kabir, Ravidas and Nam Dev. It is interesting to note that all these leaders preached the equality among men and claimed their right to worship. Such ideas were contexts of generating tensions within the system, but most of these ideas were greatly inspired by the arrival of Islam in India. In certain respects, it seems plausible to argue that the arrival of Islam and the Muslim rulers in India instilled in the Indian economy the intensification of trade as a result of which the artisan production went up. We thus find religious effervescence among the artisan castes. The Sikh movement in medieval Punjab remained connected with overall development in the Bhakti movement and it culminated into a distinct religion due to many historical factors. The British rule in India, despite the dominant imperial interest of the rulers, brought with it the Western modernity in the form of rationality about which Weber has so extensively written and the basic reason for

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Marx to praise the colonial intervention in the hitherto static society. Modernity manifested through the organisation of administrative and justice system, rationalisation of land revenue (though in some parts of India with disastrous results), establishment of effective transport system through waterways, roadways and railways. On top of all, the introduction of modern education provided avenues for non-traditional occupations. Linking jobs with education was one of the major transformations which occurred with the onset of the British rule. New forces of productions, particularly in the cities, gave rise to new conditions of social interactions. We thus find the emergence of powerful social reform movements in the cities, such as Calcutta, Bombay and so on. Most of these movements redefined some of the prevailing social institutional practices, such as child marriage, widowhood, Sati and so on as social evils. The focus on untouchability and caste system turned quite late, but issue of caste began to haunt the reformers towards the end of the 19th century. The Singh Sabha movement and the Arya Samaj movement in Punjab made special efforts to focus on the question of caste and untouchability. Phule is the major leader in the 19th century who carried crusade against caste in a powerful manner (Omvedt 2012). Of all these movements the Arya Samaj in the early 20th century organised Jat Pat Todak Mandal and also initiated the Shudhi movement the purpose of which was to bring back to the fold of Hinduism the people who had converted to Islam and other religions. Interestingly, the Dooms who were untouchables reconverted to Hinduism, but their social status did not improve (Sharma 2000). The movements waged by social reformers had limited appeal in actualising the goal of end of untouchability and human treatment to the untouchables. A small class of intellectuals belonging to Dalit castes emerged in the 20th century which fought the caste system by various means. It is interesting to note that the understanding of strategies to overcome untouchability and caste-based discrimination combined religious and social issues by adopting the social movement approach. It became clear at the earlier stage that caste system required collective efforts to end centuries’ old system of inequality. Three notable cases of movements and conflict could be mentioned here. These are the Nadars of Tamil Nadu, the Mahars of Maharashtra and the Ad-dharmis of Punjab. All these cases signify the combination of religious dimension and the political mobilisation

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approach. The Nadars of Tamil Nadu, as Hardgrave, Jr. (1970) informs, were among the lowest of the castes and were subjected to the worst kind of treatment. Their women were not allowed to cover their breasts and they were regarded as so polluting that their shadow could also pollute the upper caste men. In the beginning of the 19th century, they started converting to Christianity, which resulted in the rise in education among them. In the Travancore area the conflict began when the Nadar women began to cover their breasts. As their conditions improved, they began to organise and aspire for Kshatriya status. Through their political mobilisation and economic improvement, their aspirations for better status brought them into conflict with the upper caste Brahmins. The Mahars of Maharashtra came into conflict with the upper castes when the changed circumstances affected by the British created aspirations among them. The most important aspect of their collective existential circumstances might have been the powerful belief in the martial tradition of the caste and their joining the British Indian army. Zelliot (1970) has lucidly examined the story of Mahars’ struggle for better status. Under the leadership of B. R. Ambedkar the Mahars organised forcible temple entry. Ambedkar confronted the then undisputed leader of Indian nationalist struggle, Mahatma Gandhi, on the question of separate electorate and was virtually forced to withdraw the demand after Gandhi went on fast. The life of Ambedkar and the story of Dalits’ struggle for better status in India became coterminous after the Poona Pact in 1932. The Ad-dharma movement in Punjab began in the 1920s, primarily initiated by three sets of people, namely, Dera Sachkhand at Ballan, Mangoo Ram—an ex-Ghadarite—and the educated Dalits. The educated Dalits were the result of Arya Samaj movement’s efforts at the uplift of the untouchables. The organisation of the Ad-dharma movement brought them into direct conflict with the upper caste landowning Jats. Though different castes of the Dalits might have joined the movement, but it was dominated by the Chamars. In 1931, when the census operations began, the demand of the movement to recognise them as the distinct religious community was accepted. It may be of interest to inform that when Gandhi went on fast against separate electorate in 1932, Mangoo Ram also began his hunger strike in opposition to Gandhi (Juergensmeyer 1982, Ram 2004).

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The post-independence period was marked by a powerful intervention of the state towards ending the caste system or rendering it ineffective through various policies and enactments. The development process initiated by the nascent sovereign state ushered in new kinds of conflicts. We find numerous incidents of conflict between the Dalits and the upper castes on issues of land, wages and power. Rao (2010) has recorded numerous certain incidents of violence and conflict between Dalits and the upper castes. Bayly (1997: 355) has christened the term modernity of the ‘caste war’ in understanding certain conflicts between the Dalits and the upper castes thus: In many of the most widely reported conflicts, ‘caste war’ violence has tended to feed back and forth between urban centres and the rural hinterlands from which towns like Banaras and Aurangabad draw many of their students and factory workers. Such outbreaks are not then to be seen as a reversion to the ‘feudal’ or ‘traditional’ past. ‘Modern’ institutions, especially the courts, the universities and the mass media, have figured prominently in the so called caste feud phenomenon.

The modernity of caste war is to be located in the way the democratic institutions have been functioning since 1950. Kothari (1970: 13–14) drew attention to the involvement of ‘traditional structure and leadership, in the democratic politics’, which has two consequences thus: The caste system made available to the leadership structural and ideological bases for political mobilisation, providing it with both a segmental organisation and an identification system on which support could be crystallised. Second, the leadership was forced to make concessions to local opinion, take its cue from the consensus that existed as regards to claims to power, articulate political competition on traditional lines and, in turn, organise castes for economic and political purposes.

We thus have two processes combined in making the new character of caste conflicts in postcolonial India. First, the development process, despite being proclaimed to be mixed economy with socialist path, was essentially capitalist development with certain protections from the state. Second, the democratic process engaged collectivities for making claims for the share in the resources and power. The Dalits castes in different parts of India followed the process which was going on during elections, irrespective of whether they organised separate party or as a part of the existing parties.

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However, the Dalit politics made a paradigmatic shift after the emergence of the BSP under the leadership of Kanshi Ram towards the last decade of the 20th century. It also changed the nature of conflict between Dalits and the upper castes. The most salient element of the new formation was the engagement with the formal political process and working out a set of alliances with other political parties if required to capture formal power. Mayawati succeeded in this political game in a big way even after the death of Kanshi Ram. The arrival of the BSP could be a factor in the subsequent struggles of the Dalits, but it was a result of evolutionary and quantitative changes which turned into qualitative change. Various changes which occurred in the social and economic life of the people of India had created intelligentsia and middle classes among the Dalits, which changed the nature of discourse of Dalit liberation. Since the BSP was aimed at garnering the votes of Dalits, the emphasis on Dalithood and identity came to the fore as political articulations. What we have at present is the mixture of all kinds of conflicts occurring between the Dalit castes and the upper castes. In rural hinterlands there are feudal bases of conflict in which the landowning castes exercise their traditional power to commit atrocities. Conflicts are emerging in response to the violence against Dalit women at many places in villages. Despite the legal safeguards for the protection of Dalits from various wrongdoings against them, there is a general apathy among the police and bureaucracy due to their non-Dalit caste background. However, the conflict over power at the local level has started occurring more frequently than earlier. It is worth mentioning that cases of conflict over religious places are also found at various places in the country, particularly in Punjab (Judge 2005). In the end, the issue of honour killing demands some attention. Honour killing is an outcome of the loss of pride and honour due to an act of the member of the family. It is not necessary that it will occur only when the upper caste girl elopes with or marries a Dalit boy. There is a record of honour killings even when the boy and the girl belong to the same caste (Judge 2012a). However, in recent years the cases of intercaste marriage have gone up and so have the number of honour killings. The rise in intercaste marriages is an outcome of the changes in the occupational structure of the society. More and more occupations have become accessible if adequate training and educational level has been attained by individuals. Educational institutions and work places are also the social

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spaces where people interact with each other by marginalising caste of the class fellows and colleagues, to a great extent. Persons belonging to different castes could fall in love and decide to marry. Some of the marriages turn into the issue of honour causing death. It is obvious from the discussion that the moment certain changes in the economic structure of Indian society began to occur, caste conflicts started emerging. The visibility of these conflicts in the form of political mobilisation, caste war/violence increased after Independence, as the socio-economic development and empowerment of the Dalits took place. Have these conflicts, struggles and mobilisations been symptomatic of only the aspirations of the Dalits? Or have changes in the conditions of the Dalits occurred after Independence? The final part of this section of the chapter will examine the issue of change among Dalits in India.

Examining Change in the Context of Dalits There are two important dimensions of change among Dalits after Independence that require extensive probing, namely the pattern of change and the direction of change. Both the dimensions take cognisance of certain serious theoretical concerns. It is important to keep in mind that caste system raises normative concerns as such, but more importantly, when the position and conditions of the Dalits are taken into consideration. Irrespective of whether there is a religious basis of caste locations, the need for ending caste is invariably felt strongly under the influence of universal principles of equality and justice. Sociologists agree that all social formations are dynamic; the only difference is the pace of change. It takes long time for values and norms, culture and customary practices to undergo change. The arrival of capitalism signifies the domination of class relations, but caste system seems to persist along with class formations. In sociological literature change with regard to caste and Dalits has been described, examined and analysed in terms of three modes. First of all change has been understood as a result of dynamics of the society in which emerging forces tend to influence various aspects of social structure. The underlying logic of such an explanation is that no society is static and forces of development affect all parts of society. Therefore, sociologists have widely accepted industrialisation, urbanisation, education, technology and communication as major forces of change. The classical sociological viewpoint, however, is that

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the major force that brings change in any society is the increase in population. Thus we have Comte, Durkheim, Spencer and Marx taking note of the role of population increase in social change (Judge 2012b). Somehow, influenced by the population explosion thesis, the identification of the role of population increase in social change is more or less ignored in Indian sociology. The second mode puts a great degree of emphasis on the role of state in bringing social change. Such a change is called as ‘change from above’. In those cases where an attempt has been made by well-meaning rich or high-profile leaders to intervene in the existing state of affairs to modify or change them the terms ‘change from above’ is also used as a signifier. The third mode is the attempt of the people concerned to change their existing conditions. In the case of Dalits it would imply different strategies employed by them to improve their conditions. In the discussion of alternative strategies to ameliorate the conditions of the Dalits, the two major modes used are ‘change from above’ and ‘change from below’. As a matter of fact, all the three modes are interconnected and at the same time could be distinguished in terms of their operations. For example, the state intervention enabled certain Dalits to get education which acted as a catalyst for further change. The development process opened myriad opportunities to avail in the labour market. However, we know that there are imperfections in the actual operation of labour market and to correct its deviations there is a need for state intervention. As and when we venture to speak of developmental forces bringing change in the Indian society, the first thing which comes to our mind is the emergence of new division of labour which has broken down the old system by creating new occupations. There is no correspondence between caste and occupation as it has traditionally existed. However, it does not imply that the Dalit castes have been competing on equal footing with the upper castes. Various studies (e.g. Thorat and Newman 2007) referred to earlier have shown that Dalits face discrimination in the labour market. There are reasonable bases to argue that in the urban India untouchability has drastically reduced, whereas the rural India is still undergoing transition. The low level of urbanisation in India is one of the major factors in reinforcing the caste inequalities in villages where people have been living as communities for centuries. It seems that the role of postcolonial state has remained crucial in ameliorating the conditions of the Dalits.

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The role of state in postcolonial India entailed multiple trajectories of strategies to end caste system and untouchability. The domain assumption of all the actions of the state could be stated like this: ‘The problems of the Dalits are not simply economic, but it covers all aspects of their lives due to which there is a need for comprehensive intervention to improve their conditions.’ There are three trajectories along which the strategies were worked out. First, to initiate the development programmes aimed exclusively at improving the economic conditions of the Dalits. Second, to end all kinds of practices that point towards untouchability. The third was to provide for reservations in educational institutions and public sector jobs for the purpose of building cultural capital among them. It is interesting to note that the fourth trajectory was political empowerment, but it was to be temporary and to be renewed after every 10 years. Reservation in the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas was meant to be discontinued, but it never happened. In fact, the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Indian Constitution are grim reminders of the fact that empowerment is an equally important aspect of improving the conditions of the Dalits. It is important to know whether the efforts of the Indian state have been successful in bringing about desired change. At empirical level we find that there have been different kinds of consequences of state intervention. First, reservation policy took a reasonable long time to show some progress. The reason for it was that most of the Dalits belonged to the poor sections of the society as a result of which they could not avail the opportunities. For a long time, the percentages of the SCs in government jobs at Classes I and II were dismally lower than the provision. According to the data provided by Mendelsohn and Vicziany (2000), only 8.23 per cent of the Class I and 10.47 per cent of the Class II level posts had been filled in by the scheduled castes in 1987. It was quite lower than the percentage of reservation of seats, which is 15 per cent. They (ibid.: 135) write, ‘At present period it would appear that virtually all reserved positions are being allocated to members of the Scheduled Castes. So the shortfall arises from failures to appoint in earlier periods, particularly the first two decades after Independence’. However, in certain specific areas the representation of the Dalits in jobs is far less than required. ‘The record of representation is worse in all areas of government employment other than the regular departments of state: thus includes the public banks, public sector undertakings, the armed forces and the universities’ (ibid.: 136).

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Reservation policy has not gone well with the non-scheduled castes. There are two categories of non-scheduled castes, namely middle castes (now known as Other Backward Classes [OBCs]) and the upper castes comprised by all castes not included in the lists of SCs and OBCs. At present, other than Hindus, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist Dalits are categorised as SCs, whereas the same castes belonging to Muslim and Christian communities are categorised as OBCs. Among the nonMuslim/Christian OBCs, there are castes which have begun to dominate in their regions. The Yadavs and Kurmis in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are such examples. The implementation of the recommendations of the Mandal Commission has initiated the reservation policy for the OBCs. Two trends could be observed in India so far as the response of the upper castes is concerned. First, there has been consistent opposition against reservation policy to the SCs in India. It was observed that as and when the time approached to increase the time span of the political reservation by 10 years on the part of the Lok Sabha, there would be collective opposition to it (Bains 1997). In the initial stages it was perceived that the entire reservation policy was for 10 years and it took some time to understand what it meant to be constitutional provision. The SC employees were given titles like son-in-law of the government, government Brahmin and so on. The upper castes also fought at the ideological level. The creation of dichotomy called merit versus reservation was part of the ideological effort to create a symbolic universe of opposition to the reservation policy. The upper castes have been reasonably successful in this regard, because the Dalits have been consistently discriminated against in the private sector. The best example is the electronic media where the presence of religious minorities is even lower than their proportion in the total population of the country. The second trend is quite interesting and also farcical. There have been attempts among the upper castes to create pressure on the government through political mobilisation or otherwise to designate them as OBCs. The Jats of Rajasthan, Delhi and Haryana have been quite successful in getting themselves declared backward. In Punjab, the Ramgarhias have officially moved from the upper caste to the OBC status. The Gujjars of Rajasthan have been struggling to get the status of scheduled tribe for many years. There are two aspects of this kind of effort. It seems obvious that all these efforts are meant for getting the benefits of reservation policy. The second aspect is quite crucial, that is by getting designated as the OBCs these castes are lowering their status.

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Why are these castes doing this? The answer is obvious: Even if they are officially designated as OBCs, there will be no decline in their social status. In other words, their domination and position in the caste hierarchy is assured and it would not undergo any change. Reservation policy which should have been exclusively meant for the untouchables has been extended to other caste categories and at present there has emerged a strong case for the reservation policy for the Muslims, particularly after the Sachar Committee Report (Hasan 2009). Clamouring for state privileges has become the order of the day and soon the philosophy of reservation would lose its meanings. However, the politics of reservation would remain relevant. Despite all this, reservation policy in education and jobs has contributed in creating the critical mass of Dalit middle-class intellectuals, as we shall see soon, who have started the important ideological fight against caste system. However, the question remains: Is it possible to attain an inclusive society as a result of the state intervention? There has been a decline in the practice of untouchability at public places. For example, we rarely hear denial of entry to a Dalit in a restaurant or hotel. Untouchability has progressively disappeared in economic transactions and travel. We hardly find cases where a person is denied the right to travel by virtue of his/her caste. Urban centres remain more or less guided by the logic of capitalism, that is, the circulation of commodities, whereas the villages still exist as communities despite the penetration of capital. Most of the Dalits living in villages are poor wage earners and suffer economic exclusion. However, there is an evidence of social exclusion which emerges from their caste status including untouchability (Shah et al. 2006). State intervention has been successful in public sphere, whereas the private spaces are marked by the autonomy of the individual choices where the Dalits are excluded from various forms of interactions (Judge 2004). We may now move on to examining the efforts of the Dalits to improve their conditions or end caste stigma. Scanning social science literature on the issue provides us three kinds of strategies of the Dalits, most of which had been caste-specific and region-specific, for some time, to end the caste stigma over a period of time. The first strategy revolved around the issue of religion, which seems important for the people who had been denied the privilege to worship, as the story of Ramayana in which Lord Rama beheads a meditating Shudra informs,

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which was a great source of solace in the face of poverty and wretched conditions of life. Religion did not become, to refer to Marx, ‘the sigh of the oppressed’. However, we still find instances of Dalit saints in the medieval India, such as Chokamela and Ravidas. In this regard, any hope of religious identity created strong currents of action among them, which are evident from the conversions to Christianity, Islam and Sikhism. The Arya Samaj initiated the Shudhi movement to reconvert Dalits to Hinduism with limited success in Punjab. Religious conversion gave the Dalits right to worship, but it never raised their status by ending the caste stigma. The Christians in Punjab are coterminous with the Bhangi caste and the Sikh Dalits are known by distinct nomenclature, such as Ramdasiya and Mazhabis. The second kind of effort on the part of the Dalits could be called sanskritisation by changing one’s way of life and adopting the upper caste lifestyles. One interesting aspect of sanskritisation is that there is no threat to religion. Srinivas (1966), who propounded the concept and theory, argues that historically, a considerable number of castes have successfully gained the Kshatriya status. He provides the historical evidence of Shudras becoming kings and then claiming to be Kshatriya. Similar trends he identifies in the modern Indian setting and argues strongly that whereas varna is fixed, castes are dynamic. However, imitating the way of life of some caste is not without a prerequisite. For example, a middle-class man cannot imitate the life style of upper class man, simply because he will not have the needed capital to buy the same car, go to same club and eat at the same restaurant. However, there is an empirical evidence of certain castes adopting sanskritisation after they attained the higher economic status (Bailey 1957). Sanskritisation is a process in which the legitimacy of caste system is presupposed by the caste aspiring to attain higher caste status. It seems reasonable in the sense that even within the Dalits there is a caste hierarchy (Judge 2003). It may be reminded that sanskritisation model would be quite effective if we achieve a classless society, but then there will not be any need for sanskritisation. We may now move to the last strategy of political mobilisation/ social movement, which seems to be proving more effective than any other effort. At present, the Dalits are better organised and fulfilling the dream of Ambedkar, however limited it may be. It has taken a long time to reach this stage and in the case of certain castes, it took a long time

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for the Dalits to fulfil the essential conditions for their mobilisation. Among these conditions the important were the numerical strength within the region, certain degree of economic mobility, attainment of education and the movement out of the dependence on the local dominant caste. Generally, four cases of social mobility are frequently mentioned in literature. These are: Mahars, Nadars, Jatavs and Ad-dharmis. The common element among them is the use of political means to achieve the end. All these castes began to experience change during the colonial period. For example, the Chamars benefited from the rise in the leather trade (1975) and the Chamars in Punjab became rich during the tremendous rise in the demand of leather during the First World War. The colonial mode of production separated the caste from occupation simply because the new occupation had no link with castes. Except for the organisation of militant Dalit Panthers the broader paradigm remained the same. It was made clear by Lynch (1969) that even if the Dalits achieve certain degrees of equality or high status, they would remain excluded in the informal relations with the upper castes. The fact that caste would not end was realised by the Dalit activists with the passage of time. The superstructural autonomy even in the face of changes in the base showed the power of culture and ideology of caste. The paradigmatic shift in the strategy of Dalits was brought by Kanshi Ram who organised the BSP. It was premised upon the fact that instead of claiming the unity of mankind, it is politically important to stress the differences within the society. Obviously, in the hands of a politician the politics of difference is quite an effective weapon. There were two sources of the politics of difference; in other words, the politics of difference was already in place before Kanshi Ram used it effectively. The first source was communal and its roots were in the colonial India and it continued to be effective later on. The classical instance of it is the Sikh politics in Punjab and recurrent incidents of communal riots in India. The second source, ironically, emanated from the electoral politics of the major political parties in the country when they began to treat people as vote banks in terms of their caste. Kanshi Ram worked on the caste differences and attacked the upper castes, particularly the Brahmins, in his political rhetoric and used it as an effective tool in the political propaganda. There were parallel developments among the Dalits which made Kanshi Ram’s strategy quite successful in certain parts of India. Certain

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castes among the Dalits improved their economic conditions, which could be a result of many forces not just reservation policy. For example, the international migration of Dalits after Independence has been stupendous and was predominantly confined to the Chamar caste (Judge 2009) and remittances contributed significantly in improving their living conditions and reducing their dependence on the landowning castes in Punjab. It is also of interest to note that the castes which were engaged in movements/political mobilisation were also better placed in raising their consciousness and availing new opportunities made by the independent India. Modern education and white collar occupations and the sense of anonymity in the city about which Dr Ambedkar talked about created the class intelligentsia which was looking for new political path. The trajectory of the efforts of the Dalits to improve their conditions does not show any clear-cut direction and single methodology. It has happened due to great degree of heterogeneity which has come to the surface due to many reasons. Despite the fact that the Chamar caste was always better than other castes, the clear cut distance it has been able to achieve during the last two decades is quite noticeable. There is a class formation within the caste and there is caste differentiation among the Dalits. The BSP symbolises the unity of all the marginalised and oppressed castes and communities, but in practice it has turned out to be the party of the Chamar caste. As a result, the politics of caste could be seen at its best in the form of the BSP; something which was in vogue earlier but remained hidden under the metaphor of equality and secularism in electoral politics. The historical contribution of the BSP under Kanshi Ram is that it brought out the functionality of caste identity in Indian politics. However, there was a necessary condition for such a success, namely the pride in one’s caste and Kanshi Ram provided it with his powerful rhetoric against Brahminism. What happened in the process of building the vote bank is the emergence of identity politics and certain castes began to articulate that identity by using diverse mediums. Literature became the major battleground in which the new form of literature emerged more or less as a movement, namely Dalit literature. It began from Maharashtra as a movement and then spread to other parts of India. Despite its local character, the tremendous interest in Dalit literature and increasing readership turned it into a national phenomenon blurring regional boundaries.

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The celebration of the local turned global due to the expanding market. Dalit literature is being written in virtually all genres of literature, though poetry and autobiography are the most prominent. Autobiographies written by the prominent Dalit writers and activists have drawn more attention of the social scientists than other genres due to obvious reasons of closeness of this genre with social sciences. Among many autobiographies of note we can mention some which cover major part of India, such as Gaikwad (1992), Valmiki (1998), Das (2006), Madhopuri (2004) and Malagatti (2007). These autobiographies are tales of suffering the writers faced during their early age and the way the life story is narrated takes the reader to the journey of the life lived in extreme form of denial and discrimination and the struggle they waged to overcome all limitations and emerge victorious. However, the stigma remains. Dalit literature constructed the image of the wretched of the Indian society in a more profound manner than any social science research could do. The emergence of Dalit literature and the BSP politics of identity are not taking the Dalits towards an inclusive society. All these developments indicate towards the emergence of exclusive identities and politics, but it is quite different from the earlier exclusive identities, which caste system by virtue of its form and content implicated. It involves constructing new identity and culture and inventing distinct tradition by decentring the hegemonic tradition of the dominant castes. The significance of Phule’s reinterpretation of the myth of Bali Raja or Ambedkar’s conception of Dhama or re-articulation of the Ravidas myth on the part of the Ad-dharmis lies in rejecting the power of the symbolic universe created by the hegemonic tradition of Hinduism. How do we make sense of such constructions in the context of ending caste? Caste is not simply a social structural principle, but it is also a state of mind with the package of the entire tradition. To get rid of ‘castes of mind’, to use Dirk’s (2001) expression, there is a need to invent counterculture and its articulation. Present efforts of some of the Dalit castes are directed towards this direction. However, it does not imply that all castes in all regions of India have reached the stage of breaking cultural barriers, for it requires certain essential changes in the conditions of life, which is not happening at this moment for all. We thus have Dalit intellectuals, who can articulate various issues in the print and electronic media, leaving a section of Dalits who still face exclusion. So long as the general economic

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conditions of the Dalits do not improve, the chances of inclusion are minimal. It should also be reminded that despite all the efforts, strategy of social inclusion is inseparably linked with integration and consensus. In this regard, the state and social movement approach would not bring about inclusion at the level of interpersonal interaction. To end the discussion, it is important to remind Ambedkar’s (1990) comment on the caste endogamy. He argued that intercaste marriage would be solvent of caste as no other measure would succeed to that extent. However, he cautioned that we must not agitate for intercaste marriages, for it is not permissible to force feed a person by artificial means. The present trend among the Dalit intellectuals and political leadership does not point towards the possibility of integration.

II Eleven articles divided into four parts comprise this volume. These articles do not completely cover all the aspects of the Dalits in India. They are representative of four major issues which should be covered under the sociology of Dalits. These are: mapping the status of Dalit studies in India, describing their conditions of deprivation and exclusion, identifying contexts of contestations and their patterns that occur between the Dalits and the higher castes, and understanding the process of change in their conditions. Most of the articles included in the volume have been recent contributions to Sociological Bulletin—between 1990 and present. The SCs constitute 16.20 per cent of the Indian population, but this percentage does not cover all the untouchable castes against which untouchability is still practiced. The term ‘scheduled castes’ is Constitutional, which includes depressed castes belonging to Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist religions. Certain castes which have been included in the scheduled list get excluded if they have converted to Islam and/or Christianity. Therefore, we can safely argue that the percentage of the Dalits could be higher. Added to this percentage is 8.20 per cent population of the scheduled tribes. It is clear that more than one-fourth of India’s population belongs to the most marginalised, excluded and exploited sections of the society. How much attention have the Dalits received from the sociologists? It is an important issue particularly in the light of the fact that other

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disciplines in social sciences have also equally contributed to the study of Dalits. The first part of the volume entitled ‘State of Dalit Studies in Sociology’ consists of two articles by Vivek Kumar and T. K. Oommen. Whereas Vivek Kumar takes stock of the extent of attention Dalits have received from Indian sociologists, Oommen examines Ghurye’s contribution to the understanding of Dalits. Kumar argues that the sociologists have largely provided descriptive account of the Dalits by using value-loaded terminology. In a nutshell, Kumar brings out the apathy of Indian sociologists to study Dalits. Notably, Kumar has made an attempt to construct ‘Human Distress Index’, which largely covers various variables in the understanding and mapping of social exclusion of Dalits. Oommen, in his article, argues that Ghurye suffered from cognitive blackout in his treatment of SCs. Oommen provides four reasons why he did so: one, Ghurye has given a scanty coverage of 40 pages to the SCs; two, he depends on ancient Hindu texts for has analysis; three, he was unduly optimist about the power of modernisation in ending caste and discrimination; and finally, he could not clearly comprehend the power of the religious tradition in withstanding the pressure of modernity. Oommen points out that Ghurye’s treatment to the SCs and scheduled tribes was linked with the issue of nation-building from the perspective of cultural monism in which all castes and tribes were understood to be assimilated with the dominant Hindu tradition in opposition to the cultural diversity which was considered to be secular basis of Indian society. These articles discussed above underline something very important about the symbolic universe of Indian sociologists at the initial stages of the development of the discipline. One way of looking at the sociological practice could be the social background of Indian sociologists and one may not be surprised to find most of them belonging to the upper castes. However, it has been frequently pointed out that it is not necessary that the social location of the researcher would inevitably influence his/ her priorities and position with regard to normative issues. Another way of looking into the matter is to examine the practice of sociology in India and influences it received along with the prevalence of the theoretical paradigm. It may be argued that sociology in India has its roots in the anthropological practice. Social anthropologists were influenced in the early 20th century by the writings of Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown, who used ethnography in the service of functionalist paradigm. The functional perspective remained committed to the understanding of the

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functions performed by various parts of the whole. Functionalism remained on the side of the status quo, for it never went beyond the examination of the maintenance of system through the functions. On the other hand, the Dalit-centric approach was totally neglected by the Marxists, because in the Marxist paradigm caste was a part of the superstructure, whereas class structure formed the base of society. Within the framework of such an analysis Dalits were treated as a part of the proletariat. The implications of such a view from the Marxists are that there was a total neglect—though the Marxist tradition in Indian sociology has never been very strong—of the analysis of the power of the superstructure and its embeddedness with the base. The second part of the volume consists of four articles which take up the issue of untouchability and exclusion. The article by R. D. Lambert is an interesting piece of theoretical and empirical observations on untouchability with the purpose of working out the methodology of research on untouchability. Highlighting the fact that mere economic dimension would not help us in understanding the issue of untouchability, because as a part of social inequality caste system is similar to others and there is likelihood of the people who are placed at the top are economically well off, but it may not necessarily be the case. It is thus important that sociologist should focus his/her attention on identifying the ‘characteristics and conditions of the various untouchable castes and work out the system of untouchability by examining the behavioural norms. S. S. Sharma in his article on untouchability has adopted the empirical approach to examine the problem. The study of village Machhra in Meerut has been carried out by using caste study method as well as conducting interviews with the respondents to know their feeling whether untouchability is practiced. Sharma argues that the Brahmins and the scheduled castes offer different interpretations of unotuchability. Whereas the former regard ideology, the latter consider economic conditions as the root cause of unotuchability. However, the most important aspect of the study is the actual existence and practice of untouchability despite its abolition according to Article 17 of the Constitution of India. Victor D’Souza, in his article, locates the SCs in the urbanisation process of Punjab. It is interesting to note that D’Souza has used the terms exclusion and exclusivism in offering explanation to the location of the SCs. D’Souza argues that homogeneity of a caste and heterogeneity among castes could be understood as the major reason for

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the creation of exclusive groups who exist through their support to inequality and the rural–urban migration occurs along with this axis of exclusivism. Though it is expected that industrialisation and urbanisation would create occupational complexity which would help different castes to take advantage of the situation, yet the SCs have failed to benefit. The last article in the second part is a study of one Dalit caste, namely Khatik of Kanpur. The Khatiks became notorious during the riots that followed the Babri Mosque demolition. Maren Bellwinkel-Schempp has done a comprehensive anthropological investigation into the issue of untouchability, regarded as ‘suppressive, exploitative and unjust’. In the case of the Khatiks, BellwinkelSchempp seeks to construct the anthropological explanation of the relationship between man and beast. The Khatiks, who have been engaged in bristle trade and are also involved as butchers and pig-breeders and pork-sellers, the beast represents the ‘creative and nutritious element’ for them. At the same time, untouchability emanates from the pollution caused by the beast. The third part of the volume comprised by two articles takes cognisance of the conflict between the Dalits and upper castes. Linda J. Epp’s article underlines the basic paradoxes of tradition and reforms in the realm of religious beliefs and practices. Epp has lucidly brought out the struggle of the Dalits against the ages old practice of nude worship in Chandragutti village in Shimoga district of Karnataka. The issue emerged when in 1986 the activists of the Dalit Sangharsh Samiti started opposing nude worship among the Dalits women of Goddess, Renuka/ Yallemma. The organised struggle against the sexual exploitation of Dalit women in the form of nude worship, despite being successful, raised issue with regard to the beliefs. The Dalit woman is still tied to patriarchy and opposed to any change against her beliefs and practices. The second article on conflict is the contribution of Venkateswarlu Dollu who has looked into the caste/class dimensions of conflict between the upper castes and the Harijans. Based on the comprehensive field work and data analysis, the author comes to the conclusion. He examines four dimensions of tensions to gauge psychological conflict, namely social, economic, political and ritual. There are numerous instances of conflict between the upper caste and Harijans. However, the upper class dominant upper castes feel more threatened by any improvement in the conditions of the Harijans. Since the author has not examined the

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nature and extent of manifest conflict, he concludes that since any improvement in the conditions of the Harijans is a threat to the dominance and hegemony of the upper classes, they are more hostile toward the Harijans than the middle-class upper castes. The last part of the volume is entitled ‘Interrogating Change’ by which we mean that all the three articles are not straightjacket explication of social change among the Dalits. They are serious and reflective analyses of strategies of sanskritisation and reservation policy as well as of the practice of untouchability. Guru in his article takes up the inherent paradox between reservation and sanskritisation as strategies of change. Guru is clear in stating that economic and political power is the enabling force of sanskritisation. On top of that sanskritisation essentially implicates group mobility. On the other hand, reservation policy is individual-oriented and once embraced provides economic and political status. At the same time, sanskritisation is the basis of hiding one’s caste identity, whereas reservation policy is based on the caste identity. Guru argues that sanskritisation is imposed by the upper castes. In his article, A. M. Shah discusses the relation between purity/ impurity and untouchability and the decline in both in the modern times. It entails a discussion of division and hierarchy among the Untouchable castes and of the line separating them from the rest of the society. Shah identifies the forces of change in untouchability in terms of industrialisation and urbanisation whose impact began right from the 19th century. People having Western education initiated the discontinuity of untouchable practices. Many practices among Hindu houses have almost disappeared. Taking bath is no more indispensable before cooking and eating food. However, in religious practices people still observe the idea of purification. In urban areas the people cleaning the garbage continue to belong to a particular caste. Tulsi Patel explores the stigmatised popular image of incompetence constructed around the Dalits, who have in the past seven decades benefited from reservations in education and services. It describes the construction of stigmatised image of the Dalits in the recent decades in northern India with reference to the clarion call of reservations for removal of social and other inequalities perpetrated against ex-untouchables in India. Taking up the controversies around reservation, Patel explores the connection between stigma, education and jobs.

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By Way of Conclusion The first part of this introductory chapter was an attempt to underline and argue for new perspective for understanding caste and Dalits. There is a need to demystify caste in the present phase of India’s socio-economic development. The major reason for the persistence of caste should be located in the understanding of why the communities are persisting and individualisation is not taking place in spite of the fact that the Indian Constitution recognises the individual as citizen with rights. It is important to raise questions about the decisions taken by the political power holders of the day wherein they decided in favour of community by violating the rights of the individual enshrined in our Constitution (Shah Bano to give one example). It is interesting to investigate why the political leaders are allowed to appeal the communities on caste, religious or ethnic basis. It is the power dynamics in which every player sees functionality to use caste that caste is publicly persisting. The articles included in this volume provide us panoramic picture of various dimensions of the Dalits referred to by different contributors by different names, such as Dalits, SCs, Harijans, untouchables, depressed classes and so on. There is only one aspect of Dalit studies missing in this volume, namely the emerging cultural consciousness of the Dalits. The articles included in the volume also give us an idea of the place of Dalit studies in sociology.

References Ambedkar, B. R. 1990. The annihilation of caste. Delhi: Arnold. Apthekar, Herbert. 1939. American Negro slave revolts. New York: International Publishers. Bailey, F. G. 1957. Caste and the economic frontier: A village in highland Orissa. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Bains, Ravinder Singh. 1997. ‘Reactionary mobilization against change from above’, in Paramjit S. Judge and Satish K. Sharma (eds.): Dimensions of social change: Essays in honour of Professor P. N. Pimpley. (122–52). Jaipur: Rawat. Bayly, Susan. 1999. Caste, society and politics in India from the eighteenth century to the modern age. Delhi: Cambridge University Press. Berreman, Gerald D. 1979. Caste and other inequities. Meerut: Folklore Institute. Bouglé, Célelstin. 1971. Essays on the caste system. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Briggs, George. W. 1975. The Chamars. Delhi: B.R. Publishing Corporation. (First published in 1920). Das, Bhagwan. 2006. Main Bhangi han. Nakodar: Bahujan Hitt Parkashan (Punjabi). Desai, A. R. 1976. Social background of Indian nationalism. Bombay: Popular Prakashan.

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Dirks, Nicholas B. 2001. Castes of mind: Colonialism and the making of modern India. New Delhi: Permanent Black. Dumont, Louis. 1998. Homo hierarchicus: The caste system and its implications. Delhi: Oxford University Press. Gaikwad, Laxaman. 1992. Uchchaka. Delhi: Radhakrishan (Hindi). Guru, Gopal. 2002. ‘How egalitarian are the social sciences in India’, Economic and political weekly, XXXVII(50) (14 December): 5003–9. ———. 2009. ‘Introduction: Theorizing humiliation’, in Gopal Guru (ed.): Humiliation: Claims and context (1–22). New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Ghurye, G. S. 1969. Caste and race in India. Bombay: Popular Prakashan. Hardgrave, Jr., Robert L. 1970. ‘Political participation and primordial solidarity: The Nadars of Tamil Nadu’, in Rajni Kothari (ed.): Caste in Indian politics (102–28). New Delhi: Orient Longman. Hasan, Zoya. 2009. Politics of inclusion: Castes, minorities and affirmative action. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Judge, Paramjit S. 2002. ‘Religion, caste and communalism in Punjab’, Sociological bulletin, 51(2): 175–94. ———. 2003. ‘Hierarchical differentiation among Dalits’. Economic and political weekly, 38(28), July 12. ———. 2004. ‘Interrogating changing status of Dalits of Punjab’, in Harish K. Puri (ed.): Dalits in regional context (100–131). Jaipur: Rawat Publications. ———. 2005. ‘Caste conflicts in Punjab: An examination of recent Jat-Dalit clash in a village’, Man & development, XXVII(3): 151–68. ———. 2009. Mapping Dalits: Contemporary reality and future prospects in Punjab. Jaipur: Rawat. ———. 2012a. ‘Love as rebellion and shame: Honour killings in the Punjabi literary imagination’, Economic and political weekly, XLVII(44) (3 November): 44–50. ———. 2012b. Foundations of classical sociological theory: Functionalism, conflict and action. New Delhi: Pearson. Judge, Paramjit S., and Gurpreet Bal (eds.) 2008. Reconstructing identities: Society through literature. Jaipur: Rawat. Juergensmeyer, Mark. 1982. Religion as social vision: The movement against untouchability in 20th century Punjab. Berkeley: University of California Press. Kamble, N. D. 1981. Atrocities on scheduled castes in post independent India. New Delhi: Ashish Publishing House. Kothari, Rajni. 1970. ‘Introduction’, in Rajni Kothari (ed.): Caste in Indian politics (3–25). New Delhi: Orient Longman. Lynch, Owen M. 1969. The politics of untouchability: social mobility and social change in a city of India. New York: University of Columbia Press. Marx, K.1954. Capital: A critique of political economy, Volume I. Moscow: Progress Publishers. Marx, Karl, and F. Engels. 1976. Collected Works Volume 5. Moscow: Progress Publishers. Madhopuri, Balbir. 2004. Chhangia Rukh. Chandigarh: Lokgeet Parkashan (Punjabi). Malagatti, Aravind. 2007. Government Brahmana. Hyderabad: Orient Longman. Mencher, Joan P.1992. ‘The caste system upside down’, in Dipankar Gupta (ed.): Social stratification (93–109). New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Mendelsohn, Oliver and Marika Vicziany. 2000. The untouchables: subordination, poverty and the state in modern India. New Delhi: Cambridge University Press.

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Omvedt, Gail. 1994. Dalits and democratic revolution: Dr. Ambedkar and the Dalit movement in colonial India. New Delhi: SAGE Publications. ———. 2012. Understanding caste: From Buddha to Ambedkar and beyond. Second Edition. New Delhi: Orient BlackSwan. Parkin, Frank. 1982. Max Weber. London: Tavistock Publications. Ram, Ronki. 2004. ‘Untouchability in India with a difference: Ad Dharm, Dalit assertion and caste conflicts in Punjab’, Asian Survey, XLIV(6): 895–912. Rao, Anupama. 2010. The caste question: Dalits and the politics of modern India. Ranikhet: Permanent Black. Shah, Ghanshayam et al. 2006. Untouchability in rural India. New Delhi: SAGE Publications. Sharma, Satish K. 2000. ‘Arya Samaj movement in Punjab’, in Harish K. Puri and Paramjit S. Judge (eds.): Social and political movements: Readings on Punjab (93–110). Jaipur: Rawat. Srinivas, M. N. 1966. Social change in modern India. Bombay: Allied Publishers. Thorat, Sukhdeo, and Paul Attewell. 2007. ‘The legacy of social exclusion: A correspondence study of job discrimination in India’, Economic and Political Weekly, XLII(41) (13 October): 4141–45. Thorat, Sukhdeo, and Katherine S. 2007. ‘Caste and economic discrimination: Causes, consequences and remedies’, Economic and political weekly, XLII(41) (13 October): 4121–24. Valmiki, Om Prakash. 1998. Jooth. Ludhiana: Chetna Parkashan (Punjabi). Weber, Max. 1958. The religion of India. Translated and edited by Hans H. Gerth and Don Martindale. New York: The Free Press. ———. 1978. Economy and society: An outline of interpretive sociology. Vols. I and II (eds. Guenther Roth and Claus Wittich). Berkeley: University of California Press. (First published by Bedminster Press Inc. New York, 1968.) Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1961. Tractatus logico-philosophicus. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Zelliot, Eleanor. 1970. ‘Learning to use political means: The Mahars of Maharashtra’, in Rajni Kothari (ed.): Caste in Indian politics (29–69). New Delhi: Orient Longman.

PART I State of Dalit Studies in Sociology

1 Situating Dalits in Indian Sociology Vivek Kumar

Introduction: Understanding the Misunderstandings about Dalits

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andhiji, after discussing the problems of dalits with Ambedkar, asked Mahadev Desai why Ambedkar told him that he (Ambedkar) did not have a motherland. Desai explained that it was because Ambedkar was an ‘untouchable’. Gandhiji was surprised to learn this, and he told Desai that he had thought Ambedkar was a conscientious Brahmin who spoke for the untouchables. Later, in the 1960s, on the policy of reservation, Jawaharlal Nehru argued, It is true that we are tied up with certain rules and conventions about helping the Scheduled Castes and Tribes. They deserve help but, even so, I dislike any kind of reservation, more particularly in service. . . . If we go in for reservations on communal and caste basis we swamp the bright and able people and remain second-rate of third-rate (1989: 456–57).

Even as late as 1999, a high profile university professor, who has extensively worked on the issues related to caste, asked me ‘What is the difference between Jai Shri Ram and Jai Bheem, as both are religious symbols?’ I had to explain to the learned professor that this ‘Jai Bheem’ is not the Bheem of Mahabharata; it is the first name of Bheem Rao Ambedkar which has now become the greeting symbol of dalits. Another narrative is that of a young

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girl who asked her parents whether they were Scheduled Castes? The astonished parents asked her why she was asking that question. The girl explained that the teacher had announced in the class that those belonging to Scheduled Castes will be getting books and uniform free of cost. The foregoing narratives are representative of the understanding of politicians and social reformers, academicians and layman about dalits who account for 16 percent of India’s population. The narratives, no doubt, raise a vital point regarding misunderstandings of certain facts about dalits. However, more importantly, they raise the question as to how can an academic fail to understand dalits. Thus, the question if the dalits have been studied objectively by the Indian sociologists? This paper throws light on how Indian sociology has failed to locate dalits in the Indian society, in general, and the Hindu social order, in particular. Why, even after a century of development of sociology in the country, the dalits occupy a dubious position particularly vis-à-vis the Hindu social order? The ‘book view’ of caste argues that there are only four varnas, but many sociologists—Indian, European and others—have portrayed dalits as the fifth varna of Hindu society without any convincing explanation. Although they are practically included for exploitation of every type of labour, why have they been included in the theoretical scheme of varna as the fifth varna of the Hindu social order? No sociologist has given a convincing explanation for the fact that, even though they are included for exploitation of cheap labour, they have been excluded from every other interaction pattern. Usage of politically incorrect terminology by Indian sociologists in their discussions on dalits is the second issue discussed in this paper. In the name of objectivity, Indian sociologists have used the suggestive terminology like ‘untouchables’, ‘lower castes’, Harijans, etc. for the dalits. These terms, coined by intellectuals and the elite of society, are not objective categories. The objective situation is that the dalits were/are known either by their regional caste name or by a term equivalent of ‘untouchable’. Our third contention in this paper is that, because of the ambiguous location of dalits and the use of a value-loaded terminology for them, Indian sociologists have not been able to record substantive issues related to dalits. The sociological literature has only descriptions about dalits without any qualitative and quantitative study of their ‘social exclusion’. Indian sociologists have also missed to record the impact of this ‘social exclusion’ on the life-pattern of dalits and their loss of cultural capital. Indian sociologists never bothered to recognise the contributions made

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by dalits playing different roles in the economy, polity and society. One wonders, how many studies have been conducted by Indian sociologists straight from Cheri, Cahmrauti, Maharwada—the bustees of the dalits? Two major points have been recorded in the paper because of the aforesaid ambiguity of position of dalits in the Hindu social order. The first point is that the objectivity and authenticity of studies of different structures and processes are being questioned by the dalits in their writings. Dalits view the structures like caste and village as exploitative rather than as functional. Moreover, they term sanskritisation as the process of assertion and attempt by dalits to lead a hygienic lifestyle, rather than as an imitation of the upper castes. The second point is that foreign concepts and theories like class, relative deprivation, poverty, etc., which are used to analyse the condition of dalits are inappropriate and inadequate. Therefore, the paper suggests the necessity of evolving a new concept or modifying the existing concepts which can appropriately evaluate the social exclusion of dalits. The new concept could be ‘Human Distress Index’.

Definition of the Term ‘Dalit’ In the annals of Indian history, dalits were referred to with different nomenclatures—like Chandalas, Avarnas, Achhuts, Namashudra, Parihas, Adi-Dravida, Ad-Dharmis, depressed classes, oppressed Hindus, Harijans, etc.—at different point of time. However, after the emergence of the Dalit Panther’s movement in Maharashtra in the 1970s, they preferred to be called as dalits. The definition of dalits as propounded by the Dalit Panthers was a class definition and it included members of Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), the landless and poor peasants, women, and all those who were exploited politically, economically and in the name of religion (Murugkar 1991: 237). It was the Panthers’ political compulsion that made them propound such a definition of a category which never existed before, as they wanted to forge an alliance among these aforesaid groups. However, sociologically, the term dalits has been strictly used for ex-untouchables of Indian society who have faced the worst kind of social exclusion. The term ‘social exclusion’ has been defined as a multidimensional process in which various forms of exclusion are combined: participation in decision-making and political processes, access to

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employment and material resources, and integration into common cultural process. When combined, they create acute form of exclusion that finds a spatial manifestation in particular neighbourhoods (Madanipour 1998: 22). To this, we have to add the elements of religious justification of such exclusion of dalits based on dharma and karma. Based on the above elements of social exclusion, we can argue that dalits are different from Scheduled Tribes, women and poor persons among caste Hindus that were included in the Dalit Panthers’ definition of dalits. At the out set, economically, a poor person is different from a dalit. A poor person may be deprived in the economic sphere, especially of income necessary to participate in the economy. However, he/she may not be necessarily deprived in social and cultural spheres, that is, he/she may not face the same type of exclusion in the social and cultural life of his neighbourhood as dalits face. For instance, a penury-stricken Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya or Shudra is never forced to live outside the boundaries of the village. They interact among themselves at least in secular realms on more or less equal terms. However, dalits were excluded form the main residential area of the village, and were kept outside the interaction pattern of its social life. Hence, we can argue that a poor person may be economically or politically deprived, but he/she is never excluded from the social and cultural spheres. An ex-untouchable is deprived in all the three—social, economic and political—realms. T.K. Oommen, therefore, has rightly pointed out, ‘If proletarian consciousness is essentially rooted in material deprivations . . . dalit consciousness is a complex and compound consciousness which encapsulates deprivations stemming from inhuman conditions of material existence, powerlessness and ideological hegemony’ (1990: 256). The social exclusion of an ex-untouchable is so overpowering that, even though he/she attains economic and political mobility through hard work, he/she is not accepted in totality by the castes located higher up in the hierarchy. Another aspect of social exclusion is that, because of their extreme form social exclusion, dalits could not accumulate social capital which could give them the potential to develop their consciousness. Moreover, because of lack of this consciousness, they could not revolt against the Hindu social order for so long. Their cultural cooption in the Hindu social order, even though they were not part of the varna hierarchy, was affected by the artificial consensus which was a part of Hindu hegemony legitimised by the doctrine of karma.

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Tribals are different from dalits because they were never treated as a part of the Hindu social order. As they had their own independent social system, tribals did not face social exclusion as dalits did. They also did not suffer the same type of atrocities as suffered by dalits. Apart from their geographical location in the hilly or forested terrain, tribals also differed from dalits in political, religious, economic and psychological aspects. These aspects have kept them away from the Hindu hegemony in terms of their status in the caste hierarchy, occupation, commensality, etc. Furthermore, this differentiation has resulted in a different type of construction of consciousness among tribals and, hence, they revolted a number of times in the past. That is why we have not included them in the present definition of dalits. Women have also been excluded from our definition of dalits. The reasons being, a woman in Indian society, however exploited, does not constitute a monolithic whole. There is differentiation of women on caste and class lines. If we take women belonging to the castes located in the upper echelons of the caste hierarchy then we find their attitude towards dalits is same as that of their male counterparts. They practise untouchability in the same manner, as any caste Hindu male would do. How then can we differentiate caste Hindu women from their men and include them under dalits? Thus, in this paper, the term dalit has been used exclusively for ex-untouchables.

Situating Dalits in Indian Society: The Book View Let us observe how ambiguous the position of dalits is in the Hindu social order. To begin with, the caste system has emerged from the varna social order described in the Hindu scriptures. The Hindu social order, according to the scared texts, comprises of Varnasharma Dharma along with the four-fold varna division in the society: Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra. In Rigveda. . . three classes of society are frequently mentioned, and named Brahma, Kshatra, and Visha. . . . It is only in one of the later hymns, the celebrated Purusukta, that a reference has been made to four orders of society as emanating from the sacrifice of the Primeval Being. The names of those four orders are given there as Brahmana, Rajanya, Vaishya, and Shudra (Ghurey 1979: 44).

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M.N. Srinivas writes, in the Rigvedic hymn Purusukta, the four varna or orders formed the limbs of primeval man (Purusha), who was victim in the divine sacrifice which produced the cosmos. The Brahmins emerged from his mouth, the Kshatriyas from his arms, Vaishyas from his thighs and Shudras from the feet. The untouchable castes find no mention in the hymn (1985: 150–51).

Similarly, Louis Dumont argues, There is in India a hierarchy other than that of the pure and the impure, namely, the traditional hierarchy of the four varnas, ‘colours’ or ‘estates’, whereby four categories are distinguished: the highest is that of the Brahmans or priests, below them the Kshatriyas or warriors, then the Vaishyas, in modern usage mainly merchants, and finally the Shudras, the servants or have-nots. . . . There is in actual fact a fifth category, the untouchables, who are left outside the classification (1999: 66–67).

Thus, it can be observed from the above that, though on the basis of sacred texts the founding fathers of Indian Sociology recognised only four varnas in Hindu social order, the presence of dalits (untouchables) as the ‘fifth category’ of the Hindu social order is not denied. The same sociologists, however, have denied the existence of the fifth varna in the Hindu social order with the help of the same sacred texts. In this regard, Dumont has categorically stated, ‘First and foremost, these texts were to mask the emergence, the factual accretion of a fifth category, the untouchables, each emulating the others in proclaiming that ‘there is no fifth . . .’ (Ibid.: 68). So, from where has this metaphor has come in the sociological vogue? Has it been carved out for the convenience of the researchers or the dominant sections of the Indian society? It is not only that these four varnas have been mentioned in the sacred texts, but they have also been assigned their duties or jobs (dharma) as well. For example, ‘in the hymns of the Rigveda, the job of the Brahmin varna was to read and write, teach and preach, offer and officiate sacrifices. The Brahmins were obliged by this tradition to undergo a life of study, mediation, and penetration into the mysteries of God and dharma’ (Mathur 1991: 68). The occupation the Kshatriyas, ‘must have consisted in administrative and military duties. . . . In the prayer for the prosperity of Kshatriya, he is said to be an archer and good chariot-fighter’ (Ghurey 1979: 48). The Vaishya formed the third order and was supposed to be a trader. The Shudra,

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It seems the class represented domestic servants, approximating very nearly to the position of slaves. The Shudra is described as ‘the servant of another’, ‘to be expelled at will’, and ‘to be slain at will’. The Panchvimsha Brahmana defines this position still more precisely when it declares that the Shudra, even if he be prosperous, cannot be but a servant of another, washing his superior’s feet being his main business. . . . The Shatapatha Brahmana goes to the length of declaring that the Shudra is untruth itself (Ibid.: 50–51).

Apart form the aforesaid varnas and the duties assigned to them, except for the dalits, the book view of caste system also prescribed an elaborate arrangement of the various socioeconomic, political and religious activities by an individual to be performed in various stages of his life. These stages are named as ashramas, which are four in number: brahmacharya, grihastha, vanaprastha, and sanyasa. The male members of the Brahmin, Kshatriya, and Vaishya varnas pass through these four stages in their life. The first ashrama is called brahmacharya ashrama, from which the fourth varna, namely, Shudra, and the women of the first three varnas were barred. It is to be noted that this ashrama is very important of all the ashramas in an individual’s life. Sudhir Kakar (1982: 8–9) has eloquently portrayed its importance: . . . brahmacharya, in which the school child, growing into youth, learned the basic skills relevant to his future adult working role while he lived together with other students and the guru. The myriad duties prescribed for this stage can be subsumed under two headings: (a) the social importance placed on the learning of skills, and (b) the student’s unquestioning devotion to the guru’s person.

Furthermore, The task the brahmacharya stage . . . lies in the knowing of one’s dharma, which would consist in acquiring the skills in one’s caste and in winning an identity based on a caste identity and the identification with and the emulation of the guru. The strength issuing from this stage would then correspond to ‘competence’ and ‘fidelity’.

After this, comes the second ashrama that is, garhasthya ashram: In the Hindu view it is this stage that ‘man’s meanings’ (purusarthas) besides dharma, that is, artha (material gratification) and kama (sensual-sexual gratification), flower and to be enjoyed. The Hindu view thus also hints at the ‘intimacy’ based on shared work as well as on sensuality and procreation.

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The third stage or ashrama is vanaprastha (a gradual withdrawal without loosening of responsibility). In the last asharma, that is, Sanyasa (renunciation), it is expected from the individuals that they practise physical separation from all worldly and personal ties. In this manner, we see the elaborate arrangement which exists in the holy texts of the Hindus on the basis of which the caste system has emerged. From the above discussion, the following queries emerge, proving the ambiguous position of dalits in the Hindu social order. First, even if we believe the sacred texts, to which the origin of caste is traced, from where does the metaphor of the fifth varna originate? Second, accepting that there is a fifth varna, what will be its dharma and which ashramas can its members follow? No convincing and objective explanation is given by Indian sociologists, and yet they treat dalits as part and parcel of the Hindu social order. Is the inclusion of dalits in the Hindu social order only an academic or political exercise, or there is any sociological explanation for this?

Sociological Literature and Dalit Identity Indian sociology is more than a century old, but even today Indian sociologists have not been able to evolve a politically correct language to describe the dalits. Along with other social scientists, they use the same stigmatised identities like ‘lower castes’, ‘exterior castes’, ‘untouchables’, ‘Harijans’, etc. for dalits. Against this, they use a refined language for the castes located higher in the caste hierarchy: ‘upper castes’, ‘twice-born’, etc. The language used is partisan, and it stigmatises dalits. When questioned, Indian sociologists have argued that they do it for objectivity. The objective reality, however, is different and dalits have been addressed by different nomenclatures at the grassroots: Chandalas, Hinajatians, Avarnas, Asprashya, Antyajas, Achhuts, Pariahs, Namsudras, Panchamas (the fifth class or category), etc. These social identities had stigma, segregation and contempt writ large. Had Indian sociologists been objective they should have used these terms in referring to dalits. Another objective reality about the nomenclature of dalits is that they were also known by their traditional nomenclatures in the local regions: Chamar, Pasi, Dhobi, Chakkliyar, etc. However, Indian sociologists do not use the exact name of the dalit castes. Instead, for their convenience, they have propagated a generalised and common identity of dalits in the discipline. In this regard, Indian sociologists have also

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not revealed the fact that dalits have been uncomfortable with these identities. With the gradual awakening for self-respect among them, dalits have intensified their hatred against these names, and consequently they protested for a change in their caste names. To assert their aboriginal lineage they adopted the appellations of Adi-Hindu, AdiDravida, Adi-Andhra, Adi-Karnataka, etc. towards the close of the nineteenth century and in the beginning of the twentieth century. Indian sociologists failed to record efforts of various actors to give different nomenclature. For instance, the term ‘depressed classes’ was used for these castes either by the missionaries or the social reformers. The term found its way in the Government officialese sometimes in the nineteenth century, but it gained currency in official usage only towards the beginning of the second decade of the twentieth century (Gupta 1985: 7–8). However, the identity of the depressed classes or the untouchables as a depressed class could not last long. The untouchables or depressed classes led by B.R. Ambedkar, Babu Khem Chand, M.C. Rajah and R. Srinivasan asserted that the term ‘depressed classes’ should be categorically defined, as a few other non-dvija caste Hindus were also being identified under that nomenclature. Later, Ambedkar refuted this identity for the untouchables and urged, ‘We would like to point out that the existing nomenclature of Depressed Classes is objected to by members of the Depressed Classes who have given thought to it and also by the outsider who take interest in them. It is degrading and contemptuous’ (Ibid.: 26). Ambedkar suggested five alternatives—the ‘non-caste Hindus’, the ‘Protestant Hindus’, the ‘non-conformist Hindus’, the ‘Excluded Castes,’ and the ‘Exterior Castes’—to be considered for the selection of a better denomination for the untouchable communities (Ibid.). Another identity of dalits, in the beginning of the 1930s, which is still commonly used to identify the untouchable castes, was ‘Harijan’. It is a general misconception that the term ‘Harijan’ was coined by Mahatma Gandhi. In fact, it was originally used by Narsinha Mehta, a Gujarati poet-saint of the Bhakti tradition in the medieval period (Ibid.: 30). Gandhi himself clarified this in one of the issues of the weekly Harijan. He argued that, It is not a name of my coining. Some years ago, several untouchable correspondents complained that I used the word ‘Asprishya’ in the pages of Navjivan. ‘Asprishya’ means literally untouchable. I then invited them to

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Vivek Kumar suggest a better name, and one of the ‘untouchable’ correspondents suggested the adoption of the name ‘Harijan’, on the strength of its having been used by the first known poet-saint of Gujarat (Harijan, 7 February 1933: 7).

The members of the untouchable castes, especially the educated and politically conscious ones, did not accept the identity of ‘Harijan’. They wondered how this nomenclature could solve their real problems. Till date, the term is hated and despised by dalits. Owen M. Lynch has stated that ‘Literally the word means “child of god” but figuratively its connotations are quite different. My Jatav informants showed dislike—at times an intense dislike—for the word. They felt, it connoted the idea of being a bastard and also brought to mind patronising upper-caste benevolence’ (1974: 128). The then government carved a new identity—the ‘Scheduled Castes’— for the untouchable castes as these were put in a Schedule for the purpose of providing them constitutional safeguards under the new Constitution of the British Government in India (1937). Although this term has been used as a nomenclature in the present Constitution of India, it is not explicitly defined. Apparently, the members of the erstwhile untouchable castes have not had much problem with their given identity of ‘Scheduled Castes’. However, in the 1970s, a new identity, namely, dalit was asserted by them. In the mid-1970s, again, the dalit leaders coined a new identity in the name of ‘Bahujan’ with the emergence of Backward and Minorities Communities Employees’ Federation (BAMCEF). Thus, there has been a long movement by the dalits for a dignified identity; yet, Indian sociologists have only used the stigmatised social identities for referring to dalits. Is it a case of value neutrality or bias? While the world over there has been a movement to consciously use politically correct terminology to describe the erstwhile-stigmatised collectivities—Negroes are now called as blacks; prostitutes, referred as to sex workers; the handicapped, as physically challenged, the aged, as senior citizens—Indian sociology is still stuck with the stigmatised identities for dalits. It is well known that the construction of terminology depicts the attitude of the people towards the stigmatised collectivities. A positive identity or value-neutral identity in place of a negative identity helps to relate to people with stigmatised collectivity on a more cordial plain. Hence, there is need to carve out a neutral term for the dalits.

SITUATING DALITS IN INDIAN SOCIOLOGY

13

Dearth of Sociological Literature on the Social Exclusion of Dalits As far as the issue of social exclusion of dalits is concerned, Indian sociologists have touched it only in a descriptive manner. Excepting a few (for example, Oommen 2001), they have tried to define broadly how dalits have been categorised or, at the most, what occupation they perform, etc. (see, for example, Ghurey 1979: 306–36). The sociological literature is silent on the number of movements launched by dalits for their independent status from the Hindu social order. Adi-Hindu, AdiDravida, Adi-Andhra, Adi-Karnataka, Ad-Dharm movements come under this category. The sociological literature does not discuss the religious conversion of dalits to Islam and Sikhism in the medieval period and to Christianity in the modern period. The lack of literature on this theme hides the reality and the causes of conversion of the dalits, on the one hand, and the intensity of exploitation of dalits at the hands of the caste Hindus, on the other. It is well known that dalits have their own vibrant culture and literature. They have their own folk songs, and dance and art forms. But all this has been blacked out by the caste-Hindu media, intelligentsia and academia. Oommen is eloquent on this: There has been a cognitive blackout in Indian social science, until recently, as far as knowledge regarding the life-world of dalitbahujans. The fact the lifestyles of upper castes and dalitbahujans vary dramatically in terms of food habits, worship patterns or gender relations is tacitly acknowledged. But, instead of squarely recognising these variations and explaining why they exist, the dominant tendency in Indian sociology, at least until recently, has been to suggest that the dalitbahujans are abandoning their way of life in favour of the lifestyles of caste Hindus. This is what sanskritisation is all about. In this perspective, not only the norms and values of caste Hindus are privileged, but they are also christened as norm-setters and value-givers for the society as a whole. Conversely, the norms and values of dalitbahujans are knocked out, ignored, stigmatised and delegitimised (2001: 21).

Gauri Viswanathan writes, The privileging of Gandhi as an emblem of non-partisan feeling has, as its inverse, the demonisation of Ambedkar as a purveyor of sectarian politics. The view that ‘the national hagiography in India has rarely conceded a space for

14

Vivek Kumar Ambedkar alongside Gandhi’ is borne out by amazing excision of Ambedkar from several well-known literary works about untouchability (2001: 220).

Similarly, the role played by dalits in the freedom movement is also blacked out. Ranjit Guha notes, The historiography of Indian nationalism has for a long time been dominated by elitism—colonialist elitism and bourgeois nationalist elitism . . . . Both these varieties of elitism share the prejudice that the making of the Indian nation and the development of the consciousness—nationalism—which informed this process were exclusively elite achievement (1982: 1).

Furthermore, many studies conducted by Indian sociologists in the post-Independence period have tried to investigate whether constitutional measures have served to reduce the social disabilities and social discrimination of dalits or not (see Béteille 1969; Abbasayulu 1978; Malik 1979). There has not been any quantitative or qualitative analysis of the processes of exclusion and deprivation of dalits in Indian society, in general, and Hindu social order, in particular. They have failed to record the impact of social, economic and political exploitation on the dalit communities. How has it resulted in loss of cultural capital and, hence, the subjugation of dalits generation after generation? Similarly, the mainstream sociologists have failed to evaluate the exclusion of dalits from the modern institutions of democracy such as legislatures, bureaucracy, judiciary, media, etc. It has been accepted by many sociologists that these institutions have deep anchoring in the traditional social structure of Indian society, that is, the caste system (Singh 1994: 129–58). Yet sociologists have failed to accept that these institutions, which were supposed to function on the universalistic principles, are influenced by particularistic values of caste. The monopolisation of institutions of governance by the caste Hindus and the marginalisation of dalits from these institutions is testimony to the fact that there is discrimination against dalits in these institutions. Otherwise, dalits would not have been substantially under-represented in the higher echelons of the institution of governance. None of this has caught the imagination of the mainstream Indian sociologists. Similarly, the evaluation of the role of caste in the modern market and media has not attracted the attention of mainstream sociologists.

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Ridicule as a Form of Exclusion Indian sociologists have not been able to note the established dictums and sayings for ridiculing dalits. These ridicules emanate from religious texts and also from the psyche of the common masses. For Instance, look at Ramcahritmans, one of the most cherished and widely read sacred texts of Hindus. In it, Acharya Tulsidas writes: Shudra, ganvar, dhor, pashu, nari Yah sab taran ke adhikari. (Shudras, villagers, ill-mannered, animals, women All of them need a beating.) Pujahun Vipra sheell gun gyan hina, Shudra na gun gyan param praveena. (A Brahmin is worship-able even though he is devoid of all qualities, A Shudra is not, even though he possesses all the qualities).

It should be noted here that, though these couplets referred to Shudras, who were part of the varna hierarchy, in contemporary society these are used for dalits. There are other sayings ridiculing dalits which have become a part of the common parlance. Let us take the case of dalit women: Bitiya Chamar ki, nam Rajraniya! (Daughter of Chamar with the name of Rajrani [chief queen]!)

The hidden meaning of this saying is that a Chamar cannot even name his daughter sophisticatedly. So stigmatic is the meaning of this saying that it is often used by the caste Hindus to ridicule their own girls who behave a bit extrovertly. Similarly, Chappal par Chamain chale, sandal par Dhobiniya, Hai mor Rama badal gail duniya (The Chamarin [the Chamar woman] walks in slippers; the Dhobinya [the washerwoman] in sandals, Oh my Rama! The world has changed.)

This means that the dalit women should not wear even slippers, because traditionally she was not allowed to do so, and, if she has started doing so, the times have changed.

16

Vivek Kumar Kya chori Cahmari karte ho? (Do you practise theft and Chamari?) Humko chor Chmar mat samajho! (Do not mistake me for thief or Chamar!)

In both these cases, the meaning of ‘theft’ and ‘thief ’ is clear, but how can we explain the meaning of Chamari and Chamar. It can only be said that these terms have a latent meaning. These are caste names which are self-explanatory because of the stigma and contempt attached to them. The terms have specific meaning for their users in a particular geographical locale. The aforesaid example is from northern India; I am sure, however, that each geographical territory has its own caste names for the dalit communities and sayings based on them. Today, these caste names have become terms of abuse themselves, and are frequently used by the caste Hindus even to ridicule their own caste fellows. The general ridicule can go to any length, for example, in one saying the Chamar has been compared with jackal: Chamar siyar bade hoshsiyar, Jahan loot pare wahan toot pare; Jahan mar pare wahan bhag pare. (Chamar and jackal are very clever. Where there is loot, they pounce there; Where there is beating, they run away.)

Similarly, dalits have been identified with the ‘black’ and Brahmins with ‘white’. That is, if a Chamar has fair skin, and a Brahman, dark skin, their origin is doubtful and they cannot be trusted: Kariya Bahmin gor Chamar Inke sanghe na utre par. (A dark Brahmin and a fair Chamar cannot be trusted.)

European and American sociologists have tried to lay their hand on these issues. However, their studies have not been accepted as objective. Yogendra Singh writes, The ideology in the interpretation of Indian society and its institutions by the colonial scholars can be seen in the way they defined these institutions and in the methods they employed to study them. . . . The contribution [they] made [were] not entirely free from conscious or unconscious partiality in the portrayal of social reality (1986: 3).

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Similarly, the studies on the said issues by the sociologists hailing from dalit background have also been termed as too vindictive.

Lack of Recognition for Dalit Labour It is difficult to understand why Indian sociologists have failed to analyse and record the contributions made by dalits. Though suppressed and exploited, dalits have played a constructive role in the smooth running of Indian society, economy and polity. The contribution made by the dalit woman as a midwife in helping millions of women to deliver their children has never been evaluated, neither as a moral contribution to the humanity nor as a part of the indigenous knowledge system. Similarly, the mainstream sociologists have never registered the contribution of the gravedigger or Dom who helps light the funeral pyre, or that of dalit men who work as landless labourers in fields and in industries. Not only was their labour blacked out, but also the technology and aesthetics involved in their labour was not registered. For instance, is their any technique to skin the dead animal and then carve out smooth and shining leather to prepare a pair of shoes, or it happens without it? Lest it be misunderstood, I am not here trying to eulogise or patronise the stigmatised and hazardous occupations performed by the dalits. On the contrary, my attempt here is only to record the contributions of dalits in their different roles. The absence of recognition of the contributions made by dalits for the development of Indian society has a direct bearing on their stigmatisation: they are projected as dirty, drunkard, devoid of any merit, beasts of burden, not to be trusted, and so on.

Can Dalit Literature Rescue? When there is total absence of facts and figures regarding dalits in the sociological literature, how can we compensate the loss? Can we take the help of dalit literature? Dalit literature includes every style of writing by the dalits—the creative literature, the political and ideological writings, etc. From the couplet of Rai Das (or Ravi Das), fifteenth century saint-poet, and nineteenth century Adi-Hindu and AdiDravida leaders, foreign and English-educated Ambedkar to contemporary semi-literate and literate vernacular language dalit writers, dalits are expressing themselves in every style: poetry, prose, plays,

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autobiographies, novels, political and ideological writings, and even in the form of institutional research material. These writings are sociological in the sense that they have emerged out of existential and experiential realities of dalits. Moreover, it has its own historicity, continuity and dynamism and, therefore, it has been changing its nature and scope with the changes in the socio-political conditions in the country and of dalits. Specifically, the literary writings in the contemporary Dalit literature emerged in Maharashtra in the 1960s under the influence of Ambedkar’s social and political philosophy (Wankhade 1992: 315). So powerful has been the tradition of dalit literature that it has assumed the shape of an all-India movement. This movement is carried forward by small weekly, fortnightly, monthly, or annual journals, and magazines, and the newspapers published in different languages. Moreover, a rich oral tradition of this literature can be heard at different conferences and street meetings specially organised to mark the birth/death anniversaries of dalit social reformers and saint-poets. As dalit writings have emerged from the sufferings and exclusion faced by dalits in different regions of the country and demand liberation from the same, there is a sense of unity and purpose in them. A significant issue that has been raised by the dalit literature is regarding the social exclusion of dalits in the economic, political and social fields. It has also raised the issue of qualitative and quantitative impact of the deprivation and exclusion on dalits and the contribution made by dalits to the smooth running of Indian society, polity and economy. Thomas Khun (1970) has argued that revolution in scientific knowledge comes about not through the accumulation of data alone, but through a change in the paradigm when the framework of explanation is altered or a new set of questions is posed. In this context, we can locate dalit writers as changing the paradigm and raising new hypothesis about their existential and experiential realties in their writings. This has two implications for sociology in India. First, there has emerged a conflict between the perception of dalit writers and the mainstream Indian sociologists on a number of conceptual categories. The dalit writers have been rejecting the explanations given by the mainstream Indian sociologists about the permanent structures of Indian society such as caste, village, etc. (Ambedkar 1979 and 1989: 19–26). Second, the dalit literature is arguing that the western concepts which have been used by the mainstream Indian sociologists are not

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appropriate or adequate to analyse the collectivity ‘dalits’. For instance, the class concept has been used to study the poverty of the people in general, and dalits in particular. The concept of class is related to the economic status of individuals. But it is difficult to compare the social status of a poor Brahmin and a poor dalit. It can be easily argued that the poor of the upper castes and the so-called lower castes are not the same. The causes of poverty of dalits and of the upper castes are different, as are their relationship with other groups. For, a penurystricken Brahmin begs and blesses the donor. On the contrary, a cobbler who polishes shoes with his labour is treated with contempt, and usually people throw money at him. Likewise, the richest industrialist goes and bows at the feet of a Brahmin of Kashi or Haridwar. On the other hand, the Rajput or Kshtriya landowner will never plough his land, even though he is economically broke, or else he will loose his caste. Yes, now with the advent of tractors, things have become different, but how many Kshatriyas can afford to have tractors. Similarly, the concept of sanskritisation has also been rejected as a process of imitation of the caste Hindus. Dalits argue that there is nothing to imitate in the caste Hindus; after all, every body wants to lead a hygienic life, and leading a hygienic life cannot be anybody’s imitation. On the contrary, dalits have been asserting their identity and arguing, ‘they are proud to be dalits’. Therefore, today, the dalit literature can be used by sociologists to understand the dalit society and culture. Select readings from this growing body of literature could be introduced in sociology curriculum. However, mere introduction of the literature will not suffice; it must be ensured that these readings are taught by the teachers and that questions are also asked in examination. Students should also be encouraged to take up research on topics related to dalits. Researches from the locale where dalits live will contribute in the development of authentic literature about dalits. Last, but not the least, a separate branch of sociology—‘sociology of dalits’—should be introduced in different universities and institutions of higher learning.

The Human Distress Index for Dalits It can be safely argued that because of neglect by Indian sociologists of the above-discussed issues of dalits, they have failed to evolve a strategy to measure the social exclusion of dalits in Indian society. Therefore, it is

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pertinent to evolve a comprehensive concept which can measure the social exclusion of dalits. It is in this context we have tried to evolve a ‘Human Distress Index’ (HDI) which can include a number of structural and cultural elements of the lives of dalits. For instance, we can include the atrocities committed on dalits by the caste Hindus, because their effects are qualitatively different from the general types of atrocities suffered by others. There are many types and causes of atrocities on dalits. They include murder, rape of dalit women, arson, taunts, ridicule, forced labour, etc., and their basis can range from refusal of forced labour by dalits to the assertion of their legitimate rights by them. In fact, denial to work by dalits on the whims and fancies of caste Hindus is the root cause of most of the atrocities on dalits. This obliquely emphasises the contribution made by dalit labour in running the Indian economy. Similarly, in this context, one can also evaluate the atrocities committed on dalits in the form of rape of their women by the caste-Hindu men. Rape is a heinous crime against any women, but rape of dalit women is qualitatively different. It cannot be treated just a sexual violation of a woman. Since time immemorial, the caste atrocities on dalits by the caste Hindus are often directed via dalit women. In a normal struggle with the dalits, the castes located higher up in the hierarchy try to teach a lesson to the dalits by assaulting their women. Thereby, the whole community is terrorised. The process of assault on dalit women assumes the nature of caste atrocity because had it been just a rape the victims would have been left alone. But it has been reported in many cases that the upper-caste men deliberately desecrate the private parts of dalit women to settle their score with their male counterparts. Therefore, the point which I am trying to make here is that the atrocities on dalits have social structural basis of caste prejudice. We can also include in HDI the hazardous and unhygienic occupations performed by them on the basis of their severity. The cleaning of human excreta and carrying it on head is most hazardous and unhygienic of all occupations. The third aspect of HDI will be the practice of untouchability, which includes the interactional pattern of dalits with the caste Hindus. The fourth and the fifth items of HDI are economic and political exclusions. Hence, atrocities, hazardous and unhygienic occupation, practice of untouchability, and economic and political exclusions form the hierarchy of social exclusion to be included in HDI (see Appendix I). This hierarchy is constructed keeping the significance of self-respect and life as the basis of the life of dalits. That is why the rape of dalit women has been

SITUATING DALITS IN INDIAN SOCIOLOGY

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given the highest value. Along with these, we have to include the role played by religion in providing legitimacy to the social exclusion of dalits and the role of internal oppressor of dalits. With the help of HDI we can measure the social exclusion of dalits effectively.

Appendix I: Human Distress Index Nature of Exclusion A.

Value

Social Exclusion

1. Atrocities a)

Rape

10

b)

Murder

4

c)

Grievous hurt

2

d)

Arson/loot

2

e)

Ridicule

2

2. Practice of untouchability a)

Acceptance of food

2

b)

Acceptance of water

2

c)

Sitting beside/together

2

d)

Entry into house

2

e)

Entry into kitchen

3. Hazardous occupations a)

Cleaning human excreta

5

b)

Removing carcasses

3

c) Removing Corpuses/Digging of graveyard

2

d)

Midwifery role of dalit women

2

e)

Butchery/piggery

2

f)

Cleaning of soiled clothes

1

B.

Economic exclusion

5

C.

Political exclusion

5

D.

Religious legitimisation of exclusion

E.

Internal oppressor in the caste

10 5

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References Abbasayulu, Y.B. 1978. Scheduled caste elite. Hyderabad: Booklinks. Ambedkar, B.R. 1979. Annihilation of caste, in Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar writings and speeches (Vol. 1) (23–96). Bombay: Education Department, Government of Maharashtra. ———. 1989. Untouchables or the children of India’s ghetto, in Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar writings and speeches (Vol. 5) (1–27). Bombay: Education Department, Government of Maharashtra. Béteille, André. 1969. Caste: Old and new. Bombay: Asia Publishing House. Dumont, Louis. 1999. Homo hierarchicus: The caste system and its implications. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Ghurey, G.S. 1979. Caste and race in India. Bombay: Popular Prakashan. Guha, Ranjit. 1982. ‘On some aspects of the historiography of colonial India’, in Ranjit Guha (ed.): Subaltern studies—I: Writings on South Asian history and society (1–8). New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Gupta, S. K. 1985. The scheduled castes in modern Indian politics: Their emergence as a political power. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. Kakar, Sudhir. 1982. ‘Setting the stage: The traditional Hindu view and the psychology of Erik H. Erikson’, in Sudhir Kakar (ed.): Identity and adulthood (1–12). New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Khun, Thomas. 1970. The structure of scientific revolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Lynch, Owen M. 1974. The politics of untouchability. Delhi: National Publishing House. Madanipour, A. 1998. ‘Social exclusion and space’, in A. Madanipour, G. Cars, and J. Allen (eds.): Social exclusion in European cities. London: Jessica Kingsley. Malik, Suncila. 1979. Social integration of scheduled castes. New Delhi: Abhinav Publication. Mathur, K.S. 1991. ‘Hindu values of life: Karma and dharma’, in T.N. Madan (ed.): Religion in India (63–77). New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Murugkar, Lata. 1991. Dalit Panthers movement in Maharashtra: A sociological appraisal. Bombay: Popular Prakashan. Nehru, Jawaharlal. 1989. Jawaharlal Nehru: Letters to chief ministers (Vol. 5). New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Oommen, T. K. 1990. Protest and change: Studies in social movements. New Delhi: Sage Publications. ———. 2001. ‘Understanding the Indian society: The relevance of perspective from below’ (Occasional paper series—4). Pune: Department of Sociology, University of Pune. Singh, Yogendra. 1986. Indian sociology: Social conditioning and emerging concerns. New Delhi: Vistaar Publications. ———. 1994. Modernization of Indian tradition. New Delhi: Rawat Publications. Srinivas, M.N. 1985. Caste in modern India and other essays. Bombay: Media Promoters and Publishers. Vishwanathan, Gauri. 2001. Outside the fold: Conversion, modernity, and belief. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Wankhade, M.N. 1992. ‘Friends, the day of irresponsible writers is over’, in Arjun Dangle (ed.): Poisoned bread (translated from the modern Marathi dalit literature) (314–23). New Delhi: Orient Longman.

2 Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and the Nation: Situating G. S. Ghurye T.K. Oommen

G

ovind Sadashiv Ghurye (1893–1983) is arguably the most prolific Indian anthropo-sociologist1 and also probably the most written about scholar in this field. There are at least two known PhD theses on Ghurye’s work, one of which resulted in the publication of a book (Pramanick 2001) and the other leading to the publication of a few research papers (Venugopal 1986, 1993, 1996). Further, there are three well-known felicitation volumes published to honour Ghurye: a volume was brought out on his sixtieth birthday (Kapadia 1954), another volume was presented to him on his eightieth birthday (Pillai 1976), and a centennial festschrift was also published (Momin 1996) after his death. Ghurye’s scholarship is encyclopaedic straddling caste and race, family and kinship, religion and nation, civilisations and communities, Rajput architecture and human sexuality; indeed, he was an academic amphibian who was at ease in many worlds of scholarship. Most of his colleagues and contemporaries, students, and admirers have articulated their views and commentaries on Ghurye’s analysis of castes and tribes, two seminal themes which were his lifelong passion. However, I suggest that the Scheduled Castes were subjected to cognitive blackout and the Scheduled Tribes were victims of cognitive dissonance in Ghurye’s

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writings. And, none of his commentators had taken note of this, which provides the justification for the theme of my lecture. Further, in relentlessly advocating their assimilation/integration into the Indian ‘nation’, Ghurye held a notion of nation that is utterly West European. This contradicts the famous pronouncement of D.P. Mukerji (1954), that Ghurye was the only ‘Indian Sociologist’ of his time, while others were merely ‘sociologists of India’.

I Ghurye’s first book, published in 1932, titled Caste and Race in India2 is also his most celebrated book, which has been revised and updated several times. Its fifth edition was published in 1969 and re-printed in 1979, the edition to which I am referring to in this lecture. The book has one chapter titled ‘The Scheduled Castes’ that has exactly 30 pages (pp. 306–36) out of the total text of 476 pages. While Indian caste system is the most widely commented upon social phenomenon, the practice of untouchability to which Scheduled Castes were subjected to was and continues to be the most abominable in human history, shaming even slavery and racism partly because it was sanctioned and legitimised by a set of religious doctrines. The moment such a statement is made, efforts to dissociate caste system and by implication untouchability from Hinduism, invoking the distinction between Smritis and Shrutis, claiming that the latter opposed the caste system, are in vogue. It is also argued that in the event of a contradiction between the two, Shruti shall prevail over Smriti (see, for example, Nadkarni 2003). The point at issue here is not one of correctness of doctrines, whether they exist in Smriti or Shruti, but one of practices in the life-world. The lived reality in Indian society is that untouchability is practised even today, particularly in rural areas, and people who practise it and who are its victims believe that Hinduism and untouchability are inextricably intertwined. The term Scheduled Caste is an administrative coinage and terms such as Chandala, exterior caste, Harijan, Dalit, etc. have been in currency, each of which had a different origin.3 The Scheduled Castes form, ‘. . . the fifth order in the four-fold society of Hindu theory of caste’, according to Ghurye (1979: 307). He admits that ‘Ideas of purity, whether occupational or ceremonial, which are found to have been a

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factor in the genesis of caste, are at the very soul of the idea and practice of untouchability’ (ibid.: 307).4 And, ‘. . . the breed of the Chandala is a degraded one and is ranked with that of dog and the pig’ (ibid.: 309). The concern here is that the Hindu doctrine of creation refers only to four Varnas and, if so, how does one account for the Panchamas, those of the fifth order? According to ancient Hindu texts, the Chandalas are the progeny of the most hated of the reverse order of the mixed unions, that of the Brahmin female and a Shudra male (ibid.). But, according to Ghurye, ‘. . . the more plausible explanation would be that the Chandalas were a degraded group of aborigines’ (ibid.: 52). Be that as it may, there were other groups such as Svapachas and Mritapas like Chandalas ‘. . . who had to live outside the limits of Arya villages and towns’ (ibid: 312). A number of questions need to be asked and answered if one were to endorse this textual explanation of the origin of untouchables. One, how did the differentiation between the different types of untouchables—Chandalas, Mritapas, Svapachas, etc.—came about? Is it based on the differences in the status of their Shudra/aboriginal fathers? Two, is it that the Brahmin women had so much freedom those days to have illegitimate sexual relations with Shudra men? Three, if they did, was it that it was so well known to the community so as to sift out the progeny based on paternity assuming that the Brahmin female had their legitimate Brahmin husbands? Four, if the answer to the above question is in the affirmative, what was the mechanism through which the children of Brahmin females through legitimate and illegitimate unions were separated and grouped together so as to form different castes? Five, why was that the deviant Shudra males in question were not done away with given the then prevailing hegemony of Brahmins? Six, was it not the practice to ostracise the deviant Brahmin females from the family and community? Unfortunately, Ghurye did not pose any of these questions, let alone answering them. These and several other questions can be answered only if one gets a field-view of the phenomenon under investigation. There is no evidence of Ghurye having done fieldwork to understand the phenomenon of untouchability. This is not to argue that the text-view is irrelevant, the religious texts sanctioned and legitimised the practice of untouchability ensuring its persistence till this day. The texts prescribe norms and values, but only the field study unfolds human behaviour: the former prescribes ‘the

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ought’ and the latter unfolds ‘the is’. And the rupture between ‘the ought’ and ‘the is’ needs to be understood. That is why, the dictum give unto the text that which is the text’s and to the field that which is the field’s becomes crucial, as I have argued quarter of a century ago (Oommen 1983). Ghurye refers to Namashudras of West Bengal, an untouchable caste who counted 320,000 according to the 1951 Census. They have experienced occupational change and a considerable number of them now follow the various learned professions. Yet their social position as a caste continues to be very low (Ghurye 1979: 317). This indicates the bidimensional status system in Indian society: ritual and secular. Thus, an ‘untouchable’ may achieve high status in the secular status system, but would retain his low status in the ritual status system. The incongruence between these two status systems is of crucial importance to understand the limited possibility of upward social mobility the Scheduled Castes can achieve in the caste hierarchy. And, Ghurye’s silence in this context is, indeed, disappointing. Ghurye divided untouchables into two: ‘pure’ and ‘impure’. The untouchables become pure through abjuring ‘beef and such other anathematic diet’ (ibid.: 322). This is precisely what M.N. Srinivas christened as Sanskritisation (1956). However, Sanskritisation was scarcely functional for achieving higher ritual status for the untouchables (see Oommen 2008: 70–75). Further, Ghurye admitted ‘. . . that the legislative measures against untouchability can at best produce a few dents in the solid wall, whose demolition requires the operation of an active sentiment of the people at large’ (1979: 330), and he provides several examples of resistance against the changes attempted to eradicate untouchability. Ghurye concluded: ‘While these gruesome events reveal the persistence of the occasional but darkest feature of the situation of the Scheduled Castes, daily and routine life of the village registers fair amount of segregation and contemptuous treatment offered by the people at large’ (ibid.: 335). Given this conclusion, Ghurye’s advocacy of assimilation of untouchables into Hindu society seems to be a wild goose chase. Apart from the chapter titled the ‘Scheduled Castes’ in Caste and Race in India, there is an article titled ‘Untouchable Classes and their Assimilation in Hindu Society’ published in the journal The Aryan Path in 1933 (see Ghurye 1973: 316–23). The reproduction of this article in  the 1973 book probably points to Ghurye’s firm conviction that

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assimilation of untouchables into Hindu society is a feasible proposition. Ghurye wrote: According to the orthodox theory of Hindu social organization these classes form the fifth and the outcaste section. They are given the appellation of untouchables because they are believed to impart pollution to members of higher sections if they touch them. But in the orthodox theory on the subject this characteristic of imparting pollution by touch belongs really to the fourth section of Hindu society. The fifth section that is now called untouchable is supposed, both in theory and practice to pollute members of the other sections even if they stand at a certain distance. Thus, it will be realized that the so called untouchables are, in practice, really unapproachables. It is this unapproachability that creates the main difficulties in the path of their assimilation in the Hindu society (ibid.: 316–17).

It is clear that by ‘assimilation’ Ghurye meant transformation of the status of ‘unapproachables’ who belongs to the fifth order to the status of ‘untouchables’ drawn from the fourth Varna! Ghurye endorsed the ‘inherent connection between the spirit of castes and untouchability’ and admitted that ‘Removal of untouchability, therefore, intimately depends on the disappearance of the spirit of caste’ (ibid.: 317). To achieve this, Ghurye advocated four steps: one, removing individual’s disability that hampers a better and cleaner living; two, enabling these classes to cultivate cleaner and moral mode of life; three, to encourage those of other sections to have freer social intercourse with these people; and four, ‘undermine and eradicate the exclusive spirit of castes’ (ibid.: 319). To achieve this truly revolutionary task, Ghurye advocates an administrative approach by setting up a central organisation with its provincial and local committees to adjudicate disputes that arise between ritually pure and impure castes. Additionally, providing modern technology and adequate training to the untouchable classes is also an important step prescribed by him. Finally, ensuring employment to these classes, particularly in offices situated in towns and villages will facilitate the process of eradicating the practice of untouchability, according to him. In sum, Ghurye advocated change of status in the secular dimension of untouchables to assimilate them into the Hindu society. On the other hand, he wanted to leave undisturbed the ritual dimension.5 Thus, he suggested: We must try to see the various items in the campaign against untouchability in their proper perspective and not exaggerate the importance of temple entry

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T.K. Oommen so as to divert our attention from the other items. Free access to Hindu temples is only one of the rights and it is not the most important means for assimilation of these classes in the Hindu society (ibid.: 320).

Ghurye wanted ‘to prepare the minds of populace at large to look upon untouchability as both undesirable and impractical’ (ibid.: 321). And to achieve this objective it is necessary to start an extensive propaganda preaching against untouchability. But in the process ‘. . . we must not be drawn into a controversy over the existence or non-existence of the doctrine of untouchability in the Hindu Dharma Shashtras’ (ibid.). It is clear that Ghurye wanted to ‘assimilate’ the untouchables into Hindu society without disturbing the ritual status system seminal to it and without interrogating the Hindu Dharma Shashtras, which provide legitimacy to caste hierarchy. I have referred above to the bi-dimensional nature of the status system in Hindu society and there is enough evidence to show that, while the status of ex-untouchables has gone up in the secular context, it does not lead to concomitant change in their ritual status. This calls for the need to locate the core institutional order in a society and the kernel of that institution.6 The dominant view when Ghurye wrote this article in 1933 was that the caste system constituted the core institutional order of Hindu society and ritual status was the kernel of caste hierarchy. Therefore, the advocacy of assimilation of untouchables into Hindu society leaving the ritual dimension of the caste system intact was untenable. I propose to conclude the discussion on Scheduled Castes by calling attention to a possible strategy for social change. Given the bi-dimensional nature of status system in Hindu society and because ritual status is its kernel, two possible strategies can be invoked. One, start with the softspot in the system: the soft-spot in the case of Hindu society is constituted by the secular dimension consisting of education, employment, political representation, access to economic resources, and the like. In contrast, measures such as temple entry, inter-caste marriages, etc. are more change-resistant as they erode the ritual superiority of the higher castes. And, therefore, a strategy for social change to eliminate untouchability may start with the soft spots, namely, the secular dimension, but ultimately the sanctity of ritual dimension should be questioned (Oommen 1968). Alternatively, one may attack the Hindu Dharma Shashtras so as to de-legitimise the caste system and the practice of untouchability that it entails.7

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Ghurye, however, was not advocating either of these approaches and, therefore, it is difficult to comprehend the process of assimilation of untouchables into Hindu Society he had visualised. He even held: ‘Reserved representation is not necessary; it is harmful in so far as it tends to perpetuate the distinction based on birth (1979: 290). This observation is not simply curious but also amusing because the caste system is all about perpetuating distinctions based on birth. And, reservation is conceived as an instrument to unsettle it at least partially. His main concern was that the policy of reservation will tear asunder Indian society through inter-caste strife and it will unleash caste patriotism. It seems that Ghurye preferred the coercive equilibrium institutionalised through upper-caste hegemony rather than a consensual equilibrium that will gradually evolve based on social justice and equality. Inevitably, inter-caste conflict is a small price to be paid for the structural change of the caste system. Ghurye reposed great faith in the ‘noble’ constitution of India that promised equality to all including the ex-untouchables. However, he refused to recognise that, in order to put into practice this ontological equality, the state had to provide for equality of opportunity, as it is a shell without substance unless equality of conditions is created. The instrument of reservation or protective discrimination is nothing but an attempt to create this condition so that those who are placed in grossly iniquitous conditions are enabled to compete with the traditionally privileged. However, this is not to deny the possibility of inequality in outcomes when the policy of reservation is implemented. To cope with this problem it is necessary to take out the emerging creamy layer among  the traditionally underprivileged, so that the benefits can vertically flow to the less fortunate among them. However, Ghurye’s hope that ‘certain exigencies of modern life will force high caste Hindus to change their attitude and practice to some extent’ (1979: 295) has not come true. And he asserted that ‘. . . social and religious privileges and disabilities of caste are no longer recognised in law and only partly in custom. Only the depressed classes are labouring under certain customary and semi-legal disabilities’ (ibid.: 302). This sounds rather unrealistic viewed in the context of the latest available empirical evidence regarding the practice of untouchability (Shah et al 2006). I have suggested that Ghurye’s analysis of Scheduled Castes is characterised by cognitive black out and this for the following reasons.

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First, the limited space (barely 40 pages taking into account the chapter on Scheduled Castes (Ghurye 1979) and the article in The Aryan Path, together) devoted to the analysis of Scheduled Castes. Second, his considerable reliance on ancient Hindu texts and not having done any fieldwork among the untouchables to unfold their life-world. Third, the excessive optimism he reposed in the forces of modernisation to weaken the caste system and the practice of untouchability. Finally, his underestimating the strength of the ritual dimension and religious doctrines in perpetuating the practice of untouchability.

II The second category with which this lecture is concerned, namely, the Scheduled Tribes, was the subject matter of Ghurye’s second book, published in 1943, titled The Aborigines-so-Called and Their Future. The book was enlarged and published in 1959 with the title The Scheduled Tribes, and its third edition was published in 1963. Unlike caste, which is widely acknowledged as a unique Indian social category, tribe is a universal socio-cultural collectivity found in Africa, Australia, Asia, the Americas, and Europe. Two basic features distinguish tribes from castes: they have their definite territories (home lands) and languages. In contrast, several castes jointly share a common territory and a common language. In India, linguistic regions have specific castes. Both castes and tribes may share a common religion; the Scheduled Castes could be Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, or Christians. Similarly, the Scheduled Tribes may abandon their original primal vision, usually designated as animism/naturism, and embrace one of the ‘world religions’. Just as Ghurye wanted the Scheduled Castes to be assimilated in Hindu society, he wanted to integrate the Scheduled Tribes into the Indian society and polity. In this context, he differentiated the encysted tribes of Central India from the tribes of North-east India that belonged those days to Assam; the first category was to be integrated through Hinduisation, and the second to be politically incorporated through strong administrative measures of the Indian state. The Aboriginesso-Called deals with the encysted tribes, and the issues relating to the tribes of North-east are discussed in the book The Burning Caldron of North-East India, published in 1980.

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The Aborigines was written as a response to Vernier Elwin’s Loss of Nerve published earlier in 1941. Elwin advocated insulation of tribes from the Hindus surrounding them which eventually most anthropologists supported, although some had argued for gradual and mutual acculturation of the Hindus and the tribes, as Majumdar already did (1939). Elwin wanted to create National Parks for the tribes so that they are protected from the depredations of Hindus.8 Contrarily, Ghurye thought that the contact of tribes with Hindus will gradually enhance the former’s status and earn respectability for them. Ghurye provides the rationale which informs his position in the Preface to the second edition of the book, titled The Scheduled Tribes, published in 1959: Most of the contemporary nations are composite wholes formed of many ethnic stocks which had their own separate cultures before the nation-making epoch. . . . The process of assimilation of smaller groups of different cultures into larger ones or less homogenous cultures has been steadily going on. . . . This process of assimilation was upset with the appearance of the British on the scene. It is the problem of these peoples (that is, tribes) which is the subject of this essay (xiii–xiv).

Ghurye is, by and large, correct in the above observation in that most countries in the world followed this track. But there are two issues, that of size and the social milieu of the ‘nations’ that he ignored. Of the 220 member states of the United Nations, 54 per cent have a population of five million or less. In contrast, at the time Ghurye wrote the above lines, India’s population was around 500 million. More importantly, the cultural complexity of India’s population was much greater than any country in the world, including the USA. While Indians lived mainly in their original homelands, the US population was drawn from all over the world. Above all, some of the tribes—Bhils, Gonds, Santals— counted three to five million each. In social anthropology, peasant society is conceived as a part-society, part of a civilisation; tribes are autonomous and ‘Independent’ entities. Ignoring this, the Indian Constitution envisaged Scheduled Castes, which is part of the Hindu society, and Scheduled Tribes, who are independent of it, as belonging to one category under the rubric of ‘Backward Classes’. Unfortunately, Ghurye endorsed this in his eagerness to create a composite ‘nation’ (see 1959: x–xi). As a sociologist who respected empirical details, Ghurye should have recognised the difference between

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castes and tribes. The idea of core institutional order would have come handy in this context also. As noted above, the core of Hindu society is caste hierarchy, the kernel of which is ritual purity. This is not applicable to tribal society; a common ancestral homeland and a shared language are the specific features of tribal societies all over the world.9 Thus viewed, the conventional rural-urban dichotomy is inapplicable to India; rather a trichotomy of urban, rural, and tribal segments becomes pertinent (Oommen 1967). I suggest that the fatal flaw of Ghurye in this context should be located in his endorsing the view held by British Indian Census Commissioners (although he severely criticised them on many counts), who held that animism and Hinduism are not very different (see Xaxa 2008: 76–77). Although this perspective favoured Ghurye’s enthusiasm to integrate tribes into the Hindu-fold, given the colonisers’ proclivity to stigmatise everything Indian, it could also be seen as an attempt to demean Hindus and Hinduism. At any rate, the similarity between Hinduism and animism was usually located in the context of religious practices of lower-caste Hindus and tribal groups. Thus, this could be seen as a triple-barrel gun: (i) keep the lower castes where they are within Hinduism by clubbing them with tribes, (ii) attempt incorporation of groups such as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes into the Hindufold, and (iii) maintain the superiority of upper castes as upholders of sophisticated Hinduism, conceding the hegemony of Brahmins as norm-setters and value-givers. What I am suggesting is that, by deflecting attention from the core features of tribal society—territorial concentration and linguistic specificity—and latching on to religion as its core dimension, Ghurye’s analysis of the tribal question in Central India suffered from cognitive dissonance. For example, he noted that the Ranchi district had 80 per cent tribal population, but only 53 per cent spoke non-Aryan languages, and 280,000 were Christians (1963: 127). The assumptions are (a) tribes cannot have Aryan languages as their mother tongues, and (b) if they embrace Christianity, they cease to be tribes. Both these are incorrect. An important implication of invoking Hinduisation of tribes leading to the eclipse of their tribal identity needs to be noted here. If one applies the same process to other territorially anchored linguistic communities, the absurdity of the argument will become self-evident. Will Maharashtrian Hindus cease to be Maharashtrians if they embrace

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Buddhism? Will Malayali Hindus cease to be Malayalis if they convert to Christianity? Is it that Kashmiri Hindus ceased to be Kashmiris because they adopted Islam as their religion? These questions can be extrapolated and applied to tribes too. The Nagas of India are predominantly Christians, but they still remain Nagas irrespective of the religious faith they follow. Ignoring multiple identities shared by collectivities and privileging a single identity, Ghurye and most Indian sociologists and social anthropologists believed that Hinduisation of tribes would result in a total transformation of their identity from tribes to Hindus! This issue is now being raised by some scholars (see, for example, Xaxa 2008). The other cognitive dissonance found in Ghurye’s analysis of Scheduled Tribes relates to the antiquity of settlers in India. He asserted science and history do not countenance the practice of calling these tribes aborigines’ (1963: 13). But a few lines above he hypothesised: ‘If the Rigveda Aryans came later than others, they made up for the lost time by energizing the local people, creating a high culture and making India their permanent home’ (ibid.: 13). That is, Aryans came to India,10 that they did not come to an empty space, and that there were some pre-Aryan inhabitants in India were conceded by Ghurye. But the belief that Aryans created a high culture cannot erase the facts that the Aryans were immigrants who intruded into India and the Dasas and the tribes were the original inhabitants of India. Ghurye argued: ‘To adjust the claims of the different strata of Indian society on the ground of the antiquity or comparative modernity of their settlement in India is a frightfully difficult task which if undertaken, will only let loose the forces of disunity’ (ibid.: 13). This is not a tenable academic or scientific position, but rather an explicitly political or activist one. I am not suggesting that an academic should not take a political or an activist position, but arguing that the activism of an academic should be buttressed by scientific analysis. The role of an analyst is indeed to undertake frightfully difficult tasks and, based on that analysis anchored to history and reason, persuade all concerned to recognise the merit of his/her argument and strive for unity among and welfare of people which is a political task. Instead, Ghurye took the shortcut and left the task unattended because it was ‘frightful’. Although this can bring temporary and superficial truce, as and when the wounded history unfolds itself, the emerging middle class from among the victimised collectivties will rise in protest. This is precisely what is happening in the tribal world of Central India through the agency of Naxalbari movement.

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And Ghurye did recognise the fact that ‘In all these areas the respective tribes were no doubt the earlier settlers reclaiming the land from the jungles. . . . There can be no room for doubt that a number of the so-called aboriginal tribes had lost their land to the Hindus’ (1963: 24, 25). And yet, he advocated Hinduisation of these tribes that could have only transformed them into pauperised Hindus, and it is precisely what happened.11 Why is it that most Indian sociologists, including Ghurye, did not apprehend the tribal issue in its proper perspective? I suggest that this is so because they did not take cognisance of the distinction between different varieties of colonialism. In his attempt to understand the dominant relationship of England vis-a-vis Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, Michael Hetcher (1975) characterises the latter three as ‘Internal colonies’ within United Kingdom. Homelands of tribes too could be conceptualised as internal colonies within India.12 Instead, the prevailing mood was (and this persists obstinately to this day) to conceptualise tribes, particularly of Central India, as ‘Backward Hindus’ who should be absorbed into Hindu society. There is yet another, and perhaps more relevant, distinction in the context of external colonialism; replicative and retreatist, which I have made in another context (see Oommen 1991). In social-science writings retreatist colonialism is widely recognised. Thus, European colonisers retreated from Asia and Africa after having ruled for a couple of centuries or so. But in the case of the New World—Americas and Australia—the Europeans settled down and replicated their societies and marginalised the natives (aborigines) through genocide and culturocide.13 When the Aryans arrived in India, the Dravidians and aborigines were the occupants of the then Indian territory. The Dravidians were forced to go to South India and they carved out a separate space, but the aborigines receded to the hilly tracts, and through their ‘superior cultures’, to which Ghurye alluded, Aryans have subjected the tribes to culturocide. Since the phenomenon occurred in the hoary past and as the notion of colonialism was absent in human cognition those days, nobody referred to the Aryan advent as colonialism. However, viewed in the context of what had happened in the Americas and Australia, one can legitimately refer to what the Aryans did as replicative colonialism. Thus, the Indian tribes were subjected to replicative colonialism in Ancient India and to retreatist colonialism by the British, along with other Indians in modern India. After the British retreated, tribal settlements became internal colonies in independent India, a repetition of what happened in several

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parts of the world. Such a perspective will help us understood the structure of deprivations of Indian tribes. Ghurye wanted the tribes of Central India to be culturally assimilated through Hinduisation. In contrast, the tribes of North-east India had to be politically integrated. The British policy of scheduling tribal communities and areas introduced through the Government of India Act, 1935, was an obstacle to achieve the task of integration. According to Ghurye, the purpose of the Act was to prevent the emergence of independent India as a unified ‘sovereign state’ and as a ‘well-knit nation in the making’ (1973: 110). A year later he wrote: ‘The North-east India (Bharat) appears to be on the peak of a volcano which may erupt at anytime and break the integrity of the country as we find it in the Constitution of India 1950 and its subsequent amendments’ (1974: 160). Fortunately, this pessimistic prognosis did not stand the test of time. Ghurye did not advocate Hinduisation of North-east tribes probably because of the substantial presence of Christianity among the Nagas, Mizos, and Khasis, and also because some of the tribes or their sections were already Hinduised or had become Buddhists. But he was opposed to the tribes being referred to as adivasis, be they of North-east, who became part of India only 100 years ago, or those of Central India, who were part of India for thousands of years. To Ghurye, ‘The usage of this word (Adivasi) has done incalculable harm and doing so, to the cause of bringing about some kind of harmony among the many races and peoples, some of whom have been inhabiting this country for more than four thousand years’ (Ghurye 1980: 29). Admittedly, Ghurye’s principal anxiety was political unity of India as he visualised rather than to facts of history. If one cannot ignore the claims of those inhabiting the country for 4,000 years, is it not reasonable to respect the claims of those who inhabited the country for 20,000 years? The point at issue here is not longevity of habitation but equity and justice, both of which were/are denied to the adivasis in India.

III To understand Ghurye’s advocacy of assimilation of Scheduled Castes into Hindu society, Hinduisation of the Scheduled Tribes of Central India, and political integration of the Scheduled Tribes of North-east India, one has to comprehend the notion of nation implicit in his

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writings. Ghurye had not only conflated state and nation, but also society and nation-state that was/is widespread in social science.14 Ghurye fits neatly into Zygmunt Bauman’s conceptualisation: The term society as used by well-high all sociologists regardless of their school loyalties is for all practical purposes, a name for an entity identical in size and composition with the nation-state. [Further] with hardly any exception all the concepts and analytical tools currently employed by social scientists are geared to a view of the human world in which the most voluminous totality is a society, a notion equivalent for all practical purposes to the concept of the nation-state (Bauman 1973: 43, 78).

The idea of nation-state, as it was conceived and translated into practice in West Europe after the Treaty of Westphalia concluded in 1648, wanted to create culturally homogeneous societies; for each nation its own state was the dictum. Homogenisation of the nationstate witnessed enormous violence (see Oommen 1997: 135–59), and yet the project did not achieve its target. And, as Charles Tilly observed, “Only a tiny proportion of the world’s distinctive religious, linguistic and cultural groupings have formed their own states, while precious few of the world’s existing states have approximated the homogeneity and commitment conjured up by the label “nation-state” (1994: 137). Therefore, to treat state, nation, and society as one entity was and continues to be an untenable proposition, particularly in the case of India which encapsulate one-sixth of humanity and has incredible cultural diversity. The Indian Constitution, to which Ghurye referred to frequently and with ample admiration, did not visualise the creation of a homogenous society. Its first sentence reads: ‘India is a union of states.’ The constitution did not privilege Hinduism as the national or official religion, in spite of the fact that 82 per cent of Indians are Hindus, according to the Census of India. Several languages are recognised (now the number is 22) as official languages, a provision unheard of anywhere in the world. The motto of the Constitution is ‘unity in diversity’, and the advocacy of assimilation and integration championed by Ghurye is patently antithetical to India’s Constitution. Ghurye (1968) is absolutely right in holding that society is not a mere aggregation of individuals, but an organic unity built through interpersonal and individual group relations. Thus viewed, India encapsulates several ‘societies’ within it and its organic unity can be established only through non-primordial, that is, civil ties.15

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There are four broad visions which are in currency, but not clearly articulated, about Indian Republic which may be designated as cultural monism, cultural pluralism, cultural federalism and cultural subalternism (see Oommen 2004b). According to cultural monists, the critical marker of Indian society is religion. Religious nationalism is central in this vision of India. As a part of Hindu consolidation, the traditionally underprivileged cultural subalternists—Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes—are being incorporated into the Hindu mainstream. But to the critical thinkers among cultural subalternists, the values embedded in caste hierarchy, which legitimised and even sanctified by the Hindu scriptures, is the major obstacle to the socio-cultural consolidation of India (see, for example, Ilaiah 1996). While cultural monism is flaunted by the traditionally privileged caste Hindus as the hope of India, cultural pluralists advocate secularism, that is, the dignified co-existence of all groups and communities to be controlled by a strong Centre as the panacea by modernists. While cultural federalists too attest secularism, they insist on political decentralisation given India’s vast size and mind-boggling cultural diversity. The cultural subalternists, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, believe that, in spite of the constitutional promises of equality, justice, and fraternity, the specificity of their needs, aspirations, and contributions are ignored. The value orientations implied in Ghurye’s advocacy of assimilation of Scheduled Castes into Hindu society, Hinduisation of Scheduled Tribes of Central India, and the political integration of Scheduled Tribes of North-east India for the consolidation of the ‘Indian Nation’ is clearly that of cultural monism. It falls in line with the European model of nation-state that coerced the weaker and smaller collectivities to abandon their identity to avail of equality, a model utterly unsuited for India.

Notes This constitutes the text of the second G.S. Ghurye Memorial Lecture delivered at the University of Mumbai on 23 December 2010. 1. Ghurye authored thirty-one books and over forty research papers. Except his first book Caste and Race in India published by Routledge in 1932 and the second book Aborigines-so-Called published by the Gokhale Institute of Economics and Politics, Pune in 1943, all his books were published by Popular Prakashan, Mumbai. Subsequent editions of the above two books were also published by Popular Prakashan.

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2. Caste and Race in India had several incarnations, namely, Caste and Class in India as well as Caste, Class and Occupation. However, the reasons for the changes in its titles are not important for the present analysis. 3. The term Chandala was of Hindu textual origin, exterior caste had been introduced by the British officials, and the term Harijan was coined by Narsinh Mehta and propagated by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. However, the term dalit was coined by activists of Scheduled Caste background and has gained wide acceptance. 4. It was unlikely that a Sanskritist like Ghurye, who drew constantly and substantially on Indology, would have been unaware of the distinction between Smritis and Shrutis and their differing positions on caste and untouchability. Therefore, Nadkarni’s contention seems to be problematic. 5. Ghurye seems to be assuming that hygienic purity can mitigate the deficits of ritual purity. But the fact that Dr Baba Sahib Ambedkar could not hire tonga in Baroda and Babu Jagjivan Ram was not allowed to enter the Puri temple contradict that assumption. 6. The idea of core institutional order of a society was initially suggested by Lockwood (1964). The core institutional order should not be mistaken for any kind of determinism, because it varies from society to society and in the same society over a period of time. But transformation from one type to another type of society can occur only if the core institutional orders changes. 7. This is precisely what Dr Baba Sahib Ambedkar did (see Ambedkar 1979). 8. I am not aware if Elwin was inspired by the ‘reservations’ that were established in the United States of America. The American aborigines counted three million, that is, around one per cent of the national population in early 20th century, half of whom were located in 260 reservations and the remaining being spatially dispersed. The Indian situation is quite different; with 8 per cent of the national population, they counted 40 million and lived mainly in their ancestral homelands. Elwin shifted his position and took a more moderate one later (see Elvin 1943). It is important to note here that: ‘Reservations and reserves perpetuated racial segregation, administrative paternalism and lower-class status for Indian people’ (Jarvenpa 1985: 29). For a comparison of the Indian and US situation, see Oommen (1989). 9. The implications of this position are substantial as it conceives tribes as ‘nations’. But it disavows the ill-conceived West European idea that each nation should have its own sovereign state. It is a fact that most nations in South Asia have renounced sovereign states and settled for provincial states within a sovereign state (see Oommen 2004a). It is interesting to recall here that King Mutesa II of Baganda wondered: I have never been able to pin down precisely the difference between a tribe and a nation and see why one is thought so despicable and the other is so admired . . . the Baganda have a common language, tradition, history and cast of mind. . . . We were accepted as the most civilised and powerful of the kingdoms (1967: 78–79). But he laments that colonialism changed all these! 10. The argument that India was the original homeland of the Aryans, but they migrated to Europe and a section of them returned to India has been in currency for some years. In a seminar held in the 4th week of November 2010 in New Delhi several historians and archaeologists argued that there is no evidence to prove the Aryan invasion of India. These arguments need not detain us here, because Ghurye had endorsed the Aryan immigration into India. He wrote: ‘It may be taken to be

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11.

12.

13.

14.

15.

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historical fact that people calling themselves ‘Aryan’ poured into India through the North-West, somewhere about 2000 BC’ (1979: 117). Incidentally, this seems to be true of all ‘world religions’. There is a widely circulated remark attributed to an African tribal chieftain. On being asked to comment on the basic difference between the pre-colonial and colonial times, he remarked: ‘When colonisation started they had the Bible and we had the land, but now we have the Bible and they have the land!’ Several tribes are vivisected and apportioned between bigger and stronger ‘nations’ of India. Thus, the Bhils are apportioned between Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan; and the Santals, between Bihar, West Bengal, and Orissa. These and several other tribes, if kept together, can be formed into viable provincial states on the same basis as other states (see Oommen 2005). I have introduced the notion of culturocide to refer to the destruction and/or stigmatisation of the cultures of weaker and smaller collectivities by the state and/or the dominant collectivities (see Oommen 1986). Ghurye writes: ‘The constitution of India in its very preamble refers the country as the nation’ (1974: 1). The first two chapters of the book Whither India have the same title: ‘The Nation Implements its Constitution’ (ibid.: 1–122). It is obvious that Ghurye is conflating state and nation, an inadmissible proposition in social science scholarship. Since I have discussed the issue at length elsewhere, I will not repeat them here. Interested readers may consult Oommen (1997), particularly Ch. 3. Several commentators refer to Ghurye as a nationalist, and a Hindu nationalist at that (see, for example, Upadhya 2002). But, above all, he is a rigid statist, and his value orientation does not even accommodate the flexibilities evident in the Indian Constitution, a document he often praised in his writings.

References Ambedkar, B.R. 1979. Castes in India: Their mechanisms, genesis and development. Bombay: Department of Education, Government of Maharashtra. Bauman, Zygmunt. 1973. Culture as praxis. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Elwin, Verrier. 1941. The Loss of nerve. Bombay: Wagle Press. ———. 1943. The aboriginals (Oxford Pamphlets on Indian Affairs [No. 140]. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Ghurye, G.S. 1932/1979. Caste and race in India. Bombay: Popular Prakashan. ———. 1943/1963. The scheduled tribes. Bombay: Popular Prakashan. ———. 1968. Social tensions in India. Bombay: Popular Prakashan. ———. 1973. I and other explorations. Bombay: Popular Prakashan. ———. 1974. Whither India. Bombay: Popular Prakashan. ———. 1980. The burning caldron of North-East India. Bombay: Popular Prakashan. Hetcher, Michael. 1975. Internal colonialism: The Celtic fringe in British national development, 1536–1966. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Ilaiah, K. 1996. Why I am not a Hindu. Calcutta: Saumya. Jarvenpa, Robert. 1985. ‘The political economy and political ethnicity of American Indian adaptations and identities’, in Richard D. Alba (ed.): Ethnicity and race in the USA: Toward the twenty-first century (29–48). London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

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Kapadia, K.M. (ed.). 1954. Professor Ghurye felicitation volume. Bombay: Popular Prakashan. Lockwood, David. 1964. ‘Social integration and system integration’, in G.K. Zollshan and W. Hirsch (eds.): Explorations in social change (244–57). London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Majumdar, D.N. 1939. ‘Tribal culture and acculturation’, Man in India, 19: 99–172. Momin, A.R. (ed.). 1996. The legacy of G.S. Ghurye: A centennial festschrift. Bombay: Popular Prakashan. Mukerji, D.P. 1954. ‘Social research’, in K.M. Kapadia (ed.): Professor Ghurye felicitation volume (234–37). Bombay: Popular Prakashan. Mutesa II, Kabaka, Edward Sir. 1967. The desecration of my kingdom. London: Constable. Nadkarni, M.V. 2003. ‘Is caste system intrinsic to Hinduism? Demolishing a myth’, Economic and political weekly, 38 (45): 4783–93. Oommen, T.K. 1967. ‘The rural-urban continuum re-examined in the Indian context’, Sociologia Ruralis, 7 (1): 30–48. [Reproduced in T.K. Oommen: Alien concepts and South Asian reality: Responses and reformulations. New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1995, pp. 21–37.] ———. 1968. ‘Strategy for social change: A study of untouchability’, Economic and political weekly, 3 (25): 933–36. ———. 1983. ‘Sociology in India: A plea for contextualisation’, Sociological bulletin, 32 (2): 111–36. [Reproduced in T.K. Oommen: Knowledge and society. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2007: pp. 21–44.] ———. 1986. ‘Insiders and outsiders in India: Primordial collectivism and cultural pluralism in nation-building’, International sociology, 1 (1): 53–74. [Reproduced in T.K. Oommen: State and society in India. New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1990, pp. 43–66.] ———. 1989. ‘Ethnicity, immigration and cultural pluralism: India and the United States of America’, in Melvin L. Kohn (ed.): Cross-national research in sociology (279–305). New York: Sage Publications. ———. 1991. ‘Internationalisation of sociology: A view from developing countries’, Current sociology, 39 (1): 67–84. [Reproduced in T.K. Oommen: Knowledge and society. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2007: pp. 111–127.] ———. 1997. Citizenship, nationality and ethnicity. Cambridge: Polity Press. ———. 2004a. ‘New nationalism and collective rights: The case of South Asia’, in Stephen May, Tariq Modood and Judith Squires (eds.): Ethnicity, nationalism and minority rights (121–43). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ———. 2004b. ‘Futures India: Society, nation-state, civilisation’, Futures, 35 (61): 745–55. ———. 2005. ‘Re-organisation of Indian states: The incomplete agenda’, in T.K. Oommen: Crisis and contention in Indian society (142–52). New Delhi: Sage Publications. ———. 2008. ‘Disjunctions between field, method and concept: An appraisal of M.N. Srinivas’, Sociological bulletin, 57 (1): 60–81. Pillai, S.D. (ed.). 1976. Aspects of changing India: Studies in honour of Prof. G.S. Ghurye. Bombay: Popular Prakashan. Pramanick, S.K. 2001. Sociology of G.S. Ghurye. Jaipur and New Delhi: Rawat Publications. Shah, G.; S. Mander, S. Thorat, S. Deshpande and A. Baviskar. 2006. Untouchability in rural India. New Delhi: Sage Publications.

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Srinivas, M.N. 1956. ‘A note on sanskritisation and westernisation’, Far Eastern quarterly, 15 (4): 481–96. Tilly, Charles. 1994. ‘State and nationalism in Europe, 1492–1992’, Theory and society, 23 (1): 131–46. Upadhya, Carol. 2002. ‘The Hindu nationalist sociology of G.S. Ghurye’, Sociological bulletin, 51 (1): 28–57. Venugopal, C.N. 1986. ‘G.S. Ghurye’s ideology of normative Hinduism’, Contributions to Indian sociology, 20 (2): 305–14. ———. 1993 ‘G.S. Ghurye on culture and nation-building’, Sociological bulletin, 42 (1&2): 1–13. ———. 1996. ‘G.S. Ghurye’s sociology of religion: An inquiry into selected aspects’, in A.R. Momin (ed.): The legacy of G.S. Ghurye: A centennial festschrift (47–60). Bombay: Popular Prakashan. Xaxa, Virginius. 2008. State, society and tribes: Issues in post-colonial India. New Delhi: Pearson Education.

PART II Caste, Untouchability and Exclusion

3 Untouchability as a Social Problem: Theory and Research R.D. Lambert

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he purpose of this paper is to consider in terms of general sociological theory some of the features of untouchability as a social problem and from these considerations to indicate some directions for research by sociologists which might both advance general social science knowledge and assist the administrator concerned with finding solutions to the problem. It is not an assessment of current programmes nor is an essay in praise or blame of one or another group— these tasks are highly inappropriate for an outsider. First a definition: Social problems are sets of social practices and conditions characteristic of a major segment of a society which contravene the official norms and  which the legitimized spokesmen or the society feel must be eradicated.

Social Practices and Conditions When talking about the problem of untouchability, one is really discussing several different classes of social practices and conditions. In the first place there are the actual practices among the majority group which operationally define untouchability: prohibition of social intercourse; denial of access to wells, temples, schools; residential segregation and

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stigmatization in general. It is these formalized disabilities which the Constitution prohibits and which encompass “the practice of untouchability”. Second, there are the behaviour traits and attributes of the stigmatized groups themselves which, in terms of prevalent social mores, justify the assignment to these groups of fewer of the rewards of society such as prestige, wealth and power. Every stratification system sets high values upon conformity to certain forms of behaviour and assigns low position to those who deviate most. “Backwardness” is a general term for this and in India is exemplified by the earlier term “backward tribes and castes”. The opposite of being backward is being “advanced” and in specific form it usually includes cleanliness (both physical and symbolic), literacy, sharing and contributing to the mainstream of cultural accomplish merit, and exercising political or economic power. It is difficult for a society to alter its fundamental value system, although current amelioration programs attempt to do this in regard to ritual impurity, interestingly enough by labelling religious discrimination as “backward.” Ordinarily the value system which lies behind the stratification hierarchy remains relatively intact and those who attempt to “uplift” (i.e., raise in the stratification system) the problem groups do several things simultaneously. They attempt to prove that the negative stereotypes are not true, or perhaps that all stereotyping is bad and individuals should be treated as individuals. They attempt to show that those negatively valued traits which are in fact held by the problem groups are the consequence of poverty and exclusion from the major society. They attempt to provide the problem groups with some of the attributes ordinarily associated with high prestige segments in the society: education, land ownership, political power and governmental posts. The research interests of the sociologists are fairly clear. He should be interested first in the general categorical value system which defines the relative prestige of groups—not just how the groups rank in a prestige scale, but what are the positively valued attributes which those low in the hierarchy lack or are thought to lack and what are the negatively valued attributes which they are thought to possess. In framing research hypotheses in this area, the analyst must break omnibus terms into their operational components. For instance, it is clear that while poverty is in general negatively valued, it is not so for ascetics and in fact great wealth is often viewed with suspicion and disapprobation. Moreover, the removal of poverty alone without a change in other behaviour traits common

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among groups currently in the poverty class tends to bring social disapproval. While it is true that those high in the stratification system are not usually poverty stricken, the converse is not necessarily true that except for poverty those low in the status system would be treated as equals. One wonders how Cinderella fitted into the castle once she got there. In popular philosophy the relationship between poverty and social status is far too simple. In addition to poverty, the other attributes must be operationally defined before they can be subject to research. The sociologist might also concern himself with the discovery of strategic variables which will most rapidly raise the status of the lower groups. Should the whole depressed community be raised by small gradual steps or is it more efficient to select a few individuals from the lowest groups and place them in the highest positions in the society both to combat stereotypes of innate inferiority and to provide internal leadership for the groups? Finally, the sociologist might analyse the forms of behaviour among the individuals in the larger society which mark their relations with status inferiors. He should be particularly interested in the system of sanctions which is used to penalize attempts of the low status groups to climb up the hierarchy and to reward those who remain quietly in their low position. Here again strategic points for change should be noted.

Major Segment of Society Different social problems involve different sections of a society, these sections varying in size, functional position and homogeneity. Most of the social problems we encounter in western societies affect relatively small segments of the population which are functionally unimportant or actively dysfunctional and which are composed of individuals otherwise disparate in their social characteristics. Divorce, crime, juvenile delinquency, alcoholism, mental illness and even poverty fit this characterization. They affect “major segments” only because the deviations from the norms of society are so sharp and attract such strong moral sanctions that society must somehow attend to them. In the case of untouchability, the problem is very different. The problem group is not numerically small, nor is it functionally unimportant or dysfunctional. When viewed in terms other than the extremes of untouchability, the cut-off point

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becomes blurred and the problem group encompasses the whole lower end of the stratification system. A good illustration of this is found in the report of the Backward Classes Commission where the general procedure was to accept the previous list of Scheduled Castes and Tribes which purported to include those who suffered from untouchability per se and add to it a list of “other backward classes” defined according to various social characteristics indicating a disproportionately low share in the distribution of social and economic rewards. This group was officially estimated at about 32 per cent of the total population. To see the broad net cast by the Commission, consider the following definition of other backward classes. “those who do not command a large amount of influence; those who do not command a large amount of natural resources, such as lands, mines, forests, money or industrial undertakings; those who live in unsanitary surroundings and in ill-ventilated houses; those who are nomadic; those who live by begging and other unwholesome means; those who are agricultural labourers or those who practise unremunerative occupations without any means to enter better paying professions; and those who on account of poverty, ignorance or other social disabilities are unable to educate themselves or produce sufficient leadership, are all backward. The communities, classes or social groups who occupy an inferior social position in relation to the upper castes and who answer the above description or at least major sections of such communities or classes as answer the above description, naturally come under the category of Other Backward Classes.” (Vol. I, p. 46).

To an American this approach is reminiscent of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s oft-quoted remark that one-third of the nation (U.S.A.) was ill-housed, ill-clothed and ill-fed. Under such a conception the social problem becomes the general one of levelling the society by treating inequalities as inequities, and by raising the standard of living of the entire society. In the face of such a task sociologists feel exhilarated but lost, and usually abandon the field to the more sure-footed economists. It does seem, however, that particularly in India the sociologist has several important contributions to make. He should first distinguish the sub-groups herded together under the single umbrella category of backwardness. That they are not otherwise homogeneous is apparent at a glance. Particularly must he combat the notion that the backward classes are composed of groups without internal structure, without their own norms of behaviour and patterns of life. The entry of new patterns must displace or alter the old, and particularly at the lower levels, the old

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patterns tend to be quite resistant to change. He should emerge with a typology of groups defined on structural criteria relevant to their upward mobility and not on economic or ethnographic criteria alone. A special part of these studies should involve the examination of the functional relationships which exist between these sub-groups and the elements of the major society which surround them. It is apparent that these lower elements perform important economic and social functions and are bound in complex webs of interrelationship such as the jajmani or balutedar systems and in the organization of agriculture to maximize the usefulness of landless agricultural labour. Satisfactory alternative solutions must be found for the functional needs which these groups at present fulfill.

Official Norms The term norm signifies a prescribed pattern of behaviour and the phrase “official norms” is used to indicate the rigidly prescribed definitions of ideal behaviour etched in black and white as contrasted with the broad band of norms, more gray, which guide the day-to-day behaviour of most members of a society. It also serves to distinguish between norms within a group, such as criminals, which may be at sharp variance with those of the larger society. As has been noted above, most social problems the sociologist has to deal with are clear violations of official norms. All norms, however, vary in at least the following characteristics; specificity, universality, rigidity and the strength of the attached sanctions. In the case of untouchability we have one highly diffuse and generalized norm (equalitarianism) opposed to a complex set of specific norms defining not only the forms of avoidance but a host of other rigidly defined norms covering a wide variety of inter-personal relations and roles. The rules of behaviour prescribed for these low in the social hierarchy not only symbolize their inferior position but also impel these groups to perform some of the necessary but stigmatized social and economic roles with little or no compensation in prestige or pay. These norms may be negative such as prohibition of temple entry or use of the main village well, or positive indicating that such and such a group will perform the function of scavenging, sweeping, leather work, etc. It should not be assumed that these norms are held only by the higher caste groups; many of them are internalized by the communities to which they apply and need no

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outside pressure to enforce them. The displacement of a complex of specific norms by a highly diffuse norm requires that the latter be translated in turn into a set of specific norms and the battle for displacement usually is at the level of a struggle over each of the specific norms. In the case of untouchability, there is even some doubt as to whether the general equalitarian norm is widely subscribed to and there are relatively few specific norms which positively define equalitarian behaviour. The greatest hope appears to be that the discriminatory norms will become not displaced but irrelevant. This is what is usually meant by the observation that untouchability is a village problem. In the urban areas many of the old norms and functional relationships which marked untouchability have lost their meaning. It is also likely that the general equalitarian norm has wider acceptance in the urban than the rural area. In research, the sociologist might well concentrate upon defining the specific norms and functional relationships which apply at the lower levels of the stratification system. Clusters of norms should be sought both by seeing which norms tend to be found together in a wide variety of circumstances and by seeing which norms tend to change when other specific norms are changed. He should be alert to the development of new norms in the urban areas which reinforce or oppose obsolete village norms. He should seek to transform the generalized equalitarian norm into more specific, positive norms and in controlled situations attempt to discover the most effective means of substituting one set of norms for another. He should be concerned with systems of sanctions which are used to enforce the norms currently in existence and possible sets of sanctions which can be applied to newer sets of norms. Finally, and more generally, he should attempt to make a mapping of each norm, its variations, the number of people to which it applies, functional role it performs, and the extent to which it can be displaced.

Legitimized Spokesmen The term “legitimized spokesmen of the society” refers to the arbiters of official norms whom society recognizes for one reason or another as competent to speak for it in defining norms. In a highly formalized society, the legitimatised spokesmen will be individuals filling institutional positions such as government officials, clergymen or religious leaders. In less formalized societies they will be what are called “influentials” who

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possess highly valued attributes such as age, wealth, education, spiritual attainment and family position. The extent to which all members of the society agree upon the legitimized spokesmen is one index of the integration of that society. The problem with respect to untouchability in India is immediately apparent. In the first place, few spokesmen can effectively speak for a very large segment of society, hence the introduction of planned change becomes exceedingly difficult. Not only are the institutionalized spokesmen few, but different sets of spokesmen are influential in determining norms for small groups only or for highly specialized forms of behaviour. The one highly centralized social institution with a universally recognized process for legitimatizing leaders is the government and hence it is the one most frequently called upon to introduce social changes in everything from economic patterns to calendar reform to removal of untouchability. Its centralization, however, makes it far removed from the local situations in which untouchability operates. Moreover, the proper sphere of governmental influence as conceived in the villages does not include the regulation of social behaviour. Government efforts are bound to be greatly attenuated by the time they reach the village level where they must somehow reach and convince the appropriate influentials who are by no means clearly defined. This is not to say that governmental efforts are of no avail. Government exercises the very considerable sanctioning power of the courts and the police, and discriminatory economic legislation. They currently have high prestige and exhortations from such a prestigious source must at least reinforce those in local situations who favour the removal of untouchability. And finally, they have at their command a series of rewards which they can distribute in a discriminatory manner to indirectly affect the socioeconomic status of the lower groups. Primary among these is scholarships, but the list also includes the extension of credit facilities, and a disproportionate share of economic development funds. So effective are these rewards that a number of Brahmins in my sample of Poona labour, when asked what castes they thought had the best chances for advancement in life mentioned Harijans above all others and specified nonBrahmin as a general preferred category. The sociologist’s task, then, is the identification of these legitimized spokesmen who are influential in the value system lying behind stratification and describing and classifying the ways in which their influence operates in maintaining and changing norms. This involves more than a general study of village leadership. It calls for focused studies of those

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leaders whose influence is important in this particular social problem and the most effective means of reaching them. As a corollary, the sociologist should seek ways of detecting and strengthening the position of those already committed to the equalitarian ethic as this may be easier than converting those with a vested interest in the present stratification norms. In summary, then, the sociologist needs to undertake studies pinpointing the social characteristics and conditions of various subgroups lying at the bottom of the stratification system, clarify the relationships between the segments of society, study the behavioral norms which underwrite the untouchability system, and discover the legitimized spokesmen relevant to the alteration of these norms. These are no easy tasks.

Note *Read at the Fifth Annual symposium of the Society held on 23rd March 1957.

4 Untouchability—A Myth or a Reality: A Study of Interaction between Scheduled Castes and Brahmins in a Western U.P. Village S.S. Sharma

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n attempt is made in this paper to identify the pattern of interaction between the upper caste and the ‘untouchables’ or the scheduled castes. The specific questions are:- What is the pattern of interaction between the Brahmins and the Harijans as perceived by each of the communities? What is the extent of initiation for mutual interaction in both the castes? Which of the social situations in public and private arc preferred for acceptance by each caste? What are the social factors which account for untouchability as perceived by each caste? A number of sociologists have indicated, directly or indirectly, the need for such a study. To mention a few, Beteille (1969: 101) points out in qualitative terms: ‘There are as yet too many cultural differences between them: Harijan and the upper caste’. Desai (1976: 10), while focusing upon untouchability in rural Gujarat mentioned ‘Both from the point of view of the correctness of the information and the analysis, the enquiry with the Savarna informants is necessary’. The second source of inspiration for such a study is Article 17 of the Constitution of

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India which declares the removal of untouchability and, as such, that untouchability is a myth. This provided an occasion for an empirical examination of the social phenomenon of untouchability. Untouchability has received sufficient attention by historians, legal experts, politicians and sociologists from India and abroad. Their major concerns have been the explanation of untouchability, its continuity and change, acceptance or non-acceptance of the modern institutions by the scheduled castes, the factors accounting for it and the emerging pattern of inter-relations. Historians and sociologists have shown a consensus on religion as an explaining factor for untouchability. Dumont (1970: 47) a French anthropologist considers specialization in impure tasks as one of the significant factors. Sharma (1980) a noted Indian historian noted that indoctrination of the masses in the theory of karma has led to the preservation of the Varna system and thus the low status of the Sudras. Continuity and change have been problems of concern to the social scientists and their findings present diverse patterns of continuity and change. Some have noted significantly that untouchability persists, for example, Kagzi (1976: 224), Jagjivan Ram (1980) and Ambedkar (1970). Kagzi (1976: 224) examined the role of law in bringing change in the status of ‘untouchables’ and found it ineffective. Jagjivan Ram (1980: 116), the veteran politician and the Harijan leader, noted the unchanging lot of the scheduled castes and suggested, as is usual with the politicians, that only the Government, Government owned Corporations and undertakings, can guide them (‘untouchables”) and can provide such help. Ambedkar (1970), the Messiah of the Sudras and a man of creative imagination, disagrees with all these measures and argues that emancipation of Sudras is possible only by rejecting the Brahminical interpretation of the religious texts and through re-examination of the same with an open mind. On the other hand, there are some who have identified change in the status of untouchables, for example Beteille (1969), Ghurye (1969), Kamble (1979), Patwardhan (1975), Mayer (1970). Beteille (1969: 101) analysed the impact of the political, economic and social forces upon untouchability and noted that the social distance between the upper castes and the scheduled castes has been progressively narrowed. Ghurye (1969: 460) concluded that modern institutions have latently resulted in the creation of a pluralist society in India. Kamble (1979: 287) emphasized the vital role of economic independence. Patwardhan (1973: 203) conducted a study of relationship between upper and lower

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castes in Maharashtra and concluded thus: ‘No longer can the lower castes be forced to do certain types of work by higher castes, with the value sanctions of Hindu society behind them’. In another study in Madhya Pradesh. Mayer (1970: 52) noted that the upper castes seem to be compromising with the low castes by according them equal status. Chauhan et al. (1975) conducted a study of students at the Higher Secondary level and found that the frequency of visits by upper caste fellow students to the houses ‘untouchables’ was less. Isaacs (1965) as well as Kamble (1979) examined the role of the rise in the economic level of the scheduled castes. They differ significantly in their conclusions. While Isaacs (1965: 168) in his study in Maharashtra observed that “it remains clear that the rising ex-untouchables’ problems will not be met by rupees alone”, Kamble (1979: 283) on the contrary concludes that rise in economic status contributes to raising the social status of the ‘untouchables’. With the introduction of modern institutions in India, the Indian social system has given rise to a question in regard to the pattern of response of different castes and classes towards them. Desai (1976) has addressed himself to this question and found that in rural Gujarat the ‘untouchables’ have shown a positive response. The emerging pattern of relationship between the upper castes and the ‘untouchables’ has attracted the attention of Senart (1975) and Kamble (1981), and they have arrived at contradictory-findings. Senart finds harmonious relations and Kamble compiled the atrocities on scheduled castes committed by the caste Hindus from 15th August, 1947 to 15th August, 1979. The review of literature indicates that the phenomenon of untouchability has been treated in isolation from its relationship with the upper castes. Little attempt has been made to view it from such an interaction. Thus the present study proposes to use an interactional approach for the purpose of exploring the existing relations. The assumption is that so long as the upper castes feel polluted by a bodily contact of the scheduled caste, whether in public or private places, the scheduled castes are in effect ‘untouchables’. Since it is an exploratory study, 30 heads of households of each of the castes, Brahmin and scheduled castes, were interviewed. The respondents were selected on the basis of their preparedness to grant interviews. This became necessary, because it is too sensitive an area of enquiry in the

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village. Of the respondents, however, 4 scheduled castes and 3 Brahmins refused to answer one question; 2 scheduled castes declined at another stage and three Brahmins and two scheduled castes dropped out at the last stage of the survey. The Brahmin caste was selected on the basis of the researcher’s own experience as a rural Brahmin that in case the Brahmins show flexibility in observing untouchability, perhaps the other castes would follow. A small schedule of 10 questions was prepared for the purpose. The questions in the schedule were explained to the respondents to their best satisfaction, so that reliable information might be obtained. The systematic information was supplemented by asking the respondents to narrate the most remarkable events of untouchability which they experienced in their life. The field work was done during June, July, and August 1984. The study was conducted in Machhra Village, described below.

Village The village of Machhra is situated at a distance of about 20 Km. horn Meerut on the Meerut-Lucknow Road. It takes about half an hour to reach there by bus. A four Km. link road connects the village with the main road. No sooner does one alight from the bus than the building of the Degree College lends the look of a town to the village. Beyond this, there are the new buildings of the B.D.O’s office, Primary Health Unit and Veterinary Hospital along the road. The green sugarcane fields surround the buildings. It is a multi-caste village with a relatively large population of about 2587 voters. The Tyagi caste is numerically at the top, being 22.24% The others are Brahmins 20.1%, the scheduled castes 19.13%, Muslims 9.8%, Balmiki 4.1%. Nai 3.1%, Gujars 2.94% Saini 2.82%. Potter 2.5%, Badhai 2.4% Khatik 2%, Sikkigar 1.58%. Bania 1.28%, Jogi 1.2% Sunai 0.92%, Dhinwar 0.93%, Ghhipi 0.66%. The Tyagis the Brahmin and the Gujars are land-owners and cultivators. This village has provided an MLA from among the Brahmins to the preceding U.P. Legislative Assembly. The village is irrigated and electrified.

Economy Land forms the basis of the economy in the village. The whole life of the village depends on land. It is a permanent asset with the owners. The main feature of landed property in the rural setting is that it is unequally

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distributed by planning or otherwise. Landownership has been the privilege of higher castes, barring a few exceptions of Harijans. This village is not typical in this sense. The Survey of 30 families of Brahmin caste revealed that on an average a Brahmin household holds 30 bighas of land and its range varies from 10–80 bighas. On the other hand, scheduled caste households own eight bighas of land on an average and the range varies between live and 14 bighas. It is significant to bear in mind this glaring economic disparity between these two groups, particularly with respect to landed property. Even one of the scheduled castes is either an agricultural labourer or an unskilled mason, or a rope-maker or a cot-weaver. His earnings are insufficient by any criterion. He lives in unhygienic conditions with inadequate accommodation. It is relevant to mention that this village has educational facilities from elemental”) to graduate level. Among the schedule caste respondents, about a half (13) are illiterate, and almost the same (12) have primary education and only one tenth have gone upto Junior High School. And there ends the level of their educational achievement. On the other hand, of the 28 Brahmin respondents about one-fifth (6) are illiterate, 12 are primary, five are Junior High School, three are High School, one is B. A. and one is M. A. The age range of both the caste groups remaining the same the disparities in ‘their educational attainments are significant. The educational achievements of the two castes may be compared at other levels too. In all 27 scheduled caste boys have been reported as engaged in their studies. Of them, 20 are in Primary, Junior High School, or High School classes and only one has studied beyond and he too is in the Intermediate class. In the case of the Brahmin caste 28 boys are studying at different levels. The range also is wider as 20 of them are up to High School classes, two are in Intermediate, four are in Graduate and two in Post Graduate classes. The Brahmins and scheduled castes differ in respect of employment of educated boys, also. The former have 21 such cases. It is significant to note that one-third could get jobs after completing High School, nine after Intermediate, two after B. Sc. and three after PostGraduation. In case of the latter, the situation is by and large the same. In all 5 could get a job and among them 3 after Intermediate, one after Graduation and one after Post-Graduation. This is not the whole story. In the families under study, 17 educated Brahmin boys have settled in agriculture. From this distribution a pattern may be seen emerging

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that 11 boys educated upto High School, four Intermediate and two Graduates have done so. It is interesting to mention that such families have sufficient land to absorb the younger generation in agriculture. Only three have been reported as educated unemployed. One has qualified for the Intermediate, another has failed at the Graduate level and the third possesses a professional degree in teaching. The situation is worst in the case of the educated scheduled caste boys. There are 12 cases who have left education at one or the other level. Of them, two have finished at Primary, five at Junior High School, five at High School and one at Intermediate level. They are selling their physical labour in the village and report themselves as unemployed. It may be mentioned in this context that in general the scheduled caste boys finish their education at High School level or even below it and only a few continue beyond. The educational policy makers have to keep in mind whether some institutional changes in the system of education can be introduced in this teaching period to arrest the rise in the rate of unemployment of the educated scheduled caste boys. The most surprising consequences of the existing’ educational system, both for Brahmin and scheduled caste boys, are that they work for jobs and none of the  educated or those being educated reported any interest in selfemployment. Whether so many jobs would be made available is anybody’s guess.

Untouchability Information was obtained from the respondents along two lines: One by studying a few cases according to case study ‘method; second, by posing certain specific questions related to the context in which the respondents feel that untouchability is observed viz. social, political and economic.

Case I A scheduled caste Sub-Inspector of Police while on duty had to stay for a night with the Pradhan in a village in U. P. The Pradhan sent one of his sons to the local scheduled caste family to bring utensils to be used at dinner for the Sub-Inspector, who somehow, came to know of it and instantly refused

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to take dinner at the Pradhan’s house and insisted on having it at the Scheduled castes’s house from which the utensils were brought. Comments: Vertical occupational mobility is not a ladder for vertical social mobility.

Case II The same scheduled caste Sub-Inspector of Police happened to be deputed as Security Officer in an Industrial Organization in Rajasthan. He along with his other colleagues was served tea by a tea-stall boy. When, one of them came to know that the tea-stall boy was a scheduled caste, all of them were annoyed and asked the owner of the shop not to keep the scheduled caste boy at his shop. The Sub-Inspector intelligently introduced himself as Chaudhry and thus could get acceptance in the High Caste group. Comments: The urban setting is not quite different from the rural one with respect to observing untouchability.

Case III The same scheduled caste Sub-Inspector of Police got admitted to a Sanitorium at Bhowali in District Nainital. One of the Muslim employees there somehow, came to know his caste. The Muslim employee advised him to conceal the caste otherwise he would be deprived of facilities and services of the staff. He pre tended to be a Jat and thus could adjust to the situation. Comments: It is not true that untouchability has been removed from public places.

Case IV At the instance of one Tyagi leader from among the most respected and influential traditional elite caste, a scheduled caste in the village happened to invite a few Brahmins and Tyagis to a feast. The Tyagi who was an enthusiastic social reformer advised the scheduled caste host to serve the dishes to the Brahmin and Tyagi guests. At this the Brahmins

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as well as the Tyagis, but for the Tyagi social reformer, left the feast untouched. Comments: Untouchability is a reality. Food is considered to become polluted the moment it is touched by the hand of a scheduled caste.

Case V In the month of October a cultural activity called ‘Rama Lila’ based on the Great tradition is celebrated in the form of a Drama depicting the fight between Rama the symbol of God and Ravana believed to the Demon King. But it is strictly prohibited on the grounds of purity to allocate the role of Rama to a scheduled caste boy on the stage. However one of the educated scheduled caste boys was accepted as a member of the Organizing committee of the Drama Club. Comments: God is considered to become polluted even when he is impersonated by the scheduled caste.

Deprivations An attempt was made to identify the nature of deprivation as faced and felt by the scheduled castes in this village. To make the observations precise and specific, a few items indicating social, economic and political deprivations were projected in the interview situation. Restriction on the entry of the scheduled castes in public places such as temples and the scheduled castes being addressed by name, irrespective of age. indicates social deprivation. Moreover, prohibiting the entry of the scheduled castes to the inner part of the residential houses or hesitation in sharing the common cots or refusal to accept the utensils of the scheduled castes also indicates social deprivation. Non-payment or underpayment of wages to the scheduled castes indicates economic deprivation. Political deprivation is indicated in the use of force or fraud by the higher castes on the scheduled castes during elections to Parliament, state Assembly or village Panchayat. With regard to public places, it was reported by the scheduled castes that they do not dare enter the temple. It was observed that the Brahmins too are not regular in visiting the temple for worship, nor do they

UNTOUCHABILITY A MYTH

61

perform many rituals. Many of them do not even wear the sacred thread. The scheduled castes feel that their entry into the temple is not by itself a sufficient indicator of their being accepted by the Brahmins. With regard to private places, the general impression of the Brahmins of this village is that their women folk are relatively more conservative than men folk. It is in fact the women who work as a constraining counter force on males in bringing about any social change with regard to the practice of untouchability in private life and after much conflict and altercation between the men folk and the women folk, it is ultimately the will of the women that prevails. It is to be emphasized here that the role of Brahmin women in untouchability is a virgin field for further research. With regard to political affairs which fall under public dealings, both the castes—the scheduled castes as well as the Brahmins—did not observe am untouchability. Political relationship, it was reported, lather encouraged a closer contact between the two castes and members of both the castes were satisfied with this state of affairs. A more significant problem then is if any or both of the caste groups are keen on changing the pattern of interaction. To explore the extent of intensity of social interaction on the part each caste, a question was raised ‘Are you interested in having social interaction with each other”. The four alternative responses were mentioned as ‘most’, ‘more’, ‘less’, ‘least’. The responses ‘most’ and ‘more’ have been taken as an indicator of ‘active’ and ‘less’ and ‘least’ of passive extent. The results are shown in Table I. The probability of X2 (2.20) with df 1 is between .10 and .20. The difference between the responses of scheduled castes and Brahmins is so great that the hypotheses of equal intensity of interaction is rejected. It may be stated that scheduled castes are actively interested in interaction with Brahmins, whereas Brahmins are passive in this regard. Table I Extent of Intensity of Interaction among Brahmins and Scheduled Castes Caste

Active

Passive

Total

Scheduled Castes

15

11

26

Brahmins

10

17

27

X2: 2.2; df: I; P between .10 and .20

62

S.S. Sharma

Table II Acceptance of Scheduled Castes by Brahmins and Vice-Versa in Public- and Private Places Caste Brahmins Scheduled Castes Total

Public

Accepted in Private

Both

Total

22

1

7

30

7

16

5

28

29

17

12

58

X2: 10.20; df: 2; P is less than .01

There is sufficient qualitative evidence to indicate that there is acceptance of scheduled castes more in public than in private places. But one does not know about the pattern of insistence by both Brahmin and scheduled castes. Therefore, Brahmins and scheduled castes were asked a question: ‘In which situation do the scheduled castes and Brahmins insist on acceptance?’ The former in our study is denoted by refusal to scheduled castes to enter into temples and the latter is denoted by denying scheduled castes permission to enter the inner part of the house and to take meals on a common table. The responses to these questions are given in Table II. The difference between the responses of scheduled castes and Brahmins is very high. Thus the hypothesis of similarity of acceptance of each other is rejected. It may be interpreted that Brahmins insist on accepting scheduled castes in public places where as the scheduled castes insist on being accepted in private places. The delineation of the pattern of continuity of untouchability led the author to enquire into the relationship between social factors and the phenomena of untouchability. For this purpose, a closed question was put to identify the reasons for non-acceptance of the scheduled castes as viewed by the Brahmins and scheduled castes themselves. The earlier studies have suggested ideological and material reasons behind it. The indicators of ideological reasons were, for the purpose of this study, the theory of Karma and nature of food, and of material reasons were poverty and lack of possessions. A choice between ideological and material and undecided reasons was given in the responses. The responses are presented in Table III. The X2 value was found to be 11.94 with df 2. The probability of the X2 value is less than .01. The discrepancy between the responses of

UNTOUCHABILITY A MYTH

63

Table III Reason for Non-Acceptance of Scheduled Castes according to the Brahmins and Scheduled Castes Castes Brahmins Scheduled castes Total

Ideological

Material

Undecided

Total

19

5

3

27

9

18

1

28

28

23

4

X : 11.94; df: 2; P is less than .01 2

scheduled castes and Brahmins with regard to reasons for non-acceptance of scheduled castes according to both the castes is highly significant. The hypothesis of similar reasons is rejected. It may be inferred that Brahmins consider ideological reasons for non-acceptance of scheduled castes, where as the scheduled castes consider material conditions responsible for non-acceptance of themselves by the Brahmins.

Conclusions In this study, an attempt was made to enquire into the pattern of interaction between scheduled castes and Brahmins in Machhra village. The study has confirmed that untouchability is observed by Brahmins in social aspects of life, whereas it is not so in political aspects. Discontinuity of untouchability in the political sphere which is shortlived does not entail a change in the social and economic. Perhaps the social is the core and the political is the periphery for both the castes. Contrary to the widely held belief that occupational mobility may lead to upward social mobility of scheduled castes the study indicates that an educated scheduled caste with an achieved status of police official was not considered as touchable by the higher castes even in a public place like a hospital. Ascription takes precedence over achievement. Interestingly enough, the study reveals that the scheduled castes tend to have a centripetal tendency toward the Brahmins whereas the Brahmins tend to have a centrifugal tendency towards scheduled castes. Though the data are limited, it is quantitatively demonstrated that the scheduled castes insist on being socially accepted in private places and, on the contrary, the Brahmins prohibit them from doing so but agree to concede their free entry into public places. The reasons are obvious in that the Brahmins

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do not make their daily prayers in the temple of the village and those who do so have started to have mini temples in their residences. Thus it should not be interpreted as a substantial change at all. Lastly, the Brahmins and scheduled castes are diametrically opposed to each other with respect to reasons for untouchability. Ideology is the basis of untouchability according to Brahmins and material conditions are vital according to scheduled castes. The practice of untouchability is abolished according to Article 17 of the Constitution of India but empirically it is reality. It is however, suggested that more studies are needed to make broad generalizations and the pattern of interaction between scheduled castes and other castes above them in hierarchy needs to be explored to identify if there are differences between the pattern of interaction between the Brahmins and the scheduled castes on the one hand and other castes and the scheduled castes on the other.

References Ambedkar, B. R. 1970. Who were the Sundras. Bombay. Beteille, Andre. 1969. Caste-Old and New. New Delhi, Asia Publishing House. Chauhan, B. R. et al. 1975. Scheduled Castes and Education. Meerut: ABU Publications. Desai. I. P. 1976. Untouchability in Rural Gujarat. Bombay: Popular Prakashan. Dumont. Louis. 1970. Homo Hierarchicus. Delhi: Vikas. Ghurye, G. S. 1909. Caste and Race in India. Bombay: Popular Prakashan, (5th Edn.). Isaacs, Harold R. 1965. India’s Ex-Untouchables. Bombay: APH. Kagzi, M. C. J. 1970. Segregation and Untouchability Abolition. New Delhi: Metropolitan Books. Jagjivan Ram. 1950. Caste Challenge in India. New Delhi: Vision Book. Kamhle. J. R. 1979. Rise and Awakening of Depressed Classes in India. New Delhi: National. Kamble, N. D. 1981. Atrocities on Scheduled Castes. New Delhi: Ashish Publishing House. Mayer, Adrian C. 1970. Caste and Kinship in Central India. London: RKP. Patwardhan, Sunanda. 1973. Change Among India’s Harijans, Maharashtra—A Case Study. New Delhi: Orient Longman. Senart, Emile. 1975. Caste in India. Delhi: ESS Publications. Sharma. R. S. 1980. Shudra in Ancient India. Delhi: MLB.

5 Scheduled Castes and Urbanization in Punjab: An Explanation* Victor S. D’Souza

O

ne of the striking features of the distribution of the Scheduled castes population in India is that as compared to the total population it is very much under-represented in the urban areas. In 1961, whereas 18 per cent of the total population was urban, the corresponding percentage for the Scheduled castes was only eleven. The underrepresentation of Scheduled castes in the urban areas is by and large true, whether one considers the country as a whole, the states or the districts. For instance, in the State of Punjab in 1961, only 14.7 per cent of the Scheduled castes lived in the urban areas as compared to 23.8 per cent of the total population. The underrepresentation of Scheduled castes in the urban areas in India as well as in Punjab is not only striking but also intriguing. It is inconsistent with the notion of “push” factor which is supposed to underlie the rural to urban migration in India. It is believed that in advanced countries with increasing economic opportunities due to industrialization, people are pulled from the rural areas to the cities1. On the other hand, in developing countries such as India, because of pressure of population on land and growing unemployment, underemployment and poverty, people are pushed from the rural areas to the cities even though the cities do not provide adequate employment opportunities. Thus,

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Victor S. D’Souza

urban migration in advanced countries is attributed to pull factors and in India to push factors. If these assumptions were true, the Scheduled castes population which is on the lowest rungs of socio-economic ladder in the rural areas, would be pushed hardest and so would have been over represented in the urban areas relative to the total population—an expectation belied by the actual situation. However, the “push factor” explanation of urbanization and the related presumption of “over-urbanization” (that because of lack of employment opportunities in the urban communities, the migrants in the cities are socio-economically worse off than the earlier residents) has been shown to be invalid of late. Sovani has adduced evidence to indicate that the agricultural labourers who continue economically the most vulnerable section of the rural population show a lesser propensity to migrate to the cities as compared to the higher strata and that the economic adjustment of the immigrants in the cities is even better than that of the residents (Sovani 1966: 1–13). These observations are indeed in agreement with the facts regarding the Scheduled castes in so far as they are who form the bulk of the agricultural labourers in the rural areas, and show a lesser tendency to migrate to the cities. But why are they less prone to migrate to the cities still remains to be explained. Secondly, the cities in India, as elsewhere, are communities with uneven dimensions. They vary widely in terms of size, complexity and functions among other major factors. What is more, the Scheduled castes population is also represented unevenly in the cities. Therefore, the question arises whether there is any general principle underlying the uneven representation of Scheduled castes population in cities. This paper is therefore aimed at finding explanations of the above two questions: (1) why are the Scheduled castes underrepresented in the urban population of Punjab? and (2) is there any general principle underlying their uneven representation in cities?1 The explanations are sought to be provided by developing a theoretical model based on the findings of a case study. The study under reference entitled Inequality and Integration in an Industrial Community, is based on a relatively new urban community in India, which originated during the 1920’s. The community is overwhelmingly industrial and its adult population is almost wholly immigrant. The information of the study was obtained at two points of time—1956 and 1969. During the interval of 13 years the community had grown from a population of

SCHEDULED CASTES AND URBANIZATION IN PUNJAB

67

over 3,000 to about 25,000. The sudden growth was due to the development of more complex industries in the community than existed there previously. Consequently, the occupational structure at the second point of time had become much more complex with marked expansion of the occupations of higher levels of skill and prestige. The social structure of the community could be described in terms of a number of hereditary groupings distinguished on the basis of caste, religion, language and region of origin. It was found in 1956 that each grouping was relatively homogeneous with regard to education, occupational prestige and income of its members. The different groupings were socio-economically unequal, socially exclusive and they formed a socioeconomic hierarchy. The relative position of groupings in the new community more or less correspond with their status positions in their regions of origin. With a few exceptions, the new inmigrants since 1956 also belonged to the same groupings as those which had arrived previously. What is still more remarkable was the fact that in 1969 the relative socio-economic positions among the groupings remained almost the same as in 1956. It is commonly assumed that industrialization and resulting migration gives rise to social mobility. Despite the fact that the occupational structure of the community had become considerably more complex, this had not led to any significant occupational mobility on the part of various hereditary groups. But there was another significant change; in step with the expansion of the proportion of higher prestige occupations, the proportion of people in the socio-economically higher hereditary groupings had also expanded. Thus the results of industrialization and development had accrued to the various groupings according to their positions in social structure. The changes in this community agree with the proposition that the economic inequalities are dependent upon the social structure; therefore, industrialization and economic development by themselves were not able to induce social mobility. For the time being one may assume that what happened in this new community under industrialization, development, growth and inmigration, also generally happens under the processes of rural urban migration and urbanization. There is also evidence from studies relating to different parts of the country that the socio-economic mobility of individuals in different caste groups is associated with the status of their caste groups (Saberwal 1972: 114–184; Bopegamage and Kulahalli 1972: 352–388).

68

Victor S. D’Souza

The fact that the immigrants in the city are socio-economically better adjusted or at any rate are not worse off as compared to the original residents, shows that urbanization in India is dependent also upon some  forms of development and not primarily upon the push factors. Under these assumptions, and gaining insight from the above case study it is now possible to develop a general theoretical model with a set of deductively related propositions, which may be used for explaining the question posed. The following propositions may constitute the theoretical model: (a) Society in India is divided into a number of hereditary groups, each group being ordinarily an intermarrying circle. (b) Members in each hereditary group are socio-economically homogeneous and different groups are unequal. (c) The homogeneity of members in each group and inequality between groups render the groups socially exclusive and exclusivism in its turn supports inequality. (d) Because of social exclusivism, when a person migrates from a rural to an urban community, his occupational position in the new community would depend upon the status and influence of his group; persons from higher groups in the rural communities secure higher positions and those from lower groups, lower ones. (e) Consequently, under rural urban migration the relative socio-economic positions of hereditary groups remain, by and large, unaffected.

The theoretical model may be used first to explain why the Scheduled caste population is underrepresented in the urban areas. For this, one has to take note of the reasonable presumption that on the whole the urban communities are socio-economically more complex than rural communities and so have a lower proportion of lower prestige occupations. The Scheduled castes who occupy the lowest rungs of the occupational ladder in the rural communities have also to occupy the lowest prestige occupations in the urban communities (propositions d and e). Since the proportions of lower prestige occupations are lower in the urban areas, the Scheduled caste population, on the whole, is underrepresented in these areas. The second question is aimed at uncovering some general principle, if any, underlying the uneven representation of the Scheduled caste population in cities. To take up the explanation of this question, it must be borne in mind that not only is it true that the lower prestige occupations are underrepresented in cities as compared to rural communities

SCHEDULED CASTES AND URBANIZATION IN PUNJAB

69

among cities themselves their representation varies according to the socio-economic development and hence the occupational complexity of the city; the higher the occupational complexity, the lower the proportion of lower prestige occupations. Therefore, again it follows from propositions (d) and (e) that with the increase in socio-economic development and complexity of cities the representation of Scheduled caste population would tend to decline. Thus, it can be predicted from the theoretical model that there is an underlying general principle in the uneven representation of Scheduled caste population in cities. The explanation of the first question already provided is really an interpretation of the factual situation with the help of the theoretical model. Therefore, it does not call for a direct empirical verification. The explanation of the second question, however, is a prediction of the general principle underlying the uneven representation of Scheduled caste population in cities, derived from the theoretical model. Therefore, this explanation needs to be empirically verified, and incidentally its verification would also provide an indirect test of the explanation of the first question. Thus, the major hypothesis that needs validation is that with the increasing complexity of occupational structure the representation of Scheduled caste population in cities declines. The hypothesis may be tested with reference to the 1961 census data pertaining to the Scheduled castes in the State of Punjab. The data however, do not lend themselves to a refined analysis. Therefore, the hypothesis has to be operationalised to suit the available data. Since the occupational distribution of cities in the census reports is not given according to prestige dimension, the major problem is to devise an index of occupational complexity. Under the circumstances two different yardsticks may be suggested. One is the size of the city. It has been generally found and is borne out by a number of city surveys in India that the larger the size of the city the greater the occupational complexity and larger is the proportion of higher prestige occupations. According to this criterion, one of the operational hypotheses would be that the larger the size of the city the lower would be the degree of representation of Scheduled caste population. The second criterion of occupational complexity would be the type of functional specialization of the city. Different types of functional specialization in cities have different degrees of scope for socio-economic development and occupational complexity. For instance, it is evident that cities specializing in factory based modern industries have a more

70

Victor S. D’Souza

complex occupational structure as compared to cities with household based artisan industries. Thus, the second operational hypothesis would be that the degree of representation of Scheduled caste population would vary with the functional character of cities. Cities with functional specialization leading to greater occupational complexity would have a lower degree of representation of Scheduled caste population. There is also a second problem that of obtaining a measure of the degree of representation of Scheduled caste population. Although Punjab as a whole had a Scheduled caste population of 22.3 percent, this percentage varied rather widely from district to district, ranging from 19.4 in Ferozepur to 29.6 in Jullundur. Within each district it again varied from tehsil to tehsil. In some districts the tehsilwise variation was very marked, as in Hoshiarpur where it ranged from 16.2 in Una tehsil to 32.5 in Hoshiarpur tehsil. In view of this variation and because of the fact that cities draw their inmigrants, particularly at the lower socio-economic levels, from their surrounding regions, the percentage distribution of Scheduled caste population in cities would not be an adequate index of the representation of Scheduled caste population for inter city comparison. Variation in percentage distribution of Scheduled caste population in cities would also be affected by the variation in their percentage distribution in the surrounding regions. Therefore, the effect of regional variation has been held constant by preparing an index of representation of Scheduled caste population which is obtained by dividing the percentage of Scheduled caste population in the city by its percentage in the tehsil in which the city is located.2 The index can be stated in the form of an equation as follows: I

Percentage of Scheduled Caste population in a city Percentage of Scheduled Caste population in the tehsil

Index score I would mean the Scheduled caste population is represented proportional to its size in the surrounding area; if the score is more than unity, it is overrepresented and if less than unity, it is underrepresented. The operational hypothesis may now be reworded in terms of the index scores of representation as follows: (i) The larger the size of a city, the lower the index score of representation of Scheduled caste population;

SCHEDULED CASTES AND URBANIZATION IN PUNJAB

71

(ii) cities with different functions would have different degrees of index scores of representation.

Hypothesis (i) declaring the association between the size of the city and the index score of representation of Scheduled caste population may be tested with reference to Table I which shows the distribution of cities in the State of Punjab in 1961 according to the size of their total population and index scores of representation of Scheduled caste population. It can be seen that as the size class of cities increases the median score shown in the last column decreases consistently. However, when the detailed distribution is examined there are some deviation from the general pattern. Some Class V and VI cities have much lower index scores as also some Class III cities which have higher index scores than expected. But on a closer examination one may find some justification for the exceptional cases. It can be readily admitted that size of communities is not the only criterion of their occupational complexity; the type of functional specialization and the degree of accentuation of particular functions are other criteria. Therefore, considering the crude nature of the index of occupational complexity the deviations are hardly a matter for surprise. Thus the evidence presented in Table I on the whole substantiates the operational hypothesis that the index score of representation of Scheduled caste population is negatively associated with the size of the city. The second operational hypothesis which states that cities with different functions would have different degrees of index scores of representation of Scheduled caste population, may be tested with reference to Table II, which shows the distribution of cities according to functional categories and index scores of representation of Scheduled caste population. The functional classification of cities is based on Asok Mitra’s scheme (Roy Burman 1971: 26, 27). Accordingly, the information on the broad industrial classification of workers in each town given in the census report is utilized. In arriving at the functional classification the broad industrial categories I and II standing for cultivators and agricultural labourers are excluded. The remaining categories III through IX are first divided into three main functional categories, A (III + IV + V + VI), B (VII + VIII) and C (IX), which are called Manufacturing, Trade and Transport and Service, respectively. Two criteria are used for designating

6

4

V 5,000–9,999

VI Less than 5,000

1

IV 10,000–19,999

19

5

5

2

2

37

1

8

11

14

2

2

1

II 50,000–99,999

1

0.51– 0.75

3

0.26– 0.50

III 20,000–49,999

I 100,000+

Classes of Town

0.01– 0.25

28

4

14

6

4

0.76– 1.00

6

3

1

1

1

1.01– 1.25

5

2

2

1

1.26– 1.50

Index Scores

3

1

1

1

1.51– 1.75

4

3

1

1.76– 2.00

108

19

35

23

23

4

4

Total

Table I Distribution of Towns in 1961 in Punjab by Size Class and Index Scores of Representation of Scheduled Caste Population

0.69

1.00

0.77

0.70

0.66

0.50

0.42

Median Scores

72 Victor S. D’Souza

SCHEDULED CASTES AND URBANIZATION IN PUNJAB

73

the predominant functional types. Any one of the industrial categories (III through IX) is regarded as the predominant function if, first, the main functional category A, B or C containing the given industrial category is greater than either of the other two main categories by 20 per cent and second, the given industrial category is greater than any other industrial category included in the main category of which it is a part, by more than 10 per cent. If any of the main categories A, B or C is not greater than either of the other two, the functional type of the town is designated as Diversified. Further, this type is differentiated in terms of the largest industrial category contained in the larger of the main functional categories. For all practical purposes this largest industrial category may be regarded as the predominant function of the town. The predominant functional types, other than those included in the Diversified categories, are also differentiated in terms of the larger of the two main functional categories other than the category in which the predominant function is included. The other function may be regarded as moderately predominant. The distribution of towns in Punjab according to their representation of Scheduled caste population is shown in Table II. The moderately predominant function is shown within brackets after the predominant function shown under the functional types. The functional types are arranged under four broad predominant types of artisan, service trade and manufacturing. Each of these is further divided into three types on the basis of moderately predominant functions shown within brackets. When the median index scores in broad functional types are considered, it is evident that there is a clearcut difference, showing thereby that the different functional types of towns provide different degrees of opportunity for the Scheduled castes. Further, the degree of representation for the Scheduled caste goes on declining in the descending order of the functional types of artisan, service, trade and manufacturing towns. The arrangement of functional types in that order also indicates the ascending order of their occupational complexity. It is obvious that artisan cities with a preponderance of occupations classified under what are termed household industries, are typically of pre-industrial character, with the least complex occupational structure. On the other hand, cities with manufacturing industries with their modern factory settings have relatively more complex occupational structure. Thus, it can be inferred that on the whole the order in which the functional categories have been

3 4

11

5 3 1

9

Service (Diversified)

Service (Trade)

Service (Manufacturing)

All Towns with service as main function

4

4

All Towns with Artisan as main function

Artisan (Trade)

2

0.51– 0.75 2

0.26– 0.50

Artisan (Service)

0.01– 0.25

Artisan (Diversified)*

Functional Types

7

2

5

9

2

3

4

0.76– 1.00

3

3

2

1

1

1.01– 1.25

2

2

1

1

1.26– 1.50

Index Scores

2

1

1

1.51– 1.75

3

1

2

1

1

1.76– 2.00

35

5

13

17

19

3

7

9

Total No. of Towns

0.70

0.62

0.75

0.80

0.92

0.87

0.92

0.94

Median Index Scores

Table II Distribution of Towns in Punjab in 1961 by Functional Classification and Index Scores of Representation of Scheduled Caste Population

74 Victor S. D’Souza

3

1 1

4

2

3

6

Manufacturing (Trade)

All Towns with manufacturing as main function

Total

37

8

3

2

5

*Terms within brackets refer to moderately predominant functions.

19

2

1

Manufacturing (Service)

Manufacturing (Diversified)

14

1

6

1

3

All Towns with trade as main function

4

Trade (Manufacturing)

3

1

5

Trade (Service)

2

1

Trade (Diversified) 1

5

28

1

1

2 6

1

1

1

11

8

2

1

3

1

1

4

108

19

7

6

6

35

16

10

9

0.69

0.59

0.58

0.50

0.67

0.66

0.78

0.56

0.60

SCHEDULED CASTES AND URBANIZATION IN PUNJAB 75

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Victor S. D’Souza

arranged roughly corresponds with the degree of occupational sub-types arranged within each major functional categories is also related to the degree of representation of Scheduled castes. Therefore, the relationship between the functional types of cities and the index scores is really a relationship between occupational complexity of cities and the degree of representation of Scheduled caste population. The higher the occupational complexity of the functional type of the city, the lower is the degree of representation of Scheduled caste population. The variation found within each functional category, however, can be accounted for, in most cases, by the variations in the size of cities as well as in the degree of accentuation of the function. The evidence on the whole therefore, validates operational hypothesis (ii). The validation of the operational hypotheses (i) and (ii) strongly supports the general hypothesis that the degree of representation of Scheduled caste population in cities is negatively related to their occupational complexity. Therefore, the answer to the second question that occupational complexity of communities is the underlying principle of uneven representation of Scheduled caste population, is confirmed by empirical evidence. This evidence also indirectly confirms the answer to the first question that the lower representation of Scheduled caste population in the total urban population is due to the fact that the urban communities as a whole are occupationally more complex as compared to rural communities. Since the hypothesis that the representation of Scheduled caste population in cities is negatively related to their occupational complexity has been found to be true, the theoretical framework from which the hypothesis has been deduced, can now be used with a greater degree of confidence for explaining the peculiar way in which the Scheduled caste population is represented in urban communities. In conclusion it may be stated that the urbanization of Scheduled castes in Punjab follows a set pattern; in the rural urban migration, fewer people among the Scheduled castes go to the cities than among the rest of the population and the greater the occupational complexity of the city the lower is the representation of Scheduled caste population. The pattern can be explained by certain valid propositions: When people migrate from the rural to the urban communities their occupational positions in the new communities are determined by their position in their home communities; since Scheduled castes occupy the

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lowest positions in rural communities they have to occupy the lowest positions in the urban communities also; but urban communities have relatively a lower proportion of labour prestige occupations, which results in a lower degree of representation of Scheduled caste population in cities. Two important inferences which readily follow from this analysis may be added. First, since the pattern of urbanization of Scheduled caste population in Punjab as confirmed by facts has been predicted from a theoretical model, it is reasonable to infer that the same kind of pattern of urbanization of Scheduled caste population would be found in other parts of the country also. Second, industrialization and socio-economic development, in a sense, stands for the enhancement of the functional and occupational complexity of communities; but these processes, undertaken in a conventional way, helps the scheduled castes the least. Therefore, a mere increase in dose of development activities would not be beneficial, it may actually be detrimental for Scheduled castes.

Notes *Thanks are expressed to Vinita Srivastava and Yash Pal for helping in statistical processing of data. 1. The term city is here used to stand for any urban community, irrespective of its size and so the terms town and city are used interchangeably. 2. However, it is likely that the Scheduled caste population of a larger city may be derived from a much wider area than a tehsil as compared to a smaller one. But this variation has been ignored for the sake of uniformity of computation.

References Bopegamage, A. and R. N. Kulahalli. 1972. Caste and Occupation in Rural India: A Regional Study in Urbanization and Social Change. Rural Sociology 37(3). D’Souza, Victor S. (Unpublished). Inequality and Integration in an Industrial Community (to be published by Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Simla). Saberwal, Satish. 1972. Status, Mobility, and Networks in a Punjabi Industrial Town. In: Satish Saberwal (ed.), Beyond the Village; Sociological Explorations, Shimla: Indian Institute of Advanced Study. Sovani, N. V. 1966. Urbanization and Urban India. Bombay: Asia Publishing House.

6 The Khatiks of Kanpur and the Bristle Trade: Towards an Anthropology of Man and Beast Maren Bellwinkel-Schempp

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his paper tackles a couple of issues relating to a rather small Scheduled Caste community, the Khatiks of Kanpur, which had once been an economically powerful community. The Khatiks are a jati of vegetable sellers, pig-breeders, pork butchers, as well as bristle manufacturers and traders. The Khatiks of Kanpur city gained notoriety due to the so-called post-Ayodhya riots in 1992 as they were considered to be in the forefront of several brutal killings. Although Kanpur is a known center of turmoil and turbulence due to the frequent outbursts of violence in its history, the more recent events were unique as for the first time a Scheduled caste took a violent stance against the Muslims. At first glance, this is amazing as there had been peaceful coexistence between the Muslims and the Scheduled Castes in the city both at work and in times of leisure. Violence is also incongruent with the prevalent identity construction of the Scheduled Castes, who have until now perceived themselves as victims of upper caste Hindu dominance only. Over the last 30 years, the city of Kanpur has changed considerably. Earlier, white Zebu cows dominated the streets (Majumdar 1960), and although these cows constituted a substantial “impediment for the traffic, they were patiently avoided and their paths circumvented by the

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people. Nowadays, pigs have taken over this public space. Large numbers of black, grey and white pigs roam the streets of the city. Even in the best residential areas, they feed in peaceful coexistence with the cows on large garbage heaps which are piled up along the roads. The public ignores these animals as long as they do not cause road accidents. This is because the Hindus regard cows as ‘sacred’, while the Muslims consider pigs as ‘abominable’ animals (Harris 1985). However, another reason for ignoring the animals is that retaliations are feared from their owners—and this has been markedly so after the riots—if they are harmed or hurt. One may legitimately ask how pigs began to appropriate public space in Kanpur, and whether this fact can in any way be seen as symptomatic of the aggravated Muslim-Khatik relationship. The economic and political analysis is not so much the focus of this paper as much as issues that relate to a future formulation of an anthropology of man and beast in India. The leading question is to what extent the juxtaposition of purity and pollution as formulated by Dumont (1970) can be attributed to the relational positioning of man and beast. Though Dumont’s concept of purity has been widely discussed and also deconstructed with regard to the role of the Brahmin (Quigley 1993), the aspect of pollution in the Scheduled Castes’ discourse has been either discussed under the heading of emulative strategies (Srinivas 1966) or ignored in its idiosyncratic nature. According to Mary Douglas (1966), taboos concerning purity of matter, animals and human beings are meant to ward off highly charged and dangerous contacts. The danger attributed to pollution dominates the modes of perception, and the ordering and classification of things, beasts and men. The fear of danger itself has a transformative quality as it empowers the culturally defined realm of pollution. ‘Within the ritual frame, the abomination is then handled as a source of tremendous power’; on the other hand, dirt as a culturally unstructured matter functions as a residual category and can act as a ‘symbol of creative formlessness’ (ibid.: 165, 169). Using Mary Douglas’ notion of pollution in its ambivalent formulation of dangerous and creative, the attitude of Indian society at large towards cows and pigs shall be analysed in this paper to find out to what extent the overarching Hindutva discourse has opened up realms of aggression and danger which were formerly contained and fenced-off. The paper will finally document the rise and decline in the trade and manufacture of bristles. The economic situation of the Khatiks will be used as the background for the analysis of their ideology. The leading

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question in that respect will be to what extent the outburst of violence referred to above can be explained by the social degradation and economic decline of the Khatiks. The ideological representations of the Khatiks are not rooted in one coherent belief system but generally concern different discourses of Scheduled Caste politics and caste specific idiosyncratic notions. Concerning the analysis of food habits, it is to be asked whether Scheduled Castes generally and the Khatiks specifically share the notions of purity and pollution of the savarna discourse. It will be shown that the Khatiks as providers of pork represent cherished food notions of the Scheduled Castes which are also extended to the Muslims, although in the latter case it is not pork meat but beef. Finally, it is to be asked to what extent the skills in butchery show similarities between Muslims and Khatiks on a structural level, and whether these are accepted or negated by the latter. The butcher’s skill on a phenomenological level brings up the question of how the acquisition of this skill is viewed by the Khatiks themselves. Hypothetically, it will be postulated that their mastery over the life and death of beasts is extended to the human realm under conditions where the ideological, political and social containments are no longer present.

Scheduled Castes and Muslims in Kanpur Kanpur is the biggest city in Uttar Pradesh and the ninth biggest city in the whole of India. Kanpur city was founded by the British who set up leather and textile industries here. The 1991 Census states that the Kanpur Urban Agglomeration had a population of 2,111,284 persons of which approximately 20 per cent were Muslims and 14 per cent Scheduled Castes (Census of India 1991). The Khatiks are a comparatively small community constituting only 5.8 per cent of all Scheduled Castes residing in the city. Their name is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘khatika’, meaning butcher and hunter (Singh 1993: 726). At the level of education, average income and status, the Khatiks rank highest among all Scheduled Castes (Majumdar 1960; Ram 1988). They live in close proximity with the Muslims in Babupurwa, Colonelganj and Latoucheroad. Babupurwa, where the severest rioting took place in 1992, is situated at the southern outskirts of Kanpur city. The center for bristle manufacturing and trade is in Latoucheroad which is one of the main thoroughfares of the town. Colonelganj is a prevalently Muslim

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area with a few ahatas1 and residential areas where a large number of Scheduled Castes live. In Kanpur city, there are a number of Scheduled Castes of which the most numerous are the Chamar (leather workers, 37.3 per cent), the Kori (weavers, 16.9 per cent), the Pasi (vegetable sellers, 11.2 per cent), the Balmiki (sweepers, 10.8 per cent), the Dhanuk (pig rearers, 4.5 per cent), the Dhobi (washermen, 4.3 per cent) and the Shilpkar (stone cutters, 2.1 per cent) (Bhatnagar 1965). Earlier, Chamars and Koris worked mainly as industrial labourers in leather and textile industries. The Khatiks did not work in industry; instead, they were either selfemployed tradesmen or general labourers and bristle manufacturers. The Balmikis, Dhanuks, Dhobis and Shilpkars were general labourers in the informal sector or worked in their traditional occupations. Close economic ties, however, bound a couple of Scheduled Castes together. As the Khatiks worked mostly as bristle manufacturers, the dressing of the bristles was done by the Koris. Besides, the Khatiks, Balmikis, Pasis and Dhanuks were also rearing pigs as all Scheduled Castes ate pork. The Khatiks were connected to all these castes as buyers and sellers of pigs and pork. Statistically, this has been well documented: in the mid-1950s, there were 104 pig breeders and 335 shops for beef, mutton and pork, all located in the city (Majumdar 1960: 43). Historical evidence also suggests a close social and occupational proximity between Scheduled Castes and Muslims in the city. For instance, Muslims were mostly craftsmen, shopkeepers and industrial labourers. Leather was the domain of the Muslims a well as of the Chamars, who were regarded as ritually unclean and hence stigmatized by the savarna discourse. Till the 1960s, Muslims and Chamars were also tannery owners and shoe-makers (Briggs 1990 [1920]; Verma 1964), but nowadays, there are several leather industries in which they work together in equal proportions (Ory 1997). There is, however, an occupational shift of the Chamars away from working of leather, as a sizeable number are now employed in government and private jobs. The Muslims on the other hand continue to remain in the leather industry and are involved with its craftsmanship. In the early phases of Kanpur’s industrialization, it was mainly the Muslim Julahas and the Hindu Koris—the traditional hand weavers— who were recruited by the textile industry. When the upper castes came in as industrial labourers, the percentage of Muslims and Koris declined. In the early 1970s the Chamars and Koris worked together with the

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Muslims in the textile industry, and all three combined constituted 15 per cent of the total labour force (Singh 1973). There was also a close spatial proximity between Muslims and Scheduled Castes. There were still ahatas which had a mixed Muslim and Scheduled Caste population (Lavigne and Milbert 1983). Although that has changed considerably after the recent riots, there are wards in Latoucheroad and Colonelganj areas where Khatiks, Balmikis, Chamars and Muslims live together even today. These wards are commonly known as communal troublespots in the city.

The Cawnpore Brush Factory and Calcutta Bristle Kanpur was founded as a military camp in 1778 (Yalland 1987) but acquired the status of the first and oldest industrial town in the whole of India. It was primarily British industrialists who set up the leather and textile industries here (Yalland 1994) in contrast to Bombay and Ahmedabad where Indian capital was invested in the textile industry (Rothermund 1988). Enterprising and business-minded as they were, British industrialists put to good use the abundance of raw material, cheap labour and the availability of capital. Among the raw materials available were pig bristles because the United Provinces had the highest percentage of pigs in the whole of India (Shah 1977). The ravines around Kanpur were said to be full of wild boar, and pig-sticking was the favourite game and one of the most popular sports of the British in colonial times. This rather risky game was played on horseback with a long spear which was meant to catch the wild boars. There is also evidence of pig-breeding in this period. The enlightened Collector Halsey, who pursued the first sanitary project in Kanpur’s ‘native town’, also established the Agricultural Model Farm and introduced ‘half-bred Leicester sheep, a fine Bhawulpore buffalo bull, imported pigs and an Arab stallion’ (Yalland 1994: 167). It is a well known fact that the British promoted piggeries just to have their ham for breakfast, although ham was still imported as tinned food. The Indians had no use for brooms and brushes, and the indigenous broom (jharoo) was made of vegetable fibre. But from the 1860s onwards, the European and American brush and paint brush industries created a great demand for pig bristles. As the Americans and the British

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had switched over to pork production for mass consumption, their hogs were slaughtered at such a young age that they could not develop bristles of sizeable length. Although in the 19th century bristles were mainly imported from Russia for which Leipzig in Germany was the main market, bristles from China and India became quite popular due to the opening up of the colonial markets. The British taught bristle dressing to the Chinese and to the Khatiks in Kanpur (or Cawnpore, as the city and called before independence). As the Khatiks were pig-breeders and pork-butchers, bristle manufacturing became their domain. Thus, bristle manufacturing was a cottage industry which included bristle trade, bristle extraction from the live or dead animal and bristle dressing. It has been reported that bristles from Kanpur used to be exported to the Western countries since the 1860s (Yalland 1994: 330) and even general merchants had bristles inter alia on their tender. Although in the Reports of the Upper India Chamber of Commerce there is no mention of that commodity, we know from British sources2 that since 1870 there was a regular bristle auction four times a year in London which specialized in that commodity. Hence, bristle trade preceded the establishment of Kanpur’s first, and for a long time only, brush factory. This factory had been established by the British under the name of Pioneer Brush Factory in 1896. But in 1903 it was taken over by the managing agency known as Begg Sutherland & Company, under the name of ‘Cawnpore Brush Factory’, which continued to be called so till 1947. ‘The factory is situated in the Mall (Mall Road area) and is worked throughout by electricity: expert brushmakers were brought from England to instruct the workmen, and all kinds of brushes are made, large quantities being supplied to the army’ (Nevill 1909: 82). The Cawnpore Brush Factory followed the same pattern as most of Kanpur’s industrial enterprises under colonial rule: the blueprint, design, know-how and machinery were imported from England and set up primarily for import substitution and to cater to the needs of the British army. The army created a demand for shoe and horse brushes and as the raw material was easily available, it made sense to set up a factory there. Bristles come only from the hog, pig or boar. They come mainly from animals of good age which have lived long enough to produce hair of more than 50 mm on their neck/back. The unique characteristic of the bristle is the split end which makes it possible to retain water. Therefore, bristles are used for paint brushes also. The characteristics of bristles which matter most to manufacturers are length, colour and

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stiffness. Length is determined by age and breed, colour by breed, and stiffness by climate. The colder the climate, the softer the bristle. For this reason, Indian bristles have generally been the stiffest in comparison to those supplied from North China which supplies the softest bristles. For more than 100 years, bristles from Russia and China dominated the world market with Indian bristles forming a very small part of the trade. Although they only totalled 10 per cent of the Chinese turnover, they got higher Prices because they were well sought after due to their stiffness. Bristle coming from India was used for hair brushes, industrial brushes and—due to its extreme stiffness—even for sewing shoes and cricket balls. Chinese and Indian bristles were till the 1950s mainly black: 60 per cent of the Indian bristles were black, 30 per cent grey and 10 per cent white. The colour of the bristle indicates the genetic composition of the stock, and the fact that the Indian domesticated pig retains many of the characteristics of its wild brethren.3 Although Kanpur city developed into a center for Indian bristle trade, the commodity was called ‘Calcutta bristle’ in Europe. It can be assumed that the name was derived from the fact that the leading British trading companies were Calcutta-based.4 The special quality of Calcutta Bristle was its stiffness, black colour and elasticity. The stiffness was due to the hot climate; its colour was due to the Indian breed being black like its predecessor, the wild boar; and the elasticity was due to the peculiar manner of bristle ‘harvesting’. Originally, bristles were shipped via Calcutta but as the Great Peninsular Railway was already completed in 1870 and Kanpur was linked in 1886 with the Central Indian Railway, quite certainly from this time onwards bristles were sent by rail to Bombay and shipped from there. Although there is evidence that Calcutta bristle was already present in the European market before the First World War, its ‘silver days’ came in the inter-war period (1919– 1939) when the supply for Russian bristles in the European market was severely hampered by the Russian revolution, famine5 and the socialist economy. In other words, from the 1930s till the 1950s bristles were equated with silver and traded according to the price of silver.

Bristle Manufacturers and the Bristle Trade In the 1930s, bristle trade became so remunerative that the Kayasthas and Punjabis superseded the barriers of pollution and took up bristle manufacturing. Thus, among the founding members of the Indian

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Bristle Merchants Association were Khatiks, Kayasthas and Punjabis in equal proportions.6 Although the Kayasthas claimed supremacy in that business, this is strongly rejected by the Khatiks: ‘The Kayasthas came much later. First, they used to collect pig hair and transport it on their bicycles. This was long after we had already set up our business,’ said Satish Chaudhary, the youngest son of Mithoo Lall. The versatile and educated Kayasthas used their social acceptance as a savarna caste for their business contacts which especially bore fruit after India’s independence. Contrary to this, the Khatik bristle manufacturers were traders and bristle dressers. Bristles were bought during the winter season at cattle fairs held in the countryside. They were supplied by the pig-rearing untouchable castes but also by one Adivasi group—the Kanjars—who supplied wild boar bristles which were much sought after due to their high quality, which made them suitable for hair brushes. Latoucheroad being the center of the Khatik bristle manufacturers, and being situated quite near the railway station, many customers came by rail. They were well received by brokers called dalal who ushered them to the respective buyers in exchange for a commission. The bristles were derived from the live animal and were harvested twice a year: after the rainy season at the beginning of winter and in summer. This method of ‘harvesting’ was also known in Russia. The live pig was lifted over a branch of a tree by the hind legs, rubbed down with ash, and amidst much squealing from the pig the bristles were extracted by hand. The longest bristles found along the spine were preferred. This was, however, a painful process and the shrieks of the animal were bloodcurdling. This yelling-accompaniment to the ‘harvest’ method of bristle extracting also used to draw the attention of savarna castes in whose perceptions pigs and pig-rearing castes were beyond comprehension. Therefore, the easier method was the removal of the bristles from the dead animal which was usually done at the abattoir already set up by the British in the 19th century. Bristle dressing was done on the ground floor in the workshops of the bristle manufacturers on Latoucheroad. Workers were mostly Koris, Khatiks and Pasis as mentioned above although the Koris formed the majority. Since pigs are vulnerable to anthrax which is a fatal disease, the bristles had to be boiled first—a procedure which took at least two hours. As small particles of skin and flesh were not removed by boiling, the bristles were thoroughly washed and cleaned by the women and put on the roof to dry. Sorting and bundling was done by men and women

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alike. This was a multi-step process as flag and tail, colour and length had to be differentiated. The quality of the product and therefore the price depended on the standard of processing. The bristles were packed in wooden boxes which had the mark of the specific bristle manufacturer stamped on them. Although women did the dirty jobs, they were paid less which was sex-specific discrimination. But it was argued that washing the bristles required less skill than the other processes. Work in this unorganized sector of Indian manufacturing was neither subject to Indian labour legislation nor did the unions become active. Hence, tariffs were regulated by the contractors or manufacturers. Labour relations were informal and strongly influenced by family and caste relations. In colonial times, those bristles which were not bought by the Cawnpore Brush Factory were sold to England. This was done through local British merchants like William Bird and Company, a raw product dealer. They had their head office in Calcutta and a branch office on the Mall Road in Kanpur. They exported bristles, skin, hides and furs, and acted as quality controllers for the government. William Bird was the oldest exporter and his annals reached back to the 19th century. In the 1930s, a second British firm called Murray and Company became quite prominent for raw products. It was followed by the Delhi-based Kayastha merchant, Shyamji Mai Saxena, who in the early 1930s exported wool, animal hair, bristles, skin, leather and hides abroad. This firm had a branch office in Kanpur too. But most of the bristles from Kanpur were bought by British exporters who sometimes acted through the local agents. For the Khatik bristle manufacturers, selling to London was a multi-step process. They had to overcome the hurdles of colonial business practice where a chain of intermediaries took away a good share of their profits. First, Khatik bristle manufacturers received an advance from the exporters which was a percentage of the average price determined at the last auction in London. This enabled them to ship the goods. Once in London, the bristle was displayed in a warehouse to enable buyers to check the quality. Before the auction, the brokers compiled a catalogue listing and describing the products according to their special marks. The brokers consisted of a small group of four to five traditional British families who had been in the trade for a long time. When bristle manufacturers were finally paid, the advances and the various costs of packaging, storing and cataloguing were deducted.

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Around the 1930s, there were five to six Khatik firms on Latoucheroad which rose to prominence as bristle manufacturers. Usually two close relations, either brothers, or uncle and nephew, or cousin brothers, set up a firm together. This was done to minimise the risk and keep the family together. The oldest firm, M/s Mitthoo Lall Roshan Lall and Mangal Devi, was established in the 1930s. The owners of the firm became the richest bristle manufacturers in Kanpur and Mitthoo Lall styled himself as the ‘King of Bristles’, as the heading of his imposing and impressively coloured photograph of the 1940s shows. Being an uneducated man, he had a clerk of the Bank of Bengal to keep his book accounts. He was able to use the ‘despised niche’ of Indian society to his advantage by making a profit from bristle manufacturing. He invested his wealth cleverly in the city’s real estate, and a whole block of houses on Latoucheroad belonged to him and nowadays belongs to his offspring. His all-India fame and name as the ‘King of Bristles’ can be disputed but locally he gained name and fame, and called himself chaudhury, a hereditary title which continues to be used by his sons. The Khatiks in Kanpur city were not particularly bothered about their social esteem and advancement. There was a short phase in which they tried to form gotras by following the Brahminic example. This attempt failed however. Apart from this, they never attempted to attain higher social status by changing their genealogy as other Scheduled Castes like for example, the Chamars and Koris did (Bellwinkel 1980; Molund 1988). For them, economic success sufficed, which the owner of the firm Mukund Lall and Sons explained during a conversation as follows: ‘There is no Hindu religion; there is only Sanatana Dharma and Arya Dharma. Followers of the former worship statues and of the latter believe in God as a supreme spirit. I am Arya Samaji and only use the word Om. I also believe only in what I can attain through work; my work is my religion.’ The nonchalance with which the Khatiks ignore the Hindu laws of purity and the self-assuredness with which the bristle manufacturers look upon their despised trade may only apply to the rich dealers. However, it can hardly be interpreted as an expression of Sanskritization (Ram 1995: 164) as their frequent adoption of the surname Sonkar, derived from the Sanskrit word somkar (moonlight), might suggest. Unlike Mitthoo Lall, Mukund Lall, who also gave his name to the above mentioned firm, was however an educated man and he took keen interest in the early dalit movements in north India. He used to visit the weekly meetings of Swami Achhutanand (Gooptu 1993). After the

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Swami’s death in 1933, Ram Lal Sonkar—a bristle manufacturer of Latoucheroad—became the leading political figure in the dalit movements in Kanpur. On Babasaheb Dr. Ambedkar’s (the then Labour Secretary in the Viceroy’s Council) only visit to Kanpur in 1944, Sonkar and Mukund Lall called on Babasaheb while he was staying at the railway retiring room and requested him to visit their place. Babasaheb agreed to come to Latoucheroad on condition that a sahabhoj (communal feast) of all the Scheduled Castes in the city be organized. The narrative goes7 that Ram Lal Sonkar managed to arrange a meeting for Dr.  Ambedkar on the Parade—a locality adjoining Latoucheroad— followed by the sahabhoj which was attended by the chaudhuries of the different Scheduled Castes. Even the Balmikis who were considered to be the lowest in the caste-hierarchy attended it. Since nobody wanted to be the host of that sahabhoj, a tent was set up on an open ground. With great triumph, the carriages of the leading industrialists of Kanpur like Juggipat Kamlapat Singhania, among others, lined up during the sahabhoj. All of them wanted to speak to Babasaheb Ambedkar in his capacity as Labour Minister. But he took his own time to finish the sahabhoj with the untouchables of the city. What is usually not mentioned is that Mitthoo Lall did not attend this sahabhoj. To cap it all, those who had attended were ostracized from their respective castes.

Kanpur’s Industrial Decline and the Khatiks Whereas Kanpur’s textile and leather industries prospered during the Second World War because the industries located in the city produced mainly for the army, bristle export suffered a setback due to the war, as stated earlier. But the Khatiks were still able to produce bristle for the Cawnpore Brush Factory which received large supply orders for the army. At last, in 1946, Calcutta bristle was renamed Indian bristle. Independence brought a restructuring of political and economic relations which were influenced by international political events. Kanpur’s textile and leather industries had made large profits during the two World Wars as the British-dominated industries in the city were the main suppliers to the army. The Nehruvian policy of creating a socialist economy favoured investment in public sector enterprises and not in private business. As a result, Kanpur was not on the list of the newly introduced industrial growth centers (Singh 1990).

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The transfer of economic power in Kanpur city had, however, started right after independence with the last British industrialists eventually selling their enterprises to Indian merchants in the 1970s. These years were marked by labour unrest due to rationalization (Pandey 1970) resulting in a reduction of the industrial labour force (Awasthi 1981), and the change of transport from rail to road. Kanpur lost its pre-eminence as a railway junction. Economically, those were years of stagnation but this was not felt severely because of the euphoria of decolonization and imagined growth potentials (Desai et al. 1968) which later led to the city’s development programmes under the Master Plan (1968–91) for Kanpur and the Kanpur Development Authority (1975). Those master plans were formulated by the different bodies of planners, professionals and bureaucrats. The implementation of the various programmes envisaged under these plans was, unfortunately, hampered by rivalry, corruption and inaction on the part of the implementing machinery. Hence, the severe shortages of water and sanitation were left to be resolved with the help of the international development agencies in the early 1980s (Lavigne and Milbert 1983; ISESEP 1988). For Kanpur’s bristle manufacturers, the early years of independence were years of prosperity. The Korean War and the strained Chinese and American relations were a boom for Kanpur’s bristle manufacturers.8 Although the Americans had turned to pig-rearing for mass consumption, they did not produce sufficient hog bristle themselves (Wagmann 1952). They became the biggest buyers of Chinese bristles and even set up firms themselves in China. However, the Chinese revolution and the restructuring of the state under communism in 1948 placed a great strain on the American bristle trade. The import of hog bristles from China was finally prohibited when the Americans imposed, following the Korean War in 1952, a trade embargo on goods imported from China. American traders were prohibited from importing Chinese goods even through the Third World countries. The Americans turned directly to the Indian market undermining the London auction. This also allowed some Parsi firms to enter the bristle trade, specially those who had settled in Kanpur after independence. Being educated, Parsis and Punjabis broke the hold of the middlemen and dealt directly with London’s brokers. Still, Mitthoo Lall did not leave the premises of Latoucheroad though the isolation of the colonial channels of commerce had broken him down. He was visited by one of

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his American customers who not only recalls Mitthoo Lall’s frankness and honesty in business matters but also the amount of alcohol which both of them consumed.9 Once America started buying, air-freight became a more frequent form of transport especially for the longer and more valuable varieties of bristle. In 1968, Nepal introduced an import/ export scheme under which it was more advantageous to Indian shippers to send their goods to Nepal for re-export to the United Kingdom. So, ‘Nepal-bristles’ became a brand name and also underwent a change in quality control. Though the Government of India set up AGMARK grading scheme for cottage industry products, this could not apply to the grading of bristles. When the Chinese market was re-opened in 1972, the Khatiks’ fortune started to look up again in Kanpur city. The Chinese were able to supply a much larger volume of better quality hog bristles at more competitive prices. Indian bristles and bristle dressing generally began to decline, a fact which owes to the overall economic condition of Kanpur. From the 1970s onwards, traditional textile mills and leather factories were taken over by the government. As the British had failed to invest in new machinery, the production cost became too high, leading to low productivity, and this low productivity became uncompetitive vis-a-vis the newly established growth centers under the Five-Year plans. Although Kanpur’s textile mills and leather factories were running at high losses, these were used as employment-creating schemes by the government, and Kanpur’s labour force had a comparatively secure existence. In 1979, London’s bristle auction was finally closed, marking the end of colonial trade relations with Kanpur’s Khatiks. Indian bristle was no longer exported abroad. At the beginning of the 1980s, conditions for the bristle merchants aggravated as the Chinese lowered the prices for their bristles and literally flooded the American and European market with big quantities of high quality bristles. As Indian bristles were not exported any longer, their price fell even in the Indian market, inducing a number of former bristle manufacturers to turn to brush-making. The Parsi bristle merchants, for instance, left business as soon as the Korean boom was over. Three former well known Khatik bristle manufacturers also turned brush-makers, although the other two are still in business; one has become the first and foremost importer of Chinese bristles since 1989.10 The son of the leading

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Kayastha bristle exporter had set up in the 1960s a highly successful paint brush factory which is now catering to the demands of the construction industry in Bangalore. And the most successful brush manufacturer in the city is a Punjabi who has employed 35 workers and runs a semi-automatic plant. There are 18 brush factories in the city registered with the Directorate of Industries. But according to one estimate, there are at least 500 brush makers in Kanpur who produce in family concerns, while those who learn the craft in the factories are employees. As modern construction activities are demanding regular application of paint, there is also nowadays an Indian demand for paint brushes.11 At the end of the 1970s, a number of leather tanneries and leather factories began to modernise to be able to produce high quality products for the international market. They are run by Muslims and Punjabis. Over the last 20 years, they have transformed Kanpur into a renowned center for leather industry whereas all the traditional leather and textile mills of colonial times finally closed down in 1991. The introduction of the New Economic Policy in the context of globalization under the Narasimha Rao regime had a devastating effect on the old and renowned factories in the city. Kanpur’s industrial labour force resorted to casual labour or petty trade. The oldest brush factory, the Brushware Ltd12 of the city, also met the same fate as it was finally closed down in 1994 and its dusty rooms are now guarded by four watchmen. But the leather industry and brush manufacturing have continued to prosper.

Pig Farming in the City In Kanpur city, the Bhangis, Pasis, Dhanuks and Khatiks have been engaged in rearing pigs. In the early 1970s, pig farming was confined to the respective wards where the pig rearing castes lived. Since the beginning of the 1980s, pork production on a large scale has been introduced by one Khatik family in the city. Over the last 20 years, pigs have multiplied to the extent that it is said that this particular family nowadays owns 20,000 pigs in Kanpur. The pig-breeders use the garbage heaps of the whole city as feeding places for their pigs, although middle class residential areas where a better feed can be expected are preferred. Only

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the Muslim wards are omitted. The city is divided into four feeding zones and in each zone the pigs are marked with a different brand by cutting a sign into their ear and tail. Three of these zones are supervised by the extended family and the other zone is given on rent to a near relation. Supervision of pigs is done daily by the members of the Khatik family themselves but pig farming depends on local servants who do the work. They tie up the pigs for slaughter and also turn up from nowhere immediately when a pig is killed in traffic. Their noisy complaints and threatening monetary demands are feared by the city’s car drivers. Pigs constitute a considerable impediment to traffic and their droppings soil the streets. Not only that but any effort to change the system of garbage collection by private initiative was in vain in the past as the Khatiks retaliated immediately. In villages, the Khatiks keep their pigs in stys and feed them on rice straw, sugarcane stalks and maize. This is also occasionally done in the city to the more valuable ‘Chinese’ pigs which are big, fat and white, and are markedly different from their long-legged, skinny and black brethren with long hair on their backs frequently roaming in the city’s open drains and garbage heaps. It can be surmised that the so-called Chinese pigs kept for meat production are a cross breed with a few European species which were introduced sometime in the past in India via China.13 But when I examined their feed more closely, they were fed the same scavengers menu as their unreputed brethren. Nowadays, as the consumption of pork is of great importance, a visit to the slaughterhouse may be an exciting experience. The British established slaughterhouses in Kanpur of which one in Fazalganj is meant for the Khatiks to slaughter pigs and goats, and the other at Bakarmandi for the Muslims to slaughter goats and water-buffalo. (Cow slaughter has been banned in Uttar Pradesh since 1955.) These abattoirs are at opposite ends of the city. Interestingly enough, Khatik goat butchers (kasai) carry the same subcaste name as Muslim butchers, which indicates conversion of one section of the Khatiks to Islam (Ansari 1960). My visit to the Fazalganj abattoir was rather gruesome and repulsive but highly informative. The narrative of experience of the visit reads: ‘In front of the abattoir are huge garbage heaps which are scavenged by sweepers and pigs alike. The abattoir is a large mud paved yard which also serves as a market. There are stys all around to keep pigs there for a couple of days before they are also sold and taken away. Additional installations are a fireplace and a water tank. At seven o’clock in the

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morning, only the villagers, specially Dhanuks who have walked the whole night, come in with their herds. Two lorries parked by the roadside are meant to take the pigs to Assam where they fetch higher prices,’ Munna, the pork butcher, explained. He is an expert in fixing the price of the animal just by sight and by a confirming grip on the pig’s back. He elaborated, ‘Buying and selling is done by fixing the price in advance and giving credit. Not a single banknote is exchanged in the entire process.’ My narrative goes ahead, ‘Then come some of the pigs from the city, tied and bundled on rickshaws. The pork butchers including a woman are there waiting in quiet equanimity for the specimen they were to process.’ Slaughtering is done the whole year round, even during the hot season. The bristles are plucked out in a swift and deft motion by the young men afterwards. This is followed by singeing on grill on the fireplace and the skin is cleansed in a basin of dark brown slop (water) which is probably seldom changed. Cleansing is often done by the youngest and is perhaps their way to start learning the craft. The slaughtered animal is put on the floor for further processing. During my visit to the slaughterhouse to observe the whole process, one of the men standing around commented on the slaughtering process: ‘We do everything differently from the Muslims. The Muslims do the halal way of slaughtering so that the animal is completely bled. They cut-off the head and make all the blood come out. We prefer stabbing into the heart so that little blood is lost. We retain the blood and make blood pudding out of it. The more the blood in the animal, the juicier the meat. But, of course’, he admitted, ‘the meat also spoils more quickly.’ The processing has to be done quickly by the pork butchers numbering around 200 in the city. There are an even greater number of ambulant pork restaurants which sell curried pork dishes and pork sausages. The thelewalas and rickshawalas usually buy the meat from the butchers. Their women do the meat preparation and the men sit out in the evening with their carts in search of customers.

Khatiks, Muslims and the post-Ayodhya Scenario Events of the so-called Indian mutiny of 1857 which led to the extinction of British Kanpur’s military and civil population (Ward 1996) created the impression of the city as a ‘city of violence’ (Molund 1988). It proved to

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be so throughout the 20th century when the city was shaken by several communal riots and industrial strikes, which are to be seen in the light of the city’s urban and industrial development and its failure to improve the living conditions of the working class (Awasthi 1981). Rioting is to be seen as historically rooted when communalism developed as a force during the Non-cooperation/Khilafat movement of the 1920s, as the form in which nationalist demonstrations took place had a decisively ‘Hindu’ connotation (Freitag 1989), and as such was unacceptable to Muslims. As the Arya Samaj’s influence was rather strong on labour and national movements, it led to an additional alienation of the Muslims. The HinduMuslim riot of 1931 was the most severe in pre-independence India. Around 400 people died and 1,200 were injured. Temples and mosques were destroyed, houses and shops burnt (Barrier 1976). In the aftermath of these riots, a rearrangement of localities had taken place as Hindus moved out of Muslim-majority areas and vice versa. The ahatas got fortified to serve defence purposes. This process of homogenization of population locally was counteracted by the explicit agenda of the communists to fight communalism. The universalistic and humanitarian appeal—‘First we are people’—was to counterbalance this. To what extent communist propaganda was successful is, however, not certain as minor riots kept flaring up in the 1930s. Yet, there was no riot during partition although the ahatas went under guard. The post-Ayodhya Hindu-Muslim riots in Kanpur city in 1992 did not catch the headlines of many newspapers. But these were equally severe in the city as four days of nearly uncontrolled violence gave the riots the character of a pogrom (Brass 1997). Around 69 deaths were registered although the unofficial number was much higher. Over 70 per cent of the victims were poor Muslims and many of the Hindu victims belonged to the Scheduled Castes. The riots were instigated by the Hindu nationalists (fundamentalists) the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) and its splinter groups which had a stronghold among the merchants and upper caste employees in the city. The BJP had gained prominence in Kanpur since the 1980s and was successful in the 1991 elections to the Parliament as well as to the State Assembly. But the most striking feature of the 1992 riots was the strong involvement of one section of the Khatiks under the leadership of ‘Kala Bachcha’ (literally, ‘black child’, a nickname). The Black Child, as this hero of the dark side was called, was a Khatik who lived in Babupurwa. His real name was Munna Sonkar but since

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childhood he had been called Kala Bachcha. That is how he was known even in his school records. Black colour is associated with low status, notoriety and viciousness, as also playfulness, as the god Krishna was also considered to be of dark complexion. Kala Bachcha owned about 200 pigs and had built a large multi-storey house which he mainly let out to tenants including Muslims. He became a municipal corporator as an independent candidate, joined the Congress Party afterwards and switched over to the BJP, although it is said that ideologically he was not a very committed person (Brass 1997: 227). Within a short time he became the President of the BJP unit in Kanpur city. Although it is well established that during the post-Ayodhya riots in the city Muslims were the first ones to come out, the selective, pointed and aimed rioting against them is largely attributed to Kala Bachcha. Among the BJP and the Hindu public at large, it is said that he was considered by them to be a hero who saved Hindus from the Muslim areas. Contrary to this, the Muslims attributed to him the prime agency for the selective and organized looting and killing. Police and the city administration on their part considered him just a criminal element belonging to those institutionalized riots which had taken place in the last couple of years in the city. There is even hearsay that he had taken to stealing pigs and changing their brand. In February 1994, he was killed in a bomb blast while driving on his scooter with a near relative. Fortunately, this time the police and the city administration were able to suppress further rioting (The Pioneer 1994).

Towards an Anthropology of Man and Beast The pig is called suar in Hindi. The term’s etymological root goes back to the Indo-European schwein in German and swine in English. There is no linguistic differentiation between the wild and the domesticated species, although the Sanskrit term varaha for wild boar is used in a number of Indian languages (also for one of the incarnate forms of Lord Vishnu). The wild boar is called jungli suar (the forest pig). Yet, there is no historical evidence concerning the Indian pig. The ancient cultures of Mesopotamia and Egypt domesticated the pig in the 4th-5th millennium BC, but in Mohenjo Daro and Harappa (2300–1700 BC), centers of the Indus Valley civilization, any remnant of the domesticated pig is conspicuous by its absence (Kosambi 1956). The Vedic Aryans were

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nomads and when they migrated to India about 1250 BC, they had horses, cattle, goats and sheep (but no pigs) and the male animals were used for sacrifice (O’Flaherty 1980) and their meat was eaten. Cows were treated as clean animals but their super-elevation to the realm of holiness started as a Hindu reaction to Buddhism and preceded the first formulated theory of ahimsa (non-violence). Both Jainism and Buddhism had objected to the killing of animals and the consumption of meat. The development of vegetarianism and the ban on cow slaughter is a well researched realm especially in German Indology. The cow protection movement which started in the late 19th century was, however, a move directed against the Muslims. Interestingly enough, it was intended as a ban on ritual slaughtering (qurbani) at the end of the Muslim fasting period, and not against the slaughtering of cows for beef among the Muslims and the British (Pandey 1992). Veterinary research has focussed on the Indian cow, and its breeding history is well known, but we know very little about the domestication of the pig in India. For the Hindu, the cow is not only considered to be a clean animal but is superelevated to a sacred animal. Her five products—milk, butter, fat, urine and dung—are mixed and eaten in cow worship. Cows and priests are said to have been created at the same time. Traditionally, the Scheduled Castes were not allowed to breed cows as the cow was regarded as the abode of numerous gods, and her worship and care for her led to salvation. The cow is also considered to be the mother of India and a mother is not to be killed. For the Muslims, on the other hand, the cow is a clean animal and as such is preferred for ritual slaughter and consumption. Hinduism has made an implicit equation between Scheduled Castes and pigs. As the pig is an omnivore and eats garbage, faeces, carrion and dirt, it is considered an unclean animal even by those castes who traditionally undertook the ritually polluting tasks. According to Koranic law, the pig is considered an unclean animal and the Muslims all over the world are not allowed to eat pork. Harris (1985) holds that ecological reasons underlie the food taboo. The pig became an ‘abomination’ in the Middle Eastern countries because it directly was rivalling human foodstuff. Regarding the feed of Kanpur’s pigs, I doubt that thesis. Be that as it may, it can certainly be argued that the pig, considered unclean as it is by savarna castes and Muslims alike, belongs to the despised realm of Indian culture.

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This general juxtaposition of Brahmin and cow against untouchable and pig has no scriptural foundation in Hinduism. In the epic and puranic scriptures of Hinduism, there is no mention of the pig. Only the wild boar is referred to as the cherished prey of aristocratic hunts. The wild boar of the jungle is praised for its strength, power and ferocity. Categorically, the wild boar is beyond culture; his savageness is attributed to the woods where he resides. Wild boar is said to have been eaten by the Buddha also and, nowadays, it is eaten even by the savarna castes. In the old scriptures of Hinduism, the opposite of the holy cow is the despised dog and not the pig (Malinar 1997). In Hindu mythology, the wild boar is the third incarnation of Lord Vishnu as mentioned above. When a demon cast the earth into the depth of the cosmic ocean (a heap of filth, according to another version), Vishnu assumed the form of an enormous boar, killed the demon and retrieved the earth with his tusk. ‘This mystic scenario probably developed through a primitive non-Aryan cult of the sacred pig’ (Eliade 1987:364). The Scheduled Castes were meat-eaters (Singh 1993). They ate beef, pork, chicken, dog, cat and rat, mice and meat (Randeria 1993). In the Scheduled Castes’ mythology, however, the consumption of beef was instrumental in their losing their status as a clean caste (Vincentnathan 1993). For instance, the Dhanuks of Kanpur are said to have lost their clean status of the Ahir caste when they took to pig rearing (Singh 1993). Traditionally, the Chamars were given the dead cows for processing and they ate carrion. But in the 1920s, the so-called ‘disgusting and heterodox practices of eating pork, beef, carrion and the leftover of food of other castes was on the decline’ (Briggs 1990 [1920]: 47). Dr. Ambedkar also had strongly objected to the intake of carrion (Keer 1954) which was given up altogether by the Mahars of Maharashtra and the Chamars of northern India. Yet, there is an odium attached to pig-rearing which is based on an implicit equation of pig and sweeper, as both scavenge amidst the dirt. The sweeper belongs to the most polluted caste because he takes away the excreta from the upper castes. As the pig eats that matter which is defined as polluted, pig in the savarna discourse is considered a polluted animal. Nevertheless, pork is generally eaten by all Scheduled Castes not only in Kanpur city but in the whole of India. For instance, it has an eminently nutritious and ritual value for the Chamars. It is the only fresh meat they could obtain in the past. For

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them, pig was also the preferential sacrificial animal (Bellwinkel 1980; Cohn 1987) which used to be the food at weddings. A piglet was sacrificed when a child was born or was sick, or a boon had to be granted.14 But now there are few Chamars in Kanpur city who are willing to recall that tradition. As stated earlier, the upper caste Hindus in general and in Kanpur city in particular show the highest amount of repulsion towards the pig. The repulsion generally expressed by Kanpur’s middle classes towards the pig has different connotations reflecting the ‘Westernized’ orientation of the respective discussants. Those exposed to European modes of living are able to differentiate between the animal and its unsavoury feed. They do not mind eating pork if the pigs are kept properly and are not fed on garbage heaps. They would certainly eat pork abroad as it is juicy and delicious irrespective of the feeding pattern of the pig. But here in Kanpur city, they can give endless examples of washermen who have died of tapeworm in the brain which was certainly transmitted from pork. A general warning is displayed in Chinese restaurants in the city to not eat pork as it is injurious to health. The second discourse of the middle classes takes a paternalistic stance. According to them, the consumption of pork is regarded suitable only for the Scheduled Castes as their stomach is considered to be adjusted to the digestion of pork. In such arguments, pork eating and drinking country liquor among the poor and labourers is also condoned as they are believed, to not know better. Health hazards attributed to the intake of pork are partially a rationalization of the savarna discourse of the polluted pork. But from a nutritional point of view, this is not true as physiologically that kind of feed is harmless. It only shows the highly adaptive capacity of the pigs’ intestines to split up faeces and leftovers. What would certainly be injurious to health are the unhygienic conditions at the Fazalganj slaughter house, the total lack of veterinary inspection, and the lack of cooling facilities at the abattoir and the butchers’ shops.15 But many office goers from the savarna castes, on leaving office come to the roadside pork restaurants. They do not argue about what they eat; instead they relish the pork, unnoticed by their mothers, wives and children. Contrary to this, the educated amongst the Chamars have partially taken over the savarna discourse on the polluted pork as stated earlier. The consumption of pork was something they had done in childhood but it is something their not so advanced brothers still do. Nowadays, they have taken to the cherished food of the middle classes like chicken, goat, and to a lesser extent, mutton, although some of

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the educated Chamars, especially the convinced Buddhists, are strictly vegetarians. Meat-eating in the Hindu, or rather Brahmanic, tradition has been treated exhilarating; hence, undesirable. But for the Khatiks of Kanpur, pork eating has remained an overt and cherished tradition which they are proud of. In their opinion, pork is tasty and cheap, and is suitable for all. They claim that even Muslims eat pork, although they do it on the sly. They send their children to the butcher’s shop to make sure that nobody notices it. The Khatiks have most probably never taken to beef eating as they traditionally had enough pork to consume. Probably consequent upon that, cow protection is strongly implanted in their belief system and also governs their relationship with the Muslims whom they regard to be ritually polluting on account of their eating beef. ‘If a Muslim touches our water vessels, they will be polluted,’ they say. Untouchability practised between Khatiks and Muslims has also repercussions on their business relationships. For instance, a Khatik bristle manufacturer was reprimanded in the past by his caste fellows because he had bought cattle and horse tail hair from the Muslims to blend them with pork bristles. But from these notions a general hostility between Khatiks and Muslims cannot be deducted. There are Khatik families on Latoucheroad who follow Muslim Pirs and their male members maintain close friendship with Muslims. They visit each other on Id and Diwali, and take food in the respective houses. In retrospect, the rise and decline of the bristle trade showed that the notion of pollution worked to the advantage of the Khatiks. Being mainly pork butchers and associated with the most defiling notion of pollution, Khatiks have traditionally been allowed a low ranking in the gradation of the Scheduled Castes though Ram (1988) has found them fairly at the top in such gradation. In spite of that they became successful entrepreneurs and used the ‘despised niche’ of Indian society to their own advantage. These findings are surprising to the extent that these are contrary to the common notion of the norms of pollution which worked to the disadvantage of the Scheduled Castes as a whole. The bristle trade became so remunerative that even businessmen of the savarna castes entered this trade, as stated earlier. Thus, bristle became a ritually neutral commodity for which the norms of purity and pollution (Dumont 1970) were not applicable. In the case of the Khatiks of Kanpur city, the economic realm has superseded the ritual realm. There is certainly a noticeable change regarding the rigidity of pollution norms.

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Although most of the Scheduled Castes in Kanpur city tried in the past to Sanskritize their behaviour to achieve upper caste status (Niehoff 1959; Bellwinkel 1980; Molund 1988; Ram 1995), the Khatiks did not bother about it at all. The repulsion associated with their name which directly discloses the profession of butchery has made them change their surname to Sonkar. I do not regard this as an indication of Sanskritization; instead, only of their ambivalence concerning their butcher’s role. But in all other realms of behaviour such as specificities of their trade, business, food and drinking habits, they show great confidence and self-assuredness. In respect of butchery, they openly do not want to be referred to as a butcher’s caste although within the walls of Pazalganj abattoir the young butchers are tremendously proud of their craftsmanship. As butchers and masters of the beast, Khatiks control their (the beasts’) life and death. Although till the Ayodhya riots their mastery of killing was contained within the walls of the slaughterhouse, its extension into the human realm was possible only under very specific and complex socio-political and ideological conditions. The Scheduled Caste politics in Kanpur city has remained fragmented and only on specific occasions unified as Ram (1995) has shown. Although the Khatiks of the city had received Dr. Ambedkar when he came to Kanpur on his aforesaid first and only visit, they were not very much involved in Scheduled Caste politics. It is the Chamars who were the spokesmen, although they also were fragmented between different factions and orientations (Niehoff 1959). In the past, neither the Ambedkar movement nor neo-Buddhism had any lasting political impact on Kanpur. Scheduled Caste industrial workers were with the Congress party as long as the fortunes of the Nehru dynasty ran high. They have recently shifted to the Bahujan Samaj Party and a faction of the Khatiks to the BJP. The Khatiks are also fragmented in their political orientation. One faction is with the communists who have always taken an anti-communalist stance. And evidence suggests that Kala Bachcha’s ideological identification with the BJP was superficial, although he became the president of the city unit of the party, as mentioned above. Thus, it cannot be construed from the short-term association of Kala Bachcha and a faction of the Khatiks with the BJP that the latter have become Sanskritized, distanced from the other Scheduled Castes, and have crossed the pollution barrier and begun to enjoy the status of a clean or savarna caste. The economic decline of the Khatiks from international trade relations to pig-breeding certainly meant a loss of status for them. The BJP used the hidden animosity between Khatiks and Muslims, which

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revolved around the pig, to absorb one fraction of the former into their fold. Kala Bachcha gained recognition and esteem through his association with the BJP, the winner in Kanpur’s urban politics since the 1980’s. The overarching ideology of Hindutva was directed by the BJP against the Muslims and the polluting character of the Khatiks’ occupation was negated as long as the Khatiks served its ends. To use Dumont’s argument in contradiction to his theory, pollution was subsumed to power, and Kala Bachcha himself cleverly stuck to the ‘Orientalist’ image (Brass 1997) of the complacent and non-violent Hindu. In his own definition of the happenings, he was ‘only saving’ those Hindus living in the Muslim-dominated areas who feared for their lives. Under very specific conditions, the Hindutva ideology bottled up that danger which until how is contained in the specific profession of the BJP.

Conclusion There is power derived from the fear of pollution of matter, beast and man, and this power is contained by the caste system. The pollution part of the caste system is until now seen only in it’s suppressive, exploitative and unjust aspects. The Khatiks share with all Scheduled Castes the power derived from the abomination of dirt, pollution and death which the savarna castes hand down to them. The pig as the realm of pollution and dirt is the creative and nutritious element for the Khatiks which they have used to their advantage as bristle manufacturers, pig-breeders and pork-butchers. This notion is shared by most of the Scheduled Castes in the city and outside, for whom the pig is of high symbolic and ritual value.

Notes The author is grateful to Professor Nandu Ram, Dr. Ambedkar Chair Professor of Sociology at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, who made valuable comments and suggestions on the earlier draft of this paper. 1. Ahata means enclosure which is the prevalent residential area of the labour class and the urban poor. Most of the ahatas are listed as slums. 2. Most of this information I owe to Edward Barber from the firm Michael Barber and Sons. They were the leading auctioneers of bristles in London. 3. This statement is corroborated through an observation made by Reinhold Herz, an eminent and experienced German bristle dealer of Stuttgart. I showed him a photograph of bristle dressing in Latoucheroad Judging from the flag of the bristles, he

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4.

5. 6.

7.

8. 9.

10. 11. 12. 13.

14.

15.

Maren Bellwinkel-Schempp thought they came from the wild boar But as far as I knew, they came from Kanpur’s domesticated pigs. I came across the name ‘Calcutta Bristle’ first m the German brush workers journals which I consulted in the Leipzig National Library and in the Economic Archives of Baden Wurttemberg. The Russians ate up all their pigs. I am grateful to Suresh Saxena, the former secretary of the Indian Bristle Merchants Association who not only supplied me with information but also allowed me to consult his files. In the discourse of the sahabhoj, I follow the narrative of Mukund Lall s son Nawal Kishor—the most objective and trustworthy informant Many information on the bristle trade I owe to him and his monthly Brushes Hairs and Fibres published in English and Hindi In the editorials, Nawal Kishor raises historical issues on the bristle trade, bristle dressing and brush manufacturing. At that time German bristle dressing also prospered. ‘Drinking like a fish’ is an abusive term in Germany for brush makers also The dusty work of brush making allows German craftsmen, according the Board of Craftsmen Regulations, to drink one bottle of beer a day during work although usually alcohol is prohibited at the work site. This is the firm A K Export Trading Corporation which still deals with Indian bristles and does dressing on demand. Houses were usually whitewashed after the rainy season just before Diwali For the application of lime, vegetable fibres were used. After independence, the Cawnpore Brush Factory was renamed Brushware Limited. This insight I owe to Howard Wagmann, Senior of the American Bristle Dealers I am also grateful to Prof H. Geldermann of the Institute of Animal Genetics of the Agricultural University, Schloss Hohenheim, Germany, who pointed out to me that not only bristle trade but cross breeding of pigs also was an international affair. Most of the information regarding the natural importance of the pig for the Chamars I owe to Prof Nandu Ram of Jawarharlal Nehru University, New Delhi as Briggs is very scanty in his information. I discussed this point at length with Prof Becker of the Institute of Animal Production in the Tropics and Subtropics, Agricultural University, Schloss Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany Using my material on Kanpur’s pig feed, he gave a stimulating lecture to his students and me on the pigs’ intestines and their adaptive capacity For me, this proved to be a physiologically sound refutation of a substantialist’s deduction of pollution concept.

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Pioneer, The. 1994. February 10, 13, 18, 21 issues. Quigley, Declan. 1993. The Interpretation of Caste. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Ram, Nandu. 1988. The Mobile Scheduled Castes—Rise of a New Middle Class. Delhi: Hindustan Publishing Corporation. ———. 1995. Beyond Ambedkar: Essays on Dalits in India. New Delhi: Har-Anand Publishers. Randeria, Shalini. 1993. The Politics of Representation and Exchange among the Untouchable Castes in Western India (Gujarat). Disseratation, Berlin. Rothermund, Dietmar. 1988. An Economic History of India—From Pre-Colonial Times to 1986. London: Oxford University Press. Shah, A. C. 1977. ‘Piggery Development’, Weekly Review (Bank of Baroda), 25 (27): 12–14. Singh, K. S. 1993. The Scheduled Castes. People of India Series. Delhi: Anthropological Survey of India and Oxford University Press. Singh, S. N. 1990. Planning and Development of an Industrial Town—A Study of Kanpur. New Delhi: Mittal Publications. Singh, V. B. 1973. Wage Patterns, Mobility and Savings of Workers in India—A Study of Kanpur Textile Industry. Bombay: Lalvani Publishing House. Srinivas, M. N. 1966. Social Change in Modern India. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Verma, R. I. 1964. Leather Footwear Industry in Uttar Pradesh with Special Study at Kanpur, Census of India, 1961. Vol. XV: Uttar Pradesh, Part VII-A-Handicrafts Survey Monograph No. 2, Lucknow. Vincentnathan, Lynn. 1993. ‘Untouchable Concepts of Person and Society’, Contributions to Indian Sociology (N.S.) 27: 65–82. Wagmann, Howard M. 1952. Bristle and its Importance to the American Paint and Brush Industry. MBA thesis in Marketing, University of Pennsylvania. Ward, Andrew. 1996. Our Bones are Shattered—The Cawnpore Massacres and the Indian Mutiny of 1857. London: John Murray. Yalland, Zoe. 1987. Traders and Nabobs—The British in Cawnpore 1765–1857. Wilton Salisbury, Wiltshire: Michael Russell, The Chantry. ———.1994. Boxwallahs—The British in Cawnpore 1857–1901. Wilby Hall: Michael Russell.

PART III Mapping Conflict

7 Dalit Struggle, Nude Worship, and the ‘Chandragutti Incident’1 Linda J. Epp

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n two days every spring, bhaktas (worshippers) from several Karnataka districts have for centuries performed bettale seve (nude worship). This occurs at Chandragutti village, in Sorab taluk in Shimoga district. Devotees undress, bathe in the sacred Varada river, and walk the four kilometres from the wilderness and up the mountainside to the temple, shivering and shouting, ‘Yellamma, Udo, Udo, Udo (Praise to God!)’. There they fulfil their vows to the Mother Goddess Yellamma/Renuka: they pray for forgiveness of sins, offer thanks for cure of disease, request the birth of a son, and generally seek to placate a fearful deity. Most of the devotees are from the lower strata of society: most are Dalit women. Nudity, especially of women, is taboo in India: however, there are ritual occasions when nudity has been condoned. Nudity and nude worship in this region are associated with other rural celebrations, such as the Holi festival, and celebrants, such as devadasis (women married to the goddess and reserved for sacred prostitution), and ascetic Digambara2 Jains. Although nude worship at Chandragutti was removed from the official List of Seves (Services) in 1928, it persisted. At the so-called ‘Chandragutti Incident’ of 1986, ‘frenzied devotees, protesting attempts to prevent worship in the nude, stripped and assaulted police personnel and social workers’ (Indian Express, Bangalore,

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24 February 1988). This was the result of a protest demonstration against nude worship staged in part by the Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (DSS) (Committee for the Struggle of the Oppressed). Dalit means downtrodden, or oppressed, people. The term refers to Scheduled Castes (exUntouchables), Tribals and other groups that make up the Depressed Classes in India. The DSS comprises young men, mostly ex-Untouchables, immersed in B. R. Ambedkar’s cultural and political platform for social reform of caste inequality.3 Many of these Karnataka activists now define ‘Dalit’ more narrowly as ‘Untouchables, those ill-treated and humiliated by caste.’ The Incident, and the ensuing Channaveerappa Enquiry Commission ended nude worship at Chandragutti. The ‘Chandragutti Incident’ described here is from the perspective of the DSS members and sympathizers who originated the protest and were attacked in the ensuing riot. Among these insurgents, Mr. B. Krishnappa, the first Karnataka State Convenor of the DSS, was surely prominent. As a village labourer’s child who slept and worked in a local landlord’s house, he recalls ‘a bitter experience with caste and economic inequality’. But, when Krishnappa became educated, and an educator himself, like many of the rising Dalit elite, he became complacent. However, once Krishnappa was convinced by the Dalit movement’s early discussions derived from various ‘agitation’ literatures, unlike these others who remained in their complacency, he remembered his own past and the plight of other villagers. He then took on an informed activist perspective and led the DSS, as Convenor, from 1974 to 1984. The ‘Chandragutti Incident’ was not Krishnappa’s first experience with protest against ceremonial nudity. Six or seven years earlier, he helped DSS workers in Gulbarga district fight against a nude procession of women, mostly devadasis about to be dedicated to the deity. The Gulbarga Superintendent of Police was a famous Dalit writer and, along with the support of more militant Dalits (near to Maharashtra and influenced by Ambedkar directly), took a firm decision to stop this procession. The Gulbarga success likely set the precedent for the Chandragutti protest. The thinking of the DSS was that an ‘anomaly’ could be stopped in society in two ways. By persuading the people and/or by bringing political force and ‘law and order’ to suppress unacceptable behaviour. At both protest demonstrations, it was not possible to quickly convince devotees to cease their worship. They would say, ‘See, our goddess has given this. Let it be. What harm will it give? If you stop this, the goddess

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will become angered and give all the Devi’s curse to us.’ But, as before, the DSS strongly persuaded local supporters. They also politically pressured the government, seeking a law against nude worship. In a personal interview (24 July, 1991)4 Krishnappa expressed the outrage felt by the Dalit community towards the government. Even when provided with evidence of nude worship at Chandragutti, the government was initially slow to protect their women’s honour. This perceived negligence mobilized the DSS to shame the government. Any democratic government must see that the people behave in a civilized manner. In a democracy wherein we have got equality, liberty, fraternity, all these things we are talking, in such a civilized society a barbarous thing is going on. Taking the women in nude is really uncultured and barbarous. This type of procession going on in Karnataka is shameful on the part of the people’s representatives to government. Shameful to the government itself allowing such processions in the name of the deity, arranging the buses for that fair. So, we have attacked the government, [saying] ‘We [You] must stop it or we will fight against the government.’ In this way we converted a social issue into a political one.

My interviews in 1990–91 occurred half a decade after the Incident (1986), the Enquiry Commission (1987) and resultant five-year ban. During this period the DSS as a whole took on a different face. However, the DSS originated in southern Karnataka, and it is these origins, of which the Chandragutti Incident is part, that are recounted here. This Dalit perspective is from educated activists and not from the Dalit mass, specifically not from the nude worshippers. This paper explores what happens when a male movement dedicated to rationalist action and social reform encounters a feminine, sexual and religious counter-movement. The premise is that ‘the feminine’ and ‘the sacred’, alike sexuality, is a ‘dense transfer point for relations of power’ (Foucault 1981: 103). Ultimately, the tripartite nature of nude worship constitutes a dense interface between supporters of nude worship, and reformers, re-enforced by considerations of caste boundaries. It will not escape the readers’ attention, the irony of referring primarily to male authorities surrounding an inherently ‘feminine’ tradition. However, in this paper the presiding male reality, around this evocative, but ‘de-centred’5 subject, provides an important subaltern6 perspective. The viewpoint of the female subaltern case will be considered elsewhere (Epp, forthcoming).

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The Mythopoeic Ground: Jamadagni and Renuka In any discussion with Dalits or subaltern activists, the local version of the Jamadagni and Renuka myth is invariably cited to explain why devotees perform nude service. The beautiful young goddess Renuka married the ascetic Jamadagni and bore him several sons without sexual union. Each morning, Renuka went to the river to fetch water for her husband’s ablutions, where, because of her purity, she was able to fashion a pot out of loose sand. One morning, she was momentarily diverted by the sight of ghandarvas (celestial beings) sporting in the river. Thus aroused, she was unable to fashion her morning’s pot. Thinking that she thus sought to disrupt his worship, her husband was so enraged that he ordered his elder sons to kill their mother. They refused, and Jamadagni condemned them to impotence and madness. However, his youngest son, Parushurama, obeyed his father and pursued his mother to cut off her head. In the ‘high’ myth, he succeeds, and this obedience pleases his father. In the ‘local’ myth, however, Renuka did not wait for her head to be cut off: rather, she ran. As her youngest son chased her, she lost her sari and exposed her buttocks. Entering into a cave, she prayed to the Mother Goddess and was swallowed up by the earth. To this day, the devotees worship a small stone linga that they claim has grown on the spot, and also an image of Renuka’s buttocks. Because Renuka was accepted into the earth nude, her devotees conclude that she likewise calls on them to come to worship in similar child-like innocence. The myth encompasses much of the social ambivalence surrounding themes of femininity and sexuality in contemporary Indian society. We learn that the ideal of ascetic marriage denies sexual pleasure. Renuka involuntarily ‘sins’ against her husband by mentally crossing the boundary from chastity to sexuality, and thereby incurs banishment and death.7 Duty to father wins over love of mother. Whereas filial disobedience results in the elder sons’ impotence, filial obedience condones the youngest son’s matricide. But although the Dalit activists cite the myth, they do not engage these themes. As cultural activists, even for the purposes of protest, they do not entertain the idea that the ‘low caste version’ of the high myth presents even a glimmer of subaltern critique. For example, there is a political dimension to the Yellamma/Renuka myth. It is well known that Parushurama, son of a Brahman, goes on to become the scourge of

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the Kshatriyas. However, since nudity is the offense, nudity (or other devotional acts to Yellamma) as an expression of Dalit women’s anti-Brahmanism, or anti-casteism, cannot be comprehended, nor used in this case as a basis for communal resistance. (Contra Victor Turner’s [1969] views that nudity obviates status and expresses solidarity.) Nor is it considered accurate about devotees’ general mind-set. One male activist said, partially in jest: ‘How Renuka has come so low, we do not know . . . If only they would worship Renuka’s face, and not her buttocks’ (Focus Group personal interview, 25 July 1991). As males, they apparently do not question the pervasive patriarchal motifs present. However, as rationalists, they dismiss this myth, like all religious activity, on the grounds that it is superstitious and ultimately exploitative.

The Dalit Sangharsh Samiti The 1970s were turbulent years in India that spawned many social movements. B. Krishnappa and other Dalit youths initially joined the Samaj Wadi Ujal Sabha (SWUS, Socialist Party Youth Wing) in 1972. This began supposedly as a general anti-caste movement, but it soon became clear that it was directed against Brahmans only. After many anti-Brahman agitations, there was a split between Brahmans and Shudras. Influenced by the literature of Ambedkar and Lohia, the Dalit members of this Shudra movement felt their main enemy was Brahmanical values and thinking, rather than the Brahman per se. An ideological versus practical argument ensued. The Shudra youth activists argued that Brahmans were the cause of Untouchability, and that their dominance needed to be wiped out to improve the lot of the Untouchables. Yet, after land reforms most Brahmans vacated their landlord fiefs and migrated to the cities. The Shudras themselves had become the dominant landed castes [Okkaligas in south Karnataka and Lingayats in the north] and therefore the immediate oppressors. One year prior to the Emergency a rift occurred. The DSS was formed in 1974. The young Dalit Panther movement in Maharashtra, formed in 1972, also had an impact on the Dalit movement in Karnataka (cf. Jogdand 1991). This new social movement was aimed at both the caste system and the Dalits’ unique economic situation: the argument was

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that social and economic equality must be fought for by Dalits solely under their own leadership. The DSS began as a cultural protest movement formed by artists, writers and university youth: several of these subsequent leaders of the Dalit movement in Karnataka and Maharashtra had originally formed a literary and political cohort when they first met and studied together at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, in the 1970s. One of the first issues taken up was the content of Kannada literature. At a public function in Mysore, Mr. B. Basavalingappa, a Dalit and Minister of Municipal Administration, called all Kannada literature ‘bhoosa sahitya’. In Kannada this word means cattlefeed.8 According to Mr. Munivenkatappa, a Dalit poet and Assistant Director of Agriculture, Basavalingappa’s point was that, ‘All the literature in Kannada is in favour of upper castes, created by upper castes, for the upper castes only’ (personal interview, 21 March 1991). These comments instigated riots between upper caste and Dalit youths across the state, particularly in Bangalore and Mysore University hostels. After this incident, student study cells and Dalit writers’ conferences were formed. Krishnappa reports, ‘The early years provided time for discussion, and for clearing doubts about fighting against the caste system.’ After several years, these cultural activists concluded, ‘Not only the university educated and youths should fight; the rural people who have been hard hit by the caste system should [also] be organized . . . in the rural areas’ (ibid.) In 1978 the DSS took to the rural areas and agitations began. They focused primarily on what could be called ‘boundary crossing’ politics: social taboos were broken when DSS activists in the company of Dalit villagers entered previously forbidden temples and hotels,9 drew water from the common wells, and walked down streets reserved for upper caste people. They also staged land-grab movements. Although Ambedkar’s ‘three commandments’ were to ‘educate, organize, and agitate’, most of the early DSS activities were agitations. Other contemporary movements in India, such as West Bengal’s Marxist and Naxalbari uprisings, had provided the DSS a severe, possibly simplistic, and secular model for protest (one specifically rejected by Ambedkar: see Gokhale 1990: 240). Krishnappa reports the thinking as, ‘Whether or not we dialogue with the upper castes we will be pacified [i.e., repressed]. So, let us attack first’. As a consequence of their agitations, atrocities against Dalits also became common. ‘The 1980s were full of burning in Karnataka’ (ibid.)

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Up until the Chandragutti Incident in 1986, the DSS was a smaller unified organization. The DSS has formed committees at several levels: state, divisional, district, block, taluk, and village. Each of these has a core team of about 15 and is represented by three functionaries: a Convenor, an Organizing Convenor, and a Treasurer. Each committee ideally sets out its own Constitution, in complement with the state level. The DSS has matured into the 1990s, and has now spread across the state. Factions have also formed, some say more so between the leaders than among the cadres. The entire membership numbers in the thousands. Two main reasons are cited for division in the DSS. First, there are fierce differences of opinion over alignment with formal political parties. Up until the 1985 State Assembly elections, the DSS had defined itself, in Mr. Shrikanth’s words, as a neutral, ‘nonpolitical, social-cultural organization’ (personal interview, 28 June 1991). In 1985, Mr. Devanura Mahadevaru, the Convenor who followed Krishnappa’s Convenorship, decided in consultation with DSS members to support the Janata Party. Although some DSS representatives claim the Janata Party owed its electoral success to this Dalit support (at least in the south: cf. Manor 1984: 156; India Today 31 March 1985: 12), the alignment was considered a failure by most members. ‘The then Chief Minister, the wily Ramakrishna Hegde [a Havyaka Brahman], “purchased” a Dalit poet, [i.e., Devanura Mahadevaru]’ (Teepee 1991: 4). The DSS has continued to present itself as ‘nonpolitical’, yet the debate has continued.10 A second source of contention is ‘whether to take a hermeneutical and somewhat eclectic approach, or a strictly exclusive reading, of Ambedkar’ (S. Marji, personal communication, 1991). Here, factional lines tend to be drawn between educated and less educated Dalits: the latter are more likely to treat Ambedkar with the reverence due to a guru. An exception to this, however, is the Samata Sainik Dal (SSD), a new offshoot of the DSS founded in 1991. The founding President is M. Venkataswamy. V.T. Rajshekar, influential writer and editor of the ‘Dalit Voice’, enthusiastically reports that this ‘non-political faction’ is committed to ‘pure, more radical, Ambedkarism’ (interview, 20 July 1991). In instances of either political or philosophical differences, the movement’s purity, its self-definition, and its form of protest are influenced by the doctrinal choice taken. Recalling the ostensible centrality of women in the mythical themes and rites around which the Chandragutti Incident occurred, we may

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wonder where women are in this structure? DSS workers deal with the day-to-day problems. In the case of atrocities on Dalits, for example, women as much as men are victims. ‘Women are part and parcel of every problem’, they say, ‘and of the Dalit movement’. Although there is no women’s organization, and women have had no part in the leadership, agitation cannot occur without them. In 1991, two women who attended the Karnataka State Dalit Meeting in Bangalore raised this issue: one of them was immediately offered a position. Given their organization’s youth, their few numbers, and the immensity and immediacy of the people’s struggle, the DSS has not felt the need to divide its energies along gender lines. Through the DSS, the direction for Dalit struggle has filtered from the top to the bottom: from educated urban to illiterate rural, from top leadership down through the cadres and finally to the mass. Educated Dalits, like Krishnappa, acknowledge that bottom-up flow of information would be ideal: however, since the rural people in Karnataka are illiterate, most activists believe villagers cannot understand their own exploitation. Further, activists stress it is difficult for villagers to organize resistance on their own behalf. DSS members realize increasingly, however, that education and organization must coincide with agitation. As we shall see, this is one lesson derived from the Chandragutti Incident.

Chandragutti: Discovery, Pressure, Propaganda The Chandragutti Protest came up in the course of ‘routine’ work on social problems and land dispute cases. Krishnappa was approached in Bangalore: ‘You have gone to Gulbarga to stop the nude movement. See, in your own native district it is going on. What action have you taken?’ Consequently, four DSS activists went to observe the Chandragutti jatra (festival) in 1984. They were shocked by the nudity, particularly that of women. These unclothed devotees (some covered with kunkuma [red powder] and neem leaves), seemed to have no shame; occasional protests by hesitant devotees were quelled by other worshippers. The reformers saw ‘unnatural’ sights where brothers denuded mothers and sisters, fathers stripped wives and daughters. Further, they were offended that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) (United Hindu Association), a revivalist Hindu solidarity movement, had a booth that sold curds and

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rice to devotees and voyeurs who came to gaze on the crude, intoxicated,11 nude worshippers. The VHP presence there reinforced the DSS belief in the complicity between Hindu, especially Brahmanical, religious traditions and exploitation of the Backward Classes. One activist took explicit photographs; Krishnappa wrote an impassioned article. The DSS intended to publish the photos and article together to awaken the public to the ‘true facts’ and bring pressure on the government. All mainstream publishers rejected the photos. Finally, the Lankesh Patrike, a Kannada daily published by Lankesh, a known Kannada writer and Dalit sympathizer, printed both. This article aimed to go beyond sentimental appeal. It presented the involvement of the political and religious people supporting nude worship, the difficulties social workers face and the economic plight of the nude worshippers. As intended, this caused an outcry in the Vidhan Soudha, the Karnataka State Legislative Assembly. Krishnappa reported that the Home Minister, J.H. Patel, said, ‘No such thing was taking place . . . but if it was so, the government would stop it’. Although the DSS mounted a public procession, no further action was taken by the government. The Chief Minister, S. Bangarappa,12 a Backward Caste man and a socialist who was then the local MLC of Shimoga district, kept quiet; some activists bitterly claimed that he was a secret worshipper of the Devi. State Assembly elections in 1985 intervened, and no further DSS agitations over nude worship were made until the following year. The DSS renewed their cause in 1986. They formed an Anti-Naked Service Society and banded together with several other groups, including the Social Welfare Government Department. The DSS was officially sanctioned by the state government, through the new Home Minister,13 to ‘lead the way’. A propaganda programme was mounted 15 days prior to the festival. The areas around Chandragutti were targeted and social workers, local leaders, government officials and villagers worked in concert; DSS members assumed the single goal was to ‘stop this uncivilized practice’. Staged events included symposia, small gatherings, and the production of various handbills, advertisements, radio programmes and impromptu dramas. ‘Dividing themselves into two groups of 20 each, the Samiti volunteers and other amateur artists staged about 25 street plays prior to the commencement of the jatra’ (Indian Express, Bangalore, 29 January 1987). The drama, ‘Bettale Seve’ (Nude Worship), was commissioned by the DSS for this programme. In this, a father, influenced by the village

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gowda (headman), pressurizes his daughter to perform nude worship to atone for his poverty. Her brother encourages her to resist, and eventually several village people join in this protest. At the jatra the daughter refuses. To the villagers’ amazement there is no famine, the sun shines, and the crops continue to grow. So, the gowda was driven from the village. At one such performance, there was a hint of the trouble brewing. One hotel owner drew the actors aside, saying angrily, ‘You don’t repeat that drama again. Don’t use that landlord role. That reflects on us. We are illtreated’. The DSS activists denied any intention to offer personal offence, countering that this was simply ‘a fictitious character in a play”. Again, prior to another performance, an intoxicated man with a trishula (a three-pronged spear associated with Shiva worship) threatened them. ‘Some of the priestly class sent me to do this’, he said. Several DSS members surmised that three ‘priestly’ groups had been disgruntled by the protests. First, jogatis, the low-caste pujaris (priests) of Yellamma/Renuka who promote nude service for their living; second, the religious heads of Chandragutti Renukambi Religious Unit, who manage this and other religious festivals; and, third, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) members, whose presence at the fair and support for nude service had previously been noted by the DSS. If nude worship were abolished at Chandragutti, the entire festival would likely cease. Consequently, the Religious Unit would suffer some economic loss, the jogatis’ livelihood would be threatened most of all. The religious community, including the VHP, would also be disgraced if the call to end nude worship did not come from them: if this was to be, they, and not the DSS, should take credit for ending this practice. DSS members and sympathizers claim that landlords and these priestly members were present at several local meetings where these grievances were aired. A counter-protest against the DSS was imminent. Despite these warnings, DSS members were comforted by the official support behind them. They stressed that the Deputy Commissioner was also from a Scheduled Caste background. Consequently, he was partial to their programme. The Superintendent of Police, a Lingayat, had expressed reservations about the efficacy of their protest. Yet he offered police protection, saying to Krishnappa (Krishnappa 1986): ‘We are like a water tank. You may drink with open hand or fill it with buckets’. Thus, the activists slept well on the eve of the two-day jatra.

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The Incident Events culminated early on the morning of 19 March 1986. About 200 DSS activists, including other social workers and women police, joined hands at the riverside to prevent worshippers from entering nude. They boldly called out slogans, ‘Bettale seve practice is illegal. If anybody does it they will be punished according to law’. They formed a human chain. On the first day, they successfully stopped most nude worship, so much so, says Krishnappa, that the major papers. (The Times of India, Indian Express, Frontline, etc.) were disappointed. (See for example, India Today, 15 April 1986 photo byline: ‘Women taking a holy dip [top] and semi-clad devotee: anti-climax’.) What became controversial was their forceful approach to barring nude service. It raised the possibility that men had touched the nude female devotees. Most activists denied doing this. ‘We are very conscious of that matter. In India it is a very sensational point looking at a woman, talking with her, touching and looking at her nude body. It is a very sensational issue in this country. . . . If we touched the ladies, some waiting group may come upon us, and beat us. We feared like that.’ A general call was made throughout Karnataka to all interested supporters and progressives to join the protest. On the morning of 20 March 1986, the reformist numbers unexpectedly swelled to 800 or more. These reformers found themselves mounting a campaign before 60,000 to 80,000 devotees and onlookers. Until mid-morning the protest remained peaceful, and the DSS regarded the campaign as successful. Then various small quarrels began to break out in rapid succession. Challenged to worship in dress, devotees retorted, ‘If you ask us to go in dress, give us dress’. The reformers had no dhotis or saris to give. But some re/covered the male devotees with their own clothes and verbally urged the female devotees to do likewise. The activists found themselves confronting an increasingly forceful mob. The jogatis were the key dissenters. For example, a drunk Mr. Basavanta and his uncle Pakirappa are quoted as saying, ‘Why do you take photographs? If you don’t want us naked, then give us clothes. Why do you not take action against Jaina Digambara? Why do you not stop cabaret dance? Catch first those Goa beach hippies.’ The situation degenerated rapidly. DSS activists appealed to the police, but their numbers were too few. Only three police vans, each

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holding 20 to 25 personnel, were available to contain the whole jatra. A DSS sympathizer also overheard orders given over the police jeep radio, telling the police force near the riverside to withdraw. This was later interpreted as a conspiratorial act. Immediately ‘a gang of 25 lathi-wielding persons hurling abusive words appeared . . . this was the signal for the subsequent events’ (Indian Express, Bangalore, 31 January 1987). According to the reformers, outbreaks occurred simultaneously in three different places. ‘Like this these jogatis and other unruly elements were instigated by casteist forces . . . They were given weapons and words’, claimed DSS workers. They heard calls, ‘You kill those DSS workers’. Quickly through the fete the word spread, ‘Some people have come to object to the goddess, so the goddess has got enraged. So devotees must not keep quiet but smash the people who came to stop it.’ Kunkuma, which adorns naked devotees, was thrown in the air and many social workers, police and press were compelled to enter into the procession, stripped naked by the unruly crowd. Even the Assistant Commissioner was shaking. And, although Krishnappa objected, a policeman was forced to announce over a microphone, ‘Police will not object to nude service’. Then a man with a religious badge grabbed the mike and shouted, ‘Glory unto naked service!’ Asking him by what authority he did this, Krishnappa brought this youth before the temple trustees, where his name and affiliation with the VHP were disclosed. But the trustees told Krishnappa, ‘We told you not to initiate this, but you did not listen’(Krishnappa 1986). When Krishnappa saw all was out of control, and his own life in danger, he began to run. ‘They have a trishula in their hands. With these prongs they went and made everybody nude. I cannot explain it because I think that I am in this hell. In our mythology Yama is the god of hell and he has so many demons as his followers. I saw so many demons following.’ Like some others, he found safety in a police van. But then the police themselves were attacked. Although they begged the Deputy Superintendent of Police to allow them to fire into the air, he refused. Afterwards, even he was stripped, and the women constables and women journalists were stripped before him. Some of the workers escaped, others were chased and beaten. Krishnappa reflects, ‘That day everything was smashed because we couldn’t withhold the  religious feeling of the people’. Eventually, police from other locations came and controlled the situation. Jogatis were arrested, some even committed suicide out of fear.

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Press Interference The ‘Chandragutti Incident’ became an immediate media sensation, aided by journalists and photographers on site. The Channaveerappa Report, press coverage, and those interviewed agree that some of the trouble was sparked by press photographers taking pictures of nude worshippers at the riverside. Uttam Kemble is a Dalit reporter who was on site. In his book, Devadasi and Nude Worship (1988), he recounts that on the second morning the reformers took a stronger stand, seizing and re/clothing the devotees. There were more female than male devotees. By 8 AM the reformers had difficulty containing these women circled within their human chain. He states: ‘One reformer showed the women devotees that day’s newspapers which carried photographs of the nude worshippers saying that, “they are parading your nudity (and shame) in the city streets”. The result of this was that a press photographer was badly beat up’(ibid.). At least three journalists were assaulted and had their cameras stolen that day. (One of them refused me an interview because it was still too unsettling for her to talk about.) Another journalist, Philomena H.P., arrived early in the morning at the top of the hill near the temple. She interviewed female devotees who explained their nude worship was due to vows to the goddess in return (or hope) for answered prayers: for children, health, etc. From this vantage point Philomena witnessed the rampage, and hid all day until the trouble subsided. She subsequently received an award for her reportage. Like her middle-class readership, Philomena believes India is a traditional society and women should be covered. She concedes nude worship by women at Chandragutti is sincere, but this ‘tradition’ violates normative female modesty (personal interview, 10 October 1990). But press interference was not the main cause given for the Incident.

Channaveerappa Enquiry Commission The day after the Incident, the Home Minister, Mr. B. Rachiah, stated in the House (Legislative Council) that ‘“anti-social elements” had tried to ‘incite” the people into provoking the police to take recourse to extreme steps like opening fire in order to bring a bad name to the Government’ (Indian Express, Bangalore, 21 March 1986). These

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comments responded to criticism that the police were ineffective in preventing this outbreak and in protecting women, Samiti workers, and journalists’ (ibid.). Members from all political parties equally condemned nude worship. They described it as a ‘blot on society’, ‘a barbaric custom’, and an ‘insult to mankind’ (ibid.). The state government thereupon ordered a magisterial enquiry into the Chandragutti Incident. However, on 6 April 1986, this responsibility devolved from the District Magistrate to the Divisional Commissioner, Bangalore, a Mr. Rinesingh, who circulated a notice for collection of public opinion. By 31 July 1986, 57 people had made submissions. The process then came to a halt when, without reason (a job transfer, is noted in one press report) the Rinesingh Committee was cancelled. By December 1986 the Retired District Judge of Chikkamagalur, Mr. J. Channaveerappa, was appointed to conduct a one-man judicial enquiry under the Commission of Inquiry Act. Judge Channaveerappa states in his Report that the government’s reasons for regrading from a magisterial to a judicial enquiry are unknown. But, in several districts the DSS had mounted substantial protests. They called for the suspension of the Shimoga District Superintendent of Police and ‘. . . described the enquiry ordered by the government by a District Magistrate as an “eye wash’ ” (Deccan Herald, 5 April 1986). In May 1986, at Ambedkar’s 95th birth anniversary celebrations at Bangalore University, the Home Minister agreed to look into charges of collusion between police and supporters of nude worship. DSS activists were aware of the Scheduled Caste background of this Home Minister, but it is conjecture that this connection was prevailed upon or influenced the setting up of a judicial enquiry. Certainly, the newly re-elected Janata Government was acutely aware of public sentiment against an undisciplined ‘police raj’ that flourished under the previous Congress-I Chief Minister, Gundu Rao (see India Today, 31 March 1985: 11; Indian Express, 10 February 1987). ‘Commission of Inquiry Act’ inquiries generally probe police excesses. The purpose of the Channaveerappa Commission was to determine the basic reasons for the disturbance: particularly for the denuding of DSS persons and journalists; whether the police officers were derelict in their duty; and whether other persons (and causes) were responsible for the Incident. The new deadline for public submissions was extended until 20 December 1986. In February 1987, about 30 witnesses testified before the Commission, including seven police personnel, the Deputy

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Commissioner, the Assistant Commissioner, one social worker, five members of the DSS, two journalists, and 13 witnesses from the public. No members of the VHP appeared, but a legal advocate for the organization took part. The police and the DSS were also represented by advocates. The bulk of the Report dealt with the actions of the police, and their ability to maintain social control. The police officers present who it alleged ‘. . . acted with restraint’ were exonerated. Although noting their anguish, it dismissed the charges of women constables that the Deputy Superintendent of Police could have prevented their denuding. However, the Deputy Commissioner and the Superintendent of Police were both indicted for not providing an adequate force. The latter denied making any promises to the DSS but was further indicted on charges of negligence. His late arrival was described as ‘. . . like locking the doors of the stable after the horse had bolted’. The Commission went on to reject the ‘vested interests’ conspiracy theory proposed by the DSS. That is, a combination of feudal landlords and priestly classes had knowingly incited ‘unruly elements’ to attack the reformers. The DSS claim that perceived threats to devotion and/or livelihood were fanned, and liquor was distributed. By contrast, although well-meaning, the DSS was said to have brought most of the backlash on themselves. They brought undue publicity to nude worship at Chandragutti, and were over-eager and short-sighted in their educational programme. The well-known enmity between the VHP and the DSS was acknowledged, but the VHP was cleared of all charges. The possibility that a few ‘miscreants’14 might have taken advantage of the situation was noted, but the charge that this was a preplanned event was dismissed. The Report further suggests that the DSS was overly forceful, and thus ‘brought the disturbance to a climax and agitated the minds of the devotees’. To establish this case, Judge Channaveerappa cites one reporter’s work and several enquiry witnesses. The reporter writes, ‘the main intention of the members of the DSS was to disturb the devotees by humiliating them . . . , their action was foolish and goonda-like’.15 Similarly, one witness claimed the DSS threw dust on a naked woman devotee, that she fell as a result, and that they then kicked and rebuked her. This led to a quarrel between devotees and the DSS. Further, the Report, and more so the media, raised the question as to whether

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touching of women had occurred during the forceful re/clothing of devotees. Judge Channaveerappa concluded that the devotees felt their centuries-old religious beliefs to be under attack. Since their prayers were obstructed, and we may infer humiliated rather than reasoned with, the devotees’ ire was natural. The Report concluded that DSS agitation, together with insufficient police support, was the cause of the Chandragutti Incident. As regards nude worship by female devotees, Judge Channaveerappa posits that this brings dishonour to the reputation of Indian women and ‘insults the very creed of womanhood’. He notes on all auspicious occasions and festivals the Indian woman, fully clothed in sari and with ornaments, attends places of worship: ‘She is the monument of culture and symbolic as the deity of the country’. By contrast, nude worship is ugly and uncivilized and must be stopped. ‘Goddess Renukambe herself would feel sorry to know such blind ignorance existed and would be ashamed to see such sights’. The final Report concludes by reviewing the unfortunate social conditions and persons who promote such blind beliefs among Backward Class people. Singled out for blame are these ‘middle-class hermaphrodites called jogatis who for their livelihood roam from village to village, begging for alms, . . . who ill-advise suffering family members to go for nude service at the Renukambe Jalra.’ Thus, Judge Channaveerappa recommends: legislation against jogatis’ propagating nude service; education of the people; and a ban of the entire festival (not only of nude worship) to be in effect for several years. Placing the primary emphasis on law and order, neither demonstrations for or against nude worship would be permitted at the Chandragutti jatra. In every case there will be loss of social control. These recommendations were tabled before the Legislative Assembly on 2 March 1987. Deputy Inspector of Police, Mr. J.E. George, urged the state government to set a five-year ban, subsequently legislated merely days before the jatra of 9–10 March 1987. For these two days Chandragutti became a police camp. Under the supervision of the newly indicted Superintendent of Police, 2,000 police turned back bus loads of devotees, reporters and social workers, restricted local business, and banned all photography. This ‘high-handed’ imposition of the ban incited many. Local villagers who welcomed the ban on nude worship nevertheless thought the rest of the jatra should proceed.

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Some businessmen who set up temporary shops to make a ‘fast buck’ during the festival were pro-nude worship. They told reporters the goddess would be angry at the government. The trustees of the Renukambe temple resigned in anger at ‘police harassment of devotees . . . causing the [devotees] mental torture’ (Deccan Herald, 10 March 1987). Nearly a year later, on 22 February 1988, these discontented trustees filed a public interest writ petition in the High Court. They asked that all pujas and performances, except nude worship, be allowed to proceed at Chandragutti. Police vigilance has relaxed over the years, but the state ban on bettale seve remains. Beyond law and order, Judge Channaveerappa’s plea for an extended ban ideally exists to promote education, legislation and reasoned discussion. As of 1991, neither the DSS nor the government have put an educational programme specific to nude worship into place. One sympathizer caustically comments on the aftermath of Chandragutti: ‘DSS is now factionalized in this region [partially over this event, and due to division over political alignments] and not a strong force. Who can replace the jogatis? They at least consistently offer the devotees hope . . .’ (personal interview, February 1991). Yet, he notes, across the state more youths are now joining the Dalit movement. Perhaps they will transcend past divisions and take up the necessary educational work. The Chandragutti activists I interviewed agree with Judge Channaveerappa that their educational programme was shortsighted. But they still consider the Chandragutti protest a success, because nude worship was banned. If required, they would do it again, in much the same way. Says Krishnappa: ‘As a mother forces an adamant [i.e., recalcitrant] child to take medicine by closing his nose tight and making him drink at least a portion . . . adamants must be suppressed.’

Analysis and Conclusion I have given centre stage here to reformist and Dalit perspectives on Chandragutti. In fact, many stories comprise this larger narrative about the Chandragutti protest and backlash. However, underlying the entire description is a tension between reasoned forms of analysis and the stark confrontation of ‘the religious’, ‘the sexual’ and ‘the feminine’. From this account, it is clear that no easy resolution is forthcoming.

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An ‘Emic’ Model: Religious ‘Opportunists’ and ‘Dupes’ A reformist position on such institutional nudity is that it is an insulting feudal tradition. Upper caste men, landlords and temple keepers deliberately chain Dalits in superstition to maintain their lordly use-rights. DSS activists claim, ‘If their own women were going in nude, they would be up in arms’. Lower caste males therefore perceive an affront from dominant caste males through the nudity of their women. The Dalits conclude that this institutionalized class domination and caste humiliation proves once more that as a group they have not yet gained full ‘human’ stature within the nation. The Dalit call for social reform, particularly of Untouchability, remains unresolved. This leads to a politics of contempt for parliamentary democracy and for participation in its formal parameters. We can only surmise about the religious complex and countermovement. In its emerging model of nude worship the DSS presents four sub-groups: temple trustees, VHP members, jogatis and devotees. These, united as reform’s counter-protagonists, all uphold this ‘heinous religious tradition’. Temple trustees, who have hereditary earning rights, are presented here as opportunists, out to ‘make a fast buck’ at the impoverished devotees’ expense. The VHP presence at the jatra signals organizational collusion to extend Hindu fundamentalism in rural life. Through this backward form of culture, these politics are served. Jogatis are both promoters and practicians of nude worship and related Mother Goddess customs. As wanderers and religious mendicants, they can best recruit devotees in the rural areas. Reformers, and even more so Judge Channaveerappa, thus present jogatis as low caste, illiterate transvestites who insidiously propagate nude worship. They instrumentally prey on devotees’ fears due to their need to protect their sole economic base. Whereas the former are all opportunists, by contrast, the devotees are dupes. The DSS argues, due to their blind belief the devotees are subjugated to these opportunists. The religious establishment exercises a ‘rational-religious will’16 to dominate and accrue financial and moral gain. The possibility that some may be fervent believers does not alter the Dalit critique. Because the DSS model is meant to serve subaltern politics it naturally fails to take into account nuances in counter-positions, and other

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factors. For example, there is some speculation that other local politics, which the DSS has not acknowledged, may have factored into this agitation. Krishnappa does not say who challenged him to explore nude worship at Chandragutti. We only know this was catalytic. The DSS narrative shows them to be responsive, but independent thereafter. However, the Jaina Mathadhipati (‘Lord of the Monastery, abbey’) in Shimoga district prides hinself for speaking first to the (anonymous personal communication, October 1992). In this region there is a long-standing memory of rivalry between Jains and Brahmans. This dates back to Jaina supremacy from AD 800–1200, subsequently attacked by Hindu reformers. At that time, these were seen by the priestly Jains as unrefined Brahman upstarts. Since the DSS is also ideologically opposed to Brahmanical doctrine and values, it is possible that once activated, its Dalit reform, pointed at upper-caste Hinduism, promoted private interests of the Jaina Matha without drawing the monastery into the public fray. From the perspective of Dalit activists and Jain priests they are both minority groups, and non-Hindus.17 Yet, this shared status is riddled with potential contradictions. First, secular reformers and religious priests are allied. Second, male ascetic nudity and female bhakti nudity in the forms of Jaina Digambara and nude devotees are not treated alike. One is considered morally acceptable and the other morally reprehensible. On what basis are these distinctions made? And alliances? As for the temple trustees, they withdrew from their positions following the ban on nude worship. While this might be constituted solely as protest against loss of income, their stated case was to protest the devotees’ ‘mental anguish’ caused by the police turning them away. For, once forced to spurn the goddess, the devotees might suffer her unmitigated wrath. The priests function as mediators for the goddess and the devotees. Ostensibly, the ‘public writ’ request for re-establishing worship, all but bettale seve, was on the devotees’ behalf. While the DSS strongly allege VHP collusion at Chandragutti, it would seem that such a strongly moralistic and patriarchal body would find, with equal vehemence, bettale seve degrading to Hinduism. Indeed, it was reported that VHP members handed out pamphlets against nude worship at the fair. However, once more the DSS claim that during this distribution illiterate devotees were verbally encouraged to participate. The VHP advocate before the Enquiry Commission deflected the

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‘miscreant role’ for its members, perhaps with some justification, by accusing the police of turning into social workers rather than fulfilling their role to maintain law and order. Although presented as opportunists, the jogatis are the most ambiguous group. They have liminal sexual and political qualities, which may pose the threat of social role contamination. Yet, they have their own perspectives on the moral behaviour implied by foreigners, city entertainment, and Jainist nude worship. Thus, they represent a swing category in this political model. Their low status and high visibility combine to make them vulnerable to scape-goatism. For example, the DSS claims the jogatis were given ‘weapons and words’. Although formidable enemies, they are yet seen as pawns of other religious profiteers. Alternatively, Judge Channaveerappa rejected the DSS conspiracy hypothesis. But, he singled out the jogatis as the primary proselytizers who need to be stopped. Thus, they pose here as independent, immoral and anachronistic agents, who draw on a barbaric tradition whose time and function has passed. Although Dalits, jogatis are portrayed as enemies to social reform. Are they its necessary casualties? Structurally liminal, the jogatis seem to be at the mercy of religious profiteers and reformers alike. DSS workers, going out to the countryside on a rationalist reform mission, are not unlike the jogatis with their religious mission. Their constituency is the same, as is their social base (albeit most DSS organizers are educated). One DSS sympathizer observed that despite their misplaced and irrational belief, the jogatis provide consistent hope to devotees. Through the ban on nude worship and also on devadasi recruitment (another regional social reform issue and custom propagated by these mendicants) jogatis are displaced. To replace this gap reformers must extensively educate beyond the initial stirring of protest. What were the jogatis’ words? If you don’t like our nudity give us clothes. Perhaps this requires a practical response, but may also refer to their lack of prestige in society. Why don’t you reform Jaina Digambara ascetics? What about those Goa hippies? Why not stop cabaret dance? All these questions symbolically associate nudity with certain groups. The first, while religious, consist of male ascetics. The second, due to its beach attire and (among some) drug-related practices reinforces beliefs about the Western world’s loose morality. But, they are foreigners. The third is a lewd form of dance. However, practised in the cities among the

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secular and monied it is far away. In effect, the jogatis’ query why the DSS became obsessed with nude worship, singling out jogatis and female devotees, but not with these other forms of public nudity. Finally, the DSS’ model which imposes unity on the religious presence breaks down, for the ‘religious’ experience is not uniform. For example, devotees themselves are male or female (and neither male nor female), clothed or nude, voluntary or forced, possessed or sceptical, and even upper, albeit, mostly lower caste. In their narration, however, the reformers do not attend to these nuances. Rather, they primarily differentiate between devotees and these other three religious groups. This model, which identifies major actors and essential groupings, adequately serves their political purposes.

Confronting the ‘Sexual’ and the ‘Feminine’18 1. Liberal Reformism and the Problem of Female Nudity. The discussion to this point has brought into focus that female nudity, in the context of a shared discourse about barbarism and civilization, provides a symbolic rallying point for all reformers. The DSS, the state and other reformers all agree that nude worship, like other superstitious practices, presupposes that Indian society is not fully civilized. Indeed, the anthropological truism that nudity is the mark of the primitive, clothing indicates the beginning of civilization’ (Sharma 1987: 7–11), was, it seems, dramatically enacted through the re/clothing of the nude devotees. Denuding, touching and re/clothing are central to the public analysis of this event. Not all nude devotees were women, nor were all low caste, yet the Chandragutti Incident was referred to entirely in these terms. Hence, the social discourse on female nude worship reveals the following quasi-symbolic logic: (i) clothing and covering of women represents modesty, unclothing represents shame; (ii) denuding and re/clothing women in public is not an individual act but a communal one. Hence, a community’s modesty and/or shame is represented and made vulnerable. A similar argument is thus made for the entire civilized nation; (iii) where one community looks, touches, unclothes, or encourages to denude another community’s women, communal boundaries of normative modesty and self-respect are crossed. Consequently, the injured community has the

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right to retaliate to defend its honour; (iv) sometimes, however, religious tradition reverses the normative moral code for short periods of  time. What is shown to be at stake at Chandragutti is this ‘ritual reversal’19. Nude female devotees symbolically challenge current social perceptions of civil propriety and national character (in this case, its democracy and secularism). But, places of worship sporting the silent but graphic stone iconography-temple dancers, lingas, Renuka’s buttocks-are illustrative sites for contemporary struggle over woman’s continuing symbolic role. For, activists, politicians and journalists alike share in a discourse about barbaric versus civil virtue, wherein ‘the feminine’ remains a symbolic masthead of ‘tradition’. However, in contrast to the goddess-possessed, kunkuma coloured, nude devotee is the selfcontrolled, adorned and fully-clothed worshipper. It is she, says Judge Channaveerappa, who is now ‘the monument of culture and symbolic of the deity of the country’. All that is civilized, cultured, moral and natural is compared to all that is barbarous, uncultured, immoral and unnatural. Thus, a ban on nude worship is a triumph of civilization over barbarism. The moral shift indicated is from exteriority—where worship requires a communal and living sacrifice, to interiority—where worship is both privatized but distanced. Here we take our cue from Foucault’s arguments about the moralization of madness (1973) and sexuality (1981): In each case the body becomes a site for reform. For example, external control, ranging from tolerance for mendicant mad men to cruel and public punishment, is made into a moral problematic, then refined into socially induced self-help and internal discipline. This ‘gentle punishment’ (see also Foucault 1979) is sometimes aided by the therapist, asylum, or prison. Referring to the development of bourgeois liberalism in Europe, Foucault states, ‘At the level of . . . “micro-powers” . . . it was necessary to organize a grid of bodies and behaviours. Discipline is the underside of democracy.’ Through this reform the sacred is thus secularized. ‘Modern [wo]man finds [her]him/self categorized, located in space, constrained by time, disciplined, normalized, and individualized’ (Mahon 1992: 5). India, as a ‘yet traditional’ civilization is now cogently represented by a demure and modestly covered woman, at least in public worship. Nude worship transgresses private belief and offends public decorum; it violates middle class morality, a new site for

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‘tradition’. (See Milton Singer [1972] on the supremacy and reworking of tradition in India.) But neither ‘tradition’ itself (and its perpetrators), nor the feminine as its symbol, is contested sufficiently by this liberal reformist victory. 2. Dalit Rationalist Reform Politics: While in some accordance with the liberalist stance on nude worship, within this broad context, the DSS has adopted a distinctive, countering, rationalist point of view. Their rationalism repudiates all religious activity as superstition and exploitation. Their activism employs force (or forceful persuasion), humiliation, and an appeal to law and correct government. These combine in the term ‘rationalist action’, whereby Dalit activists challenge the foundations and supporters of such ‘reversed ritual’. Far from being content with the ban on nude worship, some supporters of the DSS regard any religious mobilization as a conspiracy and would like to see the entire religious establishment decimated. For the DSS, ‘the Chandragutti Incident is one more example of the efforts by “vested interests” to maintain caste boundaries and the status quo’. While they may harbour these notions, they regard this dismantlement as a long-term struggle, for they recognize religion holds sway over the people. Hence, several DSS members concede that banning nudity is a sufficient victory. They say, ‘If the people do not practice nude worship for several years and nothing untoward happens they will be convinced the goddess does not require this’. ‘Rationalist action’ such as that fomented by the DSS is a subaltern critique. The presentation of a ‘subaltern perspective’ has a specific meaning for Indian academia: it’s focus is rewriting nationalist history from a peasant/insurgent’s point of view. The view from below. One of the subaltern project’s propositions is: . . . that the moment(s) of change be pluralized and plotted as confrontations rather than transition (they would thus be seen in relation to histories of domination and exploitation rather than within the great modes-of-production narrative . . . [The] shift in perspective is that agency of change is located in the insurgent or the ‘subaltern’ (Spivak 1988: 197).

The subaltern as an agent of change, and the confrontation between the dominant and the exploited, is presented here by the educated

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insurgents themselves. There are many subalterns in India. The DSS’ case is that there is a subaltern below, or apart from, the class-defined peasant. That is, those humiliated by caste who suffer specific economic consequences due to their ex-Untouchable status. The Chandragutti Incident also invites consideration of another depressed category, hitherto unrecognized, the ‘female subaltern’. Their experience and interpretation of domination has frequently been decentred both by reformist subalterns (typically male) and subalternists (see Spivak 1988: 215–21 on this point). For example, nude worship by female devotees evokes issues of religiosity, femininity and sexuality. Social reformers (e.g., Dalit activists, journalists, middle class social workers and the state) have tended to focus on the moral affront to the Dalit community and/or to society, and the need for ‘law and order’. Although the protest was nominally on their behalf, the religiosity of the devotee women has been obscured in the ensuing political discussion. But, the DSS would argue, for good reason. Their rationalist argument dismantles the category of the female nude devotee. The sexual/feminine subject (i.e., the nude female) is analytically wrenched from the religious domain. At Chandragutti, theory and practice coincide. Once nude worship was opposed, sparking that ‘dense interface’, the dominant exploitative forces behind the ‘devotion’ revealed themselves. Therefore, the denuding of Dalit women reveals their caste humiliation and class domination. Through activist techniques such as public protests and media reportage, the DSS also directed its subaltern critique to their initially reluctant reformist partners, i.e., the government and upper caste liberal supporters. The barbaric versus civilized discourse inherently associates the frenzied primitive behaviour of the nude devotee with low status, whereas the demure control of the modern worshipper is high born. But through the effective use of humiliation they inverted this structural alignment of barbarism and culture. For example: The DSS questions the civic virtue of the promoters of nude worship, such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, ‘that self-proclaimed vanguard of Hindu culture’. As a prod to action, they mock the secularism of the government. To make the point that upper caste men would only concern themselves if it were their women going nude, they compare the support that a Brahman protest garners with that of Dalits. For example, when the Brahman

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community was recently offended by a television programme their protests were supported nationally, even by government officials, and it was withdrawn. But they claim, ‘if a Dalit man is wrongly represented, no one cares’. Their rationalism is fuelled by affect. Untouchability is a communal wound that has been repeatedly injured. Is any redress of this wrong not supportable? Even force and humiliation of their own women, for their own good, and their own community’s self-respect? How ‘goondalike’ is re/clothing of devotees in the light of goonda attacks supported by upper castes on devotees? Struggle, it might be argued, is an expedient, if not a nice, enterprise. Yet, does Krishnappa’s appropriation of maternal images soften the task of forcing recalcitrant children to take their medicine? There seems to be a universally strong symbolic replacement value between children, women and primitives. We have seen how these nude female devotees cast an undesirable primitive shadow on a civilized reform programme at Chandragutti. But what of their substance? When asked about the paucity of women active in the DSS, Munivenkatappa humbly admitted, ‘that in this way we are like upper-caste men’. The problem is compounded for a rationalist movement because, ‘our own women are still caught up in their religion’. The discourse of barbaric versus civic virtue primarily reflects the male and community need for self-respect. However, when the (male) subaltern struggle appropriates woman as symbol—hence, de-centres her—but does not incorporate her in real terms, they are denied the strength in identification and another subaltern’s critique. ‘The feminine’ and social reform are intimately associated in India. Partha Chatterjee (1989) and Ashis Nandy (1990) are only two authors who note this connection. Similarly, ‘the feminine’ is also appropriated in communal/ethnic politics. Inevitably, women become a symbolic medium to uphold an ideal, and frequently a physical medium, that is, a scapegoat to defame another’s community. Further, as in the Chandragutti case, preoccupation with goddess, mother and femalecentred myths indicates significant ‘mythopoeic ground’ that even today pervades Indian society. This evocative nature of ‘the feminine’, and its use, must be raised for ongoing reflection. When they become morally problematic (as in Foucault’s treatment of madness), ‘the sexual’, and

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‘the feminine’ are de-linked from ‘the sacred’. But they remain in the public domain as objects of surveillance and regulation. We must look behind this problematic to understand operations of power, legitimacy and politics in India. To sum up, the rationalist reform approach thus far is unable to extricate itself from a traditional symbolic placement of woman. She is still tied to patriarchy and force. For one, it does not give a legitimate place to her worship and mythology. Rather, all grounds for devotion are political and economic exploitation. Thus, a tradition is required to be abandoned and the female devotee (nude or clothed) with it. Jamadagni condemned Renuka/Yellamma, and their son, Parushurama, carried out the punishment. At least, he tried to do so. Subalterns, in the form of nude devotees, have reworked the high myth. Through her escape, the Mother Goddess robbed Jamadagni of his patriarchal right. Indeed, some devadasis told me, Yellamma did the unthinkable: she punished Jamadagni, her husband. For that reason, although they too are social reformers, they fear her power (interview, August 1991). To the extent that worship of the Mother Goddess is a genuine expression of faith, it may be argued a faint protest continues in the presence of patriarchy—all arguments for exploitation notwithstanding. Yet, the DSS and other reformers have earned through on this banishment. They accomplished what even Jamadagni could not. What are the implications and what will be the costs? The devotees say the Goddess will be angry. One educated devotee observed that each Chief Minister who supported the ban on nude worship has been brought down. In a letter, he warned the Chief Minister, S. Bangarappa, of the goddess’ wrath should he continue to prevent her required worship (anonymous personal interview, 7 June 1991). Political as well as personal repercussions are assumed. The final explanation on nude worship differs radically between reformers and true devotees, i.e., communal and civic shame versus child-like faith. It is possible that the mythopoeic basis of nude worship is more than a pretext, in fact an important underpinning of both sides of struggle over this practice. On these grounds, it is at least worthy of re-examination. Certainly, the social crisis which arose from the Chandragutti Incident is instructive to all about social reform’s, perhaps necessary but equivocal, task of ‘violating the sacred’.

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Notes 1. Earlier drafts of this paper were presented at the Canadian Anthropological Society (CASCA) in Montreal, Quebec, in May 1992, and at the University of Toronto Centre for South Asian Studies’ Graduate Students’ Union Seminar on 4 December 1992. The author would like to thank all those who participated in the discussion which followed. She would also like to thank Professors R. Anderson, B.S. Baviskar, S. Carr, C.E.S. Franks, P. Names-Jones, M. Sackville-Hunt, D. Smith and J.R. Wood for reading earlier drafts of this paper, and the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute whose sustained support during 1990–91 made this paper possible. Moreover, she would also like to thank Mr. B. Krishnappa and the other Dalit activists who shared their stories and concerns with the author. 2. dig ‘sky’ + ambara ‘clothing’. 3. Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, born into an Untouchable Caste (a Mahar), drafted the Indian Constitution. He attended graduate school at Columbia University in the United States. He was an economist and lawyer. His role as an indefatigable advocate of the Depressed Classes of India has made his memory and writings prominent. Today, he is considered the founder of the Dalit movement, particularly in Maharashtra and Karnataka. For many, he is the ‘symbol of revolt against all repressive features in Hindu Society’ (A.R. Antulay, Lokrajya, 16 April 1981). 4. This first reference will extend to all other interview materials unless otherwise indicated. Subsequent quotes are drawn from these interview sources. As some sources were public figures and willingly gave information, they are referenced, while others remain anonymous. To aid in this, names of places where interviews were conducted have been omitted. 5. ‘De-centre’ is an operative concept used to incorporate the psychological idea of displacement, as well as the Marxist idea of appropriation. Further, it allows for play around the idea of the constituted subject, such as that found in Nietzsche’s and Foucault’s thought. Consider, for example, the de-centred man in Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals Mahon (1992 8) explains, ‘Rather than seeking a substance in its pristine purity at the origin, Nietzsche looked for a multiplicity, complex relations of forces, which provide the conditions for the existence of the entities, values, and events of our experience’. 6. Defined as: of inferior rank, (logic, of proposition) particular, not universal, also, in military, officer below rank of Captain. The ‘subaltern school’ in Indian academe has popularized, and extended, this definition. It generally refers to subaltern studies as writing ‘history from below’. It is concerned with peasant and other local resistance with the anti-colonial project uppermost as a referent, and implies a critique of upper, or elite versions of history. 7. For an anthropological exploration of how sexuality and femininity, expressed through nudity and body genitalia, can be used as ‘resistance’ or ‘critique’, see Shirley Ardener (1981). 8. A Sanskrit interpretation simply means ‘Brahman literature’. But the term used in the Karnataka Legislature was understood as ‘cattlefeed’, and taken to be an insult. 9. Hotel pronounced, ‘hoatle’, is generally a restaurant or cafeteria. Cf. ‘military hotel = [cheap] non-vegetarian restaurant.

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10. For example, according to one long-term DSS member who has now left the DSS to form his own activist group (interview, 25 July 1991), by aligning itself with political parties the DSS has forgotten, in Maoist terms, to identify and differentiate between the main and subordinate contradictions. In failing to do so the movement cannot achieve its goals. Ir his view, they have forgotten their resolve to stay clear of the formal political process Because of their downtrodden status they do not have what is necessary to become effective politically. That is, (i) a dominant caste background, or backing; (ii) financial support; and (iii) party support are required. He argues further that principle contradictions, such as landlordism and capitalism, are detrimental to the interests of the poor of all castes, creeds and religions. Thus, to define the Dalit movement as a caste movement derived from untouchability can set poor untouchable and touchable castes against each other. In his view a predominantly caste based struggle errs because this is a subordinate contradiction. 11. Nude worship at Chandragutti, of Renuka’s buttocks, is associated with tantrism. Five objects of worship (panchamacaras or five m’s) are reported: Meat (mamsa), fish (matsya), roasted corn (mudra—according to some accounts not ‘corn’, but ritual hand gestures), liquor (madya), and sex (maithuna). Intoxication can be due to spiritfilling (claimed by nude devotees), also from liquor. Reformers deny the former. 12. This Chief Minister has been replaced as of December 1992. 13. Mr. B. Rachiah, of Scheduled Caste background, was one of the first two Cabinet members appointed by Chief Minister Hegde after the 1985 Janata government re-election. 14. In India, in colloquial usage, miscreant means ‘deviant’ or ‘trouble-maker’, rather than ‘heretic’. 15. goonda = ‘hired thug’ or ‘ruffian’. 16. This term is, I think, consistent with the Dalit activist stance. Those with power in the religious spheres apply a deliberate, and rational (i.e., calculated) use of religion to exercise their ‘will to power’ over the devotees. This term is in reference to Nietzsche’s analysis of the ascetic/priest. 17. The argument adopted from Ambedkar (see ‘Who Were The Shudras?’ and ‘The Untouchables’ in Ambedkar, 1990 [1947]) is that Untouchables are Exterior Castes. They are external to the Hindu chatuivarnya, a cosmological constitution of society that upholds the four-fold hierarchical division of labour. While Untouchables have been called the panchamas, meaning the fifth class, militant Dalits reject this name (as did Ambedkar) because it is inclusive, rather than exclusive from Hinduism (see also S.K. Gupta [1985]). 18. ‘The feminine’ and ‘the sexual’ need to, and can, be ‘analytically separated. But, I have not done so in this paper. The discussion on nudity here reflects on how Indian society tends to bind femininity to sexuality. One implies the other. Nudity is shocking, but can be discussed in public in the context of reform. Yet, sexuality, as found in the myth, has no public forum. Is the association between femininity and sexuality more overt, while that between masculinity and sexuality more covert? Has the former become de-sacralized, hence offensive? While the latter remains sacred, hence acceptable? For example, nude worship of female devotees insults the public, whereas Jainist Digambaras, do not. Similarly, in bhakti the male devotee approaches God in a feminine role but is not censored for sexual inappropriateness. 19. Ritual reversal has been extensively studied in early anthropological literature. Strong associations have been made with: (i) political protest such as millennarian

DALIT STRUGGLE, NUDE WORSHIP, AND THE ‘CHANDRAGUTTI INCIDENT’

135

movements; (ii) inversions of the structurally high with the low, such as between kings and jokers; and (iii) and with nudity, which may be found in various rites of passage. Licentiousness, joking and levelling are common attributes. See for example, Gluckman (1954); Goffman (1962); and Turner (1969, 1985).

References Ambedkar, B. R. 1990. Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches, Vol. 7 (reprint 1947) edited by Vasant Moon. Bombay: Government of Maharashtra. Ardener, S. 1981. ‘Sexual Insult and Female Militancy’, in S. Ardener (ed.), Perceiving Women, pp 29–54. London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd. Chatterjee, P. 1989. ‘Colonialism, Nationalism, and Colonized Women: The Contest in India’, American Ethnologist, 16(4): 622–33. Epp, L. J. [forthcoming]. ‘Devadasis and Social Reform in Karnataka, South India’, Ph. D. diss. York University. Foucault, M. 1973. Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason. (1st ed 1965) New York: Vintage Books. ———. 1979. Discipline and Punishment: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Vintage Books. ———. 1981. A History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction. New York: Vintage Books. Gluckman, M. 1954. Rituals of Rebellion in South East Africa. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Goffman, E. 1962. Asylums. Chicago: Aldine Publishing. Gokhale, J. B. 1990. ‘The Evolution of a Counter-ideology: Dalit Consciousness in Maharashtra’, in F. R. Frankel and M. S. A. Rao (eds.), Dominance and State Power in Modern India: Decline of a Social Order, pp. 212–77. Delhi: Oxford University Press. Gupta, S. K. 1985. The Scheduled Castes in Modern Indian Politics. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers. Jogdand, P. G. 1991. Dalit Movement in Maharashtra. New Delhi: Kanak Publications. Kemble, U. 1988. Devadasi and Nude Worship (Marathi). Bombay: Sukumas Damle Lokwadmaya Gouha Pvt. Krishnappa, B. 1986. ‘Experience What went on at Chandragutti’, Samuad Kannada Magazine (Kannada). Chitradurga Samuada Prakashana. Mahon, M. 1992. Foucault’s Nietzschean Genealogy: Truth, Power and the Subject. New York: State University of New York Press. Manor, J. 1984. ‘Blurring the Lines Between Parties and Social Bases: Gundu Rao and the Emergence of a Janata Government in Karnataka’, in J. R. Wood (ed): State Politics in Contemporary India: Crisis or Continuity? pp. 139–68. Boulder: Westview. Nandy, A. 1990. ‘Woman versus Womanliness’, in A. Nandy (ed.), At the Edge of Psychology (lst ed., 1980), (32–46). Delhi: Oxford University Press. Nietzsche, F . 1967. On the Genealogy of Morals. (reprint), Translated from the German by Walter Kaufmann and R. J. Hollingdale. New York: Vintage Books, (1989). Sharma, A. 1987 ‘Nudity’, The Encyclopedia of Religion, Vol. 11, 7–11. New York: MacMillan Publishing. Singer, Milton. 1972. When a Great Tradition Modernizes. Chicago: Chicago University Press. Spivak, G. 1988. In Other Worlds: Essays in Cultural Politics. New York & London: Routledge

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Teepee. 1991. ‘Birth of Samata Sainik Dal: Karnataka Dalit Unit Takes a More Militant turn’, Dalit Voice, 10 (June 16–30), 4. Turner, V. 1969. The Ritual Process Structure and Ann Structure. New York: Cornell University Press. ———. 1985. From Ritual to Theatre: The Human Seriousness of Play. New York City Performing Arts Journal Publications.

8 Psychological Conflict Between Harijans and Upper Class/Middle Class Caste Hindus: A Study in Andhra Pradesh (India)* Venkateswarlu Dollu

A

large number of studies make ‘Sociology of Harijans’ a significant branch of Indian Sociology today. We may divide the literature on this subject into three categories. The first one consists of pure ethnographic studies throwing light on the status, life, and culture of the Harijans who suffer from the stigma of untouchability even today and who form one seventh of the Indian population There ate a number of studies in this category but the more significant among them are by Bridgs (1920), Ambedkar (1948), Fuchs (1951), Singh (1967 & 1969), Doshi (1974), Desai (1973 So 1976), Lakshmanna (1977), Rao and Raju (1975), Moffatt (1975 & 1979), Vidyarthi and Mishra (1977), Sengupta (1979), Kamble (1982) and Rao (n.d.). The second category of studies dwell on the social change among the Harijans due to the influences of (i) socio-cultural factors like increased aspirations and conscious demands, education of Harijans, urbanisation, sanskritization and westernisation, social movements like the Dalit Panther movement, religious reform movements, etc; (ii) economic factor like

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market economy, industrialisation, etc; and (iii) political fartors like independence of the country and constitutional safeguards, politicization and political consciousness. There is a greator number of studies in this category than in the first one. Important among these are by Cohn (1955), Epstein (1962 & 1973), Isaacs (1965), Oommen (1968 & 1975), Harper (1968), Mexander (1968), Parvathamma (1968), Lynch (1969), Saberwal (1970, 1973 and 1976), Zelliott (1970), Roy Burman (1970), Mahar (1972), Patwardhan (1973), Agarwal (1974), Ramaswamy (1974 a & b), D’Souza (1975 & 1977), Agarwal and Ashraf (1976), Kulke (1976), Singh (1977), Malik (1979), Sharma (1983), Shvamalal (1984), and others. The final category of studies are relevant for us. This deals with the emerging conflict between the Harijans and the caste Hindus which is a consequence of the social change among the former occurring due to the factors mentioned a little earlier and the caste Hindu response to this change to be discussed in detail later in the paper. There are a very few studies in this category. The studies of Mukerji (1961), Murphy (1953), Orenstein (1965), Aiyappan (1965), Beals and Siegal (1967), Singh (1967), Ghurye (1968), Gnugh (1970 & 1973), Mehta (1971), Das (1976) and Oommen (1984) fall in this area. These authors have treated the caste Hindus more or less as one conceptual category rather than as a composite category consisting of different classes. This, paper aims to tackle the conflict between the Harijans and the caste Hindus, treating the caste Hindus as a composite category. Our concern in this paper is the comflirt that exists been the Harijans and the upper|middle class1 of the caste Hindus.

The Emergence of Harijan—Upper/Middle Class Caste Hindu Conflict The emergence of conflict between the Harijans and some of the classes among the caste Hindus is a natural outcome of some historico-social factors. The Harijans had been traditionally known as the ‘panchamas’ or ‘antyajas’ and were untouchables.2 They had suffered meekly the stigma of unlouchability and accepted submissively the conditions of social isolation, residential segregation, economic deprivation, political subjugation

CONFLICT BETWEEN HARIJANS AND UPPER/MIDDLE CLASS CASTE HINDUS

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and cultural degradation. This position was subsequently affected gradually by certain historical circumstances and alien cultural influences. The influence of the Muslim rule, however, was minimal. The offshoots of Hinduism, namely Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism began to attract sizeable chunks of these untouchables into their fold as they preached and practised openly equality of all men and women, at the same time demoralising the other Hindus. The coming of Christian missionaries and later the British rule opened new channels of social life to the Harijans. The Harijans, for the first time now, were able to get themselves educated and treated by the alien doctors for various diseases; they were provided financial help to build houses and acquire other property; they were able to speak a language to communicate directly with the aliens on an equal plane than with their countrymen, and to sell their manually produced leather goods at markets, internal and external for the first time in exchange for cash thus drastically changing the economy of at least some of their brethren. These factors, apart from an administration based on rational-legal system of rules, helped to create new social aspirations among the Harijans. The freedom movement and their upliftment as a part of the ideology of nationalism prevailing at that time, thanks to Gandhi and other nationalist leaders, and a political was waged against the orthodox Indian society by one of their own leaders, B. R. Ambedkar, enabled to create among the Harijans a burning desire and an urge to be equal with others. They for the first time, not only became socially aware of their status and conditions, but also began to make demands for achieving equality and realizing their aspirations. The guarantee of educational and economic development, social equality through abolition of untouchability, political representation in state legislature and the House of the People, reservation in public services, etc. incorporated in the Indian constitution3 raised new hopes among the Harijans. Further the factors of growth of wide-ranging market economy in place of traditional exchange system, urbanization, industrialization, and the spreading of mass media have changed the outlook of the Harijans. They are no more submissive and passive. They have gradually begun to assert their rights, especially the educated and the employed among them. The caste Hindus, on the other hand, responded differently to these historico-social changes. At the macro level, the ritually ‘higher,

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Venkateswarlu Dollu

economically dominant and the politically powerful caste Hindus oppose the state incentives for the all-round development the Harijans and the growing voice of these people in the political and national affairs.4 At the local level, they consciously resist and obstruct any developmental or progressive change in the status and condition of the Harijans, thus making futile state efforts. These people generally belong to the higher cultivating castes such as Jats, Reddys, and Kammas, if not the highest castes. We will call this class as the ‘upper class caste Hindus’. The middle-level caste Hindus who are less powerful economically or politically are less opposed to any progress by the Harijans. They also may put up resistance or obstruction consciously, but not as strongly as the upper class caste Hindus do. We will refer to these people as the “middle class caste Hindus”. The lower caste Hindus like the professional castes and the artisan castes generally share an equal status with the Harijans except that they do not suffer the stigma of untouchability as the latter do. They are as poor and politically underrepresented as the Harijans are. They are only conscious of their higher ritual status vis-avis the Harijans. This class which we may call the ‘lower class caste Hindus’ will be excluded from our discussion for the reason to be mentioned presently. The Harijans can be said to enter into conflict only with the upper class and middle class caste Hindus when they demand for a concession like entry into temples, which has been traditionally denied to them, and which is denied even now, inspite of the existence of a law abolishing such a discrimination. The lower class caste Hindus are generally not opposed to any economic-political development of the Harijans. Therefore they “normally do not have any conflict with the Harijans, except in exceptional situations wherein their higher ritual status is threatened. We can safely exclude this class from our discussion because of the virtual non-existence of conflict between them and the Harijans. How intensive is this conflict and how powerful is the resistance of the caste Hindus depends upon the particular class of the latter with whom the Harijans are in conflict. What are the dimensions of such a conflict situation and in which nature it exists, we will see after a brief look at the concept of conflict, as it is defined at present and its applicability to our specific problem.

CONFLICT BETWEEN HARIJANS AND UPPER/MIDDLE CLASS CASTE HINDUS

141

The Concept of Conflict Although Marx had never defined the concept of ‘conflict’, it is generally inferred that his ‘class struggle’ concept is closer to that. Marx explains the class struggle as a consequence of the economic contradiction that exists between the proletarian and the bourgeoisie classes. Our reference to conflict in this paper is to the conflict between the Harijans and the upper middle class caste Hindus. The Marxian understanding of ‘class struggle’ would not help us here because this conflict does not develop from only economic contradictions, but cumulatively due to social, economic and power contradictions. Simmel did not define conflict anywhere in his classic work (Simmel, 1955). For him, conflict was only an integrative process, bringing together the disparate elements; and though it is inevitable, it does not always lead to change in social forms (Turner 1975: 619). Further, conflict is only a “part of the dynamic by which some men are drawn together into those uneasy combinations which we call groups” (Bughes in Foreword to Simmel 1955: 9). This Simmelian view of conflict has been sufficiently criticised by scholars such as Rex and Wertheim. For these scholars, conflict can be ‘disruptive’, ‘dysfunctional’ and can bring-forth sudden and radical social changes. Coser defines conflict as “a struggle over values and claims to scarce status, power and resources in which the aims of the opponents are to neutralize, injure or eliminate their rivals.” (Coser, 1956: 8). In the case of Harijan versus upper middle class caste Hindu conflict, the confllict exists because of the denial of equal social, economic and political status by these caste Hindus, to the Harijans. The Harijans and the upper middle class caste Hindus are in different positions of bargaining power. Hence, Coser’s definition also would not suit us, as what the Harijans are demanding is not ‘scarce status’, power resources’ but ‘status, power and resources which are denied to them’. Dahrendorf ’s and Kriesberg’s definitions of conflict would be closer to our understanding of conflict. Dahrendorf writes that “all relations between sets of individuals that involve an incompatible difference of Objective—i.e., in its most general form, a desire by both the contestants to attain what is available to only one or only in part—are, in this relations of social conflict” (Dahrendorf 1959: 135). Kriesberg defines conflict as “a relationship between two or more parties who (or whose spokesmen)

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Venkateswarlu Dollu

believe they have incompatible goals” (Kriesberg 1973: 17). However these two definitions are a little vague and ambiguous in the sense that they look at the ideological aspect of a conflict, rather than the realistic or behavioural aspect. We may evolve our own definition of conflict to better explain the Harijan versus upper/middle class caste Hindu conflict specifically. For us, conflict is “an attitude or behaviour of two or more parties antagonistic towards each other.” This covers both the ideological and the behavioural aspects of conflict.

Fieldwork and Methodology Fieldwork was conducted in six villages, two each in the three cultural regions of Telangana, Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema in the State of Andhra Pradesh in the year 1977. A general survey was undertaken in all the six villages initially to find-out the demographic distributions of various castes and the socio-economic conditions of the populations in the villages. However, the data used in this paper are drawn from the intensive schedules which were administered to 396 persons evenly distributed between the Harijans and the caste Hindus in all the six field villages. The sample was selected by stratified as well as purposive sampling methods. The caste Hindus have been selected from the upper class and the middle class categories only.

Dimensions of Conflict There are broadly two dimensions in this author’s view to the, Harijan versus upper middle class caste Hindu conflict. These are psychological and manifest. The existence and perception of tensions in social, economic, political and ritual aspects of social life by the Harijan and the upper middle class caste Hindus is treated here as ‘psychological conflict.’ This may occur in the form of an attitude or an opinion of a person different from that of others, or a feeling of antagonism in a person against another person. Thus a Harijan, who wishes to pray at a Hindu temple can be said to be in psychological conflict with the caste Hindus as he wants to

CONFLICT BETWEEN HARIJANS AND UPPER/MIDDLE CLASS CASTE HINDUS

143

enter the temple and offer worship but the caste Hindus, who follow a tradition, would not allow him to do so. In other words, what are referred to as tensions in the literature on conflict sociology is called here the psychological form of conflict. It is only with this ‘psychological conflict’ we are concerned with in this paper. The conflict that occurs in a physical or explicit form is called ‘manifest conflict’. This form may be an abuse, a beating, an arson, a raid, a looting, burning a hut, a murder and so on. Thus a caste Hindu and a Harijan may be said to be involved in manifest conflict if the former has raped the latter’s sister or wife. We are not concerned with this ‘manifest conflict’ dimension here.5 While the basis of psychological conflict may be determined by the existence of social, economic, political and religious differences between the Harijans and the caste Hindus, the basis of manifest conflict must always be the psychological conflict. The antagonistic feelings or opinions must already exist between a Harijan and a caste Hindu to involve them in manifest conflict later.

Psychological Conflict The psychological form of conflict can be discussed broadly under four sub-heads, namely social tensions, economic tensions, political tensions and ritual tensions. 1) Social Tensions: Social tensions exist between Harijans a the upper middle class caste Hindus when they perceive and act differently in regard to social issues like temple entry seating of Harijans among the caste Hindus in a public place, marriage processions of Harijan bridal couple, and other issues mentioned in the Tables I and II as follows: For instance, on the issue of temple-entry, most of the Harijans feel that the temples are still barred to them. A higher percentage of the upper class sample object to the Harijans’ entry into temples than the middle class sample. The Harijans also feel still that they are not allowed to enter the houses of the caste Hindus. On this issue also, a higher percentage of the upper class sample than the middle class sample of the caste Hindus object to the Harijans entering their houses. However, on the issue of drawing water from a public well or a tap, a higher percentage of middle class respondents object strongly than the upper class respondents.

Bar on temple entry

Objection to sitting among caste Hindus in a public place

Objections to entering caste Hindu houses

Objection to taking a marriage procession through caste Hindu locality

Objection to drawing water from a public well or tap

Beating by the caste Hindus

Raiding

Looting

Kidnapping

Insults to Harjian women

Torture

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

2

1.

1

Sr. No. Item

22 (11.11)

54 (27.27)

10 (5.05)

27 (13.64)

28 (14.14)

24 (12.12)

34 (10.10)

62 (31.31)

18 (9.09)

52 (26.26)

47 (23.74)

51 (25.76)

36 (18.18)

59 (29.80)

46 (23.23)

38 (19.19)

60 (30.30)

57 (28.79)

51 (25.76)

4

Frequently

46 (23.23)

44 (22.22)

60 (30.30)

3

Very Frequently

70 (35.35)

32 (16.16)

53 (26.77)

50 (25.25)

53 (26.77)

59 (29.80)

45 (22.73)

44 (22.22)

50 (25.25)

51 (25.76)

20 (10.10)

5

Less Frequently

Table I Harijan Responses Regarding Untouchability and Caste Hindu Hostilities

40 (20.20)

28 (14.14)

21 (10.61)

23 (11.62)

24 (12.12)

8 (4.04)

15 (7.58)

8 (4.04)

12 (6.06)

9 (4.55)

40 (20.20)

6

Rarely

32 (16.16)

22 (11.11)

96 (48.48)

46 (23.23)

46 (23.23)

56 (28.28)

64 (32.32)

41 (20.71)

30 (15.15)

37 (18.69)

27 (13.64)

7

Never

198 (100)

198 (100)

198 (100)

198 (100)

198 (100)

198 (100)

198 (100)

198 (100)

198 (100)

198 (100)

198 (100)

8

Total

20.54

2.39

1.87

2..49

1.12

1.95

1.93

1.89

1.79

2.31

2.40

14.00

20.76

8.99

15.24

14.86

15.26

14.16

19.11

19.54

18.80

10

9

2.36

S. D.

M

144 Venkateswarlu Dollu

Refusal or a demand for higher wages

Protest against changing occupation

Attempts to occupy lands

Prevention from exercising franchise

Prevention from participation in political activity

Threats against not voting for their candidate

Threats against contesting an election

Forced rendering of services in respect of birth

Forced rendering of services in respect of marriage

Forced rendering of services in respect of death

13.

14.

15.

16.

17.

18.

19.

20.

21.

22.

Figures in brackets are percentages.

Attempt to murder

12.

32 (16.16)

30 (15.15)

30 (15.15)

25 (12.63)

58 (29.29)

47 (23.74)

50 (25.25)

56 (28.28)

33 (16.67)

49 (24.75)

11 (5.56)

38 (19.19)

40 (20.20)

43 (21.72)

57 (28.79)

70 (35.35)

33 (16.67)

36 (18.18)

45 (22.73)

55 (27.78)

41 (20.71)

28 (14.14)

70 (35.35)

58 (29.29)

63 (31.82)

50 (25.25)

19 (9.60)

31 (15.66)

43 (21.72)

46 (23.23)

31 (15.66)

21 (10.61)

36 (18.18)

28 (14.14)

34 (17.17)

15 (7.58)

31 (15.66)

13 (6.57)

29 (14.65)

23 (11.62)

20 (10.10)

39 (19.70)

31 (15.66)

22 (11.11)

30 (15.15)

36 (18.18)

47 (23.74)

35 (17.68)

38 (19.19)

58 (29.29)

46 (23.23)

31 (15.66)

40 (20.20)

56 (28.28)

101 (51.01)

198 (100)

198 (100)

198 (100)

198 (100)

198 (100)

198 (100)

198 (100)

198 (100)

198 (100)

198 (100)

198 (100)

2.07

1.98

1.97

2.19

2.49

1.91

2.11

2.38

2.01

1.98

1.12

15.76

14.71

15.34

16.27

22.34

15.79

17.26

19.66

15.80

16.78

8.55

CONFLICT BETWEEN HARIJANS AND UPPER/MIDDLE CLASS CASTE HINDUS 145

Item

Temple entry to Harijans

Seating of Harijans among caste Hindus in a public place

Harijan marriage processions

Sr. No.

1.

2.

3. MC

UC

MC

UC

MC

UC

Sample Class

18 (19.78)

(8.79)

(21.00)

(11.21) 8

23

(32.97)

(23.27) 12

30

(23.36)

(17.76) 23

25

(27.47)

(10.99) 19

25

(25.23)

(11.21) 10

27

Objected

12

Strongly Objected

Table II Caste Hindu Samples Attitudes Towards Untouchability

(26.08)

21

(25.23)

27

(17.19)

12

(11.21)

12

(17.58)

16

(9.35)

10

Not Objected

(39.56)

36

(18.69)

20

(26.37)

24

(24.30)

26

(39.56)

36

(18.69)

20

(8.79)

8

(23.36)

25

(2.20)

2

(2.36)

25

(1.40)

4

(15.51)

15

Not Objected at all Undecided

(100)

91

(100)

107

(100)

91

(100)

107

(100)

91

(100)

107

Total

1.80

1.77

2.58

1.88

2.01

1.58

M

8.68

9.65

13.80

10.76

10.10

9.42

SD

146 Venkateswarlu Dollu

Entry of Harijans into CASTE Hindu houses

5.

Figures in brackets are percentages UC—Upper class caste Hindus MC—Middle class caste Hindus

Drawing water from a public well or a tap

4.

MC

UC

MC

UC

19 (20.88)

(17.58)

(14.02)

8

(22.43)

(9.35)

15

(2.98)

20

(2.36)

25

(8.79)

24

10

12 (13.19)

12

(13.08)

(12.15) (11.19)

14

13

(50.35)

46

(50.47)

54

(35.16)

32

(44.86)

18

(2.20)

2

(3.74)

4

(16.48)

15

(6.54)

7

(100)

91

(100)

107

(100)

91

(100)

107

1.50

1.83

1.71

1.79

8.56

9.83

8.14

9.18

CONFLICT BETWEEN HARIJANS AND UPPER/MIDDLE CLASS CASTE HINDUS 147

(96.26)

2

89

(3.74)

2

(2.20)

(100) (97.80)

91

(0.93)

1

89

(100)

107

Y

(1.10)

(100)

(1.10)

(99.07)

106

105

N

Raid

(2.20)

91

(100)

107

T

(98.90)

90

(98.18)

N

N

105

Y

4

T

(100)

1

(1.87)

2

Y

Insulting Women

(92.31)

91

(100)

107

T

Kidnapping

(7.69)

Figures in brackets are percentages

MC

84

7

95

(88.79)

12

(11.21)

N

Y

Class

UC

Beating

Sample

(97.80)

1

(1.87)

2

Y

(100)

91

(100)

107

T

Table III Caste Hindus Responses Regarding Type of Violence by the Harijans Against Them

(98.90)

90

(98.13)

105

N

Torture

(1.10)

1

(1.87)

2

Y

(100)

91

(100)

107

T

(98.90)

90

(98.15)

105

N

Looting

Y

(100)

Nil

Nil

107

(100)

91

(100)

107

N

T 107

(100)

91

(100)

Attempt to murder

(100)

91

(100)

107

T

148 Venkateswarlu Dollu

CONFLICT BETWEEN HARIJANS AND UPPER/MIDDLE CLASS CASTE HINDUS

149

Table IV Caste Hindu Responses with Regard to Certain Concessions from the Government

Sr. No. Questions 1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

Do you think that the Harijans should be allotted land by the Government? Do you think that the Harijan Children should be sent to schools/colleges?

Do you think that the Harijans should be given house-sites by the Government? Do you think that the Harijans should be given loans by the Government/ Banks? Do you think that the Harijans should be favoured by the Government for employment?

Sample Class

Yes

No

No Opinion

Total

UC

29

70

8

107

(27.10)

(65.42)

(7.48)

(100)

MC UC MC UC MC UC MC UC MC

20

65

6

91

(21.98)

(71.43)

(6.59)

(100)

50

51

6

107

(46.73)

(47.66)

(5.61)

(100)

32

54

5

91

(35.16)

(59.34)

(5.49)

(100)

26

78

3

107

(24.30)

(72.90)

(2.80)

(100)

20

68

3

91

(21.98)

(74.73)

(3.30)

(100)

24

76

8

107

(22.43)

(70.09)

(7.48)

(100)

20

70

1

91

(21.98)

(76.92)

(1.10)

(100)

25

74

8

107

(23.36)

(69.16)

(7.48)

(100)

15

70

6

91

(16.48)

(76.92)

(6.59)

(100)

Figures in brackets are percentages

Physical violence has often been perpetrated against the Harijans by the caste Hindus,6 according to Harijan respondents. A majority of the Harijan respondents reported that they were beaten the response ranging from very frequently to rarely. There were also cases of raids on the Harijan hamlets or houses. Violence was also said to have been perpetrated in the form of kidnapping, hurling insults, rapes, physical torture

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Venkateswarlu Dollu

and threats or attempts at murder. Most of the upper middle class-caste Hindu sample answered negatively when asked about violence perpetrated by the Harijans against them (see Table III). The few that answered positively could not substantiate their answers. The upper (middle class respondents were also asked about the desirability of the governmental concessions to the Harijans. They mostly reacted in a negative manner. However, interestingly, the middle class sample was more negative than the upper class sample (see Table IV). 2) Economic Tensions: Caste tensions in the economic field of village life may occur when the Harijan laborers demand higher wages, intend to change from their traditional occupation to a more remunerative occupation and either the Harijans or the caste Hindus try to occupy each other’s land’ forcibly (for Harijans responses, see Table I and for caste Hindus responses, see Table V). During the peak periods of agriculture, such as sowing and harvesting times when the demand for agricultural labour is high, the Harijan labourers like their brethren from other castes get paid more than the minimum wage announced by the government. But at other times like weeding or watering, when the demand for labour is low, the wages also are low. Tensions occur when the Harijan labourers demand for higher wages during the dull seasons also, and when they are denied the same or physically harmed for demanding the same. Similarly, when the Harijans want to switch over from their traditional occupation to some other occupation, they are harassed by being abused or beaten. More upper class caste Hindus resent the Harijans’ switching over to other occupations than the middle class caste Hindus. Forcible occupation of each other’s land also leads to economic tensions. Some Harijans respondents complained of forcible occupation of their lands by the caste Hindus. But only one upper class caste Hindu respondent complained that his land was forcibly occupied by the Harijans. However, on enquiry, it was not found to be true. 3) Political Tensions: Tensions in the political sphere of village life may occur due to reasons such as the Harijans and the caste Hindus preventing each other from exercising franchise in an election, participating in a political activity, contesting an election, or threatening each other for not voting for a particular candidate. Here also, the victims are mostly

CONFLICT BETWEEN HARIJANS AND UPPER/MIDDLE CLASS CASTE HINDUS

151

the Harijans who often become political pawns in the predominantly upper class politics in the villages. Thus many Harijan respondents said that they were prevented from exercising their franchise in an election (see Table I). Only one upper class respondent said that he was ever prevented by a Harijan (see Table V). The Harijans have been prevented sometimes from participating in a political activity like organizing a meeting when a Harijan leader visits their village. They also have been threatened with violence when they wanted to contest in an election. No caste Hindu respondent said that he was threatened by any Harijan. 4) Ritual Tensions: Ritual tensions may result when the Harijans refuse to discharge their traditional obligations to their jaimani patrons. The traditional duties vary from carrying a message of a birth or a death in the patron’s family to his relations in another village. The Harijans sometimes refuse to carry out such obligations if they have to attend to farm labour or if they have changed to some other occupation which is financially more rewarding than their traditional occupation. Often the patrons insist on the Harijans to do these favours for them merely as a mark of respect without wanting to pay anything in cash or kind. Conflict tends to develop in such cases. Many of the upper class and the middle class sample reported on the refusals by the Harijans to render some ritual services (see Table V). The Harijan respondents also reported about their being forced to render some ritual services (see Table I). The services may be with regard to traditional obligations or duties in respect of a birth, marriage or a death ceremony in a patron’s family. Here also the percentage of the upper class sample that complained about Harijans’ refusals to render some ritual services to them is more than the middle class sample. The responses discussed above refer to the existence of tensions in the social, economic, political and ritual relations between the Harijan respondents and the upper middle class respondents as they perceive it. As the tensions can be and have been tackled only at the psychological level, it has been called ‘psychological conflict.’ It is also clear from the above discussion that the psychological conflict exists in wider range and in more intensity between the Harijans and the upper class caste Hindus than between the former and the middle class Caste Hindus. The prevalence of conflict in a greater degree between the upper class caste Hindus and the Harijans is because it is the upper class caste Hindus rather than the middle class ones who are more affected by any progressive social change among the Harijans. They are the most

2

4. Preventing exercise of franchise

3. Occupation of land

2. Refusal to continue their traditional occupation

1. Protests or refusal of higher wages

1

Sr. No. Item

N N

UC

N

MC MC

1 (0.95)

N

1 (0.93)

N

N

11 (12.09) 15 (16.48)

UC

15 (14.02) 16 (14.95)

5 (5.49)

UC

8 (8.79)

MC

17 (15.89)

5

They did

MC

9 (8.41)

4

They very much did

UC

3

Sample Class

Table V Caste Hindu Responses Regarding Harijan Hostilities Against Them

47 (51.65)

53 (49.53)

38 (41.76)

46 (42.99)

35 (38.46)

36 (33.64)

40 (50.55)

50 (16.73)

6

They did not

40 (43.96)

47 (43.93)

25 (27.47)

30 (28.04)

30 (32.97)

26 (24.30)

30 (32.97)

30 (28.04)

7

They very much did not

91 (100)

107 (100)

9

Total

91 (100)

4 (4.40)

6 (5.61)

28 (30.77)

91 (100)

107 (100)

91 (100)

30 (28.04) 107 (100)

N

14 (13.08) 107 (100)

2 (2.20)

1 (0.93)

8

Undecided

M

1.47

1.46

1.11

1.18

2.08

1.93

1.86

2.03

10

10.69

11.17

8.35

9.33

10.20

10.36

10.70

11.61

11

S.D.

152 Venkateswarlu Dollu

Figures in brackets are percentages

10. Refusal to render service in respect of death

9. Refusal to render service in respect of marriage

8. Refusal to render services in respect of a birth

7. Threats against contesting an election

6. Threats against not voting for a Harijan candidate

5. Preventing political participation

7 (7.69)

20 (21.98)

30 (28.04) 29 (27.10)

UC

10 (10.99) 18 (19.78)

MC MC

26 (26.17) 30 (28.04)

UC

23 (21.50) 29 (27.10) 17 (18.68) 21 (23.08)

N

UC

N

MC

N

N

1 (0.03)

N

1 (0.93)

MC

N

N

UC

N

UC

N

MC MC

N

UC

40 (43.96)

26 (18.69)

34 (37.36)

29 (27.10)

25 (27.47)

29 (27.10)

50 (54.95)

48 (44.86)

20 (21.98)

26 (24.30)

47 (51.65)

50 (46.73)

23 (25.27)

18 (16.82)

25 (27.47)

20 (18.69)

28 (30.77)

20 (10.69)

40 (43.96)

51 (47.66)

70 (76.92)

80 (74.77)

42 (46.15)

48 (44.86)

1 (1.10)

10 (9.35)

4 (4.40)

N

N

6 (5.61)

1 (1.10)

8 (7.48)

1 (1.10)

N

2 (2.20)

8 (7.48)

91 (100)

107 (100)

91 (100)

107 (100)

91 (100)

107 (100)

91 (100)

107 (100)

91 (100)

107 (100)

91 (100)

107 (100)

2.10

2.48

2.03

2.62

2.30

2.40

1.54

1.37

1.21

1.26

1.49

1.41

11.01

14.81

10.21

14.95

11.25

13.45

11.25

10.47

8.41

9.18

10.75

10.68

CONFLICT BETWEEN HARIJANS AND UPPER/MIDDLE CLASS CASTE HINDUS 153

154

Venkateswarlu Dollu

powerful, the dominant and the highest castes in the Hindu social system. This superior position of theirs would get undermined if the Harijans were to achieve equal political power (in the real democratic sense), economic development and social equality; on the other hand, the middle class caste Hindus, although resistant as they too are to a certain extent to the developmental change among the Harijans, are not as strongly opposed as the upper class caste Hindus because of their middle level positions in the social, economic and political sub-systems. The existence of psychological conflict forms the basis for the explicit occurrence of the conflict which at this stage may be called the ‘manifest conflict’ and this has been left out of the scope of this paper.

Notes *This is an abridged version of a part of the author’s doctoral study on ‘The Harijan-Upper Class Conflict in Andhra Pradesh’ submitted to the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. The author expresses profound gratitude to Dr. Yogendra Singh who supervised his doctoral work. 1. We will explain whom we teat as the upper class and middle class Hindus in the next section. 2. For a description of the conditions and life of these people in the ancient past, see the translation of Manu’s scripture partly reproduced in B. R. Ambedkar, The Untouchables: Who were they and why they became untouchables. 3. See articles 15, 17, 46, 330, 332, 334, 335, 338 and 341 of the Indian Constitution. 4. The anti-reservation riots in Gujarat a few years before and revived recently more than illustrate this point. 5. This has been discussed in detail elsewhere. See the author’s article (1981). 6. Only the Harijans’ psychological perception of the violence perpetrated against them by the caste Hindus is dealt with here. The actual manifest form of conflict between the Harijans and the caste Hindus has been discussed in the author’s article, ibid.

References Agarwal, Pratap C. and Mohd. Siddiq. 1976. Equality through Privilege: A Study of Special Privileges of Scheduled Castes in Haryana, New Delhi, Shri Ram Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources. Aiyappan, A. 1965. Social Revolution in a Kerala Village: A Study in Culture Change, Bombay, Asia Publishing House. Alexander, K. C. 1968. “Changing Status of the Harijans of Kerala”, Economic and Political Weekly, July Special Number. Ambedkar, B. R. 1948. The Untouchables: Who were they and why they became untouchable? New Delhi, Amrit Book Co.

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Beal, Alan R. and Bernard J. Siegel. 1967. Divisiveness and Social Convict: An Anthropological Approach, Bombay, Oxford University Press. Briggs, Geo. W. 1920. The Chamars, Calcutta, Association Press, YMCA. Cohn, B. S. 1955. The Changing Status of a Depressed Caste, in M. Marriott (ed.). Coser, Lewis A. 1956. The Functions of Social Conflict, Glencoe, Free Press. D’Souza, Victor S. 1975. “Scheduled Castes and Urbanization in Punjab: An Explanation”, Sociological Bulletin, XXIV (1). ———. 1977. “Does Urbanism Desegregate Scheduled Castes: Evidence from a district in Punjab”, Contributions to Indian Sociology (New Series), II (1). Dahrendorf. R. 1959. Class and Class conflict in an Industrial Society, Stanford, California, Stanford University Press. Das, M.S. 1976. “A Cross-national study of inter-caste conflict in India and the United States”, International Journal of Contemporary Sociology, XIII (3&4). Desai, I.P. 1973. Water Facilities for the Untouchables in Rural Gujarat, A Report, New Delhi, Indian Council of Social Science Research. ———. 1976. Untouchability in Rural Gujarat, Bombay, Popular Prakashan. Dollu, V. 1981. “Atrocities on Harijans in Andhra Pradesh: An Analysis”, Indian Journal of Criminology, IX (2). Doshi, H. 1974. “Use of Public Places and Facilities by Bhangis in Surat”, Journal of Social and Economic Studies, II (1). Epstein, T. S. 1962. Economic Development and Social Change in South India, Manchester, Mancher University Press. ———. 1973. South India: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, London, Macmillan. Fuchs, S. 1951. The Children of Hari, New York, F.A. Prager. Ghurye, G. S. 1968. Social Tensions in India. Bombay, Popular Prakashan. Gough, K. 1970. “Palakkara: Social and Religious Changes in Central Karala”, in K. Ishwaran (ed.). ———. 1973. “Harijans in Thanjans in Thanjavur”, in K. Gough & H. P. Sharma (eds). Harper, E. B. 1968. “Social Consequences of an ‘Unsuccessful’ low caste movement”, in J. Silverberg (ed.). Isaacs, H. R. 1965. India’s Ex-Untouchables, Bombay, Asia Publishing House. Kamble, N. D. 1982. The Scheduled Castes, New Delhi, Ashish Publishing House. Kriesberg, Louis. 1973. The Sociology of Social conflicts, New Jersey, Prentice—Hall. Kulke, E. 1976. “Integration alienation and rejection”, in S. D. Pillai (ed.). Lakshmanna, C. 1977. Harijans and the Social Discrimination, Hyderabad, Department of Sociology, Osmania University. Lynch, O. N. 1969. The Politics of Untouchability, Social Mobility and Social Change in a city of India, New York, Columbia University Press. Mahar, J. M. (Ed.). 1972. Untouchables in Contemporary India, Tucson Arizona Press. Malik, S. 1979. Social Integration of Scheduled Castes. New Delhi, Abhinav Publications. Marx, R. 1952. Class Struggles in France 1848–1856, Moscow, Foreign Languages Publishing House. Marx, K. and F. Engels. Selected Work, Moscow, Progress Publishers. Mehta, S. 1971. Social Conflicts in a Village Community, New Delhi, S. Chand & Co. Pvt. Ltd. Moffatt, M. 1975. “Untouchables and the Caste System: A Tamil case study”, Contributions to Indian Sociology, IX (1). ———. 1979. An Untouchable Community in South India, New Jersey, Princeton, Princeton University Press.

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Mukerji, Radhakamal. 1951. Intercaste Tensions: A Survey under the auspices of UNESCO, Lucknow University. Murphy, G. 1953. In the Minds of Men. The study of Human Behaviour and Social Tensions in India, New York, Basic Books. Oommen, T. K. 1968. “Strategy for Social Change: A study of Untouchability”, Economic and Political Weekly, III (25). ———. 1975. “Scheduled Castes: then and now”, in B. N. Pande (ed.). ———. 1984. “Sources of deprivation and styles of protest; the case of Dalits in India”, Contributions to Indian Sociology, XVIII (1). Orenstein. H. 1965. Gaon, conflict and cohesion an Indian village, Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press. Parvathamma, C. 1968. “The Case for the Indian Untouchable”, United Asia, XX (5). Patwardhan, S. 1973. Change among India’s Harijans, New Delhi, Orient Longman. Ramaswamy, U. 1974. “Scheduled Castes in Andhra: Some aspects of social change”, Economic and Political Weekly, IX (29). ———. 1974. “Self-identity among scheduled castes: A study of Andhra”, Economic and Political Weekly, IX (47). Rao, N. V. K, and M. V. T. Raju. 1975. “Malas and Madigas: An enthnographic study of two scheduled Castes of Telangana”, Journal of Social Research, XVIII (2). Rao, U. (n.d.). Deprived Castes in India, Allahabad, Chugli Publications. Roy Burman, B. K. (ed.). 1970. Social Mobility Among Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes of India, New Delhi, Registrar General of India Saberwal, S. 1970. Status, Network and Mobility in a Punjab Industrial Town, Simla, Indian Institute of Advanced Study. ———. 1973. “Receding pollution: Intercaste relations in urban Punjab”, Sociological Bulletin, XXII (2). ———. 1976. Mobile men: Limits to Social Change in Urban Punjab, New Delhi, Vikas Publishing House Pvt. Ltd. Sengupta, N. 1979 Destitutes: and Developments A Study of Bauri Community in Bokaro Region, New Delhi, Concept of Publishing Company. Sharma, S. K. 1983 “Shudhi—A case study of role of a religious movement in the status improvement of untouchables”, Indian Journal of Social Research, XXIV (1). Shyamlal 1984 “Social reform movement among the Bhangis of West Rajasthan”, The Eastern Anthropologist, XXXII (2). Simmel, G. 1955 Conflict: The Web of Group Affiliations, Tr. by Kurt W. Wolff, Glencoe, Free Press. Singh, K. K. 1967 Patterns of Caste Tensions, Bombay, Asia Publishing House. Singh, S. 1977 “The Scheduled Castes and new dimensions of social change”, Indian Journal of Comparative Sociology, III. Singh, T. R. 1907 “The Harijan leather-worker: Some aspects of untouchability in Andhra Pradesh”, Voluntary Action, IX (2). ———. 1969 The Madiga: A Study of Social Structure and Change, Lucknow, Ethnographic and Folk Culture Society. Turner, J. H. 1975 “Marx and Simmel Revisited: Reassessing the Foundations of Conflict Theory”, Social Forces, CXIII (4). Vidyarthi, L. P. N. Mishra 1977 Harijan Today: Sociological, Economic, Political, Religious and Cultural Analysis, New Delhi, Classical Publishers. Zelliott, E. 1970 “Learning the use of political means: the Mahars of Maharashtra”, in R. Kothari (ed.).

PART IV Interrogating Change: Theory and Practice

9 Reservations and the Sanskritization of Scheduled Castes: Some Theoretical Aspects Gopal Guru

Introduction

T

he study of Sanskritization in general has been a source for sociologists both in India and abroad, for their analyses (Srinivas, 1956) It has also been considered as an effective source of influencing the behaviour patterns of the Scheduled Castes and their cultural enhancement (Aggraval, 1977; Beteille, 1969; Baiely, 1963; Gould, 1961: Patwardhan, 1973; Singh, 1964; Singh, 1973, Sachchidananda, 1977; Lynch, 1974). These scholars have made interesting case studies of the process of Sanskritization working among the Scheduled Castes in India. Some of these analysts have taken occupation, education, political participation, and economic and culture factors as the variables for analysing the process of social transformation, modernisation and Sanskritization. Reservation has also been used as an important variable leading to socioeconomic and political mobility of the Scheduled Castes (Aggrawal, 1977). But reservations as a factor affecting the process of Sanskritization has not been studied in details. Therefore, here an attempt has been made to make some useful enquiries into the following problems. This would, perhaps, enable us

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to postulate some hypotheses for further empirical investigations. First, what implication does reservation have on the process of Sanskritization? Second, is it possible for the Scheduled Castes to gain consensus for their Sanskritization from the high caste Hindus? Finally, in the given Indian social structure, does the process of Sanskritization play the viable and more meaningful role in achieving transformation of Scheduled Caste community as a whole? The following body of material will try to find out the answers for the present problems posed here.

Development of the Concept of Sanskritization In its historical evolution the concept of Sanskritization was an important feature of traditional Indian society, where it appears to have been the principle idiom of social mobility (Beteille, 1969: 116). In the past, the process of Sanskritization was slow and gradual and it offered very limited possibilities to the lowest section of the society for upper mobility. This made it difficult for lower castes to quickly acquire economic and political power or having once acquired it, to shed its traditional marks of inferiority. There were, in addition, legal and ritual sanctions which acted against too radical change in styles of life. These sanctions operated with particular force upon the Scheduled Castes who were able to cross the barriers of untouchability rarely, if at all. Later on the British rule released the Backward Classes (including the Scheduled Castes) from the grip of the traditional oppressive sanctions. The new courts of law refused to recognise the rights of the upper castes to the exclusive use of particular symbols of status. The avenues of Sanskritization were thrown open to ever increasing sections of society. The first to seize the new opportunities were those whose social position had been low in traditional society but above the line of untouchability. Thus, Sanskritization served to lower the barriers of sanctions of society, which had at one time been clearly separated. It is true that the Britishers had opened up new avenues of Sanskritization for the Scheduled Castes but it was more so because of the introduction of capitalist system for, it was not easily possible to realize any kind of Sanskritization under the feudal set up. However, the process of Sanskritization helped the Britishers to pump out the agitating tendencies from the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes (the lower

RESERVATIONS AND THE SANSKRITIZATION OF SCHEDULED CASTES

161

castes above the line of untouchability are classified under the Other Backward Classes) in order to make their position comfortable in India. This was not a difficult task for the Britishers, as some social movements for the upliftment of Scheduled Castes, instead of attacking the basic economic and political colonial structure, in the beginning, seem to have launched their attack of superstructure by searching for legitimacy for social position through religious and traditional means. In the beginning, (for example, the Mahar Scheduled Caste movement in Maharashtra) its leaders seem to have ventured to seek social sanctions to their social position through religious and traditional means (Zelliot quoed in Smith and Brill, 1978: 88). Even Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, the prominent Scheduled Caste leader from Maharashtra, in the beginning of his leadership, concentrated his efforts on status enhancement of Scheduled Castes (Zelliot, quoted in Eugene, 1966: 196). It is believed that he adopted this course of action as a strategy to consolidate his movement. And when he felt that he achieved his goal, he did not try to claim that the heterodox religious practices of Scheduled Castes were worthy of respect, nor did he encourage Sanskritized religious practice (Zelliot, quoted, Smith and Brill, 1978: 94). Secondly, he tried, later on, to gain a large number of civic rights, a necessary pre-condition for upward mobility of any kind for Scheduled Castes. However, one thing needs to be mentioned here is that Mahatma Phule, a great social-reformer in Maharashtra, while uplifting the untouchables, did not crack his mind on Sanskritising the untouchables. On the contrary, he encouraged the non-Brahmins and the untouchables against the process of Sanskritization (Malse and Keer, 1982. In this connection, even the Gandhian movement against untouchability and Adivasi welfare concentrated mainly on teaching these oppressed people against the use of liquor, toddy and meat and encouraged the latter to follow the norms of the high caste Hindus (Singh quoted in 15. R. Nanda, 1980: 158).

Sanskritization in Contemporary India In contemporary Indian society the role of Sanskritization was first analysed in detail by Prof. Srinivas in his study of the Coorges of South India (Srinivas, 1952). Srinivas has put forward the concept of Sanskritization

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to explain some features of religious, cultural and social change in India. According to him Sanskritization is the process by a which a Hindu caste, a tribal or other group changes its customs, ritual, ideology and way of life in the direction of high or frequently twice born castes (Srinivas, 1974: 7). This definition of Prof. Srinivas is challenged by the conversion of Scheduled Castes in Maharashtra to Buddhism, as Buddhism denounces all cultural, religious domination of the high castes or twice born castes (Patwardhan, 1968: 192). Secondly, the unit of the process of Sanskritization is those castes who had been traditionally favoured and the new beneficiaries of westernisation (Sharma, 1980: 106). Finally, as Srinivas believes, the process of Sanskritization can be regulated through the economic and political power (Srinivas, 1962: 56, 1978: 100). Finally, it is argued that the process of Sanskritization brings about the cultural integration of Scheduled Castes with the larger upper caste society (Patwardhan, 1968: 194; Bandopathya, quoted in Srinivas Seshaiah. V. S. Parthasarthy, 1977: 119.). Therefore, to study and understand the Sanskritization of Scheduled Castes in the light of the above positions taken by various scholars, we will have to analyse the role of the reservation for Scheduled Castes in their process of Sanskritization and its implications on the Scheduled Caste common folk. The following analysis would help us to take some theoretical position that would be possible through the interplay between the process of Sanskritization and the provision of reservation.

Reservation and the Sanskritization of Scheduled Castes It is pointed out in the above analysis (Srinivas, 1962) that economic and political power makes the process of Sanskritization possible. Since the constitutional provision made for the Scheduled Castes helps the Scheduled Castes to wield economic and political power the same would help us to understand the Sanskritization of the Scheduled Castes. Secondly, the concept of Sanskritization is a group process and helps understanding group mobility (Sharma, 1980: 106). Similarly, the unit of reservations is a group or class though it starts from an individual unit (Dushkin, 1979: 662). Thus, reservations create the groups which qualify themselves for the regulation of Sanskritization process among the Scheduled Castes. So, with this kind of framework one can work out the kind of relationship between the process of Sanskritization and the provision of reservations.

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Reservations and Sanskritization—A Paradox We have tried to see in the above analysis that the reservations may boost up the process of Sanskritization by being complementary to each other at the operational level. But theoretically and technically speaking these two terms are antithetical to each other. This complex situation can be made further clear on the basis of the constitutional criteria meant for the realization of the reservation provisions. A person, in order to receive the benefits of the reservation facilities, must identify himself with the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes, and usually must present elaborate verification of his claim. Unwillingness to so identify oneself results in ineligibility for benefits, as untouchables converted to Buddhism and Christianity have experienced. This situation stands contrary to the concept of Sanskritization as you cannot be Sanskritized with the stigma of social disabilities plagued with you. However, though the Scheduled Castes decide technically to remain socially backward in order to enjoy the reservation benefits, still they try to improve their social status and prestige (Sachchidanand, 1974: 282). However, it is argued that after independence the Scheduled Castes have given up the chase for Sanskritization and turned towards competition for economic and political power (Beteille, 1969: 114). It is true that in the beginning the Scheduled Castes had shifted their emphasis from Sanskritization to competition for position of office and power. But this was so as long as there was a fair play of competition for reservation among the Scheduled Castes to remove their backwardness slowly and gradually. When the essence of competition for reservation started being confined to a microscopic middle class from these Castes, the Scheduled Castes once having developed educationally, economically and politically restarted raising their cultural status to the level of the cultural status of upper castes (Deshpande, 1978: 101–112).

Reservation and De-Sanskritization The relationship between reservation and Sanskritization is not only paradoxical but it also to the process of de-Sanskritization (here the term de-Sanskritization has been used in a pejorative sense). Economic backwardness and craze for power status lead to the process of deSanskritization of those economically backward upper castes through

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aspiring for reservation benefits. These castes, in order to avail themselves of the facilities of reservation, must adopt one of the categories of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes notified by the Indian Constitution. This has been successfully done by the upper caste people. Some of the upper castes have been adopting the lower castes since the British period in order to enjoy the fruits of reservations. For example, when the Britishers adopted the policy of political concessions for the minority communities, Backward Classes and Depressed Classes, there was a competition among the upper castes to adopt the names of the lower castes so as to qualify themselves for the benefits of British reservations. This was done by the Viswabrahmin caste, one of the non-Brahmin upper castes of Madras State, who had tried to join the lower castes for the sake of getting reservation benefits from the Britishers (Saraswathi, 1974: 128). Even now-a-days the upper castes are ready to de-Sanskritize their castes for the sake of getting reservation benefits given by the Indian constitution to the above mentioned castes. According to the Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, there are a number of instances where upper caste candidates for entry into the services under the Central Government. State Government and Public sector undertakings, secured false certificates by unscrupulous means in support of their claim to belong to Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes (S. C. & S. T. Commissioner, 1977: 48). Thus, reservations, as a practical necessity to remove the economic backwardness, compell the upper castes to undergo the process of de-Sanskritization.

Scheduled Castes and Their Compulsive Sanskritization: A Need for Structural Integration and Social Sanction Upper castes experience compulsive de-Sanskritization out of the need for economic relief, but Scheduled Caste elite class experience compulsive Sanskritization out of the need for their structural integration with the upper caste society through the social sanction of the latter. It is argued that because of the forces of modernisation. Sanskritization has brought about the cultural integration between various castes, once separated, by lowering the barriers between them (Bandopathya, 1947;

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Patwardhan, 1968). This may be true at the cultural level only. But the structural integration of the Scheduled Castes with the upper castes still remains a perennial problem. Even today the Scheduled Castes, whose life style is tentamounting to that of upper caste life style, are still socially being discriminated by the upper castes (Deshpande, 1978: 101–112, S. C. & S. T. Commissioner, 1977; Mandal Commission Report, 1980). Moreover, the problem of Scheduled Caste integration with the upper caste society can further be elucidated by looking into their problem of accommodation in upper caste localities. My observations about educated and employed Scheduled Castes in Nipani in Karnataka and Kolhapur in Maharashtra throw light on the case of compulsive Sanskritization of Scheduled Castes which has been linked up with their problem of accommodation in upper caste localities. In these towns there arc instances where the Scheduled Caste persons have tried to avoid identification of their castes or to hide it altogether of falsify it. They play all these tricks because of two reasons. ‘First, they do not like losing their accommodation in upper caste decent localities by exposing their caste to the land-owner. Moreover, the falsification of caste helps them to overcome the psychological problem of identifying themselves as Scheduled Caste. Secondly, they decide to be socially un-assertive by concealing their castes because they find it quite appaling and degrading to go back to their Scheduled Caste settlement (ghetto). Therefore, to avoid these complications, they decide to claim their false high caste illusionary status. For this maintenance they change their life style to match in social status with their landlords’ upper caste status by adopting upper caste rituals and value. Thus, because of problems such as these, Sanskritization becomes compulsory for the Scheduled Castes even though they do not mean Sanskritising themselves. Though this compulsive Sanskritization of Scheduled Castes is an essentially operating reality, this becomes an insignificant development when, by and large, most of the Scheduled Caste people in urban areas form Housing Societies based on their own castes. This separate settlement of Scheduled Castes has been encouraged by two things: First, these Scheduled Castes want to avoid this compulsive Sanskritization and the problem of social discrimination. Secondly, this separate Housing Society creates among the Scheduled Castes a sense of social security. This may be true about other castes also. However, to discourage this tendency of separate settlement, and to bring about the structural integration of an otherwise diversified social milieu, the government has been trying to create secular, cosmopolitan

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housing societies where all lower and upper castes would be structurally assimilated. Government has even enacted a condition that every co-operative housing society must have as its member at least one Backward Class person. Unfortunately, here also, as we have observed in Kolhapur the allottees of these houses try to bribe the concerning officer so that he would allot the houses in such a way that the people would have their own caste fellow’s house within their very close physical proximity. However, the changing pattern of discrimination, which is practiced by the caste Hindus through the unconspicuous reaction and the separate settlement of the Scheduled Castes and their submission to the compulsive Sanskritization, postpones the conflict that would otherwise be immediately possible. Therefore, it is interesting to mention here that it is this submissive and elitist character of the middle class of Scheduled Castes which is often reflected in the violent reaction of Dalit Panthers and is described as “Dalit Brahmin” in Dalit literature (Pawar, 1980).

Sanskritization and the Poor Scheduled Castes In the above analysis we have taken the reservation beneficiaries, and educated employed middle class of the Scheduled Castes as a unit to understand the process of Sanskritization among the Scheduled Castes. Therefore, it is equally important to work out any connection that would be there between the process of Sanskritization and the Scheduled Caste poor in the countryside. The Report on Marathwada Vidyapeeth Namantar Virodhi Atyachari Andolan Samiti (a committee report on Marathwada University Antirenaming Atrocities Agitation) mentions that in the Marathwada riots the high caste Hindus singled out and attacked the Neo-Buddhists and the assertive educated Mahars who had given up their traditional roles and had accepted a new cultural symbol against the Hindu cultural symbol (Gaikwad, 1980). Therefore, it is the assertiveness and the sense of revolt of the rival Scheduled Castes which challenge the mechanism of cultural domination of the dominant class in rural India. However, it is not only that the high caste Hindus would like to commit atrocities on Scheduled Castes just to suppress their assertiveness and the sense of revolt against the cultural domination of the upper castes, but it is equally true that the upper castes harass the Scheduled Castes folk to protect their socio-economic interests. It is precisely because of this reason that the protection of administration is much

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more important for the Scheduled Castes than the need for Sanskritization (Bailey, 1963: 73, 226, 264). Moreover, the young Scheduled Castes can dispense with Sanskritization for the sake of getting some political benefits (Beteille, 1969: 135). Thus, the process of Sanskritization, as it is argued by some of the scholars, fails to bring about the cultural integration of rural India (Bandopadhya, 1977: 119). Thus, on the basis of the above body of material we can draw the following conclusions:— 1) The reservation for and the Sanskritization of Scheduled Castes are paradoxically related to each other. On the one hand reservations fetch political and economic power to the Scheduled castes to realize any amount of Sanskritization. But on the other, technically speaking, lower caste social background, which is a criterion for reservations, is contrary to the realization of Sanskritization. 2) The reservations play a contradictory role in the process of Sanskritization. On the one hand it enables the Scheduled Castes to undergo a process of Sanskritization through seeking upward mobility, but on the other, it compells the economically backward upper castes to seek downward social mobility on the process of de-Sanskritization, as they have to adopt lower caste status in order to enjoy reservation benefits. 3) The Scheduled Castes, howsoever they are Sanskritized, do not get social sanction either by the upper castes or by the law (Galanter quoted in Singer and Cohn, 1968: 318, 319). Therefore, these middle class Scheduled Castes try to hide or falsify their social background to solve their sociopsychological problems. These problems goad the Scheduled Castes towards a kind of compulsive Sanskritization imposed by the upper castes. 4) Since the process of Sanskritization does not incorporate the rural people and Scheduled Castes and because of its complications, the Scheduled Caste elites become a submissive or isolated phenomenon forming separate housing societies in the urban sector; the Sanskritization creates a cultural gap between the Scheduled Castes. Therefore, when Sanskritization fails to bring about the horizontal cultural integration of the Scheduled Castes, then it is very difficult to say that this would help bring about a vertical cultural integration of the Indian social milieu.

References Aggarwal, Pratap C. 1977. Equality Through Privilege: A Study of Special Privileges Granted to Scheduled Castes in Haryana, New Delhi, (ICSSR). Bailey, F. G. 1963. Politics and Social Change in Orissa in 1959, Berkeley, University of California Press. Beteille, Andre 1969. Caste: Old and New, Bombay, Asia Publishing House.

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Bandopadhya, Suraj. 1977. “Caste Lost and Caste Regained—Some Aspects of a Sociology of Empirical Research on Village India” in Srinivas, Seshaiah and V. S. Parthasarathy (eds)., Dimension of Social Change in India, New Delhi, Allied Publishers Pvt. Ltd. Deshpande, Vasant. 1978. Toward Social Integration: Problem of Adjustment of Scheduled Caste Elite, Poona, Shubhada Saraswat. Dushkin, Lelah. 1979. “Backward Class Benefits and Social Classes in India: 1920–1970”, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 14, No. 14. Gould, Harold A. 1961. “Sanskritization and Westernisation—A Dynamic View”, Economic Weekly, Vol. 13. No. 25. Keer & Malse. 1982. Mahatma Phule Samagra Wangmaya (Marathi), Government of Maharashtra, Publication Deptt. Lynch, Owen M. 1974. The Politics of Untouchabiliiy, New Delhi, National Publishing House. Pawar, Daya. 1978. Baluta (Marathi), Bombay, Granthali. Patwardhan, Sunanda. 1973. Change Among India’s Harijan—Maharashtra: A Case Study, New Delhi, Orient Longman Ltd. ———. 1968. “Social Mobility and Conversion of Mahars”, Sociological Bulletin, Vol. 17, No. 2. Sachchidananda. 1974. Research on Scheduled Castes with Special Reference to Change—A Trend Report in ICSSR Survey of Research in Sociology and Social Anthropology, Bombay: Popular Prakashan. ———. 1977 Harijan Elite, Faridabad: Thomson Press (India) Ltd. Saraswathi. 1974. Minorities in Madras, New Delhi, Implex India. Singh K. S. 1980. “The Freedom Movement and Tribal Sub-Movements 1920–1917”, in B. R. Nanda (ed.), Essays in Indian history, Delhi, Oxford University Press. Singh, T. R. 1969. The Madiga—A Study of Social Structure and Change, Lucknow, Ethonographic and Folk Cultural Society. Singh, Yogendra. 1973. Modernisation of Indian Tradition, Delhi, Thomson Press (India) Ltd. Sharma, K. L. 1980. Essays on Social Stratification, Jaipur, Delhi Rawat Publication. Srinivas, M. N. 1952. Religion and Society Among the Coorges of South India, Bombay, Oxford. ———. 1974. Caste and Social Change in Modern India, New Delhi, Orient Longman Ltd. ———. 1978. Report of Marathwada Vidyapeeth Namantar Virodhi Atyachari Andolan Committee (Marathi), Bombay, People’s Education Society’s Siddharth Publication. ———. 1975, 1976, 1976, 1978–1977. Report of the Commissioner for Scheduled Castes\ Scheduled Tribes.

10 Purity, Impurity, Untouchability: Then and Now A.M. Shah

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lthough the phenomenon of purity and impurity, including the related one of untouchability, was studied in Indian sociology and social anthropology since the beginning of the discipline around 1920, its modern systematic analysis may be said to have begun with M.N. Srinivas’s work on religion among the Coorgs of south India (1952; see also Dumont and Pocock 1959). Since then, a large body of work has grown, and we have now a fair understanding of the phenomenon. In this article, I propose to discuss some aspects of it, focussing on changes taking place in the modern times. I am aware of the enormous complexity of the phenomenon and its regional diversities, and of the necessity to be extremely careful in making general statements about it. The issue of untouchability in particular is highly emotive and politically explosive. However, the phenomenon poses important problems for both social theory and policy, and social scientists would be failing in their duty if they do not deal with them in a cool and calm manner. Ideas of purity/impurity were present all over Hindu society for centuries: in domestic as well as public life, in exchange of food and water, in practising occupations, in kinship and marriage, in religious action and belief, in temples and monasteries, and in a myriad different contexts and situations. These ideas played a crucial role in separating A.M. Shah one caste from another, and in arranging them in a hierarchy, that is to say, in ordering the basic structure of the society. We

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have by now considerable literature presenting elaborate analyses of the ritual hierarchy of castes based on ideas of purity/impurity. A Hindu man or woman’s life was permeated with ideas of purity/impurity from the moment of birth to the moment of death, and every day from the moment s/he got up from bed till s/he went to bed. Even if one manages to read the entire literature on purity/impurity, I doubt if one would be able to grasp all its ramifications. A complete list of pure/impure actions, ideas and materials would occupy a whole book, perhaps as large as an encyclopaedia. The Hindu civilisation is sometimes called a civilisation of purity and pollution, and the Hindu psyche is believed to be pathologically obsessed with them. One has only to conjure up an image of the orthodox Hindu taking different kinds of purificatory baths and their frequency. I may give just one illustration. The main character in a Gujarati novel written towards the end of the 19th century (Nilkanth 1900), a Brahman named Bhadrambhadra was travelling on a train for the first time from Ahmedabad to Bombay. He considered his copassengers polluting, and therefore took a purificatory bath on the platform of every station the train halted at. Gods and goddesses and their abodes, the temples, were attributed the highest degree of purity, and therefore protected from every conceivable source of impurity. In the same manner, temple priests were considered the purest men who had to observe the rules of purity/impurity meticulously. Although the Brahmans were considered the purest caste, a Brahman priest was purer than an ordinary Brahman. The Brahman sub-castes were also ranked, and the Brahmans performing mortuary rituals were considered the lowest. Similarly, many non-Brahman members of certain highly Sanskritic sects observed the rules of purity/impurity so meticulously, particularly while worshipping their deities, that they considered the ordinary Brahmans less pure, if not polluting. Many holy men among lower castes and tribes, such as Bhagats and bhuvas, also observed the rules of purity/impurity strictly. Every caste, as a collectivity, was ranked relatively pure or impure vis-àvis another caste on the basis of mainly its observance of rules of purity/ impurity. The concern for purity/impurity decreased as one went down the ladder of hierarchy. However, there was a continuous process of every caste trying to improve its status by adopting higher levels of purity, as part of the process Srinivas (1956) called sanskritisation. As he pointed out and as I have discussed in two recent papers (A.M. Shah 2005, 2006a), the Brahmans

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were not the only source of Sanskritic influence. Some other higher castes as well as certain non-caste institutions, such as sects, temples, monasteries, religious literature and religious discourses, could also be its source. The fact that certain castes were considered impure, polluting and untouchable, and occupied the lowest rungs of the hierarchy, has been a major problem of study in social sciences as well as a major concern for social reformers and statesmen in modern India. It is a multi-dimensional problem, and I will discuss mainly the dimension of untouchability qua untouchability. I submit, we would be ignoring social reality if we do not consider untouchability an integral part of the entire complex of purity/ impurity in Hindu society and culture. Just as men and women belonging to certain castes were considered untouchable, men and women belonging to non-Untouchable castes were also considered untouchable in certain contexts, mainly in the domestic domain. In its general sense, untouchability prevailed in every Hindu home. For example, in orthodox Hindu homes, the woman or man cooking food in the kitchen was pure compared to other members, such that s/he did not allow them to enter the kitchen, served food outside it, and took care not to touch them and their plates while serving them food. A woman during her menstrual period was considered polluting, and therefore segregated in her home. Even her sight and shadow were considered polluting and inauspicious on certain occasions. Similarly, a woman after childbirth was considered polluting and was isolated in the home for as long as a month or so. Maximum impurity was attached to a dead body, and therefore everyone connected with it, even a relative residing far away from it, was considered highly impure and polluting, and was isolated. The rules about sutaka, pollution arising from death, were so many and so complicated that only a few persons in a village or an urban neighbourhood knew them thoroughly. The word asprishya, the Sanskrit equivalent of ‘untouchable’, was used even for contexts of highest purity. In Pushti Marg, a Vaishnava sect founded by Vallabhacharya in the 16th century, a member had to worship his/her deity in a state of intense purity. This state, in the temple or the home, was called asprishya (aparash in Gujarati and Hindi) and all other persons were prohibited from touching the worshipper. This shows the concept of untouchability could be applied to the most impure as well as the most pure. Its use to mark out entire castes as untouchable was a special application of the concept.

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II While the Dharmashastras and other ancient Hindu texts described the society as divided into four varnas, they also mentioned a category of people outside the varna order, usually called anirmt avarna (without varna) as contrasted with savarna (with varna). They were oil the margin of the social order, and are generally considered to be the precursors of the category of people called Untouchables in the modern times. A clear understanding of untouchability, however, requires us to recognise the fact that the Untouchables were never a homogeneous group; they were divided into a number of endogamous castes (jatis) which were arranged in a hierarchy, in the same way as castes in the rest of the society were divided and arranged. The ancient texts, however, do not mention the numerous jatis of the Untouchables we now have–more than a thousand of them. We begin to get references to some of them in the literature of the regional languages which began to develop in the medieval period. However, this literature would not help us compile a comprehensive list of Untouchable jatis in any region. Such lists began to be compiled only when the British administrators launched the Census of India, the Gazetteers, and the castes-and-tribes volumes in the second half of the 19th century. These lists became more or less a bench mark. However, we have to inquire: How were these lists prepared? On what basis were the various jatis considered untouchable? And, how far were these lists objective and reliable? Simon Charsley, in a well-documented essay (1996) on the career of the concept ‘Untouchable’, shows how Herbert Risley, the Census Commissioner of India for 1901, was the first to propose, as part of his scheme to classify castes of the Shudra varna into five categories, a category called ‘Asprishya Shudra’ (Untouchable Shudra). He gave instructions to the census officials in different parts of India as to how to Flare various castes in this category, Charsley narrates the complicated problems these officials, and ultimately Risley, faced in their task. Nothing like a coherent and consistent list of Untouchable castes for any region, leave alone for India as a whole, emerged. Charsley remarks, ‘From this unpropitious start, representing as it did more of a rebuff than a successful initiative, the career of a key term was launched’ (ibid.: 3). In the social and political movements to uplift the Untouchables, which began more or less simultaneously with Risley’s census, the social

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reformers, statesmen, bureaucrats and others also got involved in identifying specific Untouchable castes for their purpose. Charsley goes on to narrate the career of the terms related to Untouchable, such as Depressed Class, Excluded Caste, Scheduled Caste (henceforth, SC), Harijan, and dalit.1 It is clear that, in preparing a list or schedule for every one of these categories, the census officials, other bureaucrats, social reformers and politicians always agreed about including the lowest caste, namely, the Scavengers, but disagreed about others. The main reason was the differences of opinion about what constituted ‘untouchability’, the defining criterion for each category. Charsley remarks, ‘As a concept, “Untouchability” suppressed diversity and variation’ (ibid.: 12). He does not tell how compromises were made and the differences accommodated to finalise any list—this should be a problem of research. The basic point, however, remains that all lists of untouchable castes, past and present, do not have the objective reality or finality claimed for them. Secondly, an idea that the Untouchable castes were separated from the rest of the castes by a fixed and inviolable line got established in all discourse, including the anthropological and sociological one, on Indian society and culture. We shall soon examine this line. Whatever the line dividing the Untouchable castes from the rest of the castes, separation of one Untouchable caste from another and their arrangement in a hierarchy were based on essentially the same ideas of purity/impurity that guided the separation and hierarchy of the rest of the castes. We have some intensive studies elaborating this point (see Moffatt 1979). Often the Untouchable castes in a region included a few castes similar to certain castes in the rest of the society. For example, as in most other regions, a caste of priests occupying a status similar to that of the Brahmans existed among the Untouchables in Gujarat. Called Garo (or Garoda, derived from Sanskrit guru), they claimed to be Brahman, put on the sacred thread, and adopted Brahmanical surnames such as Joshi, Trivedi. Vyas and so on (see Stevenson 1930; A.M. Shah 1987; Randeria 1989). This caste formed part of a hierarchy of several priestly groups related to the hierarchy of castes in the region. (a) The highest were of course the Brahmans. However, only a minority of them worked as priests, while the majority practised other occupations such as agriculture, teaching, clerical work, government service, money lending, etc.

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The rites of passage and some other rituals among the Brahmans themselves were performed by certain superior priests forming a grade within the caste. (b) The members of high Brahman sub-castes worked as priests for high non-Brahman castes. (c) The members of a few low Brahman sub-castes worked as priests for lower-middle non-Brahman castes. (d) The Barber sub-castes provided the priestly service to the lower, though not Untouchable, castes. (e) The Garos provided the priestly service to the other Untouchable castes, except the Scavengers. (1) A few Garos forming a grade within their caste provided the priestly service to other Garos. Thus, existence of a Brahman-like priestly caste among the Untouchables was not mere ‘replication’ of existence of Brahmans among the upper castes, as Moffatt (1979) would have called it. In fact, it was one more example of a common characteristic of the caste order, namely, that when a caste providing its service to a higher caste denied the same service to a lower one, some other caste provided it to the latter, or a few members within the latter learnt to perform the service.2 If the number of such members within a caste increased, a new caste or sub-caste might develop in course of time. While the Untouchable Brahmans occupied the highest ritual status among the Untouchables, the scavengers were considered most impure and polluting, occupied the lowest status, and were, therefore, segregated by other Untouchable castes. There were many other castes between the two ends, all arranged in a hierarchy according to the norms of purity and pollution. As is often said, there was untouchability amongst the Untouchables. In this situation, it is highly problematic to apply the statements of ancient texts about the avarnas uniformly to the entire range of a thousand or more Untouchable castes of today. Let us return to the assumption that the line dividing the Untouchable from the non-Untouchable was fixed and inviolable. If we follow the category prescribed by the state, such as Scheduled Caste, it was fixed.3 But, was it so in social reality? We have to consider three kinds of inter-caste relations in this regard in a local area, comprised of, say, a town and the villages around it,4 and populated by members of some twenty to twenty-five castes, including a few Untouchable ones: (i) relation between the castes just above and just below this line, that is, between the highest of the so-called Untouchable castes and the lowest of the so-called non-Untouchable ones; (ii) relation between a few middle non-Untouchable castes and a few middle Untouchable ones; and

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(iii) whether the Brahmans and a few other high castes considered the low non-Untouchable castes as untouchable or not. Our main problem is that usually we observe the two ends of the hierarchy, the Brahman and the Scavenger, and their relationship. Consequently, the general view of the Untouchables tends to be either the Brahman’s view of the Scavenger from the top, or the Scavenger’s view of the Brahman from the bottom, and therefore partial either way. This view needs to be corrected. If the above-mentioned three kinds of inter-caste relations are viewed together, we would not find a fixed and inviolable line dividing the Untouchable castes from the non-Untouchable ones. The status of many castes was ambiguous. For example, in a village in Gujarat where I did fieldwork in 1955–58, a few households each of two low castes, namely, Senwa and Vaghri, the former an SC and the latter a non-SC, lived side by side on the edge of the village. The Vaghris did not treat the Senwas as untouchable, while the upper castes treated both as untouchable. Similar ambiguity prevailed regarding castes of specialised urban craftsmen making articles of leather, such as footwear, bags, straps, belts, seats, drums, saddles, shields, and so on. While the highest castes considered them untouchable, the middle ones did not mind touching them.5 For example, in a small town near my field village in Gujarat, the Mochis (Shoemakers) had their homes as well as shops on the edge of the town. When a high caste man went to a Shoemaker’s shop to get shoes made, he did not allow the Shoemaker to measure his feet. Instead, he stood at the entrance of the shop, put his foot on a piece of paper, drew a line with a pencil or pen around it, and gave the paper to the Shoemaker without touching him. Moreover, in these high castes, a few persons deeply conscious of purity did not wear leather shoes at all, they wore sandals made of wood or thick jute cloth. The middle and lower castes, however, did not mind touching the Shoemaker.6 Intensive research is required on the so-called line of separation between the Untouchable and the non-Untouchable in different parts of India so that we get a more realistic view of the entire caste order.

III What kind of purity/impurity was practised among the Untouchables in their homes and in their personal life? That there was untouchability in every Hindu home was stated earlier. Can the same be said about the

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Untouchable’s home? Unfortunately, there is very little ethnographic literature on this issue. I have only bits and pieces of information. All of them indicate that, although the Untouchables were impure vis-à-vis other castes, and some of them performed such highly impure work as that of skinning dead animals and removing garbage in baskets kept on their head, they were all concerned about purity/impurity in their own life. It seems every Untouchable caste had its norms in this regard, a higher one having more sanskritised norms than a lower one. As mentioned earlier, the process of sanskritisation operated as much among the Untouchable castes as among the rest of the castes, and that there was a continuous striving among them to achieve higher levels of purity. The fundamental point is that, despite the line separating the Untouchables from the rest of Hindu society, all Hindus shared the culture of purity/impurity, and untouchability was an integral part of this culture. As mentioned earlier, there were castes of priests among the Untouchables. Where there was no such caste, a few families of some higher Untouchable caste performed priestly functions. At least’ some of these priests had acquired a high level of literacy and could read Hindu scriptures, mostly in a regional language but sometimes also in Sanskrit. Similarly, a few individuals in every Untouchable caste had become members of certain Sanskritic sects, which placed them in a relationship of some equality with higher caste members of the same sect (see A.M.  Shah 2006b). In this context, the recent book on ‘untouchable saints’ edited by Eleanor Zelliot and Rohini Mokashi-Punekar (2005) is revealing. It shows that, since about the 10th century, there were Untouchable saints who composed exquisite poetry in worship of gods and goddesses: Tiruppan and Nandnar in Tamil Nadu, Chokhamela in Maharashtra, and Ravidas in north India. Their poetry showed a high level of religiosity as well as literary quality, and high castes accepted it and made it an integral part of their temple and domestic worship. Tiruppan was given the high status of an Alvar, and Nandnar, that of a Nayanar. Similarly, Chandrawadia (2007) narrates, rather briefly, life of seventeen ‘Harijan saint poets’ (fifteen men and two women) during 15th to 18th century in Saurashtra and Kutch sub-regions of Gujarat (see A.M. Shah 2007a). Their poems reveal their knowledge of philosophical and theological ideas of Hinduism, and their affiliation with Hindu sects. Efforts must be made to inquire about such saints in the rest of Gujarat

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and in other regions of India. They belie the assumption of chasm between the Untouchables and the rest of the society in the past.

IV Radical changes have been taking place in the entire culture of purity/impurity due to the processes of industrialisation, urbanisation, westernisation, modernisation, secularisation, rationalism, humanitarianism, and mere exigencies of modern life, roughly with the beginning of the British rule in the early 19th century (see Srinivas 1966). The upper castes who were the first to take western education were also the first to change their purity/pollution behaviour, in the domestic as well as the public sphere. This change occurred first in urban areas, and gradually affected rural areas. Its pace increased with the pace of urbanisation during the second half of the 20th century, and is likely to be faster during the 21st century (see A.M. Shah 2007b). A few examples may suffice. The taboo on cooking and eating food without taking bath has more or less disappeared in most urban homes. Women in menstrual period are no longer prevented from cooking and serving food, except in orthodox homes. They move freely in all parts of the home, except the corner for worship. The prohibition on eating food with footwear on has disappeared, not only outside but even inside the home. There is no difference between kaccha and pakka food as regards their relative purity. Many people now do not take purificatory bath on returning home from a funeral, let alone after receiving news of death from long distance of a relative’s death. Even when a bath is taken, it is much less elaborate than in the past. The period of pollution arising from childbirth is reduced or is not observed at all in many homes. Many people do not mind touching a woman who has given birth to a child. In fact the father, grandparents, other relatives and friends are expected to visit the mother in the hospital and take the newly born baby in their hands, without bothering to take purificatory bath afterwards. Hardly anyone now takes purificatory bath on returning home from a train or bus journey or from visiting a hospital. Most men after hair cut and shave by a barber are no longer required to take purificatory bath to remove pollution and resume normal life. There is hardly any concern now for avoiding the use of articles of leather and for avoiding contact with craftsmen working with leather, except in the sanctum sanctorum in temples and in the corner for worship in the home. Many of those

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‘petty’ pure/impure behaviours connected with cooked foods and their ingredients in the kitchen, with lavatory and urinal, and with a myriad other contexts and situations, are becoming less and less common. Just as the concern for purity/pollution has declined in the domestic and personal domain, it has also declined in relations between castes. The prohibition on exchange of food and water between castes is hardly visible in urban areas. People of all castes eat food at restaurants and hotels without bothering to inquire about the caste of the cook, the waiter, and the person sitting on the adjoining seat. Similarly, at meals served during weddings and such other occasions, members of different castes are not seated any longer in separate rows (pangats), nor are they bothered about who cooks and serves food. Members of higher castes, including Brahmans, now eat in lower caste homes. This freedom of food transactions is spreading in rural areas, and will spread faster with the increasing pace of urbanisation. The concern for purity/pollution continues to be the strongest in the field of religion. For example, even highly westernised and modernised men and women do not worship their deities without taking bath. Women do not perform the puja in the home or the temple, or fix the dates of weddings and other important rituals and ceremonies, during their menstrual period. They even time this period with the help of modern drugs to suit the dates of important rituals and ceremonies. Temples continue to be attributed massive purity. Temple rituals, particularly in the great temples of Hinduism, are far more complex than most devotees assume them to be. In fact, most devotees have very little knowledge of what goes on in a large temple, particularly in the sanctum sanctorum. Ideas of purity/impurity permeate it in more complex ways than they do the life outside it. Nevertheless, even here some relaxations in the concern for purity/pollution have taken place, particularly in the smaller and local temples. At the other end, the most visible expression of untouchability, even in urban areas, continues to be the job of cleaning street’s and collecting garbage exclusively by the members of the Scavenger caste, and they are also segregated usually in their own streets. In practically all other spheres of urban life, overt untouchability has disappeared. Not only is there no concern among upper castes for avoiding physical contact with the Untouchables, but the Untouchables too have no difficulty in eating with other castes in public places such as restaurants and hotels. There are

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still some subtle forms of avoidance, but they are on their way out. Upper caste children in urban areas now grow up without any experience and even knowledge of untouchability in schools, buses, trains, restaurants, etc. When they go to college, they come under the impact of modern ideas of eradication of untouchability. To such children, if untouchability seems irrational, the reservations for the Untouchables qua untouchables in educational institutions also seem irrational. This attitude can no longer be called ancient prejudice-against the Untouchables. As mentioned earlier, with the increasing pace of urbanisation the trend towards decline in untouchability will intensify. It is also likely to spread to villages. For example, a villager travelling to a city on bus or train does not know the caste of the passenger sitting next to him, of the person taking tea with him in a tea-shop, of the clerk dealing with him in an office, or of the shopkeeper from whom he buys goods. He will also not take purificatory bath on returning home from the journey. Positive changes are taking place in village society also. In his study of untouchability in Gujarat I.P. Desai (1978) has observed that, in all matters in what he calls the public sphere (i.e., where the government is involved), untouchability is no longer a problem: in such matters as the seating arrangement for Untouchable children in schools, the delivering of letters by a higher caste postman to an Untouchable, and the handing over of postal stamps by a post office clerk to an Untouchable. There is considerable decline in untouchability even in what Desai calls the private sphere: in such matters as an upper caste man touching an Untouchable labourer while involved in agricultural work, and an upper caste shopkeeper giving goods to and receiving money from an Untouchable customer. The most important general change is that while an upper caste person may avoid touching an Untouchable, if he happens to touch him, he does not take purificatory bath as in the past. The punctiliousness with which untouchability was observed in the past has declined considerably even in villages. In pre-modern India the concern for purity/pollution decreased as one went down the ladder of caste hierarchy. In modern India, however, there is a two-way change. While among the upper castes this concern is decreasing due to westernisation and modernisation, it is increasing among the lower castes, including the Untouchables, due to sanskritisation. Let me give one illustration. In a section of the Untouchables in Gujarat I have observed recently, the wedding and other rituals are as Sanskritic as among

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the higher castes. Consequently, there is an increasing demand for the services of Garo priests mentioned earlier. The demand has grown so much that the government department for social welfare has been organising since 2000–01 a training course in Karmakand (corpus of Sanskritic rituals) for them. This two-way change has brought about a certain cultural uniformity, which has contributed to freer interaction between the upper castes and the Untouchables. Another factor is westernisation and modernisation of the new middle class among the Untouchables.

V In modern India, a number of social reform movements have worked for eradication of untouchability, and after independence the government has enacted laws and devised programmes to do the same. All these efforts have of course had their positive impact. However, the pervasive decline in the concern for purity and pollution among the upper and middle castes has also been a potent factor in the decline of untouchability. For present day children in these castes in urban areas, it is a silent and largely unconscious change, so much so that I wonder if the idea of untouchability exists in their cognitive map. Let me hasten to clarify that I do not maintain that untouchability has disappeared completely in Indian society. I am aware of the terrible atrocities committed on the Untouchables from time to time in different parts of India, of the many disabilities and indignities suffered by them, of the discrimination practised against them in various walks of life, and so on. At the same time, it would be a mistake to think that no positive change has taken place. All available information indicates that at least some of the higher castes among the Untouchables have been able to get out of the trap of untouchability. As social scientists we have a duty to assess the nature and extent of social change. In this assessment, we would not be able to go very far if we use the category Untouchable, Depressed Class, Scheduled Caste, Harijan, or dalit as an undifferentiated one.7 We should investigate whether all the castes included in any of these categories are affected by change uniformly, as also whether all the castes included in the category ‘upper caste’ or ‘non-Untouchable caste’ behave in the same manner. We should try to know which of the Untouchable castes are the normal victims of discrimination, and investigate their social profile, rural or

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urban, upper class or lower class, educated or uneducated, and so on. On the other hand, we should investigate the social background of the perpetrators of discrimination. Such information is rarely collected, and if collected, not published. In this process the problems of the lowest among the Untouchables, the worst sufferers, get ignored. I understand the politicians have reasons to go on using the category Untouchable or dalit without differentiation. The media persons too seem to have their disabilities. They could be unaware of the complexity of the problem, or are afraid of the law prohibiting the use of caste names, or are in such great hurry to flash stories about the dalits that they rarely investigate the details of the dalit castes involved in an incident. They go on using the word dalit without any differentiation, and thus create false images of the situation in public mind. Consequently, social scientists do not get the kind of help they would expect from the media in getting information towards the goal of understanding the changing social reality. Be that as it may, I do not understand why social scientists should ignore reality.8 Are they also in a hurry? Have they come to the conclusion that the original decision of the government according to the Constitution, which identified a number of different Untouchable castes and placed them in a schedule, calling them Scheduled Castes, has become irrelevant? If so, then why have the schedule at all? Also, why should there be a statutory requirement for an Untouchable to obtain the certificate of his/her membership of a specific Scheduled Caste for getting the benefits to which s/he may be entitled? Have the dalits become an undifferentiated mass? Have separation and hierarchy among the dalit castes disappeared’? Have the different dalit castes given up the rule of caste endogamy? It has become a taboo to talk or write about all this in public. Ignoring social facts and throwing them under the carpet in this manner, however, is neither in the interest of social science nor in the interest of bringing about desirable social change.

Notes This is a revised and enlarged version of the text of my valedictory address at the All India Sociological Conference held at Chennai on 29 December 2006. I thank B.S. Baviskar, Laney Lobo, Tulsi Patel and N.R. Sheth for comments on the draft of the article. 1. For further elaboration of the career of these terms, see Charsley and Karanth (1998, especially Chapters 1 and 2).

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2. The Turi, a small caste of bards among the Untouchables in Gujarat, is another example. It is part of several bardic castes in Gujarat and Rajasthan (see Shah and Shroff 1958). 3. Strictly speaking, the government list of Scheduled Castes is not fixed. The government does consider from time to time proposals to include or exclude castes in it. However, it has remained more or less stable since 1952. 4. In our general thinking on untouchability, we rarely take cognisance of urban Untouchables. However, we should realise that almost all the Untouchable castes living in rural areas used to have urban counterparts even in the past, and the latter’s life was different in many respects. Their population is now increasing rapidly. Secondly; there were castes of certain specialised urban artisans and craftsmen who did not have rural counterparts. 5. Note that skinning of a dead animal and tanning the skin was highly polluting, and so were, therefore, the skinners and tanners. However, leather resulting from skinning and tanning was less polluting, and so were the craftsmen working with leather. Upper caste treatment of the skinners-and-tanners and the leather craftsmen was, therefore, variable. 6. For some more ethnographic data from Gujarat on this issue, see my paper 1987. 7. For a more detailed discussion of differentiation of the ‘dalit’ category, see A.M. Shah (2002). 8. Take, for example, the recent book on untouchability in rural India written jointly by five authors (one political scientist, one economist, two sociologists, and one activist), based on an extensive all-India survey (G. Shah et al. 2006). They clarify that their work is confined to castes included by the government in the list of Scheduled Castes (ibid.: 37). They are also aware that ‘All Scheduled Castes do not experience untouchability to the same degree.’ However, they go on to state, ‘We did not specifically inquire into the question of who among the dalits experience more untouchability and in which sphere’ (ibid.: 171). Consequently, the book gives the impression that there is no differentiation among the dalits regarding the various aspects of their life the authors have surveyed. R.S. Khare’s otherwise sophisticated work on the Chamars of Lucknow (1984) does not include even a passing reference to the multiplicity and hierarchy of the Untouchable castes, neither in Uttar Pradesh nor in India as a whole. The nonUntouchable castes are also conceived narrowly—mainly Brahmans. Many of the general theories about the Untouchables are, therefore, based on a weak empirical foundation.

References Chandrawadia, J.M. 2006. Madhyakalin Gujaratman harijan sant kaviyo (in Gujarati) (Harijan saint poets in mideaval Gujarat). Shabdasar, 5 (December): 44–47. Charsley, Simon. 1996. ‘ “Untouchable”: What is in a name?’, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 2 (1): 1–23. Charsley, Simon and G.K. Karanth (eds.). 1998. Challenging untouchability: Dalit initiative and experience from Karnataka. New Delhi: Sage Publications. Desai, I.P. 1978. Untouchability in rural Gujarat. Bombay: Popular Prakashan.

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Dumont, Louis and D.F. Pocock. 1959. ‘Pure and impure’, Contributions to Indian Sociology, III: 9–39. Paris: Mouton. Khare, R.S. 1984. The Untouchable as himself: Ideology, identity, and pragmatism among the Lucknow Chamars. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Moffatt, Michael. 1979. An untouchable community in south India: Structure and consensus. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Nilkanth, Ramanbhai Mahipatram. 1900. Bhadrambhadra. Edition used, Bombay: S.M. Shah and K.M. Shah, 1953. Randeria, Shalini. 1989. ‘Carrion and corpses: Conflict in categorizing untouchability in Gujarat’, European Journal of Sociology, 30: 171–191. Shah, A.M. 1987. ‘Untouchability, the untouchables and social change in Gujarat’, in Paul Hockings (ed.): Dimensions of social life: Essays in honour of David Mandelbaum (493–505). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. ———. 2002. ‘The “Dalit” category and its differentiation’, Economic and Political Weekly, 37 (14): 1317–18. ———. 2005. ‘Sanskritisation revisited’, Sociological bulletin, 54 (2): 238–49. ———. 2006a. ‘Some further thoughts on sanskritisation: Response to Nirmal Singh’s rejoinder’, Sociological Bulletin, 55 (1): 112–17. ———. 2006b. ‘Sects and Hindu social structure’, Contributions to Indian Sociology, 40 (2): 209–48. ———. 2007a. Harijan santo: Samajshastriya pariprekshyaman (in Gujarati) (Harijan saints: In sociological perspective). Shabdasar, 6 (March): 12–14. ———. 2007b. ‘Caste in the 21st century: From system to elements’, Economic and political weekly, 42 (44): 109–116. Shah, A.M. and R.G. Shroff. 1958. ‘The Vahivancha Barots of Gujarat: A caste of genealogists and mythographers’, Journal of American Folklore, 71 (281): 246–76. Reprinted in Milton Singer (ed), Traditional India: Structure and change, Philadelphia: American Folklore Society, 1959: 40–70. Shah, Ghanshyam, Harsh Mander, Sukhdeo Thorat, Satish Deshpande, and Amita Baviskar. 2006. Untouchability in Rural India. New Delhi: Sage Publications. Srinivas, M.N. 1952. Religion and society among the Coorgs of south India. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ———. 1956 ‘A note on sanskritisation and westernisation’, Far Eastern Quarterly, 15 (4): 481–96. ———. 1966. Social change in modern India. Berkeley: University of California Press. Stevenson, Margaret Sinclair. 1930. Without the pale: The life story of an outcaste. Calcutta: Association Press (London: Oxford University Press). Zelliot, Eleanor and Rohini Mokashi-Punekar (eds). 2005. Untouchable saints: An Indian phenomenon. Delhi: Manohar.

11 Stigma Goes Backstage: Reservation in Jobs and Education Tulsi Patel

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emedying the effects of historical discriminatory practices against the ‘ex-untouchables’ (achhut) termed ‘avarna’, that is, outside the varna (in Rig Veda, the important Hindu scripture dating back to 1500–1000 BC), have been attempted in India since the second half of19th century. Believed to have become more rigid over time, the caste system is regarded to have made mobility across caste lines increasingly difficult. By the 1850s, missionaries and Indian visionaries had begun to discuss the problems of these communities referred to as ‘depressed classes’. The remedial attempts covered the entire country with the birth of its Constitution in 1950. Untouchables, or exuntouchables, outcastes, or ‘Harijans’, as Mahatma Gandhi preferred to term them, from the 1930s, came to be known as Scheduled Castes (SCs) after the provincial Census superintendents in British India prepared the schedules to affect their status. In 1935, the British enacted ‘The Government of India Act, 1935’, incorporating the reservation of seats in provisional and central legislatures for ‘Depressed Classes’, which came into force in 1937. The vague definition got crystallised in ‘The Government of India (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1936’, which contained a list, or schedule of castes throughout the British provinces. The  Scheduled Caste (SC) became, before the government a legal

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designation, a single category consisting of numerous caste communities each with its own distinct identity, and with regional variations in caste hierarchy. The Scheduled Caste Order, promulgated by the President in 1950, was more of a re-enaction of the 1936 list, though many more  castes were incorporated and a few new regional lists, too (Galanter 1984). The assumption behind the clarion call outlawing untouchability by the constitutional provision of independent India provided quotas in legislative bodies, government service and educational institutions to work as springboards for betterment of lives of the untouchables and to further their integration into Indian society. Article 17 of the Indian Constitution, for abolition of untouchability and the ensuing efforts towards it, has been implemented for seven decades now. SCs form one-sixth of India’s population (16% as of 2001 Census). As mentioned above, they are an aggregate of socially stratified ex-untouchable castes. This paper does not deal with reservations in legislative bodies as legislature candidates have an entirely different set of norms and practices of canvassing and becoming people’s representatives in the Indian democracy. The constitutional provisions for reservation in the legislatures belong to a different order. They are time bound, in that every five years or so, people’s mandate is sought for political representation.1 Quotas in legislative and other positions of political power through getting people’s mandate work as an assured means towards a balance of power and possibly social integration. This paper takes up only those reservations that happen to be more politically charged and much debated. I am looking at reservations in the spheres of higher education and government service for SCs, whose leaders prefer them to be called dalits (depressed/oppressed). Since the 1970s, they have shown a clear dislike for any of the other terms of reference used for them, either as a category or individual caste name, especially on public platforms.2 I conducted participant observation in an office in Delhi and in the residential colony of a public sector industry in Punjab for several months. A few focus group discussions in a public sector industry in Uttar Pradesh and several unstructured interviews with employees of these organisations were conducted. Notes were made about such comments and observations during other anthropological fieldwork

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conducted in parts of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi, and rather briefly in Punjab and Haryana. Context-specific conversations and participation in heated discussions about SCs and reservations in response to the recent declaration by the Ministry of Human Resource Development to extend reservation provisions to higher and professional education for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) to the tune of 27 per cent of the seats in higher education institutions and similar reservation in government jobs (apropos the Mandal Commission) in 1990–91 were often recalled in the lay, as in the academic, discussions in 2006. These constituted a part of the data source for this paper. On both the occasions, the ensuing controversy was covered extensively by the mass media, both audio-visual and print; the striking students in higher educational institutions, especially those in professional courses generated a great deal of response in the academic and residential circles in and outside Delhi. Parents and relatives of children (even children themselves) who worked very hard and aspired to get into professional education after high school board examinations often expressed anxiety about the possibility of admissions in professional courses. As though by natural association, the issue of reservation denying chances of hard working non-reserved category students was brought up in conversations when it came to children on the verge of finishing high school. Over several years such conversation was collected from children, parents and teachers in school and higher educational institutions in different sites and contexts. This paper is based on the analysis of the above mentioned discourse. In my research on the issue of reservations, I have come across the use of terms such as ‘reserved’ and ‘quota’ to mean both the practice and the persons in question who fall in the reserved category. The term is not always used neutrally; there is a general resentment often expressed against the policy of reservations in higher education and jobs, particularly in the urban areas of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh from where my data is drawn. I have found deriding and demeaning comments with reference to SCs. Casteist expressions are used against castes that happen to be numerically dominant in the North Indian region such as Chura or Bhangi for scavenger caste and Chamar or Bhambi for leather worker caste. The polite references for these castes are safai wale, Mehtar or Harijan for the former and Meghwal or Balai for the latter caste.3 A more respectable reference for

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the scavenger caste, used often in Delhi is Balmiki, a name also preferred by members of the caste to refer to themselves. Little labour is required to recall the ethnographic accounts of the experiences where SCs were made to feel that they held an unequal status in comparison to the upper castes. The law to abolish untouchability and prohibition of its practice (Article 17 of the Constitution), passed more than five decades ago has not been fully translated in practice. Additionally, despite movements like the Arya Samaj that had more influence in Punjab and northern India, caste hierarchy is still persisting, to a large extent, especially in domestic arenas, as also the notions about caste purity and impurity. The erstwhile untouchable castes amongst themselves have a hierarchy and probably for similar reasons as do the upper castes. While commensal discrimination is punishable by law, it is present in indirect ways. SCs seemingly carry, especially in informal contexts, the blot from their past despite the equality of all citizens before law. The statement, ‘ab to Bhangiyon ka raj hai’ (literally, now it is the rule of the scavengers) signifies the duplicity of practice and perception more than its literal translation. SC as a category still carries the stigma, which is not easy to shed. This paper addresses the stigma experienced by SCs. The first part of the paper provides a range of disparaging observations non-SCs often make about SCs behind their backs, especially regarding their advantages owing to reservations. This part dwells more on the deriding comments and gestures made by staff and their family members with reference to SC colleagues working in the public sector undertakings, government departments, and educational institutions from urban areas in Delhi and its bordering states in North India. Data is also drawn from conversations with people in public places such as trains, buses, and residential areas. The image of a SC is portrayed as less than desirable in the context of reservation-induced social interaction. Several discounted aspects of SCs are invoked to project their falling short of societal expectations. The devaluing prejudice against a group of people, which perpetuates and strengthens the existing social inequalities, in Erving Goffman’s sense, patterns stigma (Goffman 1968). In the SC case, it is ‘tribal stigma’, believed to transmit through lineage to all the members. Reducing a SC person/group from a whole to a tainted one is done usually in exclusively non-SC circles. The discrediting comments are

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rarely inflicted on SCs in their face; these are instead made when an SC is out of earshot. The instances revealing unfavourable views about SCs behind their back are a shift from what Coffman (1973) calls the front region to the ‘backstage/back region’. In the second section of this paper, I draw upon historical and contemporary evidence on attempts by SC individuals and groups at overcoming their caste specific odium, as attempts at management of stigmatised identity. Lastly, I try to show that affirmative action (not the same as quota/reservation) in early school education is perhaps a better means for SCs to overcome tribal stigma.

Representing Reservations or Highlighting Spoiled Identity? As mentioned above, it is no longer thought proper as also politically correct to use discrediting and devaluing language by castes above the SC level (non-SCs) while interacting with SCs, especially in urban North India today. Though direct verbal discounting is rare, perhaps due also to fear of legal action, I have been reported of a few instances when demeaning comments were made by non-SCs not realising that the person they were speaking to was a SC. Such awkward scenes are embarrassing when a non-SC realises the impolite remarks about SCs are unknowingly made before a SC person. Direct demeaning of SCs invites legal action. Nevertheless, tribal stigma is invoked as a means to belittle the reservation entailed achievements of SCs, especially in arenas thought to be the traditional stronghold of non-SCs, for example, in prestigious government posts, or seats in professional courses. In what follows, let us see the ways of discrediting deployed by non-SCs. A Brahmin clerk in a government office in Delhi was often late to report and did very little work during the day. He almost never listened to his immediate boss, the section officer, who was a SC. Once, after several reminders from a higher authority that he must perform his duty sincerely and efficiently, he justified his non-compliance in the following manner: I recall for you the time when this man (the section officer) came into the office as a cleaner boy [that is, he was employed to dust the furniture and serve water, tea/coffee and run other such errands for the staff in the office]. I was a junior clerk at that time. In the last twenty years I have got one promotion and this

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fellow has got several. He is now my boss. Do you know how it (being superseded by incompetent subordinates only because they are ‘reserved’) feels? And he (the section officer) does not know anything at all. He is completely ignorant. I can give you so many instances of his incapability and ignorance. I request you to listen to him speaking on the phone. He cannot even attend a phone. He cannot take a phone call. He does not know what to say on the phone if a caller inquires about any matter pertaining to this office. I really urge you to eavesdrop once when he is attending to a phone. If the caller happens to speak in English at the other end, then his handling of the phone is a matchless spectacle. He mutters something under his breath and keeps the phone down; and does it again if the call is repeated. How can one work under such a useless man.

The disgruntled clerk would generally act in a dismissive way to any instruction given by his boss (the SC section officer). He would often have fun at the boss’s expense. Not following the SC boss’ instruction and not doing any of the assigned tasks on time had become his habit, while his retired bosses spoke appreciably of his work and efficiency. But now he shirked work with pride and justified the absence of diligence by invoking the injustice he faced in being bypassed through the policy of reservation, not only at the entry point but also within the job ladder (which got introduced into the reservation scheme later in the day through political pressure and judicial approval4, and was not part of Article 16 of the constitution of India [Shourie 1991]). His disregard for his boss cost not only his office heavily as lie put in a minimal of the expected work, but also set off a trend in the office where most other subordinates followed suit. They would frequently please themselves in not listening to the boss. They would often giggle among themselves and make faces when he gave some instruction or made a comment. It is partly true that the boss who is mentioned in the instant case was not a highly efficient person. But he was not as inefficient as described by his subordinate who felt wronged by the reservation scheme. It cast the mould in the office towards less efficient work as most office staff were happy to be less efficient in the shadow of the second person (the Brahmin clerk) in command. This person had set an example for others not to comply with the section officer’s orders. He was often heard addressing his boss by the first name and in singular rather than in plural or as babooji, a term used for many an office clerk, and for one’s boss in clerical/administrative offices. The following is a similar case from an industrial set up and pertains to the level of officers in the engineering category. A group of engineers

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at a dinner chatted away about several things, and as usually happens, something about their factory also cropped up in the conversation. One of them said about the absent colleague, ‘He knows nothing. After all he is from the quota’ (from the reserved caste category, used for both SCs and the Scheduled Tribes, though in this case the person in question happened to be from the former group). Another one said, ‘Kuchh aata jaata to hai nahi, as gaga hai afsar lagne’ (literally, he does not know anything, has just become an officer for no reason). They all laughed aloud joined by their wives. Then another one said, ‘The other day he was sitting in his office and his JE (junior engineer) barged in and sat down before him without being asked to take a seat. Who cares for these people? What can they do?’ Another one butted, ‘He will be your boss soon. They all get promotions before others’. And again there was laughter. ‘He knows only lal salam [a communist greeting] and nothing much otherwise’. Ideas about purity and impurity of castes are less stringently observed in urban (Shah 1987) and industrial settings (Parry 1999). Jonathan Parry describes the rare case of sharing of food between a Satnami and his upper-caste colleague in Bhilai Steel Plant in Chhatisgarh. And non-commensality apparently got stricter in the villages from where the Plant staff originally came than in the township or the shop floor. The food-sharing case is an exception proving a rule of noncommensality. And this is despite the institution of each employee shaking hands with all the others at the beginning of each shift in the Plant. Similarly, I found that in a large public sector industrial set up in Lucknow, there is little sharing of food and water between SC and non-SC employees and their families. But they attend weddings and parties, and eat and drink at the buffets served on such occasions, where the food is professionally cooked by non-SC caterers. In the field of medicine, the scene is the worst. It is common to call a quota doctor as ‘bandemar doctor’ (literally, a doctor who kills people). The term is quite prevalent among the medical fraternity. Doctors themselves speak lowly about their quota colleagues. This is also reflected in a few private clinics run by doctors belonging to SCs in many parts of North India. There is greater chance of a SC doctor being spoken of poorly by his non-SC colleagues. As the field of private medical practice is highly competitive in Delhi, it comes handy to use the discounting stereotypes against SC doctors. It does not take long for word to spread about a doctor being less competent, especially if he is from the SC

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category. Patients in Delhi are known for doctor hopping, and the practice is rampant as reported by doctors who operate out of small private clinics.5 At times, adverse judgements about medical doctors are also made from public platforms. In the heat of controversy generated by reservations, P.C. Chatterji (1996) refers to Karan Singh, usually urbane, philosophical, and concerned with ultimate values, who while addressing a student rally in Delhi, stated that reservation in medical colleges would render Indian hospitals unsafe because one could assume in advance that the doctor will not be properly qualified. The discourse about tile category of professionals who make it in life through reservations is highly prejudiced against SCs. Jokes, instances of their inefficiency, their lack of class and culture-specific tastes, their subordinates’ disregard for them are brought up every now and then by way of light entertainment at their cost. Sometimes this disregard is shown directly as happens routinely in the case of the administrative office cited above. It also happens when patients do not prefer to consult a doctor who is from the reserved category, as they believe that such doctors are less competent. If a highly competent person happens to be a SC, s/he gets bracketed with others as ‘reserved’, that is, assumed to have been initially incompetent or ignored as an exception. I have not come across people pointing out cases of efficient colleagues who happen to be from the reserved category. If such a case is ever pointed out, the response is one of surprise and there is an element of disbelief, not always an innocent one. The recurrent pun reinforces the picture of an inefficient category of colleagues who come from the reserved quota. The surprise at someone efficient and belonging to SC is overshadowed by the frequent quibbles about slip-ups by numerous others belonging to the reserved category. Use of stereotypical images in social interaction and social stratification is rampant in this kind of discourse. It stigmatises the category of SCs who are competitors for government jobs, and are in competition for the still limited possibilities for promotions to rise within the jobs. Discourse has the potential to create facts: as word gets around and is reiterated in different contexts, as in instances cited above. It is in the nature of such repetitions to get considered as true after a while. People in general come to believe that because it is so commonly said, it must be true. Many who make such statements are convinced of their truthfulness. Stereotyping is a powerful instrument in everyday interaction; it freezes images and time. Stigma is constructed through frozen images.

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Deflecting Stigma It is not surprising that people from the SC category react in ways to avoid their traditional caste or surnames and use the relatively caste neutral surnames, such as Kumar, Pal, Ram, Lal, Chand and Nath. They also prefer to use surnames used by higher castes to hide their caste identity and the anticipated ensuing humiliation in life. Some of these surnames are Singh, Vyas, Guru and Charan. Parents, especially fathers who have been in jobs through the reserved quota have given their first names as surnames to their children to conceal their quota category identity, such as Kapoor, Chand and Swaroop. Very few of these newer surnames were used by the first generation beneficiaries of the ‘quota jobs’, who had various forms of unpleasant experiences during their work life, partly because their surnames gave away their caste identity. The idea is to present themselves and/or their children the way in which they would like to be thought of by individuals or groups they directly or indirectly interact with. Changing names and surnames is an individual’s or a group’s attempt at presenting itself as what he/she wants others to view him/her or the caste group as. In the case of SCs it is a conscious attempt at covering up their inferior identity, a special attempt at transformation of social cognition through such re-baptising with the goal to affect social transaction. The self-presentation through changed surname portrays attempts at disembedding from an inferior social, especially ritual ranking and embedding into a higher ranking group. Such attempts by individuals and groups to change their occupations, eating practices, and other customary rituals and practices have been familiar to us through Srinivas’ (1956) concept of sanskritisation. Concealment of caste names for escaping/obviating sly and humiliating reactions from others, that is, deflecting stigma, is what amounts to management of impression by managing their ‘spoiled identity’.6 Impression management is a process through which people try to control the impressions other people form of them. It is the goal-directed conscious or unconscious attempt to influence the perceptions of other people about them. Coffman (1968) also finds attempts to influence the perception of one’s own image, as self-presentation. One of the few factors leading to the decision not to collect caste data in the Indian censuses since 1931 has been the futility of it through

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the rampant attempts to claim higher status in official records by lower castes through changing their caste names. R. Pant (1987) discusses the numerous arbitrary attempts towards standardisation of caste names from 1872 to 1931 on the part of the British census officials at categorising and configuring caste groups in the country’s censuses they undertook (see Galanter 1984 on the influence of such a practice in the process of listing of SCs). Pant discusses instances of such attempts at caste Configuration. Occupational naming of castes considered low, is prominent in traditional nomenclature systems of North India. In the Himalayan belt of the North West provinces, for example, caste names include Tamata or copper-worker; Lwar or iron-worker; Auji or tailor; Hurukia or player of a small drum, that is, an entertainer. Crooke’s accounts show similar names for sub-castes in other parts of the province. However, occupational names traditionally also indicate ritual status, and the sub-castes bearing names such as, barber, washerman, potter, perform very definite ceremonies at the celebration of rites of passage for members of castes considered higher to them. While some administrator ethnographers, such as Nesfield, were quite conscious of this, others at certain times seem to have taken qualification by occupation more literally. E.A.H. Blunt, for example, as Provincial Census Commissioner for NWP (North West Provinces) in 1911 was approached by several lower castes, for a formal change of name in the census record. He rejected the claims of those wanting to suffix or prefix a twice-born varna term like Brahmin or Vaishya to the original sub-caste name. The claims he permitted were on grounds of a literal occupational change: ‘Occasionally too, sub-castes which had taken up a new occupation claimed to be separate from their old castes: and such cases were usually admitted. Instances are the Chamar-Julaha, ChamarKori, Kayastha-Darzi and Kayastha-Mochi’ (Census 1911: 323). Similarly, Russell reported that he did not enter claims to new caste names, such as Rathor-Teli, but permitted names that signified shift of occupation such as Teli-Bania for Telis who had taken to shop keeping, and Banjara-Kunbi for erstwhile Banjaras who had taken to settled agriculture (Russell and Hira Lall 1916: 12) (Pant 1987: 153).

As the traditional aspects of the caste system were still strong and high castes resented the appropriation of the symbols, style and manner- isms of high rank by the low, opening up of trade and other new opportunities thrown up by the British rule were taken advantage of. But, as Srinivas (1996) recalls, the high castes no longer had the political authority to punish the parvenus from the lower castes, though they often had moral authority.

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Tulsi Patel It was in this context that the institution of the decennial census, introduced by the British, came unwittingly to the aid of ambitious low castes. Sir01 Herbert Risley, the commissioner of the 1901 census, decided to make use of the census investigations to obtain and record the exact rank of each caste. Not unnaturally a number of castes decided to seize this occasion to claim high rank. . . . There was a widespread move among castes to assume new and high-sounding Sanskritic names generally ending with suffixes indicating ‘twice-born’ rank’ (ibid.: 81).

Mythology and history were drawn on without making a distinction between the two. Caste sabhas or associations were instrumental in acceleration of mobility. Both the above comments on census taking show group and individual attempts at recording high caste names in the censuses. And Srinivas also shows that high-sounding names for individual/small sections of a caste were more easily accommodated than those for whole caste groups in a local area. Change of religion has been a concerted move for removal of SC stigma. It is well known that Ambedkar’s conversion to Buddhism was motivated by his belief that only in leaving Hinduism could his people free themselves from the burden of pollution and untouchability. It is no coincidence that the largest untouchable castes in various regions responded more eagerly to the motivation to convert to Buddhism. Change of religion or surnames to conceal one’s SC identity goes on alongside procurement of SC certificates to reap the benefit of reservation policy. While SCs have no qualms about availing the quota facilities meant for them as citizens of the Indian state, they prefer to hide their SC identity in unofficial/social settings as a balancing act. SCs have tried to retain their reserved category status even after having converted to Christianity and Buddhism. But the stigma apparently does not disappear easily even after religious conversion. Buddhist and Sikh converts continue to be considered lower in caste status. A. Fiske (1972) found Christian Dalits in Kerala continued to experience ill-treatment and reported the matter to Ambedkar in writing. Aggression is also adopted as a means by some SCs, especially in secure public sector jobs to fight stigma. There are several instances where senior officers in government and/or autonomous organisations reported one or more of their temperamental SC colleagues who threaten legal action against non-SC colleagues for their caste bias. They openly defy official orders and come to be known as leaders who shirk work and challenge their bosses with threats of appeal to higher authorities

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(SC and ST Commission) for action against the bosses. Legal threats by SCs are contrived to further strengthen the stereotyped image of SCs being incompetent and mischievous. Discrimination remains a serious issue for the Indian society despite constitutional and legal provisions, and after much progress with the implementation of the reservation policies for the Scheduled Castes. Though this paper does not take up the reservation for the ‘Other Backward Classes’ (OBCs) the issue is alluded only to mention that castes just above the SC belt are acutely envious of the latter.

Conflicting Principles in Reservation: Hope from Good School Education As mentioned earlier, SCs/Dalits are not a homogeneous group. They are divided into many castes (jatis) and form a hierarchy in every region. Social stratification among different jatis of SCs exists despite the implementation of positive discrimination provisions. Some castes have advanced themselves through quotas in education and jobs, while others have been unable to do so. Similarly, many families of a caste and individuals within families have taken advantage of reservations, while others have not been so successful. An elite/creamy layer from within the SC jatis has emerged. Consequently, the reservation policy has been in controversy off and on. Broadly speaking, the controversy has two opposing views drawn from the merit and the compensatory principle. Countering the argument of merit as an arbitrary construct, the compensatory view holds the merit principle as a hegemonic device. Ram Jethmalani (1991: 394) complains that those who raise the principle of merit and efficiency do so because they do not support reservations which are based on the compensatory principle. He says that the preamble to the Constitution preferred justice as a superior goal and made it a fundamental principle of governance of the country. There are further complexities involved in these two positions, both in terms of the principle of equality of the democratic individual (like in the logic of one citizen, one vote) and redress of past deprivations and denials. A.M. Shah (1996) has pointed out the Constitution’s stress on efficiency. He has analysed the issue of efficiency in different organisations

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and how they have fared over time. Some sociological issues reservations have thrown up are listed by B.K. Roy Burman (1991). These are: (a) caste class relations, (b) efficiency of public services, (c) reverse discrimination against merit, (d) encouragement of primordial loyalties, and (e) weakening of the country faced with multiple challenges. According to Andre Beteille, The Indian constitution is committed to two different principles that both relate to equality; the principle of equal opportunities and the principle of redress. It is difficult, even under the best of circumstances, to evolve a coherent policy that will maintain a satisfactory balance between the two (1991: 384).

The clash of interest generally flows from this incoherence and contradiction, where the state on the one hand upholds equality of all citizens and thus has the onus of providing conditions, in principle, for equality of opportunity. On the other hand, the onus of the state is in providing redress to certain of its citizens to enable all citizens (to achieve the capability) to have equality of opportunity. Obviously, in trying to achieve the latter, the former is compromised. Those who support the principle of redress claim that there is no level-playing field, without which equality of opportunity in practice, let alone in principle, makes little sense. While those who are critical of redress, at the cost of efficiency, bring forth empirical evidence to show inefficiency and declining standards, on the one hand, and on the other, reverse discrimination is viewed as denial of opportunities to the competent. Reservation in education is the source for SCs to obtain degrees in higher education, and degrees are essential for government jobs. But Pierre Bourdieu and Jean-Claude Passeron (1977) have provided empirical evidence from French society that education usually reproduces the dominant class structure. Samuel Bowles and Herbert Ginits (1976) provide similar evidence for North America where children of the wealthy get better education and have access to highly rewarding jobs. In India, several studies in different parts of India, at different times and for various educational streams and institutions, have shown a somewhat similar but a relatively more complex picture. Thomas Weisskopf (2004) carefully adduced data from a number of studies in India and found the proportion of SC enrolment rising marginally from 7 per cent in the late 1970s to 7.8 per cent in the late-1990s. He adds that most SC

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students in elite universities and professional and technical institutions could not have made it in the absence of reservations, . . . because they rarely have access to high quality secondary education, or to privately funded preparatory workshops and tutorials, all of which contribute to the substantial competitive edge enjoyed by students from the relatively wellto-do families. Even with the lower cut-off points for admission, SC and ST students typically do not come close to filling the available reserved seats at such institutions . . . even 50 years after independence, at least half of the seats reserved in Indian higher educational institutions for SC students, and at least two-thirds of the seats reserved for ST students, go unfilled. . . . Those SC students who enrol in medical schools tend increasingly to come from a few dominant dalit castes and from relatively well-off dalit families living in urban areas, which enables them to attend private secondary schools’ (2004: 4340–41).

Besides, many drop out for inability to cope with the demands, many take much longer to complete their degrees, and manage to just scrape through to pass. Education as an ideology provides a window as to how and to whom education serves. What in theory may have the potential to redress through education, may in practice not often be the case. Notwithstanding the findings that education is not the magic wand to level inequalities, it has opened avenues and provided opportunities. Though slight, one may state that these opportunities for betterment have been welcome when compared with those without any education in India, especially when compared with the time when the reservations were introduced. When combined with reservation in jobs, reservation in education makes a greater impact, is more visible, and is also more articulated in the reservation debate. Provision of reservation/quota is in policy terms meant for certain caste groups, but its implementation is operationalised at the level of individuals belonging to these castes. The individual-group dynamics in reservation introduces another issue to the controversy around reservations. Individuals and individual households or families benefit from reservations and continue to garner those benefits in the subsequent generations by virtue of belonging to the reserved caste category. Castebased reservations have resulted in oligopolies among the SC elite. Caste based reservations go to a small number of the better-off members of the castes concerned. Reserved quotas in education and public service and leapfrogging provisions in jobs are a disdain for many among the castes that do not fall under the reserved category. Senior

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secondary level students and their parents can be heard making unending complaints about how their deserving and slogging children are unreasonably deprived admissions in higher educational institutions, especially those that provide professional degrees, such as engineering, medicine, teacher training. As professional degrees have closer links with employment, the cribbing is largely for such courses. Reservations in education and jobs thus should not be viewed as unconnected. In fact, there is a close link between the two, and closer the link, greater the resentment against reservation by the high castes. Such resentment happens to be directed against those individuals who make it through the quota. It is felt by non-SCs that SC inefficiency is perpetuated through reservations. People are well aware that obtaining a degree, especially if it is a non-professional one, is not enough by itself. It needs legs to walk to a job. And understandably so, the controversy revolves more vehemently around jobs and those degrees that easily fetch jobs. Using failure in education to justify that the reserved castes have an innate deficiency to cope with the demands of education, is a means of ‘othering’. While purity-pollution principle is weakening, the non-SCs hold a perception” that SCs are, by heredity, less meritorious. Social mobility has increased noticeably over the past seven or more decades, and simultaneously, the ideas of purity and pollution in public social relations between castes have also weakened. Srinivas describes the sources and fallout of these developments in Indian society, The most potent but indirect source of mobility, has been adult franchise resulting in the social and political mobilisation of castes. The pursuit of economic development subsuming the development of both agriculture and industry, and ‘protective discrimination’ for sizeable sections of the populations, has resulted in aspirations for mobility becoming nearly universal. It is only natural then that acute conflict for access to resources becomes widespread, resulting in the first place, in competition among backwards, and secondly, between backward and the Scheduled. Meanwhile, the ‘forwards’ have had to evolve their own strategies for survival (1996: xiv).

He further observes that the emulatory aspect of sanskritisation to achieve high rank among castes has been transformed. Sanskritisation is now a gesture of defiance. The lower castes, while staying in the Hindu fold dare high castes to stop their adoption of high caste ritual and symbolic appurtenances.

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By invoking innate incompetence of biology or castes, educationinduced inequalities escape from being blamed as manmade. But the human body is a tabula rasa, and all bodily expression/action is learned, as Marcel Mauss (1979/1950) says. In discussing about making the body social, Mauss argues that all bodily expression is learned. Both Mauss (ibid.) and A. van Gennep (1960) showed that ‘body techniques’, whether used in ritual or in routine life, correspond to socio-cultural mapping of time and space. Education is understood as the means to provide this mapping for the body. Also, it is not easy to see the deficiencies of the educational system, as it is this very system that has enabled, along with other means, the social and economic mobility of many SCs. Every society has a range of educational institutions. Do we not know that majority of the scientific awards and research funding in the USA goes to a few scientists from Harvard, Yale, Chicago and Princeton. Most of those who go to good educational institutions are competent. In fact, they are produced as competent. Educational institutions mould pupils and good ones do it better than others. Well-run educational institutions, with a commitment to chisel their students to meet the best standards, produce good pupils. The bias of innate incompetence is wiped out when educational institutions perform their duties conscientiously. The best example in recent decades is the information technology industry, its education and its market, not just in India but also outside the country. It is a revolution that has raised eyebrows about the intelligence and capability of Indians the world over. Immigration caps for Indians in Europe and the USA have been raised.7 There is an open door policy for the qualified Indians.8 Biases against Indians (coloured race) have got softened. Within the country, IT sector, consumer service industry, call centres, etc. are opening opportunities for undergraduates and those with good ‘public school’ education with little caste consideration. Those who have had opportunities to go to good schools have an open job market. What lessons does this experience provide? We can easily recall the guild and caste-like institutions in all societies, be it the institution of fencing in Germany or oldboys’ associations and alumni associations in other parts of the world. These forms of network societies benefit through association, but are not based directly on caste principles. Similarly, Vivek Kumar (2005) recalls the recruitment practices through referral in highly successful Indian and other enterprises. These practices may require a separate understanding and treatment. The stress is on the existential realities within a democratic framework with benefits

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accruing through networks and more opportunities. The effort here is to be able to achieve a level playing field. The reality before us in Indian society today is one where government jobs are shrinking; conventional undergraduate and some post graduate degrees, if not from reputed institutions, require covering qualifications such as diplomas for jobs in the market; impermanence of jobs is becoming a permanent feature of urban life; and marketable skills and knowledge matter. Keeping up with the requisite skills is essential to keep afloat in the job market. Nevertheless, for SCs, the harsher biologically traced stratification prevails, as described above. While jobs outside the government and the public sector are on the rise, stigmatising and ‘othering’ goes on, so does the defiance against it. Hence, it is equally important not to lose sight of the processes of status achievement through the non-government market. And, in effect, this is what affirmative action (not reservation) as means of positive discrimination, is asking for. Affirmative action (which is not the same as reservation based positive discrimination) in effect means building capacities, rather than being picked up or dropped by the wayside. From the experience of Indians in the IT sector in the western job market, a lesson may be drawn at home. It is in the educational system where action is required to produce competent human power. The shield around basic elementary education is strong. Basic schooling in India is a bit removed from quotas in higher education and access to jobs. Thus, little attention gets paid to the kind of grounding it provides to its pupils. But good schooling is the key to many a higher door. It is in elementary school that ‘body technique’ (Mauls 1979) is nurtured. Inculcating cultural and symbolic capital takes time; universal, good quality school education and training from early on can provide that critical input. Merely admitting students through reserving seats in higher studies without attending to them in early school is not affirmative action; it is simply reservation. Feeding the hungry is one thing and teaching the hungry to feed themselves is another. The latter might eventually counter the inefficiency stigma attributed to SCs.

Notes (An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Felicitation Seminar for Professor K.L. Sharma on 19–20 November 2004 at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. I am thankful for all the comments that I received at the presentation. I am also thankful

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for the comments from Professor A.M. Shah, Dr Lancy Lobo and Dr Arima Mishra on an earlier draft of the paper.) 1. It is of interest to mention that almost all reserved constituencies have very low voter turnout and very low percentage of voting. 2. I am not taking up the Scheduled Tribes (STs), as their case is somewhat different from that of SCs. Although STs have also benefited from the quotas in higher education and services, my data specifically pertains to SCs alone. STs have not been subjected to social oppression that SCs have. Some traces of that oppression are visible in the present day Indian society in a different garb in certain contexts. 3. Significantly, the castes subsumed under the reserved category in a local area or district are also referred by the specific caste name which happens to have creamed most of the reservations in the area. It would be worth exploring if the reactions towards Scheduled Tribes that have creamed most of the reserved seats are different from those for their Scheduled Caste counterparts, for example, Meena tribe in Rajasthan. 4. When the judicial approval for quotas in internal promotions in services was given in the 1970s, the news was not well received by non-SC employees, who saw it as unjust. Among the pre-emptive attempts by officers against the implementation of the order to reserve posts for internal promotions, officers working in a company— government undertaking in Punjab—had moved court. Issues of injustice and promotion of incompetence were then feverishly raised in non-SC circles for a few weeks. 5. For an in-depth account of doctor-shopping in private general practice in Delhi, see Shifalika Goenka (2003). 6. Different castes among SCs have adopted different surnames (A.M. Shah, personal communication), and there have been attempts of collective mobilisation among many SCs to adopt caste concealing, surnames in recent times (Tila Kumar, personal communication). 7. I have been told by many in Germany (during 2005–06) that Indian IT professionals are reluctant to accept German ‘green cards’ because they have the USA as their destination where life is better and professional growth has Better prospects. 8. The Netherlands had towards the end of 2004 reduced visa clearance time for Indian 11’ professionals from six to three months; Germany had extended initiations despite some representatives defeating others by raising the slogan, protect your own children, not Indians’ in domestic politics; and the US had relaxed caps on HB1 visa applications from Indians by several thousand a year.

References Beteille, A. 1991. ‘Caste and politics: Subversion of political institutions’, in V.C. Mishra (ed.): Reservation crisis in India: Legal and sociological study on Mandal Commission report (382–85). Delhi: Universal Book Traders. Bourdieu, P. and J. Passeron. 1977. Reproduction in education, society and culture. London: Sage Publications. Bowles, S. and H. Gintis. 1976. Schooling in capitalist America. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Census of India. 1911. Census of North West Provinces and Oudh: Report. New Delhi: Government of India.

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Chatterji, P.C. 1996. ‘Reservation: Theory and practice’, in T.V. Satyamurthy (ed.): Region, caste, gender and culture in contemporary India (Vol. III) (292–313). Madras: Oxford University Press. Fiske, A. 1972. ‘Scheduled caste Buddhist organisations’, in M. Mahar (ed.): The untouchables in contemporary India (113–42). Tuscon: The University of Arizona Press. Galanter, M. 1984. Competing equalities. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Goenka, S. 2003. Health practices and beliefs of pateints and medical practioners in realtion of diabetes. New Delhi: All India Institute of Medical Sciences, 2003. Coffman, E. 1968. Stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identity. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books. Coffman, E. 1973. Presentation of self in everyday life. New York: The Overlook Press. Jethmalani, R. 1991. ‘Mandal Revisited’, in V.C. Mishra (ed.): Reservation crisis in India: Legal and sociological study on Mandal Commission report (393–97). Delhi: Universal book Traders. Kumar, Vivek. 2005. ‘Understanding the politics of reservation’, Economic and political weekly, 40 (9): 803–06. Mauss, M. 1979. Sociology and psychology: Essays. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Pant, R. 1987. ‘The cognitive status of caste in colonial ethnography: A review of some literature on the North West Provinces and Oudh’, The Indian economic and social history review, 24 (2): 145–62. Parry, J.P. 1999. ‘Two cheers for reservation: Satnamis and the steel plant’, in R. Guha and J.P. Parry (eds.): Institutions and inequalities (128–69). New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Roy Burman, B.K. 1991. ‘Mandal Commission: The issues involved’, in V.C. Mishra (ed.): Reservation crisis in India: Legal and sociological study on Mandal Commission report (398–403). Delhi: Universal Book Traders. Russell, and Hira Lall. 1916. The tribes and castes of the Central Provinces of India. London. Shah, A.M. 1987. ‘Untouchability: Untouchables and social change in Gujarat’, in P. Hockings (ed.): Dimensions ofexperience (493–505). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Shah, A.M. 1996. ‘Reservations and efficiency’, in M.N. Srinivas (ed.): Caste: Its twentieth century avatar (195–202). New Delhi: Viking. Shourie, Arun. 1991. ‘This way lies not only folly but disaster’, in V.C. Mishra (ed.): Reservation crisis in India, Legal and sociological study on Mandal Commission report (353–72) Delhi: Universal Book Traders. Srinivas, M.N. 1956. ‘A note on sanskritisation and westernisation’, Far eastern anthropologist, 15 (4): 481–96. Srinivas, M.N. 1996. Village, caste, gender and method: Essays in Indian social quarterly. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. van Gennep, A. 1960. The rites of passage. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Weisskopf, T.E. 2004. Impact of reservation on admissions to higher education in India’, Economic and Political Weekly, 39 (39): 4339–49.

Index

ahimsa, theory of, 96 Ambedkar, B.R., 11 Ambedkar Centres, xx animism, 32 Arya Dharma, 87 Aryans, 34, 38n10 Arya Samaj, xl, xlix, 187 ashramas, 9–10 Asiatic mode of production, xxxiii asprishya, 171 Backward and Minorities Communities Employees’ Federation (BAMCEF), 12 backwardness, 46 Bahujan Samaj party (BSP), xx, li, 100 Bourdieu, Pierre, 196 Bowles, Samuel, 196 brahmacharya ashrama, 9 Brahmins/Brahmans, l, li, xli, xxx, 6, 8–9, 16, 19, 25, 32, 51, 173–74. See also Machhra village, case study of interaction among scheduled castes (SCs) and, 61 untouchable, 174 bristle industry and trade, 84–88 decline of, 89–91 Burman, B.K. Roy, 196

caste-based discrimination, xxi caste endogamy, xxxvi caste occupation, xxiv, xxvii, xxxii castes and caste system, study of, xxix, xxiii–xxxiii caste-based discrimination, xl, xxi caste-based exclusion, xxxvii–xxxviii caste endogamy, xxv changes due to conversion, xxvii as combined subjective and objective conceptualisations, xxix–xxxiii conflicts/struggles, xxxix–xliv Desai's view, xxxii Dumont’s hierarchy, xxvi external features of, xxvii ‘field-view’ of, xxiv Ghurye’s analysis of, xxiv, 23–37 as humiliation, xxviii hypergamous and hypogamous practices, xxv objective view of, xxiv–xxv post-Independence period, xxxvii as pride, xxviii–xxix repulsion, hierarchy and hereditary tendencies of, xxvi subjective view of, xxvi–xxix Cawnpore Brush Factory, 82–84 Centres for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, xx

204 Chamars, l–li, 10, 15–16, 81–82, 97–99, 186 Chamar songs, xxix Chand, Babu Khem, 11 ‘Chandragutti Incident’ of 1986, 107–8, 114–19 Channaveerappa Enquiry Commission, 120–23 Krishnappa’s experience, 108–9 press coverage, 119–20 Charsley, Simon, 172–73 class concept, 19 ‘class struggle’ concept, 141–42 core institutional order, 28, 32, 38n6 cow protection movement, 96–97 Crime and Punishment (Dostoevsky), xxvii dalitbahujans, 13 Dalit empowerment, xx Dalit movements, xxii Dalits autobiographies, liv caste hierarchy among, xxxv–xxvii causes of poverty of, 19 definition of, 5–7 dimensions of change, xliv–xxxviii as ‘Harijan’, 11–12 identity of, 10–12 lack of recoginition to contributions, 17 literature, lii, 17–19 nomenclatures at the grassroots, 10 research on, xix reservations for, xlvi ridiculing of, 15–17 social discrimination of, 14 social exclusion of, 6–7, 13–14 status in Indian society, 7–10 Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (DSS), 108–9, 111–14 Dalit studies, xx–xxi depressed classes, 11, 184 Desai, I.P., 55, 137, 179

Towards Sociology of Dalits de-Sanskritisation, 163–64 Dhanuk, 81 Dhobi, 81 discrimination, xxxiii–xxxviii Dostoevsky Crime and Punishment, xxvii Douglas, Mary, 79 Dravidians, 34 Dumont, Louis, 8, 79 purity, concept of, xxvi, 8, 79 equality, principle of, xxi exclusion, xxxiii -xxxviii. See also social exclusion exploitation, xxx Gandhi, Mahatma, 184 garhasthya ashram, 9 Ghurye, Govind Sadashiv, 23–37 The Aborigines-so-Called and Their Future, 30 analysis of castes and tribes, xxiv, 23–37 on antiquity of settlers in India, 33 assimilation of Scheduled Castes into Hindu society, 35–36 assimilation of untouchables, 26–29 Caste and Race in India, 24 caste hierarchy, 31–32 on Chandalas, 25 distinction between Smritis and Shrutis, 24 India’s population, 31 on Mritapas, 25 on multiple identities, 33 on Namashudras of West Bengal, 26 peasant society, 31 political unity of India, 35 ‘pure’ and ‘impure’ untouchables, 26 on Scheduled Castes, 24, 29–30 on Scheduled Tribes, 30 The Scheduled Tribes, 30–31

INDEX similarity between Hinduism and animism, 32 on Svapachas, 25 Ginits, Herbert, 196 Government of India Act, 1935, 35 Guha, Ranjit, 14 Gujjars, lxvii Harijan v. upper class, conflicts between dimensions of conflict, 142–43 economic tensions, 150 field and methodology, 142 political tensions, 150–51 psychological form of conflict, 143–54 ritual tensions, 151–54 social tensions, 143–50 hereditary occupation, xxiv Hetcher, Michael, 34 Hinduism, lx, xlix, lii, 32, 36, 96–97, 126, 139, 176, 178, 194 ideology, xxvi–xxix Hindu social order, 6 ‘Human Distress Index’ (HDI), 20–21 humiliation, xxviii identity Dalits, 10–12 of depressed classes, 11 of ‘Harijan,’ 11–12 multiple identities, 33 of ‘Scheduled Castes,’ 12 Indian society, Marx’s commentary on, xxx–xxxi Inequality and Integration in an Industrial Community, 66 institutionalized spokesmen, 51 inter-caste relations, 174–75 Jats, xlvii, xxviii–xxix Jethmalani, Ram, 195 Kala Bachcha (Black child), 94–95, 100–1

205 Kalal, xxxvi Kanpur, scheduled castes and Muslims in, 80–82 Karma–Dharma principle, xxvi–xxix, 6 Khatiks, lviii Khatiks of Kanpur as bristle manufacturers, 84–88 industrial decline of bristle manufacturing and trade, 88–91 Muslim-Khatik relationship, 78–79, 93–95, 99 notions of purity and pollution, 79–80 pig farming, 91–93 population, 79–80 status, post-Ayodhya riots, 78, 93–95 Khun, Thomas, 18 Kori, 81 Kshatriya, xxx, 8–9, 19, 111 legitimized spokesmen of the society, 50–52 literature, Dalit, 17–19 Loss of Nerve (Vernier Elwin), 31 Machhra village, case study of economy of, 56–58 nature of deprivations in, 60–63 population of, 56 untouchability in, 58–60 Mandal Commission, xlvii Mayawati, xxii meat-eating, 97–99 middle-class Dalits, xx Mukerji, D.P., 24 Nagas of India, 33 nation-state, 36 Naxalbari movement, 33 nomenclature of Dalits, 10–11 non-dvija caste Hindus, 11 nudity and nude worship, 107

206 Dalit rationalist action, 129–33 as emic model, 124–27 reforms and, 127–29 social discourse on female, 127–28 tripartite nature of, 109 version of Jamadagni and Renuka myth, 110–11 objective conceptualisation of caste, xxix–xxv official norms, 49–50 displacement of, 50 and functional relationships, 50 Oommen, T. K., 13 Other Backward Classes (OBCs), xlvii, 48, 160–61, 163–64, 186, 195 Pasi, 81 Passeron, Jean-Claude, 196 pollution, notion of, 79 Poona Pact, xxii poverty, 46–47 Punjab distribution of towns in, 72–75 Scheduled caste population in, 70–75 purity/impurity changes in concept of, 177–80 Dumont’s concept of, 79 food-sharing case, 190 in Hindu society, 169–70 at homes and in personal life, 175–77 rules of, 170 social reform movements and, 180 Rajah, M.C., 11 Ram, Kanshi, l, xx reservation policy, xlviii–l, 29, 38n8 caste-based, 197–98 conflicting principles in, 195–200 in educational institutions, 195–200 in field of medicine, 190–91

Towards Sociology of Dalits food-sharing case, 190 government office in Delhi, experiences, 188–89 stigma images, 191–95 use of stereotypical images in social interaction and social stratification, 191 use of terms ‘reserved’ and ‘quota,’ 186 ridiculing of Dalits, 15–17 Roosevelt, Franklin D., 48 Sanatana Dharma, 87 Sanskritisation, 5, 19, 100, xlix among the Scheduled Castes, 166–67 compulsive, 164–66 in contemporary India, 161–62 evolution of concept of, 160–61 reservation policy and, 162–63 Sanyasa, 10 Scheduled Caste Order, 1950, 185 Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, xxxvii Scheduled Castes (SCs), xxxiii–xxxv, 185–88 acceptance by Brahmins, 62 compulsive Sanskritisation, 164–66 eating habits, 97–99 functional categories, 71, 73 Ghurye’s treatment, liv identity of, 12 interaction among Brahmins and, 61 in Kanpur, 80–82 politics in Kanpur city, 100 reason for non-acceptance of, 63 representation in cities, 70–77 reservations for, xlvi–xlvii in urban areas, 65, 68–69 segments of society, 47–49 Shah, A.M., 195 Shilpkar, 81

INDEX Shudhi movement, xlix, 111 Shudra, 7–9, 15, 25, 172, li Singh, Yogendra, 16 social change conflict between Harijans and caste Hindus, 138–40 population, role of, xlv sanskritisation, xlix state, role of, xlv–xlvi social discrimination of Dalits, 14 social exclusion, 4, 46 of an ex-untouchable, 6 of Dalits, liv, xxxviii, 13–14, 20–21 defined, 5–6 social exclusion of an ex-untouchable, 6 social mobility, 67 social practices and conditions, 45–47 social structure of a community, 67 society, sections of, 47–49 socio-economic development, 69 socioeconomic hierarchy, 67 Sovani, N.V., 66 Srinivas, M.N., 8 Srinivasan, R., 11 state, role in social change, xlv–xlvi stratification system, 46 subjective conceptualisation of caste, xxvi–xxix taboos, 79 Treaty of Westphalia, 36 Tulsidas, Acharya, 15 Untouchability Offences Act of 1955, xxxvii

207 untouchability/untouchables, xxi, xxxiii–xxxviii, 47. See also Machhra village, case study of Charsley’s views, 172–73 definition, 45 endogamous castes, 172 identified change in status, 54 in the modern times, 172 relationship between upper castes and ‘untouchables’, 55–56, 174–75 urban India untouchability, xlv urbanization occupational complexity and, 69–70, 76 over-urbanization, 66 push and pull factors, 66 Vaishya, 6–9 value-based research, xxi caste as the context, xxi value neutrality, xxiii vanaprastha, 10 varna-ashrama dharma, xxx varna division of Hindu society, 4 varnas in Hindu social order, 7–8 vegetarianism, 96 Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), 114 Viswanathan, Gauri, 13 Weisskopf, Thomas, 196 wild boar, 95–97

About the Editor and Contributors

Editor Paramjit S. Judge is Professor of Sociology and Coordinator, Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. He has worked and published in the areas of social movements, Dalit studies, historical sociology and classical sociology. Some his works are: Insurrection to Agitation: The Naxalite Movement in Punjab, Terrorism in Punjab: Understanding Grassroots Reality (coauthored), Mapping Dalits: Contemporary Reality and Future Prospects (co-authored), Changing Dalits: Exploration Across Time, Foundations of Classical Sociological Theory: Functionalism, Conflict and Action. He is also an eminent Punjabi novelist.

Contributors Maren Bellwinkel-Schempp, 120 Alte Weinsteige, D 70597, Stuttgart, Germany. Victor S. D’Souza was Professor of Sociology at Department of Sociology, Panjab University, Chandigarh. Venkateswarlu Dollu is the retired Professor of Sociology from Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati.

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Linda J. Epp was the research scholar at the Department of Sociology, York University, Ontario, Canada att eh time of his contribution. Gopal Guru is Professor of Political Science at Centre for Political Studies, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Vivek Kumar is Associate Professor, Centre for the Study of Social Systems, School of Social Science, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. R.D. Lambert was Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia at the time of contributing the article. T.K. Oommen is Professor Emeritus, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Tulsi Patel is Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University, Delhi. A.M. Shah is retired Professor of Sociology, Department of Scoiology Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University, Delhi. S.S. Sharma is the retired Professor of Sociology from CCS University Meerut, UP.

Appendix of Sources

All articles and chapters have been reproduced exactly as they were first published. All cross-references can be found in the original source of publication. Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources for permission to reproduce material for this volume. 1. “Situating Dalits in Indian Sociology,” Vivek Kumar Vol. 54, No. 3 (September–December), 2005: 514–532. 2. “Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and the Nation: Situating G. S. Ghurye,” T.K. Oommen Vol. 60, No. 2 (May–August), 2011: 228–244. 3. “Untouchability as a Social Problem: Theory and Research,” R.D. Lambert Vol. 7, No. 1 (March), 1958: 55–61. 4. “Untouchability—A Myth or a Reality: A Study of Interaction between Scheduled Castes and Brahmins in a Western U.P. Village,” S.S. Sharma Vol. 35, No. 1 (March), 1986: 68–79. 5. “Scheduled Castes and Urbanization in Punjab: An Explanation,” Victor S. D’Souza Vol. 24, No. 1 (March), 1975: 1–12.

APPENDIX OF SOURCES

6. “The Khatiks of Kanpur and the Bristle Trade: Towards an Anthropology of Man and Beast,” Maren Bellwinkel-Schempp Vol. 47, No. 2 (September), 1998: 185–206. 7. “Dalit Struggle, Nude Worship, and the ‘Chandragutti Incident’,” Linda J. Epp Vol. 41, No. 1&2 (March and September), 1992: 145–168. 8. “Psychological Conflict between Harijans and Upper Class/Middle Class Caste Hindus: A Study in Andhra Pradesh (India),” Venkateswarlu Dollu Vol. 36, No. 1 (March), 1987: 77–98. 9. “Reservations and the Sanskritization of Scheduled Castes: Some Theoretical Aspects,” Gopal Guru Vol. 33, No. 1&2 (March and September), 1984: 29–38. 10. “Purity, Impurity, Untouchability: Then and Now,” A.M. Shah Vol. 56, No. 3 (September–December), 2007: 355–368. 11. “Stigma Goes Backstage: Reservation in Jobs and Education,” Tulsi Patel Vol. 57, No. 1 (January–April), 2008: 97–114.

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Readings in Indian Sociology Series Editor: Ishwar Modi Titles and Editors of the Volumes Volume 1 Towards Sociology of Dalits Editor: Paramjit S. Judge Volume 2 Sociological Probings in Rural Society Editor: K.L. Sharma Volume 3 Sociology of Childhood and Youth Editor: Bula Bhadra Volume 4 Sociology of Health Editor: Madhu Nagla Volume 5 Contributions to Sociological Theory Editor: Vinay Kumar Srivastava Volume 6 Sociology of Science and Technology in India Editor: Binay Kumar Pattnaik Volume 7 Sociology of Environment Editor: Sukant K. Chaudhury Volume 8 Political Sociology of India Editor: Anand Kumar Volume 9 Culture and Society Editor: Susan Visvanathan Volume 10 Pioneers of Sociology in India Editor: Ishwar Modi

READINGS IN INDIAN SOCIOLOGY VOLUME 2

Sociological Probings in Rural Society

EDITED BY K.L. Sharma

Copyright © Indian Sociological Society, 2013 All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilised in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. First published in 2013 by SAGE Publications India Pvt Ltd B1/I-1 Mohan Cooperative Industrial Area Mathura Road, New Delhi 110 044, India www.sagepub.in SAGE Publications Inc 2455 Teller Road Thousand Oaks, California 91320, USA

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ISBN: 978-81-321-1381-2 (PB) The SAGE Team: Shambhu Sahu, Sushant Nailwal, Thomas Mathew, Asish Sahu, Vijaya Ramachandran and Dally Verghese Disclaimer: This volume largely comprises pre-published material which has been presented in its original form. The publisher shall not be responsible for any discrepancies in language or content in this volume.

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Contents

List of Tables Series Note Foreword by Prof. Yogendra Singh Preface and Acknowledgements Introduction by K.L. Sharma

ix xiii xvii xix xxi

Section I: Rural Society and Rural-Urban Relations 1. Rural Sociology: Its Need in India A.R. Desai 2. Symposium on Rural-Urban Relations: The Industrialization and Urbanization of Rural Areas M.N. Srinivas 3. Modernization and the Urban-Rural Gap in India: An Analysis N.R. Sheth 4. ‘Fringe’ Society and the Folk-Urban Continuum M.S.A. Rao 5. Rural Family Patterns: A Study in Urban-Rural Relations K.M. Kapadia

3

20

30 50 57

Section II: Social Stratification in Rural India 6. Measurement of Rigidity–Fluidity Dimension of Social Stratification in Six Indian Villages Victor S. D’Souza 7. Bhadralok and Chhotolok in a Rural Area of West Bengal Surajit Sinha and Ranjit Bhattacharya 8. Caste System in Contemporary Rural Bihar: A Study of Selected Villages Gaurang Ranjan Sahay

77 95

114

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9. Power Elite in Rural India: Some Questions and Clarifications 138 K.L. Sharma 10. Social Stratification and Institutional Change in a Gujarat Village 155 K.C. Panchanadikar and J. Panchanadikar Section III: Village Profiles 11. Chokhala—An Intervillage Organization of a Caste in Rajasthan Brij Raj Chauhan 12. Modernization and Changing Fertility Behaviour: A Study in a Rajasthan Village Tulsi Patel 13. Ideology, Power and Resistance in a South Indian Village N. Sudhakar Rao 14. Voices from the Earth: Work and Food Production in a Punjabi Village Radhika Chopra

175

187 213

239

Section IV: Religion and Rituals 15. Public Shrines and Private Interests: The Symbolism of the Village Temple Ursula Sharma 16. A Study of Customs in Rural Mysore K.N. Venkatarayappa 17. Ritual Circles in a Mysore Village Gurumurthy K. Gowdra

257 278 291

Section V: Social Change in Rural India 18. Study of Social Change in Independent Rural India: Critical Issues for Analyses in the Fourth Decade of Independence 307 H.S. Verma 19. Downward Social Mobility: Some Observations 335 K.L. Sharma 20. Dimensions of Agrarian Structure and Change: Issues in Theory 353 Pradip Kumar Bose Index About the Editor and Contributors Appendix of Sources

370 378 381

List of Tables

Chapter 3 Table 1 Index of Growth of Population in Towns Table 2 Proportion of Population at Different Levels of Education Table 3 Consumer Expenditure for a Period of 30 Days

42 43

Chapter 5 Table 1 Table 2 Table 3 Table 4 Table 5 Table 6 Table 7 Table 8 Table 9

59 60 61 62 64 65 66 69 70

Chapter 6 Table 1 Arithmetic Means of Numbers of Different Types of Occupations in Caste Groups Followed by Heads of Households, by Village and the Minimum Size of Caste Groups Table 2 Number of Judges Grading the Prestige of Heads of Households by Village and Number of Castes Represented Table 3 Index Scores of Social Stratification by Village and Type of Index

39

81

82 83

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Table 4 Spearman’s Coefficients of Rank-Order Correlation for Pairs of Indices of Social Stratification in Six Villages Table 5 Demographic, Locational and Developmental Characteristics Table 6 Scores on Attitudinal Dimension of Modernity Table 7 Index of Adoption of Recommended Agricultural Practices during the Season Preceding the Field Study Chapter 7 Table 1 Para-wise Caste Distribution in Bergram Table 2 Layout of Khiruli Village Table 3 Hierarchy of Castes in Bergram Table 4 Caste-wise Landholding in Bergram Table 5 Caste and Community-wise Landholding in Khiruli Table 6 Landholding in Debagram Majhi Para Table 7 Division of Castes in Bergtam in Terms of Economic Classes Table 8 Non-Agricultural Occupations in Bergram Table 9 Non-Agricultural Occupations in Khiruli Table 10 Caste and Position in Power Structure Chapter 8 Table 1 Caste and Occupation Table 2 Caste and the Services of Purohits, Paunis and Mahabrahmans Table 3 Class and the Services of Purohits, Paunis and Mahabrahman Chapter 10 Table 1 Caste-wise Distribution of Adult (1966) and Student (1967) Population in Mahi Village Table 2 Land Ownership and Caste Table 3 Caste-wise Distribution of Landholding Table 4 Membership and Economic Assets of the Three Cooperative in Mahi 1996–67

83 85 89 92

98 99 99 102 103 103 103 104 106 108

118 126 132

159 162 162 168

LIST OF TABLES

xi

Table 5 Caste-wise Distribution of Seats Filled in the Seven Panchayats in Mahi, 1941–1965

170

Chapter 11 Table Composition of Guests in Caste Dinners

185

Chapter 12 Table 1 Distribution of Fathers/Mothers by Children Born, Dead and Surviving at the Time of Sterilisation Table 2 Distribution of Average Fertility, Child Mortality and Child Survival per Couple by Mother’s Age

196 199

Series Note

The Indian Sociological Society (ISS), established in December 1951, under the leadership of Professor G. S. Ghurye at the University of Bombay celebrated its Diamond Jubilee in 2011. Soon after its foundation, the ISS launched its biannual journal Sociological Bulletin in March 1952. It has been published regularly since then. The ISS took cognisance of the growing aspirations of the community of sociologists both in India and abroad to publish their contributions in Sociological Bulletin, and raised its frequency to three issues a year in 2004. Its print order now exceeds 3,000 copies. It speaks volumes about the popularity of both the ISS and the Sociological Bulletin. The various issues of Sociological Bulletin are a treasure trove of the most profound and authentic sociological writings and research in India and elsewhere. As such it is no surprise that it has acquired the status of an internationally acclaimed reputed journal of sociology. The very fact that several of its previous issues are no more available, being out of print, is indicative not only of its popularity both among sociologists and other social scientists but also of its high scholarly reputation, acceptance and relevance. Although two series of volumes have already been published by the ISS during 2001 and 2005 and in 2011 having seven volumes each on a large number of themes, yet a very large number of themes remain untouched. Such a situation necessitated that a new series of thematic volumes be brought out. Realising this necessity and in order to continue to celebrate the Diamond Decade of the Indian Sociological Society, the Managing Committee of the ISS and a subcommittee constituted for this purpose decided to bring out a series of 10 more thematic volumes in such areas of importance and relevance both for the sociological and the academic communities at large as Sociological Theory, Untouchability and Dalits, Rural Society, Science

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and Technology, Childhood and Youth, Health, Environment, Culture, Politics and the Pioneers of Sociology in India. Well-known scholars and experts in the areas of the chosen themes were identified and requested to edit these thematic volumes under the series title Readings in Indian Sociology. Each one of them has put in a lot of effort in the shortest possible time not only in selecting and identifying the papers to be included in their respective volumes but also in arranging these in a relevant and meaningful manner. More than this, it was no easy task for them to write comprehensive ‘introductions’ of the respective volumes in the face of time constraints so that the volumes could be brought out in time on the occasion of the 39th All India Sociological Conference scheduled to take place in Mysore under the auspices of the Karnataka State Open University during 27–29 December 2013. The editors enjoyed freedom not only in choosing the papers of their choice from Sociological Bulletin published during 1952 and 2012, but they were also free to request scholars of their choice to write forewords for their particular volumes. The volumes covered under this series include: Towards Sociology of Dalits (Editor: Paramjit S. Judge); Sociological Probings in Rural Society (Editor: K.L. Sharma); Sociology of Childhood and Youth (Editor: Bula Bhadra); Sociology of Health (Editor: Madhu Nagla); Contributions to Sociological Theory (Editor: Vinay Kumar Srivastava); Sociology of Science and Technology in India (Editor: Binay Kumar Pattnaik); Sociology of Environment (Editor: Sukant K. Chaudhury); Political Sociology of India (Editor: Anand Kumar); Culture and Society (Editor: Susan Visvanathan); and Pioneers of Sociology in India (Editor: Ishwar Modi). Sociological Probings in Rural Society (edited by K.L. Sharma with a foreword by Yogendra Singh) is the second volume of the series titled Readings in Indian Sociology. This volume focuses mainly on the changing face of rural–urban relations. The articles included in the volume have been arranged in five sections, taking a note of rural–urban relations, rural social stratification, rural profiles, religion and rituals and social change in village India. The volume maps out the structure and process of rural–urban relations, along with divides and gaps between the rural and the urban settings, and the role of urbanisation, industrialisation, land reforms and development agencies. The very concept of ‘village’ needs to be questioned as village is no longer an entity as characterised in terms of its small size, self-sufficiency, isolation, autonomy

SERIES NOTE

xv

and so on. Today, ‘village’ has acquired a new face. Non-farm sources of income are quite conspicuous. Migration, mobility, regular cash income, education, means of transport and communication have become a normal feature in the village as one can see in towns and cities. ‘Introduction’ by the editor provides a semblance of the papers in a succinct manner. It can hardly be overemphasised and can be said for sure that this volume as well as all the other volumes of the series Readings in Indian Sociology, as they pertain to the most important aspects of society and sociology in India, will be of immense importance and relevance to students, teachers and researchers both of sociology and other social sciences. It is also hoped that these volumes will be received well by the overseas scholars interested in the study of Indian society. Besides this, policy-makers, administrators, activists, NGOs and so on may also find these volumes of immense value. Having gone through these volumes, the students and researchers of sociology would probably be able to feel and say that now ‘We will be able to look much farther away as we are standing on the shoulders of the giants’ (in the spirit of paraphrasing the famous quote by Isaac Newton). I would like to place on record my thanks to Shambhu Sahu, Sutapa Ghosh and R. Chandra Sekhar of SAGE Publications for all their efforts, support and patience to complete this huge project well in time against all the time constraints. I also express my gratefulness to the Managing Committee Members of the ISS and also the members of the subcommittee constituted for this purpose. I am also thankful to all the editors and all the scholars who have written the forewords. I would also like to thank Uday Singh, my assistant at the India International Institute of Social Sciences, Jaipur for all his secretarial assistance and hard work put in by him towards the completion of these volumes. Ishwar Modi Series Editor Readings in Indian Sociology

Foreword

P

rof. K.L. Sharma has earned an international reputation for his studies in the field of rural sociology. As his introduction to the volume makes explicit, his approach tends to be comparative, historical and multi-dimensional. Through his analysis and his choice of papers selected for this volume, this methodological orientation is fully articulated. The twenty papers chosen for this volume bring out the varieties of perspectives from which village studies have been undertaken in India. These demonstrate the new structural and cultural changes that the Indian villages are now going through. He rightly states that villages in India never existed as social isolates, a point missed in most studies by western sociologists and social anthropologists. I commend Prof. Sharma for his commendable composition of the papers in this volume and I am sure these would be widely read and inspire debates on the rural sociology in India both by scholars and persons engaged in the development task for rural social and economic transformation. Yogendra Singh Professor (Emeritus) Centre for the Study of Social Systems J.N.U., New Delhi.

Preface and Acknowledgements

T

he Indian village is no more static and undifferentiated. Contacts and interaction of the village people with towns and cities have resulted into absorption of urban way of life in the village and that of the rural culture in the towns and cities. No doubt, contacts and interaction between the two settings–rural and urban, are not uniform as they are differentiated, and so are the people in both villages and towns. The village has an urban face, and the town has accommodated rurality. Rural-urban divide has been diminishing with the passage of time due to inroads of the means, such as education, employment, communication and transport, and also due to aspirations of the rural people for upward mobility. Both structural and cultural factors have contributed to this process of change and transformation. However, inter-regional, intra-regional and inter-village and intra-village differences in terms of the impact of the village on the town and of the town on the village persist causing social inequality and status-differentiation. The village people, who have already been benefited by structural changes, are voicing their concern for protection of human rights, dignity and honour. Developmental interventions change the material condition of the people, and then one can see social awakening and realization for social justice and egalitarian social order. We have included 20 papers in the volume and have put them in five sections: (1) Rural Society and Rural-Urban Relations, (2) Social Stratification in Rural India, (3) Village Profiles, (4) Religion and Rituals, and (5) Social Change in Rural India. Papers by eminent scholars, such as A.R. Desai, M.N. Srinivas, K.M. Kapadia, M.S.A. Rao,

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N.R. Sheth, Victor S. D’Souza, Surajit Sinha, Brij Raj Chauhan, Ursula Sharma, Pradip Kumar Bose and some others have been included in the volume. I am sure such a collection of papers would prove to be a useful guide and a baseline for rural studies in future. I am immensely indebted to Prof. I.P. Modi, President of Indian Sociological Society, for providing me opportunity to edit this volume. His constant reminders, e-mails and affectionate warning bells made me to work on the volume, despite other pressing commitments and engagements. I am honoured to have the Foreword of the volume by Professor Yogendra Singh, who has given a new direction to Indian sociology through his seminal writings and ideas. Mr. Sandeep Bakshi, Chancellor of Jaipur National University, wholeheartedly welcomes academic endeavours. Whenever, I am involved in such an activity, he gladly spares me from routine responsibilities. I express my sincerest thanks to him. Lastly, I thank Mr. Pramod Shanker Mathur for all the secretarial assistance, which he has offered, unhesitatingly. K.L. Sharma Vice-Chancellor Jaipur National University Jaipur.

Introduction: Reconceptualising The Indian Village K.L. Sharma

I

ndian village has witnessed ups and downs from times immemorial. Rains, floods, droughts, epidemics, exploitation, powerlessness, ignorance, and many such problems have made village life unbearable and unsustainable. However, intra-regional and inter-regional variations are quite visible in rural India in terms of proximity to towns, irrigation facilities, availability of electricity, means of transport and communication, and education. Differences have been found, for example, between a dry and a wet village (Epstein, 1962), and suburban and remote villages (Sharma, 1974). Today, as a result of the expansion of towns and cities, the villages which were in the periphery are now merged with the neighbouring urban centers. Today, such villages have acquired an urban face as the people who live there are no more dependent on traditional pattern of agriculture, handicrafts and jajmani system. Salaried jobs, both in public and private sectors, have been the main source of livelihood. Non-farm economy is today to the extent of 30% in India’s villages. But on the other side, nearly 60% of the rural people have dependence on agriculture, and there is a noticeable fragmentation of landholdings. Rural-urban divide has considerably changed. Country-town nexus has acquired a new form as there is a lot of ‘urban’ element in rural life, and a lot of urban people live like poor rural folks in the heart of metropolises. Hence, reconceptualisation of Indian village is required to have a relook at the country-town nexus.

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I Bernard S. Cohen (1968) talks about three approaches to the study of Indian society. These are: (1) the orientalist, (2) the administrative, and (3) the missionary. These approaches refer to the Indian society as depicted in Sanskrit texts, official documents and records, and in the policies and actions of the Christian missions, respectively. Such approaches to Indian society provide a macro-view, however, the ‘realist view’, which has been brought in, for example, in the thirteen volumes of the subaltern studies, do not find a place in the three approaches. Today, Indian society can’t be viewed in terms of simply having tradition-oriented (static), administratively-determined, jajmani – based division of labour, etc. Both ‘caste’ and ‘village’ have undergone considerable transformation. No more Indian village is a ‘closed’ and ‘isolated’ system, as it was perceived by several scholars of yesteryears (Dumont, 1966; Maine, 1871; Baden-Powell, 1892; Karl Marx, 1951). Indian society was also characterized by the Asiatic Mode of Production, Idyllic Village culture, Oriental Despotism, Barbarian Egotism, Caste and Slavery. Village was seen as a static society, having solidarity, selfgovernance, self-sufficiency and isolation. In principle, such features of Indian society and village community were written off in 1947 on the eve of India’s Independence. Adult franchise, community development programmes, panchayati raj institutions, green revolution, development schemes, legislations, means of transport and communication have created a new face of the Indian village. Today, dependence on agriculture has come down to 60% from 80% at the dawn of independence. Nonfarm income has gone beyond 30%. Migration and mobility have become normal features. The two studies by Wiser (1930; 1936), namely, Behind Mud Walls and Hindu Jajmani System lost their aura in 1950s and 1960s. The Indian village has been graphically characterized in the three publications, brought out by Marriott (1955), Srinivas (1955) and Dube (1955). The year 1955 was the year of village studies in sociology and social anthropology. The village was presented as a political entity, as a part of wider system, and as a place, where group, family and individual could be identified distinctly in specific social arenas. Not just village, but villager was also noticed. Though some scholars continued to look at village (Chauhan, 1967; 2009) as a ‘little community’,

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following the idea taken from Robert Redfield (1956). But the view that village had a small size, self-sufficiently, autonomy and self-governance was soon under attack. The idea of ‘factions’ in the village (Singh, 1970; Lewis, 1958), prevalence of “networks” (Mayer, 1960), “bridge-action” (Bailey, 1960), and “downward social mobility” (Sharma, 1973) focused on nexus between village and town, rejecting clearly the idea of unchanging divide between village and town. The monographic-holistic studies of the 1950s were replaced by the multi-village comparative studies (Mukherjee, 1957; Singh, 1969; Sharma, 1974; Bailey, 1957; Epstein, 1962), and the variable-based studies (Joshi, 1976; Lindberg and Djurfeldt, 1976). These studies have gone beyond the application of the ‘participant observation’, mainly practised by Srinivas (1952) and his student (Beteille, 1966). Multivillage studies recognize specific differences in given villages, based on history, land-tenure system, caste hierarchy, proximity to towns and so on. Comparison facilitates understanding of the pace of social change in different villages. The issues, such as land reforms, poverty, health, development, empowerment, social justice do not find enough space in the village studies of the 1950s and early 1960s. The studies of village community in India were loaded with the idea of ‘cultural mobility’, which Srinivas advanced through the concepts of ‘sanskritization’, ‘dominant caste’ and ‘westernization’, and all the three revolved around the caste system (Srinivas, 1952; 1955; 1966; Marriott, 1955). Marriott was also confined to intra-tradition interaction between ‘little traditions’ and ‘great tradition’. Srinivas always thought of a change in the caste system and not of the system. So was the view upheld by Louis Dumont in Homo Hierarchicus (1970). The very idea of caste as a hierarchy implies that caste is a system based on values and norms, such as of being pure and impure. As such the pure encompasses the impure, in terms of superior and inferior objects, things, and persons. The Indian village has been seen as the real laboratory of the practice of caste system as perceived by Srinivas and Dumont.

II In our view, cognitive and ontological bases of village life have considerably changed. New issues and dilemmas have surfaced. Multi-village, comparative and variable-based, historical, double-synchronic and

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diachronic studies have opened up new vistas for our understanding of everchanging rural society. Studies by M.N. Srinivas (1952), S.C. Dube (1955), D.N. Majumdar (1958), Oscar Lewis (1958) are single village studies. The studies which focus on a comparative and variable-based approach are by Ramakrishna Mukherjee (1957), F.G. Bailey (1957), Scarlett Epstein (1962) and K.L. Sharma (1974). An apt example of a double synchrony is a study by Pauline Kolenda (1978, 1989) who studied the same village twice with a gap of nearly three decades. The change-agents in some of these studies are, for example, land reforms, green revolution, panchayati raj, urbanization, migration, education and white-collar employment. Our study (Sharma, 1974) shows disappearance of jajmani system and pollution-purity syndrome, and renewed nexus with towns and cities. We may ask: Was village ever a community? Is village a community now? Is not there an ‘individual’ in the village? Was there group (caste) alone in the village? In our study of six villages in Rajasthan (1974), a distinction between individual, family and group was clearly visible and it was also observed by the people themselves. It is not just a heuristic distinction; it is rooted into ontologically differentiated social reality. Within a given group (caste), there are a number of families, and then there are individual members in the families. The three are no doubt interrelated, but they are not reducible to each other. Such a reality does not lend support to the ‘sanskritization’ thesis and to the idea of ‘dominant caste’. There is an ‘individual’ in the village, and so is the ‘family’, and the two are not just the shadows of caste alone. The two exist independent of caste as well. In this way, social change occurs in the village not simply in the cultural realm, that is, imitation of the social and cultural life of the upper castes by the lower castes. Economic and political changes are more around individual and family than having group as the epicenter. Sources of change are generally extra-systemic, and the channels of change are education, migration, mobility, modern occupations and entrepreneurship. In political realm, adult franchise, participation in elections, seeking positions of power and authority, etc., have brought about social change. Different patterns of change have been noticed in village India. A comparative study of two villages in Karnataka (Epstein, 1962) shows that the dry village had far less economic change, but had a lot more social change due to exposure to the outside world. On the contrary, the

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wet village had substantial economic change, but much less social change due to insulation of the people within the village. A synchronic study of a village in Western Uttar Pradesh (Kolenda, op.cit) shows that over a period of time, discourse on development changes from poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, etc., to the issues of dignity and honour. Country-town nexus (Sharma and Gupta, 1991), village networks (Shah, 1991), emergence of a new middle class in rural Gujarat (Ghanshyam Shah, 1991), differentiated structures (Beteille, 1966), and downward social mobility (Sharma, 1973) indicate paradigm shifts in rural society. The conceptual framework, comprising of the ideas of sanskritization, dominant caste, parochialization and universalization, is not comprehensive enough to explain such changes in the village. In the wake of green revolution, debate on capitalist mode of production in agriculture occupied center-stage in social sciences. Due to weakening of the caste system and its subsidiary institution of jajmani, ‘empowerment’ became the focal theme, particularly in relation to the functionary castes and weaker sections. Adult franchise and participation in elections have shown the way for casteism and caste-based political alliances. Studies of caste have come up considering caste not as a system but more of a phenomenon, a means of identity, and alliance for political gains. Migration and mobility have acquired a new form and pace. As a result of this, studies of the changing face of the village focusing on decreased dependence on agriculture, growth in non-farm activities and income, and new employment avenues and opportunities are a recent development. Besides, these new grounds of the village studies, the studies of panchayati raj institutions, uneven development and inequality, environmental issues, irrigation, electricity, prices of agricultural produces, government schemes, etc., have been reported from different parts of India (Sharma, 2013).

III The fact is that the Indian village has never been in isolation. Even as an entity, it has not been ‘isolable’, heuristically. The writings on the Indian village in the 1950s created a myth around it that it was like a ‘little community’ as depicted by Robert Redfield (1956). Country-town nexus has always existed. Today, the Indian village is very different from  the village of the 1950s and 1960s. Means of transport and

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communication, migration, urban employment, development programmes, schools and colleges, non-farm activities, government offices and agencies have changed the face of nearly 80% of the villages in India. A village, which we studied in mid-sixties in Sikar district, has almost become a part of the town, mainly due to fast expansion of the town itself. Another interior village in the district is no more cut off today from the outside world due to road connectivity with the district and tehsil headquarters. Today, the village has Primary Health Centre, Senior Secondary School, Offices of the Gram Panchayat, Village Level Worker, Cooperative Society, etc. Functionaries, such as female nurse, wireman, vaccinator and postman, are stationed in the village. Today, village is a part of wider administrative, political, social, and economic organizations. Panchayati raj institutions, political parties, access to urban market and expansion of the marriage circle have made the village an integral entity of the wider world. Rural-urban polarity or differences have shrunk to a great extent due to coming of the ‘urban pattern of living’ in the village, and as a result of the incorporation of the village and villagers in the urban world. Villagers hardly think of ‘sanskritization’ or of the upper castes as ‘reference groups’. Non-farm income, presence of the middle (agrarian) castes and visibility of some lower caste influentials do imply a rethinking of the idea of Indian village. One can see the presence of two distinct, though not unrelated, discourses, namely, on development and dignity (izzat) in village India. What is development? Where is development? Whose development? Who are beneficiaries of the initiatives taken by the government? Who corner the non-farm income? The lower castes no longer tolerate the oppressive activities of the landowning people. Their women can’t be as an ‘object’ of the gaze of the bullies of the upper castes. They retaliate against any injustice done to them. These questions on ‘development’ and statements on ‘honour’, respectively, reflect the changing socio-cultural and political contours of village life. Resistance to such expressions by the upper castes is hardly there as it used to be in the 1950s and 1960s.

IV Now the question is : What is rural? Certainly, today Indian village is quite different from the village of the 1950s, 1960s, and even 1970s. Since caste is no more an everyday life phenomenon, nexus between

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caste and economic life, and caste, class and power has become a matter of past history. Social justice, empowerment, and employment are the main concerns, leaving behind the questions of land reforms, green revolution, mode of production, etc. Construction of roads, opening of senior schools and colleges, education of girls, fair prices of agricultural produces, healthcare facilities, and viable employment have attracted the attention of the rural people. People are demanding for more of these amenities and opportunities by saying that there is ‘urban bias’ (Lipton, 1993). Rural people remain behind their urban counterparts due to urban bias of the development policy. Interventions in rural life caused by green revolution, capitalist mode of production, empowerment of the weaker sections and women, and strategy to improve economic and social life of the rural poor have considerably changed the rural society. Dipankar Gupta (2005, 751– 758) talks of change of both culture and agriculture, fearing withering away of the Indian village. Tradition is under severe stress in rural India. One can see a range of owner-cultivators, and as such agriculture is no more a monopoly of the traditional principal castes, such as Yadavs, Jats, Kurmis, Patels, Marathas, Jat Sikhs, Reddys, Kamas, etc. Even classification of peasantry in terms of rich farmers/kulaks/capitalist landlords has become outdated. In some parts, one can see agri-business cultivators, particularly where green revolution has been there for quite some time. Suicide by farmers in some parts of India is attributed to their ambition to become rich overnight. The burden of farm loans and inability to repay debt to the banks have created such a horrifying situation. M.S. Tikait pleaded for easy access to facilities of irrigation and electricity for the farmers of Western Uttar Pradesh (Dipankar Gupta, 1991). Land reforms were quite effective, but subsequent to land reforms and green revolution, reforms have largely been ineffective. Politics is different from economics in more than one way. For example, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) argues that the dalits outnumber the Jats, Gurjars or Rajputs, hence welfare measures must be for them, and not for the well-entrenched peasantry. According to Pauline Kolenda (op.cit.), the category of the rural poor and agricultural labour also needs to be changed as they today talk of their dignity and honour and particularly of their womenfolk. New rural activism, led by owner-cultivators having income from agriculture, and earnings from nonfarm activities, has changed the rural

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socio-economic and political map of the Indian village. Gupta (2005) states that the issues are: larger state subsidies, higher prices, and more favourable terms of trade with urban world. Caste and agriculture no longer exercise their vigorous hold. Fluidity in occupational choices, migration to towns and cities, and vote-bank politics overshadow the issues related to agriculture, jajmani system, inter and intra caste relations. Country-town nexus, rural non-farm income and control over rural institutions, such as cooperatives, panchayats, are the main considerations. An example of a farmer settled in Delhi would explain the country-twon nexus. Ram Singh (name changed), a farmer owns 21 bighas of wet land in Baghpat of Meerut region in Uttar Pradesh. He has given away his land on annual contract for rupees one lac. He owns an autorickshaw in Delhi. His view is that in Delhi he earns and spends everyday, whereas in the village, he has money at the time of harvesting. Life in Delhi is better for him as he is also educating his two sons in an English-medium school. Such a story applies to all parts of India. Now the question is: Who is a farmer? One moves out of the village but retains his roots in the village? The one who has taken up Naukary, Mazdoori, Weaving, etc., in the city? A person who has developed social connections at the work place, and also visits his village from time to time? There are people in the village who know a lot about administrative mechanisms, courts, hospitals, etc. They are also aware about terrorism, communal riots, and tensions between different castes. Some people own substantial land and assets. They hire people to work at their farms or for some other tasks. There are moneylenders, substantial self-cultivators, and poor people who work for others. This does not imply that the village is getting emptied as more and more people are migrating to towns and cities. The fact is that this indicates an ongoing process, showing new dynamics and dialectics. Non-farm income is restraining this process to some extent, but the point is: Who are the people cornering this income? Are they well off farmers, salaried people, politically influential individuals and families? Yogendra Singh (2009, 178–195) analyses social change based on the changing nature of social praxis in a village in eastern Uttar Pradesh. The notion of an ideal typical village has become outdated and redundant today. Singh observes two levels of social praxis: (1) the state policies of development, and (2) a new resurgence in entrepreneurial

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ventures. These changes, Singh observes, have significantly altered the traditional bonds of community. He writes: “The inter-caste relationships have ceased to be village-centric. Increasingly, as the policies of positive discrimination in favour of the dalits, the backward classes, and other weaker sections have gained momentum, the inter-caste relationships have been politicized”. Such a process has affected/weakened the nature of community and caste in the village. We have earlier explained how structural and cultural changes occurred in the six villages of Rajasthan (Sharma, 1974) in the first two decades after India’s independence. Class cleavages became much sharper as the people of the lower rung voiced against the old social and cultural order. Such a situation demands reconceptuation of the notion of the Indian village and its allied institutions, such as community, caste and class (Singh, 2009). Caste in everyday life is no more a source of anxiety or happiness. The way it is used/misused or not used has made caste a very different phenomenon.

V Now, a brief note on the papers included in the volume may be presented here. We have included twentyfour papers in this volume, dividing them in five sections as follows: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Rural Society and Rural-urban Relations Social Stratification in Rural India Village Profiles Religion and Rituals Social Change in Rural India

Rural Sociology as a distinct branch of sociology in India has emerged in the 1950s, though village studies were conducted even before India’s independence, which were inspired by the views of Metcalfe, Maine, Baden-Powell, Robert Redifield, etc. A.R. Desai’s edited volume – Rural Sociology in India (Desai, 1969), is not only a substantial contribution to this field, it puts together several empirical and analytical studies, beneficial for both students and researchers. Further, the studies by M.N. Srinivas, S.C. Dube, McKim Marriott (all in 1955), D.N. Majumdar (1958), F.G. Bailey (1957), S. Epstein

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(1962), Ramakrishna Mukherjee (1957), B.R. Chauhan (1957), Andre Beteille (1966), K.L. Sharma (1974) and many others set the ball rolling for single village as well as multi-village (comparative) studies. The focus in these studies was mainly on descriptive analysis of rural social structure, including caste, jajmani, family relations, religion and rituals, agriculture and panchayati raj. However, it was also felt that due to macro-structural changes, village could not remain isolated, and as such the role of adult franchise, community development programmes, and later on the impact of ‘green revolution’ also attracted attention of some researchers.

VI A.R. Desai (1956, 09–28), in the opening paper, brings out trajectory of rural sociology in general and in India in particular. He states that there is a vital need to study the life process of rural society analytically and synthetically (or substantively), to suggest an appropriate approach of such a study, and to indicate the significance of research to analyse the process of structural and functional transformation of the rural society in India. The remaining papers in the first section by M.N. Srinivas (1956, 79–88), N.R. Sheth (1969, 16–34), M.S.A Rao (1959, 13–18), and K.M. Kapadia (1956, 111–126) focus on rural-urban relations. Srinivas describes how industrialization and urbanization in south India have affected rural areas. Brahmins are the ones who have welcomed the new changes in terms of education, migration and modern employment. N.R. Sheth argues that rural-urban differences in India coexist in all communities in different degrees. One could see ‘rural elements’ in urban areas, and vice-versa. Urban-rural disparity is the main consideration in regard to the impact of modernization. There are barriers, both material and human, which restrict parity between the urban and the rural people. While considering the limitations of the conceptual scheme of folk-urban continuum as formulated by Robert Redfield, M.S.A. Rao, based on his study of a village near Delhi, puts forward the idea of the ‘fringe society’ as a tool to study the process of urbanization. Rao proposes that with the help of the idea of ‘fringe society’, one can understand the dynamic forces of interaction and rural-urban differences as a two-way directional movement between village and city (see also Rao, 1970).

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Like Rao, K.M. Kapadia, based on his study of five villages, near Navsari town in Gujarat, analyses the pattern of family life. The impact of the town on the family pattern is dependent on the social composition of the villages in the vicinity. The component of the joint family is higher in the town and even its size is larger than in the rural area. The five impact villages stand midway between the village and the town.

VII The section two includes five papers on social stratification in rural India. The papers are by Victor S. D’Souza (1969, 35–49), Surajit Sinha and Ranjit Bhattacharya (1969, 50–66), Gaurang Ranjan Sahay (1998, 207–220), K.L. Sharma (1973, 59–77) and K.C. Panchanadikar and J. Panchanadikar (1976, 225–240). All the papers have focused on the fact that social stratification is not just synonym of caste in rural India. Victor S. D’Souza discusses the rigidity – fluidity dimension of social stratification through the indices of occupational or educational mobility based on data from six villages, now in Himachal Pradesh (earlier in Punjab). Occupational prestige is among the most important variables determining the prestige of an individual. Hereditary groups show a considerable degree of heterogeneity in the distribution of occupational prestige. The other two variables are heterogeneity of individual prestige and the index of consensus about individual prestige. D’Souza meticulously demonstrates with appropriate application of statistical measures the relationship between the indices of social stratification and the various indices of social complexity. In D’Souza’s analysis, ‘individual’ and his ‘achieved status’ are important criteria of status-evaluation and rank-order. Surajit Sinha and Ranjit Bhattacharya discuss social stratification in Bengal in terms of Bhadralok-Chhotolok divisions. Though Bhadralok and Chhotolok in rural Bengal are higher and lower status groups, however, they are not synonym of castes or varnas. The elements of class and power are considered more significant in the Bhadralok-Chhotolok system of social stratification than caste and some other considerations. “The Bhadralok-Chhotolok division includes blocks of castes rather than individuals and families.” This system does not ensure absolute supremacy of the Brahman, and he is lumped together with the Kayastha, and the Vaidya. Castes are recognized as component units, and it ‘roughly approximates’ the varna order. It is essentially a flexible, simple

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and workable hierarchy which facilitates day-to-day interaction among the people of the village. The system indicates ‘style of life’ and ‘status stratification’, and as such class and power become the main features of the Bhadralok-Chhotolok system. Based on his study of six villages in Rajasthan, K.L. Sharma observes that often upward social mobility is noticed and on the contrary downward social mobility caused by structural factors remains undermined. Downward social mobility does occur and is a complex process involving social and economic, cultural and motivational factors. There are structural declines, both primary and secondary, positional decline, and domainspecific decline. The former landowning castes and families could not retain their landholdings due to the abolition of jagirdari system, it became quite difficult for them to sustain with meager means. On the contrary, the beneficiaries of the land reforms suddenly witnessed improvement in their economic standing. Such a simultaneous process of structural change transformed the system of social stratification in rural Rajasthan. Gaurang Ranjan Sahay works out a matrix of socio-cultural and economic relations based on his study of four villages in Bihar. Sahay states that caste-based occupations no longer exist in the villages. A large number of families of different castes do not perform their caste occupations. No ex-communication is prevalent on account of following a non-traditional occupation. Both the caste system and the jajmani system have changed notably as the interlinking of caste with occupation has ceased to exist. Institutional change affects social stratification as shown by K.C. Panchanadikar and J. Panchanadikar in their study of a village in Gujarat. Community Development Programmes and the Cooperative Bank facilitated formation of cooperatives, loans, subsidies and innovative entrepreneurial activities. Intra-caste socio-economic differentiation is an obvious consequence of unequal access to the new opportunities created through the two institutions. Education and migration have also received a greater momentum due to institutional changes in the village. The study reveals that the Leuwa Patels (an agricultural caste) and the village elites compete for the scarce positions in the newly introduced institutions, and this has created rivalry and factions among the Leuwas. The members of another caste, namely, Baraiya, who are somewhat numerically preponderant in the Milk producers’ cooperative tilt the balance between the Leuwas’ factions. Women are also active members in the new situation. Such a faction ridden situation has, however, not affected adversely the process of development in the village.

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VIII Village profiles are included in the third section. Four papers in this section deal with an Intervillage Organization of a Caste, Modernization and Changing Fertility Behaviour (both in Rajasthan), and Ideology, Power and Resistance in a South Indian village, and Voices from the Earth: Work and Food Production in a Punjabi village. Let us briefly highlight the main features of the four profiles provided by Brij Raj Chauhan (1964, 24–35), Tulsi Patel (1990, 53–73), N. Sudhakar Rao (1996, 205–232) and Radhika Chopra (1994, 72–92). Inter-village ties between members of a caste are expressed through the word-CHOKHALA, as observed by Brij Raj Chauhan, in a Rajasthan village. Chauhan writes: “A CHOKHALA may be defined as the unit of a caste (sub-caste) spread over a number of contiguous villages binding the members of the caste (sub-caste) to certain codes and regulations considered to be falling within the traditional jurisdiction of the caste (sub-caste) network in that area and subjecting the members to some effective controls through collective action”. Chauhan outlines functions of the Chokhala and demonstrates the same by citing four cases. Chauhan considers ‘Chokhala’ as an alternative of the caste-courts for social control. An attempt is made by Tulsi Patel to understand fertility behaviour of the people in a Rajasthan village. The study concerns 713 ‘ever married women’ in the village and their husbands. 64 persons (45 women and 19 men) had got sterilized. The Family Planning Programme (FPP) has not been quite successful. The reason given by Patel is that the policy-makers have not been sensitive to the people’s perceptions and social pressures that work on them. However, sterilization has been considerably effective mechanism in the FPP. Both mothers-in-law and husbands disapprove of sterilization. It is considered as a sinful and deviant act. Mothers-in-law view the daughter-in-law’s expression of a desire to get sterilized as an act of defiance. It is felt by them that the daughters-inlaw can use the excuse of complications after sterilization to escape the drudgery of domestic work, and also because of fears of child mortality. Husbands fear underming of their authority, deference to elders and of woman’s position in society. In an interesting paper on ideology, power and resistance in a south Indian village, N. Sudhakar Rao observes that generally movements, protests and successes by the Dalits have been reported in various studies and

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analyses. Rao writes: “Actually, everyday protests of the Dalits and lower castes in the villages occur more frequently and address the above mentioned vital issues besides highlighting the power relations between the Dalits and the dominating groups, but these have barely drawn any attention”. The main point in this paper centers around the forms of resistance and implied strategies of power in an Andhra village. While pouring in a lot of qualitative data, Rao mentions that not consensus but dissent exists among the Dalits. “The ideology contradicts hierarchy. The Dalits are conscious of their deprivation, exploitation and powerlessness”. Dalits gladly accept egalitarianism even if it emanates from caste-ideology. However, the Dalits have not evolved an egalitarian system of their own. Styles of domination and also the forms of resistance vary depending upon the context, situation and the issue involved therein. Radhika Chopra believes that culture and production are intertwined. She states that “processes are part of the way people think about themselves and represent the work they do in terms of cultural categories and normative codes”. Chopra’s observation is based on her study of a village in Punjab. The main point of the paper is to elucidate the rituals of agriculture and the beliefs embedded in them. The author tries to know appropriate work for different people. Women are engaged in some agricultural activities, and not in all sorts of farm operations. Chopra writes: “Work is a way of establishing relationships, whether with nature or with people, and labour the medium through which their relations are expressed. Just as there are prescribed ways of approaching people, there are ‘proper’ ways of approaching nature; indeed, it is an act of respect to do things the correct way”. Culture is preeminently present in village economy. All acts of agricultural production are embedded with meanings. Culture is a guide for economic activities in the village.

IX We have three papers in Section IV, which is, on Religion and Rituals. The papers are by Ursula Sharma (1974, 71–92), K.N. Venkatarayappa (1962, 208–220), and Gurumurthy K. Gowdra (1971, 24–38). Two papers are based on observations made in rural south India about customs and ritual circles, and one paper is on public shrines based on ethnographic data in a village in Kangara district in Himachal Pradesh.

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Ursula Sharma has presented relevant information about the shrines of Ghanyari, in District Kangra of Himachal Pradesh. The village shrines, Shrama states, are not elaborate structures. She provides a graphic view of seven shrines, alongwith their deities, types, and castes of families associated with the shrines. The public shrines are distinguished from domestic shrines. She asks: “How public shrines are ‘public’ in reality?” Association of a family with a diety may also hinder in projecting a shrine as a public institution. Shrines are not cared properly, nor common rituals are performed frequently there. Sharma writes: “The nature and strength of the association between the shrine and the proprietary group, the types of rights and responsibilities it holds may vary so greatly as to defy further generalization”. In some cases, the members of ‘unclean castes’ are not allowed to have access to shrines. Sharma compares the shrines of the Kangara village with that of other parts of India, and holds the distinction between the ‘public’ and the ‘private’ shrines. It is, however, quiet vague to find a ‘public’ shrine in the village as one could see in the case of the great temples of Hinduism. K.N. Venkatarayappa describes some customs in Mallur village in Mysore region of Karnataka. There are a number of temples and some shrines in the village. People in the village believe that all ills can be cured by proper worship of the gods and goddesses. Several ceremonies are performed to avoid the adversities and calamities in the village. The author describes in detail the main rituals and religious practices in the village. All the castes have faith in the village traditions, and observance of customs is a way of their life. They relate happenings in the village with some superior power. The village is a ‘community’ in a true sense of this concept. However, the villagers are not averse to new technology, healthcare facilities, use of roads, electricity, newspapers and magazines, etc. A semblance of tradition and modernity signifies this village. The paper by Gurumurthy K. Gowdra is also on rituals in a Mysore village. The village has two divisions, namely, Uru and Adive, and it has eight ritual circles, five in Uru and three in Adive. All the rituals are performed for protection and welfare of the village people and for good agricultural production. The word ‘circle’ distinguishes between one set of activities and the place where the activities are performed from the other sets of activities and the places. The author refers ‘circle’ as a ‘ritual boundary’. The village festivals create a sense of social solidarity among the people. Ritual circles reveal the differences among the people and also between different areas in the village.

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X The fifth and the last section is on social change in rural India, incorporating three papers. These are by H.S. Verma (1979, 83–119), K.L. Sharma (1976, 45–62) and Pradip Kumar Bose (1989, 183–198). The three papers discuss the dynamics of social change in rural India based on various studies, development programmes, changes in rural power structure and agrarian relations. An analysis of social change in the first four decades since independence by H.S. Verma deals with motivations, conceptualizations, mechanics, methodologies, prescriptions and contributions of social scientists to judge the reliability, objectivity and relevance of the studies on social change for the academics and the policy planners. Verma observes that a large number of studies have shown a clear preference for western values, and have tried to ‘fit’ in their data with the alien frameworks. Verma writes:……….. “measurement of change has turned out to be a highly coloured exercise in which approaches and methodologies were contrived to give different qualitative and quantitative profiles of the same phenomenon”. The author blames the social scientists for faulty understanding and analysis of social change in rural India. Methodologically, there are, what Verma says, ‘scientific pretensions’ and ‘practised imperfections’. Barring a few studies, Verma says that the geographical coverage and numerical data-base of most other studies are indeed very meager. There are sweeping generalizations about the society, cultural traditions, religions, communities, castes, etc. Thus, Verma refers to two tendencies: (1) an indigenous, Indian tradition of interpreting empirical situations, and (2) imported theoretical frameworks. Sociology of research and researcher is the main concern expressed comprehensively by H.S. Verma. K.L. Sharma discusses power elite in rural India, drawing insights from his study of six villages in Rajasthan (1974). The main questions taken up by Sharma refer to legitimacy of dominance, basic sources which facilitate dominance in village community, distinction between group and individual dominance, and direction and factors of dominance mobility. The author explains that individuals, families and castes are found dominant in different contexts and situations. “The rural power elite do not comprise a homogeneous social segment because they do not have the characteristics of a group such as unity, commonality of interests, equality of status and economic position”. Sharma states that due to the post-independence developments, the group dominance and

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solidarity are at stake, and corporate mobility particularly in political and economic domains as a group endeavour does not sound as a viable proposition. The author presents a critical examination of the idea of ‘dominant caste’ and ‘cultural mobility’. He puts forward the idea of ‘dominance mobility’ to explain the structural change as a consequence of land reforms, adult franchise, panchayati raj institutions and other developments. The last paper of this section and also of the volume is by Pradip Kumar Bose on agrarian structure and change. Like the papers by the other authors in this section, Bose also looks at the studies of agrarian structure and change from a theoretical perspective. He has delineated three approaches, which use (1) Indian ‘tradition’, (2) ‘native’ categories, and (3) Marxian, Weberian or Durkheimian ideas. While analyzing various studies, analyses and approaches, Bose focuses on certain crucial aspects of structure, change, rural-urban interface and the theoretical problems arising out of the various ways in which the process has been comprehended. The author finds conceptual and theoretical confusions on the one hand, and on the other there are partial, incomplete and often essentialist concepts. The concept of ‘tradition’, for example, is treated as an absolute one, without seeing its ideological contents. In the study of agrarian classes, the element of ideology is concealed. So is the use of the concept of ‘power’. It is ‘base’ or ‘superstructure’? How is it related to ‘class’? Convergence of contradictory forces in rural India has become a reality. This needs to be seen as a guide for reconceptualisation of the prevalent approaches to the study of rural society in India.

References Baden-Powell, B.H., 1892, Land Systems of British India (2 vols.), London, Henry Frowde and Stevens & Sons. Bailey, F.G., 1957, Caste and the Economic Frontier, Manchester, Manchester University Press. ———, 1960, Tribe, Caste and Nation, Manchester, Manchester University Press. Bateille, Andre,1966, Caste, Class and Power, Bombay, Oxford University Press. Bose, Pradip Kumar, 1989, “Dimensions of Agrarian Structure And Change: Issues In Theory”, Sociological Bulletin, Vol. 38, No. 2, pp. 183–198. Chauhan, B.R., 1964, “Chokhala – An Intervillage Organization of a Caste in Rajasthan”, Sociological Bulletin, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp. 24–35. ———, 1967, A Rajasthan Village, New Delhi, Associated Publishing House. ———, 2009, Rural Life: Grass Roots Perspective, New Delhi, Concept Publishing Company.

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Chopra, Radhika, 1994, “Voices From the Earth : Work And Food Production In a Punjabi Village”, Sociological Bulletin, Vol. 43, No. 1, pp. 72–92. Cohen, B.S., 1968, “Notes on the history of the study of Indian society and culture”, in Milton Singer and Bernard S. Cohn (eds.), Structure and Change in Indian Society, Chicago, Aldine Publishing Company. D’souza, Victor S., 1969, “Measurement of Rigidity – Fluidity Dimension of Social Stratification In Six Indian Villages”, Sociological Bulletin, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 35–49. Desai, A.R., 1956, “Rural Sociology : Its Need In India”, Sociological Bulletin, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 09–28 ———, 1969, Rural Sociology in India (ed.), Bombay, Popular Prakashan. Djurfeldt, Goran and Staffan Lindberg, 1976, Pills Against Poverty, New Delhi, Oxford and IBH Publishing Co. Dube, S.C., 1955, Indian Village, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul. Dumont Louis and D.F. Pocock, 1957, “Village Studies”, Contributions to Indian Sociology, No. 1, pp. 25–32. Dumont, Louis, 1966, ‘The Village Community from Munro to Maine”, Contributions to Indian Sociology, No. IX. ———, 1970, Homo Hierarchicus, London, Paladin, Granda Publishing Ltd. Epstein, T.S., 1962, Economic Development and Social Change in South India, Manchester, Manchester University Press. Gowdra, Gurumurthy K., 1971, “Ritual Circles In A Mysore Village”, Sociological Bulletin, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp. 24–38. Gupta, Dipankar, 1991, “The Country-Town Nexus and Agrarian Mobilisation: Situating the Farmers, Movement in West U.P., in K.L. Sharma and Diptankar Gupta (eds.), Country-Town Nexus, Jaipur, Rawat Publications, pp. 74–103. ———, 2005, “Wither the Indian Village: Culture and Agriculture in Rural India”, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XL, No. 8. Joshi, P.C., 1976, Land Reforms in India: Trends and Perspectives, Bombay, Allied Publishers. Kapadia, K.M., 1956, “Rural Family Patterns : A Study In Urban-Rural Relations”, Sociological Bulletin, Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 111–126. Kolenda, Pauline, 1978, Caste in Contemporary India: Beyond Organic Solidarity, California, Benjamin Dimmings Publishing Co. ———, 1989, “Micro-Ideology and Micro-Utopia in Khalapur: Changes in the Discourse of Caste over Thirty Years, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XXIV No. 32, pp. 1831–1838. Lewis, Oscar, 1958, Village Life in Northern India, Urbana, University of Illinois. Lipton, Michael, 1993, “Land Reforms as Commenced Business: the evidence against stoppage”, World Development, Vol. XI, No. 4, pp. 641–57. Maine, Henry Sumner, 1871, Village Communities in the East and West, London, J. Murray. Majumdar, D.N., 1958, Caste and Communication in an Indian Village, Bombay, Asia Publishing House. Marriott, Mc Kim, 1955 (ed.), Village India, Chicago, Chicago University Press. Marx, Karl, 1951, Articles on India, Bombay, Asia Publishing House. Mayer, A.C., 1960, Caste and Kinship in Central India, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul. Mukherjee, Ram Krishna, 1957, Six Villages of Bengal: A Socio-Economic Survey, Calcutta, Asiatic Society of Bengal. ———, 1957, The Dynamics of Rural Society, Berlin Academie Verlag.

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Panchanadikar, K.C. and Panchanadikar, J., 1976, “Social Stratification And Institutional Change In A Gujarat Village”, Sociological Bulletin, Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 225–240. Patel, Tulsi, 1990, “Modernization And Changing Fertility Behaviour : A Study In A Rajasthan Village”, Sociological Bulletin, Vol. 39, No. 1&2, pp. 53–73. Rao, N. Sudhakar, 1996, “Ideology, Power And Resistance In A South Indian Village”, Sociological Bulletin, Vol. 45, No. 2, pp. 205–232. Rao, M.S.A., 1959, “‘Fringe’ Society and the Fok-Urban Continuum”, Sociological Bulletin, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 13–18. ———, 1970, Urbanization and Social Change, New Delhi, Orient Longmans. Redfild, Robert, 1956, Little Community and Peasant Society and Culture, Chicago, The University of Chicago Press. Sahay, Gaurang Ranjan, 1998, “Caste System In Contemporary Rural Bihar : A Study Of Selected Villages”, Sociological Bulletin, Vol. 47, No. 2, pp. 207–220. Shah, A.M., 1991, “The Rural-Urban Networks in India”, in K.L. Sharma and Dipankar Gupta (eds.), Country-Town Nexus, Jaipur, Rawat Publications, pp. 11–42. Shah, Ghanshyam, 1998, “Caste Sentiments, Class Formation and Dominance in Gujarat”, in K.L. Sharma (ed.), Caste And Class In India (Reprint), Jaipur and New Delhi, Rawat Publications, pp. 225–269. Sharma, K.L., 1973, “Downward Social Mobility: Some Observations”, Sociological Bulletin, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 59–77. ———, 1974, The Changing Rural Stratification System, New Delhi, Orient Longman. ———, 1976, “Power Elite In Rural India : Some Questions And Clarifications”, Sociological Bulletin, Vol. 25, No. 1, pp. 45–62. Sharma, K.L. and Dipankar Gupta, 1991 (eds.), Country-Town Nexus, Jaipur, Rawat Publications. Sharma, K.L., 2013, Handbook On Social Stratification In The BRIC Countries: Change and Perspective, (Co-author with Li Peilin, M.K. Gorsh Kav and Celi Scalon), Singapore, World Scientific. Sharma, Ursula, “Public Shrines And Private Interests : The Symbolism Of The Village Temple”, Sociological Bulletin, Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 71–92. Sheth, N.R., 1969, “Modernization And The Urban-Rural Gap in India : An Analysis”, Sociological Bulletin, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 16–34. Sinha, Surajit and Bhattacharya, Ranjit, 1969, “Bhadralok And Chhotolok In A Rural Area of West Bengal”, Sociological Bulletin, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 50–66. Singh, Yogendra, 1969, “The changing power structure of village community – a case study of six villages in Eastern U.P.”, in A.R. Desai (ed.), Rural Sociology in India, Bombay, Popular Prakashan, (4th edition), pp. 711–723. ———, 1970, “Chanukhera: Cultural Change in Eastern Uttar Pradesh”, in K. Ishwaran (ed.), Change and Continuity in India’s Villages, New York, Columbia University Press. ———, 2009, “Social Praxis, Conceptual Categories, and Social Change: Observations from a Village Study”, Sociological Bulletin, Vol. 58, No. 2, pp. 178–195. Srinivas, M.N., 1952, Religion and Society among the Coorgs of South India, Oxford, Oxford University Press. ———, 1955, (ed.), India’s Villages, Calcutta, Government of West Bengal Publication. ———, 1956, “The Industrialization And Urbanization of Rural Areas”, Sociological Bulletin, Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 79–88 ———, 1966, Social Change in Modern India, Berkeley California University Press.

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Venkatarayappa, K.N., 1962, “A Study of Customs in Rural Mysore”, Sociological Bulletin, Vol. 11, No. 1&2, pp. 208–220. Verma, H.S., 1979, “Study Of Social Change In Independent Rural India : Critical Issues For Analyses In The Fourth Decade Of Independence”, Sociological Bulletin, Vol. 28, No. 1&2, pp. 83–119. Wiser, W.H. and C.V. Wiser, 1951, Behind Mud Walls, New York, Agricultural Mission. ———, 1958, The Hindu Jajmani System, Lucknow, Lucknow Publishing House.

SECTION I RURAL SOCIETY AND RURAL-URBAN RELATIONS

1 Rural Sociology: Its Need in India A.R. Desai

Rural Society: Need for Its Systematic Study A systematic study of rural social organization, its structure, function and evolution, has become urgent today in India for a number of reasons. (1) Indian society is overwhelmingly rural. A study of Indian Society is possible only if its predominant rural sector is comprehended in all its rich complexity. (2) Under the British impact, the agrarian structure-its economy, its polity, its familistic and caste basis-its ideology and its aesthetics has experienced a profound transformation. (3) Indian rural life provides a spectacle of acute misery, social disintegration, cultural backwardness and above all an all-enveloping crisis. (4) The extensive participation of rural masses in the long drawn out national liberation struggle; the devastating communal frenzy which swept over the rural world resulting in an uprooting of a great section of the village population in a number of provinces; the deep ferment which is at present seething in the agrarian area and which frequently bursts out in varied forms of struggles between different classes and sections of the rural people; the numerous prejudices that are corroding the life of the rural people and which manifest themselves in various caste, linguistic, provincial, relimous and other forms of tensions, antagonisms and conflicts-all these phenomena reveal that rural India is not inert. The seething cauldron of rural life is

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A.R. Desai neither to be treated as a passive quiet backpool of urban society nor to be treated as a mere appendage of the dazzling metropolis. It has to be studied in its own magnitude and significance. (5) Attempts to revitalize the rural life are meeting enormous obstacles. The struggle of scores and scores of individuals and institutions to reform one sector or the other of the rural life have been frustrated against an insuperable blind wall. Welfare workers on the economic front find formidable political, social and educational hurdles in their way. Social reformers stumble over economic, political and cultural obstacles. All these well-intentioned activities of rural workers either contradict each other or at best yield fragmentary one-sided results. Sectional cures and symptomatic treatments are usually proving worse than the disease itself, causing frustration among workers and engendering scepticism and cynicism, if not pessimism among them. (6) After the achievement of Independence the State is playing a very decisive and significant role in reconstructing rural society. A new conscious endeavour is being made to bring about an overall change in rural social life.

To reconstruct rural society on a higher basis, it is urgently necessary to study not only the economic forces but also the social, ideological and other forces operating in that society. Hitherto, scholars, economists, politicians, social workers and others have given greater attention to the problem of the urban sector of the Indian social world. We have, relatively, a considerable literature throwing some light on the different facets of the urban life. Whatever studies have been made of the rural life are spasmodic, one-sided, sectional and mostly cursory. A synthetic, all-sided and inter-connected account of the rural social life is not merely not available but even its sketchy outline is absent. No systematic effort has still been launched to study the rural society in all its aspects, to study its life processes in their movement and further in their interconnections. It is a colossal task, full of complexity. In fact rural sociology in India or the science of the laws governing the specific Indian rural organism has still to be created. Such a science is however, the basic premise for the renovation of Indian Society as a whole. Rural sociology or the science of the laws of development of rural society in general has come into being only recently. Reflections on rural society are as old as the rural society itself. Shrewd observations on various aspects of rural life are available from very early times. However, systematic observations on the history of the

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origin and the transformation of rural society have begun only since about the middle of the nineteenth century. The impact of the capitalist industrial civilisation upon the rural economy and the social structure in various parts of the world forced the attention of scholars to the study of the trends of rural social development. Olufsem, Maurer, Maine, Hexthausen, Gierke, Elton, Stemann, Innes, Coulanges, Nasse, Laveleye, Baden Powell, Ashley Pollock, Maitland, Lewinsky, Seebohm, Gorame, Guiraud, Jubainville, Slater, Vinogradoff, Meitzon and others have been some of the outstanding scholars who have thrown great light on the rural society from various angles. Subsequently eminent scholars, professors and others interested in the phenomena of the rural life have published in various countries enormous material dealing with its various aspects. However, rural sociology as an organised discipline consciously developed is of very recent origin. Its prerequisites were evolved in the U. S. A. during what is called the “Exploiter Period” of American Society (1890–1920), a period when American Rural Society witnessed all round decay. The Report of the Countrylife Commission appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907, the doctorate theses by J. M. Williams, W. H. Wilson, and N. L. Sims, and a group of rural church and school studies were the three streams which provided nourishment for the emergence of Rural Sociology. “Rural Sociology” of Prof. J. M. Gillette published in 1916 was the first college text-book on the subject. Subsequently the literature on the subject grew both in the U. S. A. and other parts of the world. The publication of “A Systematic Source Book in Rural Sociology” in 1930 regarded as “epoch making” contributed decisively to accelerate the advance of Rural Sociology. The founding of the journal “Rural Sociology” in 1935 and the establishment of “Rural Sociological Society of America” in 1937 were further landmarks in its growth. In the U. S. A., rural sociology, inspite of its immaturity, is being developed by more than 800 professors and research workers. It is spreading in other countries also. Various international organisations, which emerged in the present century, like the League of Nations, the I. L. O. the F. A. O. the U. N. O. the UNESCO and others have and are contributing to the rapid advance of rural sociology.

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Such in brief is the history of the emergence of Rural Sociology, the youngest among the social sciences. And like every young science and particularly a social science there is a lot of controversy about its scope. Inspite of fierce controversies that are going on among the rural sociologists about the exact scope of the science, all of them agree on the following basic points: (i) Though the rural life and the urban life interact, each segment is sufficiently distinct from the other; (ii) Rural and urban settings exhibit characters which are peculiar and specific distinguishing one from the other; (iii) the prime objective of Rural Sociology should be to make a scientific, systematic, and comprehensive study of the rural social organisation, of its structure, function and objective tendencies of development, and on the basis of such a study, to discover its laws of development. To consciously develop the science of Rural Society in India, it is necessary to approach the rural phenomena simultaneously from many angles. Various significant aspects of rural life have to be studied in their inter-connections. A synthetic approach to rural society alone will lay the foundations of this science, so necessary for the effective and allsided improvement of the rural world. Seeking guidance from the explorations by eminent scholars in this branch in other countries, we will briefly suggest the lines of studies which may be undertaken for this purpose. The village is the unit of the rural society. It is the theatre where the quantum of rural life unfolds itself and functions. Like every social phenomenon, the village is a historical category. The emergence of the village at a certain stage in the evolution of the life of man, its further growth and development in subsequent periods of human history, the varied structural changes it experienced during thousands of years of its existence, the rapid and basic transformations it has undergone during the last hundred and fifty years since the Industrial Revolution-all these constitute a very fascinating and challenging study. Eminent sociologists have advanced a number of criteria to classify village communities. (1) According to one criterion, the village aggregates have been classified according to the type which evolved during the transition from Man’s nomadic existence to settled village life viz. (a)  the migratory agricultural villages, where the people live in fixed abodes only for a few months; (b) the semi permanent agricultural villages where the population resides for a few years and then migrates due

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to the exhaustion of the soil; and (c) the permanent agricultural villages where the settled human aggregates live for generations and even centuries.1 (2) According to the second criterion, some times called Ecological criterion, villages have been classified into grouped (or nucleated) villages and dispersed villages. This distinction is considered vital by these sociologists because each type of habitat furnishes a different framework of social life. The nucleated village is marked by “proximity, contact, community of ideas and sentiments” while in dispersed habitats “everything bespeaks separation, everything marks the fact of dwelling apart.”2 (3) The third criterion adopted to classify the village aggregates is that of social differentiation, stratification, mobility and land ownership. Six broad groupings of village aggregates have been made on the basis of this criterion viz. (a) that composed of peasant joint owners; (b) that composed of peasant joint tenants; (c) that composed of farmers, who are mostly individual owners but also include some tenants and labourers; (d) that composed of individual farmer tenants; (e) that composed of employees of great private landowners; and finally (f ) that composed of labourers and employees of the state, the church, the city or the public land owner.3 A systematic classification of the Indian village aggregates on the basis of the above criteria, an exhaustive survey of Indian villages co-relating the villages classified according to these norms, and a study of their history will provide valuable information about village communities in India, about varied types of social institutions which have come into being in rural India and about the complex cultural patterns which have influenced and have been influencing the life processes of the Indian rural people. Further it will help to disclose the laws of the peculiar development of Indian village communities and will assist rural workers to evolve scientific programmes of rural reconstruction. The study of the emergence of larger rural regions is one of the most baffling problems confronting the student of rural society. The factors which have combined to evolve homogeneous rural regions demand a very careful examination. Again, it is found that the larger rural regions change their characteristics with the change in the technoeconomic, socio-economic and socio-political forces. The epoch of self-sufficiency evolved one category of regions. Under the impact of the

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Industrial Revolution and capitalist production for the market a totally new type of areas came into being. The change from market economy to planned economy, where the agrarian sector is consciously developed as a part of the total life of the community is creating in some countries a new type of regional units. And, above all, the gigantic development of productive forces, which is evolving an international economic and cultural community, in the modern epoch, is forcing the students of human society and specially rural society to discover the appropriate variety of rural regions which will be in consonance with this development. Efforts are being made to define economic, linguistic, administrative, religious and cultural regions in various countries. Efforts are also being made to find out where these regions coincide and also to study the laws which bring about this concurrence. The work of anthropologists, regional sociologists, scholars dealing with geographical factors and others has thrown considerable light on the phenomena of the development of such zones. On the basis of the findings of these studies, a detailed map of India indicating various natural and economic regions, indicating the areas inhabited by populations living in various stages of economic development, showing linguistic’ regions, including regions based on different dialects as well as different variations of main languages and showing further, religious regions based on different religious beliefs prevailing among the people, will throw great light on some of the most burning problems of Indian Society. It will also assist those engaged in the difficult task of reforming rural society to locate some of the most fundamental causes of the present crisis of that society. A systematic study of the rural people, its birth and death rate, its density, its proportion to the urban people, its age and sex composition and its general health, longevity and diseases is of primary importance. Family, caste, race, nationality and the linguistic and the religious composition of the people also has great significance. This gives rise to a rich complex and diversified social life and varied patterns of culture. More often it breeds animosities, antagonisms and conflicts. The emergence of ghastly communal Hindu-Muslim riots are still shudderingly vivid in our minds. The growing nationality and caste conflicts which are slowly corroding the body politic of India also reveal the same truth.

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A co-ordinated and inter-related study of the rural people from all these angles is urgently necessary to erect a solid foundation of Rural Sociology. Since economic production is the basic activity of a human aggregate, the mode of production (productive forces and social relations of production) plays a determining role in the shaping of the social structure, the psychology and the ideology of that human aggregate. Rural Society is based predominantly on agriculture. Land is the basic means of production in the countryside. The economic life of rural Society has to be studied from a number of angles. Rural sociologists are increasingly paying attention to the following aspects of the economic life: (a)  Motif of production. Hitherto, this aspect has been much neglected. Whether the agricultural production has for its objective the direct satisfaction of the subsistence needs of the rural aggregate or is carried on for the market and profits of the producers who do not themselves consume their products or whether it is adapted to the consciously assessed needs of the community-all these aspects require a proper comprehension. For instance, in pre-British India village agriculture mainly produced for meeting the needs of the village population. This subsistence village economy was considerably shaken during the British period. This in its wake brought about a veritable revolution in the rural social organisation. (b) Techniques of production. The investigation into the character of the technique of production used by the rural aggregate for the purpose of agriculture is another aspect which should be studied. Three broad categories of technical cultures have been located, viz. (i) Hoe Culture. (ii) Plough culture (iii) The higher technical culture, the phase of tractors and fertilizers. The first generally excludes the use of draft animals or any kind of power. The plough is worked with the aid of the draft-animals. The tractor eliminates even the necessity of draft-animals and is propelled by oil or other power. It must be noted that the technique of production determines the productivity of labour as well as the extent of the material wealth of the rural society. It also determines the division of labour among the members of the society, (c) Land relations and their role. The vital significance of land or property relations in the economic and general social life of the rural people is increasingly being realised by students of rural society. The property relations determine on one hand as to who will control and direct the processes of productions and on the other, as to who will regulate the shares of various socio-economic groups associated with agriculture in

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the total agricultural wealth. As a consequence, they become responsible for the degree of enthusiasm and interest of various groups bound up with agriculture in the process of production. They also play a decisive role in determining the homogeneity or hetrogeneity of the rural population. By regulating the share of the material wealth of various sections, the land relations also specify the relative weight of those sections in the social, political and cultural life of rural society. The nature of property relations also decides the degree of stability and social harmony in the agrarian area. The history of past and present rural societies reveals how numerous mighty struggles had their genetic cause in the property relations. The question of land relations has become the crucial question in all backward countries of the world today. All this indicates the necessity of studying the nature of property relations, to properly grasp the present state and future tendencies of rural society. (d) Standard of life. The problem of the standard of life of the rural population has been keenly studied by eminent sociologists like Sorokin, Zimmerman, Sims, Kirkpatrick and others. The criteria and the methods laid down by them for such a study can serve as a useful guide to the students of rural society in India. From any criteria of the standard of life, the Indian people suffer from the most acute poverty. According to some thinkers, family and familism impress their stamp on the entire rural structure. Familism, according to these thinkers, during the subsistence phase of village economy provides the gestalt to the rural society. ‘‘All the other social institutions and fundamental social relationships have been permeated by, and modeled according to, the patterns of rural family relationships”.4 The following eight traits found in the rural society of pre-capitalist phase are broadly considered as signs of familism. (1) Marriage earlier and its higher rate; (2) Family, unit of social responsibility; (3) Family, basis of norms of society; (4) Family, providing norms of political organization; (5) Co-operative rather than Contractual relations; (6) Family, unit of production, consumption and exchange; (7) Dominance of family cult and ancestor worship; (8) Dominance of tradition. Until the impact of the Industrial Revolution and competitive capitalist market economy, familism was the heart of village communities. Subsistence, agrarian economies and rural societies based on them were familistic through and through. The rise and development of modern

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industries steadily undermined subsistence agrarian economy and brought the rural economy within the orbit of capitalist market economy. This transformation together with the growing pressure of various urban forces brought about the increasing disintegration of the old rural society. The rural society, too, more and more lost its familistic traits. The Indian rural society provides a classic field for the study of rural family. It probably contains at present within itself all the four categories of institutions which are described by Prof. Rivers as types of family institutions viz the kindred, the matrilineal joint family, the patrilineal joint family and the Individual family composed of parents and children.5 The third type, the patrilineal joint family is generally considered as the classic type which corresponds to the phase of agricultural economy based on the plough and the domestication of animals and essentially producing for subsistence. The partilineal joint family, which also predominantly shaped the family structure of the Indian rural society prior to the impact of British rule and capitalist economic forces in India, possessed the following characteristics: (1) Greater homogeneity; (2) Based on peasant household; (3) Greater discipline and inter discipline; (4) Dominance of family ego; (5) Authority of father; (6) Closer participation in various activities. During the last hundred and fifty years the traditional joint family and familistic rural framework have been undergoing a great transformation. From status to contract; from the rule of custom to the rule of law; from family as a unit of production to family as a unit of consumption; from family having its cementing bond in consanguinity to family having it in conjugality; from family being an omnibus social agency to family as a specialised reproductive and affectional unit shorn of most of its economic, political, medical, religious, and other social and cultural functions; from a massive joint family composed of members belonging to a number of generations to a tiny unit composed of husband, wife and unmarried children-all this change is steadily taking place in the rural family, denuding rural society of its familism as its Gestalt and creating a veritable revolution though slowly in the rural social framework in India. A systematic study of rural family, its types, its transitions, its structural and functional changes has never become so necessary as at present in India. Such a study will assist the social workers to evolve appropriate programmes for rural reconstruction. It also will help the students of rural

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society to locate the laws of the transformation of one of the most classical familistic civilisations that has emerged in the history of humanity. A very peculiar type of social grouping which is found in India is the caste grouping. In India, caste largely determines the function, the status, the available opportunities as well as the handicaps for an individual. Caste differences even determine the differences in modes of domestic and social life, also types of house and cultural patterns of the people which are found in the rural area. Even land ownership exists frequently on caste lines. Due to a number of reasons administrative functions have also been often divided according to caste, especially in the rural area. Caste has further shaped the pattern of the complicated religious and secular culture of the people. It has fixed the psychology of the various social groups and has evolved such minutely graded levels of social distance and superior-inferior relationships that the social structure looks like a gigantic hierarchic pyramid.6 This institution which provided a frame-work of social equilibrium to the Hindu society is undergoing great changes in modern times. It is experiencing, in fact, the powerful impact of numerous economic, political, ideological and other forces, is subjected to mortal blows from these forces, in an increasing state of decay. However, even in its death agonies, it is still having its grip over the rural social life.7 One of the most important tasks before the student of rural society in India is to evolve an approach which will be able to appraise its social and cultural processes within the matrix of the caste structure. Failure to develop such a perspective bad, in spite of an immense accumulation of economic and other factual data, obstructed the elaboration of a living composite picture of rural society. A systematic study of the caste system and its relations with other aspects of rural life is urgently necessary. It  could be done fruitfully on the following lines: - (1) Caste and Economic Life. This will include (a) Caste and production, (b) Caste and ownership, (c) Caste and consumption, (d) Caste and indebtedness, (e) Caste and standard of living, (f ) Caste and habitat, (g) Caste and mobility and others. (2) Caste and Family Life (3) Caste and Educational Life (4) Caste and Religious Life (5) Caste and Political Life (6) Caste and the Value System of the community (7) Caste and types of Rural Leadership (8) Mutual Attitudes of Caste Groups (9) Castes as a Laboratory to Study Social Distance (10) Impact of New Constitution on Caste (11) Caste and Hinduism (12) Caste, Joint Family and Village

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Community, their Inter-relationship and Interdependence (13) Doctrine of Casteism and Brahmainic Supremacy. To properly unravel the causes of the octopus like stranglehold of the caste system is very urgent for the adequate comprehension of the life processes of rural society in India and also for the laying down the lines of its future development. A systematic study of the origin, the development, the disorganization and its recent slow but definite disintegration is vital to unlock the mysteries that envelop the history of Indian rural society in particular and Indian society in general. The science of rural society in India will not mature till proper implications of the role of this institution are measured. One of the vital problems that requires to be intelligently studied by the rural sociologists is the political life of the rural population. Hitherto very little attention has been paid to this aspect of the rural life. However, as seen earlier, the active, energetic and sometimes stormy participation of the rural people in political life in various countries including India has exploded the myth of passivity and inertness of the rural people. In fact the growth of political consciousness among peasant populations and their increasing political activities is one of the striking features of the life of mankind today. In India, its study has becomes very urgent, first because the Constitution of Independent India has provided universal adult suffrage to the Indian people and secondly because, unlike during the pre-British period, the State at present plays a very decisive and all-pervading role in their life. A systematic study of the rural political life may be fruitfully made on the following line: — (1) (2) (3) (4)

The study of the governmental machinery in the rural area. The study of non-governmental political organizations in the rural area. The study of the political behaviour of the rural people and its various sections.

The study of the governmental machinery which could be done at the village level as well as at the level of larger units raises the following problems: (a) How far the administrative machinery is responsible to the opinions and wishes of the people; (b) How far the people are associated with it and participate in its functioning; and (c) How far it is cheap, efficient and sensitive to the problems of the people.

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The study of non-governmental political organizations demands a close analysis of the rise, growth, decay and disappearance of various political parties, indicating the trends of political moods of the rural people. The study of the political behaviour of the rural people includes, on the one hand, the study of various programmes which various strata of the rural people strive to fulfil. This study indicates the aspirations and dreams, immediate needs and ideologies of the rural people. On the other hand, the rural sociologist should study the various methods which the rural people adopt to realize their dreams, aspirations and needs. The following methods have been considered important from the sociological point of view: (1) Petitioning; (2) Voting; (3) Demonstrations and Marches; (4) Hijrats or Mass Emigrations; (5) Satyagraha, Passive Resistance; (6) No-rent No-tax campaigns; (7) Spontaneous Elemental Revolts; (8) Guerilla Warfare; and (9) Organized Armed Struggles. Indian rural society provides a classical laboratory for the study of a rich variety of these methods. The role of land relations and caste in rural politics of India is still insufficiently realized. A thorough study of rural religion and its significant role in determining the life processes of the rural society should form an essential part of the study of that society for a number of reasons. (1) It is observed, all over the world that the rural people have greater predisposition for religion than what the urban people have (2) The religious outlook of the rural people overwhelmingly determines their intellectual, emotional and practical life. This is particularly true of the societies resting on subsistence basis. (3) In societies based on subsistence economies, the leadership of village life in all domains was provided by the priestly group, in India the Brahmins. (4) The new forces which were generated in India in modern times after the advent of the British rule and particularly after the emergence of a State wedded to secularism brought into being the new economic and political environs and new norms, basically non-religious and secular and derived out of a liberal democratic philosophy. These have been struggling to supersede the old ones founded on religion. The contemporary rural society in India has become a battle ground of struggle between the forces of religious orthodoxy and authoritarian social conceptions on the one hand and those of secular democratic advance on the other.

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The study of rural religion from the following three aspects has proved useful in other countries and would bear great fruits in India also. (1) Rural religion as providing a specific world outlook. It consists of such ingredients as (a) magical conceptions, (b) animism, (c) the conception of a bizarre world peopled by spirits, (d) the conception of a posthumous world of dead ancestors who have to be worshipped, and (e) mythology. (2) Rural religion as a body of practices consisting of prayers, sacrifices and rituals. (3) Rural religion as an institutional complex. Rural religion which is composed of numerous sects and cults is considerably institutionalized. There are national, provincial and local organizations with Temples, Maths, Ashramas, with huge properties and organized staffs of priests and preachers. One distinguishing feature of the Indian society, which deserves to be studied, was the absence of state religions in contrast to Christianity or even Islam in other parts of the world. The significant role of Bhaktas as sponsors of great democratic mass movements for religious, social and other reforms also needs to be studied. The study of rural religion, with its regional variants will assist considerably in evolving a composite picture of the past cultural evolution of the Indian people. It will also help the student of the rural society to comprehend the nature of transformation that is taking place in the ideology, the institutions, the rituals, the ethics and the aesthetics of the rural people under the pressure of new material and cultural forces. Aesthetic culture is an integral part of the total culture of a society. It expresses in art terms the ideals, the aspirations, the dreams, the values and the attitudes of its people, just as its intellectual culture reveals its knowledge of the natural and social worlds which surround them. A systematic study of the aesthetic culture of the Indian rural society in its historical movement of the dissolution of old types and the emergence of new ones, is vital for the study of the changing pattern of the cultural life of the rural people. Further, since art reflects social life and its changes, such a study will help the rural sociologists to comprehend the movement of the rural society itself as it progressed from its past shape to its present one. It will also reveal the changes in the psychological structures of the rural groups and sub-groups. Eminent sociologists have enumerated the following principal arts comprising the aesthetic culture of rural society. (1) Graphic arts such as drawing, painting, engraving and others which have two dimensional forms;

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(2) Plastic Arts which involve “the manipulation of materials to yield three dimensional forms that is to say carving and modelling in high and low relief and in the round”; (3) Folklore comprised of “myths, tales, proverbs, riddles, verse together with music”; (4) Dance and Drama which combine the three forms mentioned above and therefore are “synthetic Arts”.8 Well-known students have located a number of characteristics of the aesthetic culture of the rural people living in a society based on subsistence economy. The following are important among them; (1) Art was fused with life; (2) People as a whole took part in artistic activities; (3) Art was predominantly familistic; (4) The technique of art was simple; (5) Art had agrarian processes as its main content; (6) Art creations were predominantly collective creations and collective in spirit; (7) Art was non-commercial; (8) Artistic craftsmanship and culture were transmitted from generation to generation orally.9 Under the impact of modern technological, economic, political, social and ideological forces, these characteristics of rural art are undergoing great changes. The enormous rich material comprising the rural aesthetic culture has to be first assembled, analysed and classified. The next task is to interpret it with deep historical imagination and sociological insight. This alone will assist the student of rural society to arrive at a living objective picture of the rural society and the rural life as they existed in the past. This is specially necessary because no detailed written history of the past society is available. It is also essential for the Indian rural sociologist to study the aesthetic culture of the contemporary rural Indian people and the transformation it is undergoing. Such a study will enable him to comprehend the transformation of the life of the rural people and their struggles, dreams and aspirations. Like all other phenomena, the rural society too has been changing since its emergence. Its technology, economy and social institutions; its ideology, art and religion; have undergone a ceaseless change. This change is sometimes imperceptibly slow, sometimes strikingly rapid, and at some moments even qualitative in character resulting into the transformation of one type of rural society into another. To discern change in a system, to recognize its direction, to understand the subjective and objective forces which bring it about and, further, to consciously accelerate the process of change by helping the

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progressive trends within the changing system-this constitutes a scientific approach to and active creative intervention in the life of a system. Close investigators of rural society have enumerated a number of forces and factors, conscious or unconscious, which bring about change in rural society.10 The following are the principal among them; (1) Natural factors like floods, earthquakes, famines etc; (2) Technological factor. The invention of new tools, new means of transport and communications and discovery of new materials, produce profound changes even beyond the calculations of the inventors. Along with these factors, there are also methods and devices adopted by social groups and organisations to conscioulsy bring about the alteration or transformation of the rural world. The following are chief among them; (1) Persuasive method: This method popularizes the need of various changes. The protagonists do not initiate or participate in implementing the programme; (2) Demonstrative method: This method is known as propaganda by example or deed; (3) “Compulsory” method: The state often intervenes and through legislation brings about changes in rural life. It is not the will and initiative of the people but of the State that determine and accomplish these changes; (4) Method of social pressure: This method which is adopted by a rural individual, a group or a class to achieve a desired change includes petitioning, passive resistance, individual or group Satyagraha, processions and marches, strikes and demonstrations, even individual terrorism, mass rebellions, revolutions and others; (5) Contact method: “It is generally recognised that one of the most effective means of social change is found in contact of cultures where peoples of different cultures come in touch with one another, cross fertilization takes place”.11 (6) Educational method: A group of social thinkers invest the educational method with decisive importance in bringing about the rural change. All these methods should be carefully studied to evolve a programme of rural reform or reconstruction. Also its study is necessary to evaluate the forces that work to overhaul the rural social structure. Enormous energy of individuals, groups and associations is spent in the movement of rural uplift and reconstruction. However, due to a lack of synthetic perspective and integrated outlook, the efforts suffer from numerous drawbacks. Exclusive one-sided concentration on one aspect of rural life, predominantly emotional bias, lack of co-ordination of work, insufficient ability to assess the results and, above all an absence of

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a proper sociological perspective are the major defects leading to either ineffectiveness or partial success. Rural sociology will help the rural worker to make a correct diagnosis of its ills and will, thereby enable him to evolve a correct prescription (a scientific programme) to overcome these ills. Here comes the decisive creative role of rural sociology which is as indispensable for the purpose of rural reconstruction as the science of medicine is to a medical practitioner. The present paper has the aim first, of emphasising the vital need of studying the life process of the rural society analytically and synthetically; secondly, of suggesting some of the appropriate lines of approach of such a study; and, thirdly, of indicating what enormous research and theoretical labour are necessary to get a proper insight into the process of structural and functional transformation the rural society has experienced in the past and in the present. It is, however, painful to record that our authorities who are today interested in transforming rural society have not realized the significance of such sociological approach to rural society. The Planning Commission does not still find it essential to associate sociologists in their panel of advisers. The Union and State Governments have not still felt it necessary to organise or finance on a significant scale, sociological studies of rural life. Sociology is still treated as a Cinderella among social sciences. Our seats of culture, our universities and research institutions still do not realize the need to positively encourage this subject as a vital prerequisite of education. It is unfortunate that while enormous sums are being spent on natural science researches, some sectional studies of Societies or on social workers’ training classes, sociological studies of a fundamental nature are suffering from step motherly treatment or are experiencing shortage of financial resources so essential for adequate theoretical and field researches. Indian rural social structure is passing through an acute crisis. This crisis is enveloping every aspect of rural life. A comprehensive insight for a proper assessment of the specific weight and role of various factors whose action and inter-action provide movement to the rural society is essential, if effective and progressive action is to be undertaken. The unplanned and segmental approach to the problem of analysing and transforming the rural society requires to be replaced by a planned and integral approach.

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The need for developing Rural Sociology in India is overdue and indispensable.

References 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11.

Art. “Village Community”. Encyclopaedia of Social Sciences, Vol. 15. p. 254. A Systematic Source Book in Rural Sociology, Vol. I, p. 263. Ibid. p. 560. Ibid. Vol. II. p. 41. Refer Social Organization by Prof. W. H. R. Rivers. pp. 15–16. Refer “Caste and Class in India”, by. G. S. Ghurye. Chapter I. Ibid. Chapters VII and VIII. Refer Man and his Works, Melville J. Herskovits. Refer A Systematic Source Book in Rural Sociology, Vol. II, Chapter XV. Refer Elements of Rural Sociology, by N. L. Sims. Chapter 29. Ibid. p. 670.

2 Symposium on Rural-Urban Relations: The Industrialization and Urbanization of Rural Areas M.N. Srinivas

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point which everyone will readily concede is that rural areas are changing in every part of India. All social change is in a sense relevant for our purpose but some of it is more directly relevant. It is on the latter kind that I wish to concentrate. To understand social change it is necessary to know what the society is changing from. I shall therefore try to characterize rural society in pre-British India as a prelude to the delineation of the change. In this connection it is necessary to make clear that all those forces, external and internal, which broke the isolation of the village and helped to bring about a change, however slight, in the traditional social system, paved the way for industrialization and urbanization. For industrialization does not merely refer to the use of large and complicated machinery, and urbanization does not only mean the great concentration of human beings in small areas; they both require certain types of socioeconomic relationships and a weltenschaaung which are in conflict with the social system, which obtained in pre-British India. I guess that the characteristics which I am about to mention were broadly true of rural areas all over India. The first and the most striking

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characteristic is the isolation of villages from each other consequent on the absence of roads. Even now, after a century of improvement in roads, inter-village communications are often primitive. A great many of these roads are not even fit for bullock carts. And in large parts of the country, villagers live in a state of more or less complete isolation during the monsoon. In a village not thirty miles from the great city of Bombay the inhabitants had to store up provisions and fuel for the monsoon like the citizens of a beleaguered city, and this state of affairs was put an end to only fifteen years ago when a bridge was built. The building of the bridge may be described as the watershed in the history of that village as it was the single most important factor in urbanization. It is essential to stress that this isolation was not, however, complete. Contact was always there, with a few neighbouring villages, with the nearby weekly markets, with the centres of pilgrimage, and perhaps with the town where the chief or Raja had his capital. Neighbouring villages exchanged girls in marriage, and the festival of a village deity frequently demanded the co-operation of several villages. In northern India, villages are exogamous, and the optimum distance between affinal villages seems to be between eight-twelve miles. Again, the division of labour enjoined by caste necessitated cooperation between neighbouring villages. Every village does not have every essential caste—in fact, it is frequently found that a barber in village A also serves B and C, and a washerman in village C also serves A and B, and so on. This is strikingly seen in Kerala where dispersed villages are the rule, and one artisan family has the rights of service (avakasham) in several neighbouring villages. The circles of villages served by each of the artisans in a village overlap only to a limited extent. I fear that I have laboured an obvious point, but as the myth that the traditional Indian village was a self-sufficient little republic has had distinguished advocates and has such political implications this appears to be worthwhile. The typical Indian village was not self-sufficient even in the days of primitive communications, and it is absurd to talk of ‘reviving’ something that never existed. Another feature of the pre-British rural India is the prevalence of widespread political instability. The lowest level in the political system was that of the village headman and the next level was that of the chief who ruled a cluster of villages, and whose relations with neighbouring chiefs were not always friendly. This chief was subordinate

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to a Raja who was perhaps in turn subordinate to an emperor or his viceroy. A weak emperor or viceroy often meant that the Raja became practically independent and this was also true of lower levels. In such a system, the political cleavages were very real and tended also to be cultural and social cleavages. Social relations tended to be confined within a chief ’s or Raja’s territory—in Malabar, however, the Nambudri Brahmins seem to have been regarded as superior to the political cleavages by virtue of their ritual position. One of the consequences of such a vertical division was that the horizontal spread of caste ties could not cross the political boundary. In other words, the castes living in a chiefdom were forced to look to each other for help. It was Pax Brittanica which freed castes from these vertical barriers. The improvement of communications, the introduction of cheap postage and printing enabled members of a caste living far apart from each other to meet occasionally and to keep regular touch. This, together with the preferential treatment extended to the backward castes by the British, laid the foundation for the casteism about which we hear so much these days. In pre-British India relations between individuals and groups were largely determined by birth in a particular caste and family. Again, the same two individuals were tied to each other by a variety of ties, economic, kinship, political and ritual. This was both the result and condition of stability. Besides, the fact that very little money circulated in the country as a whole, and especially in the rural areas, guaranteed that rural society was kept out of participation in the urban sector. Political conquest by the British was followed by the development of communications. A uniform civil and criminal law was introduced, and an organization was gradually evolved to fight the periodic famines. Measures were taken to improve public health. Certain customs like suttee were abolished and Western education was introduced. Each of these measures had a profound effect on social life in the villages. The establishment of British rule in India meant that every village, however remote, became part of the widest political community then known, viz., the British Empire. This was soon followed by the extension of an economic network which spread over the whole world including India. For instance, the fortunes of the cotton crop in the U. S. A. affected the Indian cotton-grower; the cotton famine and civil war in the U. S. drove home to the British manufacturers in Lancashire the wisdom of having an alternative source of supply of cotton in India. The development of

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cotton as a cash crop affected the peasantry in several parts of the country. It brought money to the villages and tied up the fortunes of peasantry with events happening 5,800 miles away, and over which they had no control. But the prosperity which cotton brought had important effects on the growers. An interesting account of the effects of cotton prosperity in the Wardha Valley during the American Civil War is given by Rivett-Carnac who was Cotton Commissioner of the Central Provinces then. “The cultivator was emancipated during that period from the moneylender and many capital improvements were made, fruit trees planted, wells dug, irrigation developed and housing improved. There was also a general levelling up of the caste hierarchy (though not without struggle) as the lower castes secured enough wealth to take on the costumes and customs of the higher castes. Marriage and other ceremonies became more lavish and ‘silver plough shares and tyres of solid silver for cart wheels made their appearance here and there!. “ RivettCarnac’s observations on the peasants of Wardha Valley in the sixties of the last century hold good to some extent of our peasantry during the boom of the second world war. Mrs. Trent (Manhalli in Mysore) and Shri N. G. Chapekar (Badlapur near Kalyan) both report increased spending on weddings as a result of the war boom. Mrs. Trent also reports better ploughs, fertilizers, etc. Prosperity does not always result in spending on the same items either in the case of individuals or in the case of villages. The inhabitants of Badlapur repair their temple while those of Manhalli would like to spend on personal luxuries and on decorating the walls of their houses. The inhabitants of Kere renovated their temples while the leaders of Rampura invested money in rice and flour mills, buses, shops, and urban housing. When Rivett-Carnac reported that the lower castes secured enough wealth to take on the customs and costumes of the higher castes, he highlighted a widespread and important process. When a caste becomes prosperous, it tries to stake a claim to being a higher caste. This claim is usually preceded by attempts to alter diet, dress, customs and rituals. An expanding economy brings money to more groups and occasionally to groups very low in the caste hierarchy. When the latter sanskritise, considerable disturbance occurs in the traditional social system. The politico-economic forces set in motion by British rule brought about greater mobility in the caste system.

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I shall now consider the changes which are occurring in a few villages. The first example will be in much greater detail than the rest. Mrs. T. S. Trent of Manchester University is about to complete a study of economic and social changes in Manhalli, a village about 5 miles from the sugar factory town of Bella. The factory was started in 1933 by the Government of Mysore following the construction of the Viswesvarayya canal fed by the reservoir Krishnarajasagara about nine miles from Mysore City. Before canal-irrigation reached Manhalli, only one hundred acres of arable land were irrigable and the rest depended on the monsoon rains. The former were irrigated somewhat unsatisfactorily from a tank. Paddy was grown on irrigated land, and ragi and jowar on rainfed land. A certain amount of sericulture provided cash to a few peasants. Canal-irrigation increased both the extent of cultivable area and productivity per acre. The cultivable area increased by about 23% and there is scope for further expansion. While only 12% of arable land was irrigable before 1939, 76% is irrigable at present. Sugarcane was a new crop to Manhalli and its cultivation brought many new and difficult problems. It is an 18-month crop, requiring the acquisition of new and complicated techniques, and needing investment of more capital. It requires iron ploughs, sturdier bullocks and fertilisers, and the cultivator’s family has to be supported during the long period between sowing and selling the cane to the factory. Before irrigation, the price of land varied between Rs. 100–300 per acre whereas in 1955, an acre of dry land fetched between Rs. 300– 700, and an acre of wet land between 1000–2000. Irrigation thus more than trebled land values, but in the first few years many of the smaller landowners sold a part of their land to raise the money to bring the rest under cultivation. Even then cane cultivation would have been confined to a few only, if the factory had not shouldered the burden of economic development. Its success clearly demonstrates the crucial role which extra-village agencies play in stimulating industrialization and urbanization of rural areas. The factory advanced sums of money to peasants at 6% interest to cover cultivation and harvesting costs. It sent round trained fieldsmen to teach peasants how to grow sugar-cane. It also assured the cultivator of a buyer and a fixed price. The factory field-supervisors estimated the crop per acre and the cultivators could supply cane to the factory up to

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the amount at a fixed price per ton. This, incidentally encouraged the formal partition of joint families, as the factory bought not on the basis of the amount of land cultivated by a family but on the basis of so much cane from each family. Mrs. Trent says that nowadays it is common for families to break up after the birth of the first child. The factory was also responsible for improving the roads along which the peasants carted their cane. It realized early the need for a good network of roads and provided the money necessary for building and maintaining them. The improvement of roads has in turn popularized buses and cycles. The factory also started a few farms of its own in the neighbourhood, and one such farm is situated in Manhalli. It extends over 130 acres. The land was formerly classified as ‘government waste.’ The farm employs some men from Manhalli who are given a regular cash wage higher than that obtaining in private farms in Manhalli. The farm workers also get a bonus, a cost-of-living allowance, and also the benefits of the factory’s welfare services, co-operative retail factory, and a savings’ bank scheme. Before canal-irrigation came in, all agricultural labour was paid for in grain—the quantity was fixed and did not vary with the changing price of crop. Even now labour on paddy-fields is paid in paddy. The traditional village servants are also paid in grain but these payments have assumed the character of gifts as the demand for the traditional services is fitful and not serious. This is seen in the fact that only one out of four potters does pottery work and that too as a part time occupation. The washerman and barber have agriculture as a secondary occupation. The  barber in Bella town is preferred to the village barber, and soap enables the housewife to wash the family’s clothes herself. The laundry at Bella is also patronised. The workers in cane-fields are, however, paid cash. And the role of cash is increasing—carts, bullocks and ploughs are hired for cash nowadays. Monetisation has also encouraged local retail trade-five small shops serve Manhalli, and their main trade is in beedis, cigarettes, sweets, fruit and groundnuts. Two coffee shops have also been started in the village. Bella is visited frequently for shopping and cinemas. Incidentally, in 1931 Bella was a town with a population of 5,958, whereas in 1951, the population was 21,158. The sugar factory employed over 1000 people. Its importance increased further when Bella was made the capital of a new district. An intermediate college was also started in

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the forties. Trade and transport converged in Bella. Its weekly fair grew in size while the weekly fairs of neighbouring villages either declined, or remained stationary. Canal-irrigation brought with it severe malaria which resulted in high infant mortality. Manhalli’s population rose from 623 in 1931 to only 689 in 1941, but in 1951 it was 949. The increase in the second period was in great part due to the success which attended the efforts of the malaria control board which was established by the Govt. of Mysore in 1946. According to Mrs. Trent, at the present rate of population increase, the prosperity induced by agriculture will be short-lived unless there is emigration or further industrialization. Manhalli in this respect reflects a national problem. Famine control and prevention and the adoption of public health measures by the State have resulted in a great increase of population, and consequently, pressure on land. The fact that occupational specialization of caste does not prohibit every caste from taking to agriculture as a subsidiary occupation and the ties of caste and extended kinship have augmented the pressure. Here is a problem which it is beyond the village society’s resources to solve—customs ordain early marriage, abortion is both risky as well as immoral, infanticide is a crime, emigration is difficult if not impossible, and knowledge of birth control is absent. Thus the larger society creates problems for the village which the latter is unable to solve with the existing knowledge and resources. An important point which emerges from Dr. A. R. Beals’s study of Namhalli, a village near Bangalore, is that it is increasing participation in the monetised national or international economy which effectively draws the village community into the ambit of the larger society—mere legislative measures undertaken by the larger society are not as effective. Thus it was the requirement, under the Ryotwari Settlement of 1886, to pay land tax in cash which resulted in the reversal of most village land to the State which in turn enabled the latter to raise its share from one third of the harvest to half. It was the need to pay tax in cash which forced the villagers to sell some of their produce to urban tradesmen. Finally, the inflations brought about by the two world wars effectively made Namhalli economy and social system a part of the larger society. During the first world war and for a few years after it, cash crops such as bananas, potatoes and peanuts received greater emphasis. The villagers’ wants changed as a result of urban contact—they wanted

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mill-made cloth and factory tiles. Some of their cash was spent on urban coffee-shops and theatres and cinemas. After 1920, there was a greater recourse to urban law courts—more education, more contact with urban life, and the need to express land ownership in British Indian legal terms were responsible. This gradually eroded the authority of the village panchayat, which suffered a severe blow when all but one member perished in the great ‘flu’ epidemic of 1919. A further fact was the gradual diminution in the size of the family unit which made it necessary for more families to be represented on the panchayat than before. Small families also meant that less capital and manpower were available for agriculture which resulted in inefficiency. The second world war brought prosperity to Namhalli. Bangalore was a big supply base and many men of Namhalli found jobs as clerks and factory workers. Black-marketing and prostitution also brought in money. Namhalli farmers started growing carrots, beets, etc., for the troops. The sudden prosperity resulted in improved agricultural implements and livestock, in the building of new houses, in giving higher education to children, in buying cycles, wearing suits, paying doctors’ bills, betting on horses, etc. But the boom of the war years ended and the clerks and workers lost their jobs, and the price of foodstuffs and  vegetables came down sharply. Meanwhile the population had increased, and with it, unemployment. Rampura, the village in Mysore District which I studied in 1948 and again in the summer of 1952, is a roadside village and the second world war brought prosperity to it. The leaders, besides being rich, are men of considerable intelligence. Early in 1948 the leaders submitted a petition to a visiting minister requesting the loan of bulldozers and tractors, and asking for electricity. In 1952 a bulldozer was levelling the headman’s land, and by 1955 the village had been electrified. There was a radio in the headman’s house and the two rice mills which had been started in 1950–51 were working with electric power. The profits and savings of the war years had been invested in productive and modern ways. In 1950–51 headman started two profitable bus lines, and built a few houses in Bella town for renting; Patron II opened a grocery and cloth shop during the war and bought a small Japanese rice mill in 1951, while Patron III started a big rice mill. Patrons II and III belong to the same lineage and while in 1948 it looked as though the lineage of Patron  II would force him to withdraw his support to the headman

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(Patron I), in 1952 the younger members of the joint families of Patrons II and III were openly giving expression to their dislike of each other. The headman was supporting both. The leaders of Rampura are peasants by caste and but for the second world war would have remained rural landlords. Their surplus income would have been invested in land, houses and jewellery. But the second world war brought a considerable amount of cash to them and also changed their outlook. Increased contact with the city, higher education of their sons and the considerable amount of surplus cash placed in their hands by the war were responsible for the change. They have now become incipient capitalists with one foot in the village and another in the city. They are getting the benefit of participation in both types of economy and social system. Their further development as capitalists is dependent upon State policy—not only policy of Mysore State, but even more important, the policy of the Government of India. Kumbapettai in Tanjore District was studied by Dr. Kathleen Gough in 1951–52. The village is typical of Tanjore District where the Brahmins have economic power in addition to their position as heads of the caste hierarchy. In the rural areas they are landowners and the other castes are dependent upon them. Symbols of authority and respect have been highly developed. In recent years considerable immigration has taken place into Tanjore District from neighbouring and less fertile areas. As a result there is today a large body of landless labourers and poorer tenants in Tanjore District, and legislative action in favour of the latter on the part of Madras Government has not fully solved the problem. Besides, there has been some amount of migration of the Brahmins to the towns, and their authority is being increasingly questioned by the lower castes. The Non-Brahmins refuse to show the same respect which they showed before, and inter-caste eating and drinking taboos are weakening somewhat. One very important development is the success which communist propaganda is having among the untouchables and castes slightly higher. Communism seems to be particularly strong among the lower castes in east Tanjore. One last point about urbanization, and it is true of South India with the probable exception of Kerala. Urbanization in South India has a caste component—the Brahmin caste led the others in deserting the ancestral villages for the towns. They were the first to sense the advantages of

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Western education, and the sons of those who left the villages became the first teachers, officials, lawyers, doctors and judges. Their position in the social system was strategic—in the rural areas they constituted the religious and landed aristocracy, and in urban areas they had a near monopoly of all the higher posts. Most of these Brahmins retained their ancestral land if they did not add to it. Gradually however, the expenses of higher education, dowry system, costly weddings and funerals, made it necessary for them to lose their pied-a-terre. The virtual monopoly which the Brahmins had of the important posts and the British policy of preference to the Non-Brahmin and Backward Castes soon led to a popular anti-Brahmin movement. As a result, the Brahmin is nowadays being kept out of government service. Castewise allotment of seats in educational institution is common. The unemployment of the thirties and the second world war resulted in phenomenal occupational and spatial mobility for the Brahmins. They entered business at all levels and the defence services in all capacities. The Westernization of the Brahmins proceeded fast. The educated Non-Brahmin who borrowed Brahmanical ways found that the Brahmin was very busy discarding what the others were busy acquiring. Both the processes, the Sanskritization of the Non-Brahmin castes and the Westernization of the Brahmins is proceeding apace today.

3 Modernization and the Urban-Rural Gap in India: An Analysis N.R. Sheth

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n this paper1 it is intended to review some of the literature on the social, political and economic gulf dividing urban and rural communities in India. Especially, I shall try to summarize the information relevant to answering questions such as: What is the relative impact of modernization in India on rural and urban communities? Does it widen the gap between the two? If it does, how far can the gap be filled? What steps are being taken by the Government and others in this direction?

I To most people, it may sound platitudinous to state that India is steadily modernizing. Indians seem to hold innumerable ideas on the form, content and acceptability of modernization. There is, however, likely to be a general agreement among social scientists to view modernization as the complex process of social, economic and political change taking place in India as a result of contact with the West. Srinivas (1966: 50–52), for instance, uses the term modernization as virtually synonymous with Westernization and argues that it has affected traditional Indian society at four levels, namely, technology, institutions, ideology, and values. From

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this point of view, a society or its part can be regarded as modernized to the extent that it imbibes the following features commonly attributed to the Western societies: (a) the system of production is based on the modern machine technology, (b) the system of social stratification emphasizes individual achievement of status rather than ascription of status by birth, (c) the political organization is democratic and stresses the ideals of equality and social justice, and (d) a secular and scientific outlook is developed by its members. During the British rule, these characteristics were foreign to Indian society and those sections of the population who imbibed them were in the process of borrowing social qualities from other cultures. Since Independence, however, some important Western institutions, values and ideology (such as a democratic political structure and acceptance of equality as the basis of social order) have become integral parts of Indian social structure. In reality, on the other hand, modernization in India has not yet gone very far. To a large extent, India is still ‘traditional’ in as much as the Western institutions and values are limited to the Indian Constitution and the behaviour-patterns of the elite classes. Nearly 82 per cent of India’s population lives in villages and most of them are far removed from the basic urban facilities such as electricity and modern means of transport and recreation, as well as from the institutions and values of the West. About 28 per cent of the people cannot read or write and are hardly aware of what is happening outside their local group. Over 69 per cent of the country’s population is still peasant, and the bulk of this population uses old and simple farm equipment. The ideals of an egalitarian society have not yet reached very far; one often hears of the exploitation and humiliation of lower castes and “untouchables” by their wealthy, highcaste brethren. Facts of this kind have induced the picture of contrast frequently portrayed in scholarly treatises and public discussions about India. The proverbial coexistence of the Boeing and the bullock-cart and the functioning of an atomic reactor in an environment of cowdung fire are hard facts about modern India. It is not uncommon to hear arguments to the effect that modernization in India is skin-deep. Various historical and cultural factors can be mentioned to explain this. For one thing, although the process of Westernization began several decades ago, the erstwhile British rulers made a piecemeal approach to social change for various reasons. The concept of planning for India as a whole became

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effective only after Independence. Hence the impact of modernization remained uneven for a long time after it began. Secondly, the illiteracy and poverty existing among the masses in this country acted as barriers to modernization, as the forces of modern Western culture travelled mainly on the tracks of education and wealth. Thirdly, many of those who were modernized changed only some facets of their social life (food habits, material culture, educational achievement, etc.) but retained their traditional values and outlook on life. The difference between the modern and the traditional in India can be perceived at various levels. Some administrative and cultural regions are more modernized than others. Generally speaking, the rich are more modernized than the poor. Higher castes have a modernizing edge over lower castes and tribal groups. The educated are more fortunate than their non-educated brethren in enjoying the benefits of modernization. In the same vein, the urban population is considered to be far ahead of rural people in the ability to modernize. Townsmen are likely to be in more direct contact with modern technology, Western culture and amenities and the democratic political framework than villagers are. Moreover, urbanites are regarded as much more adaptable to changing values and ideologies than the ruralites who are often believed to be obsessed by their traditionalism and hence to resist change. On this assumption, the existing gap between urban and rural communities is likely to increase. There is considerable awareness among intellectuals and political leaders about the gulf dividing towns and villages in India and, as we shall see later, earnest efforts are made to bridge the gulf. However, it appears that both our understanding of the problem as well as the measures to solve it are far from adequate. Most Indian school children write essays on the relative merits of city and country, but scientific literature on the comparative social, economic and political structure of our towns and villages is depressingly poor. As Hoselitz (1962a) has shown, the problems of urbanism and urban growth failed to attract social scientists for a long time after social sciences emerged in India. Urban studies are quite fashionable now, but most of the work done in the field is demographic or in the style of the socio-economic survey. Some work has been done on specific urban areas, but here also the emphasis is on diagnosis of problems of urban life, such as housing, beggary and disease. Very little attention has been paid to urban social structure in relation to

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the social structure of rural areas, although one may find stray references to this question in different studies. The conceptual framework of urban-rural differences in India and South East Asia was discussed at a Seminar convened in 1962 by UNESCO (1964). Some aspects of urban-rural differences are found in Acharya (1956), Rao (1962 and 1966), Mukherjee (1965), Srinivas (1959 and 1965), Sovani (1966) and Redfield and Singer (1954). Besides, some tangible problems of urban-rural differences and their implications for the country’s development were discussed within policy framework by various contributors to a seminar held at Berkely (see Turner 1962). The National Sample Survey of India (1959, 1962 as well as several other Reports) has also studied some aspects of economic differences between urban and rural areas. However, all these studies, taken together with the information available in census and other official reports, cover only a small part of the total picture of urban-rural relationships obtaining in the country. The first main problem one faces in a discussion of urban-rural differences is where to draw the line between urban and rural. The most convenient way to do this is to define urban and rural primarily in terms of population size and density. Then there is the concept of urbanism as a way of life (Wirth 1938), according to which any local community which shows predominance of non-agricultural economy and acceptance of certain standards and value patterns of social life is regarded as urban. Until 1951 the Indian census authorities applied mainly the criterion of size. For the most part, a local group with a population of 5000 or more was classed as urban. In 1961, however, the Census of India arrived at a more complex definition. A place was classed as a town if it met three conditions: (i) its population was more than 5000, (ii) the density of population was not less than about 400 per sq. kilometer, and (iii) not less than 75 per cent of the adult male population was engaged in nonagricultural activities. The third condition is clearly a departure from the purely physical definition of ‘urban’ towards “urbanism as a way of life.” Another difficulty in distinguishing urban areas from rural is that there is great internal variation within both urban and rural categories. Metropolises such as Bombay and Calcutta, big cities like Ahmedabad and Kanpur, small cities like Bhopal and Jaipur, large towns, small towns,—all these show different characteristics of social and economic structure, and differ considerably in their role in their respective hinterlands. Similarly, large villages in close proximity to urban areas are

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different from small and remote villages. The Census, the National Sample Survey and social scientists have divided towns and villages into different size-classes to suit their convenience. It is not possible here to go into the details of these classifications, but we must remember that if an analysis of urban-rural differences is to be useful, one must keep in view the conceptual continuum implied in the terms rural and urban. Moreover, urban areas and rural areas are not uniformly urban and rural. There are pockets of rural population within a metropolis such as Delhi or Calcutta; on the other hand, some Indian villages contain sectors with urban characteristics. I will return to this point later. In the present context, however, we shall discuss urban and rural mainly in terms of concentration of population, as our emphasis here is on the social, economic and political role of urban agglomerations rather than on the degree of urbanism.

II While dealing with the role of urban agglomerations in India one cannot neglect the fact that this country has a complex and highly developed cultural tradition which dates back to many centuries. As urban communities have been a part of this tradition, it will be useful to review briefly the historical background of urban-rural differences in India. City life in India is traced back by historians to the Indus Valley Civilization nearly 4000 years ago. However, the earliest significant towns can be said to have emerged only after the Aryans settled down in the country. These early towns were either cultural or political centres. These towns represented, according to the typology suggested by Redfield and Singer (1954: 55ff ), the primary phase of urban development. That is, they acted as torch-bearers of contemporary Hindu civilization to the outside world. The cultural role played by such towns is described by Red-field and Singer as orthogenetic. The second important phase of urban growth in India began with the Muslim invasion of the country. The Muslims, particularly the Mughals, brought with them a distinct tradition of empire-building, leisure, art, and architecture. As a result, great cities like Agra, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Delhi and Lahore grew up. Apart from that, India’s trade and commerce with other countries were steadily growing and gave rise to urban centres like Surat and Cochin which became clearing-houses

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for exchange of goods between inland India and the outside world. Some of these towns also specialized in specific industrial activities. In terms of the Redfield-Singer typology, these political-administrative and commercial-industrial towns indicated a trend towards the secondary phase of urbanization, which is a result of contact between “people and widely different cultures.” Such towns played a heterogenetic role, as they created “original modes of thought . . . (having) . . . authority beyond or in conflict with (the old culture and civilization)” (1954: 58). The distinction between orthogenetie and heterogenetic towns is mainly a conceptual distinction and one may find it difficult to establish a town as purely ‘orthogenetic’ or ‘heterogenetic’ at any point in history. Nevertheless, we can easily describe the history of urban centres in terms of a progressive expansion of their contacts with the outside world, that is, in terms of increasing social and cultural heterogeneity. Not much is known about the differences in the social, economic and political structures between these medieval urban communities and the rural areas which surrounded them. However, the available historical material suggests that there were significant differences between the two, (see, for instance, Moreland 1962, and the sources examined by Srinivas and Shah 1960). Unlike the overwhelmingly peasant population in rural areas, the urban population included civil and military hierarchies, courtesans, merchant communities, professional classes, artisans, craftsmen, domestic servants and slaves. A crude factory system prevailed in urban industry, and exchange of goods and services was considerably governed by money rather than barter. The level of education in urban areas was fairly higher than in villages, and towns were regarded as the abode of the elite in society. This medieval urban spectrum began changing soon after the impact of Pax Britannica. One of the first effects of British arrival in India was that new cities and towns emerged to provide for the British needs in respect of business, habitation, and leisure- Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras are some of the towns owing their modern urban origin to the commercial and administrative undertakings of the British in India. The British also set in motion a progressive expansion of commerce and industry within the Indian economy. The result was the establishment of urban centres specializing in modern industry and trade, such as Ahmedabad and Kanpur. On the other hand, the expansion of British interests in India touched the old urban centres and made them

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progressively heterogenetic by introducing into them elements of new business and industry. Moreover, in the wake of long-drawn struggles for political power between the British and scores of Indian princes and empire-seekers, a large part of the country was parcelled out among the latter. These native rulers were highly impressed by the culture and administration of their British overlords and hence developed urban settlements like those put up by the latter. In consequence, modernized capital towns such as Mysore, Baroda, Jaipur, Hyderabad and Gwalior emerged on the Indian scene. The British brought with them a complex of culture and values which were substantially different from the status-oriented, rigid value system of traditional India. They brought in a revolution in communication with the help of the printing press. Knowledge, which was so far the privilege of a few, started proliferating among the wider population. The result was that the humanitarian and secular ideals of the West gradually spread among Indians who received Western education. Many educated Indians started reinterpreting Hindu religion, and social and religious reform movements were engineered by persons like Ram Mohan Roy, Ranade and Tilak. As modern education was by and large confined to urban areas, the Western cultural values and modernization were largely monopolized by town-dwellers. There arose a new cultural cleavage between urban and rural areas. The new economic system of commerce and industry, the new learning and the new cultural ideas and ideologies were the hall-marks of towns. Villages symbolized all that was traditional—peasant economy, rigid stratification, ignorance, superstition, etc.

III The above discussion assumes a clear-cut dichotomy between urban and rural communities and an absence of interaction between them. The assumption, however, is not altogether valid. While the base of the British was in towns, they were not completely oblivious to villages. In fact, the new rulers were concerned about the woes suffered by villagers on account of lack of communication, extreme poverty and disease, exploitation by landlords, and “inhuman” caste-norms. The first step they took to solve this rural problem was to survey land and settle revenue. They also tried to establish order by codifying law and developing

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well-structured army and police forces. To some extent, they also improved the means of transport and communication between villages and towns. The frontiers of British culture and administration thus touched village boundaries. As communication improved, sections of villagers developed contacts with towns and thus with modern Western values. Villages started urbanizing. At the same time, population was steadily growing and pressure on land was progressively increasing. This situation was aggravated by frequent famines and scarcity. Hence, at some stage or other, Indian villagers looked to towns and cities which were in need of manpower for their commercial and industrial enterprises. Once this movement started, it acquired a momentum of its own as people were attracted to the opportunities and amenities available in towns. The push from villages was reinforced by the pull of the towns and a continual movement arose between rural and urban areas. The urban satellites of village families came in contact with different elements of modernization, such as food habits, dress, modern medicine and secular ideas, and some of these were transmitted to the villages. The socio-economic gulf dividing towns and villages at the beginning of this century did not fail to attract the attention of the leaders of the nationalist movement. Gandhi, for instance, examined the effect of British rule and culture on Indian society and came to the conclusion that the new process set in motion by alien rule modernized cities and towns at the cost of villages. With his distinctive ideals of morality and equality and tendency to take up the cause of the underdog, Gandhi came to consider most elements of modernity as undesirable for India. He advocated maximum social, economic and political decentralization and looked upon the small village community as the focal point of the social reconstruction programme. This approach to bridging the urban-rural gulf attracted many followers in the beginning. However, when Independence came in 1947, the political leaders in authority found Gandhian ideals one-sided and impractical and began to think of social change and economic development in the world context. No doubt they were concerned about the cultural and economic lag suffered by villages in relation to towns, but they wanted to balance village uplift with other aspects of social change in relation to the socio-economic development of the whole country. Of course, there is even today a strain of political thinking which favours the view that social and economic reforms in India should predominantly be

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village-based. But concrete programmes are designed to meet the needs of both urban and rural development.

IV The coming of Independence introduced not only acceleration in the process of modernization but also qualitative change in it. The merger of princely states into the Union of India implied that there would be a uniform political structure and organization for the country. The ideals of liberty, equality and justice incorporated in the Indian Constitution paved the way for comprehensive attempts to reduce existing inequalities of status, power and wealth, and created a framework suitable for changing the society in the direction of an achievement-oriented, rationalistic social order. The introduction of adult franchise and parliamentary democracy provided a powerful means of political modernization and education for the masses. Concurrently, a programme for the economic and social development was undertaken by the Government within the framework of the five-year plans. This new process has considerably influenced the structure and function of urban agglomerations in India. Growth in commerce and industry is a vital aspect of planning for economic development, and Indian planners have stressed this considerably. Thus expansion of existing commercial and industrial enterprises and the development of new industries of all kinds have been emphasized in successive five-year plans as a continuous process. Industry and commerce have largely been concentrated in urban areas due to the various facilities available in them and this trend continues in respect of growth. Industrial development has thus implied growth of existing towns and cities. Besides the natural increase of population, the urban areas have progressively attracted more migrants from nearby and distant areas. Secondly, new cities and towns have emerged since Independence as centres of administration (Chandigarh, Bhubaneshwar) or industry (Durgapur, Bhilai, Rourkela). A pace has thus been set for the growth of urban areas and urban population in India. The percentage of urban population to total population has increased from 10.84 in 1901 to 17.97 in 1961. The growth of cities and large towns has been generally higher than that of small ones. Between 1901 and 1951 while the total urban population increased by 58.94 per cent, the population in towns of 20,000 or more rose by

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Table 1 Index of Growth of Population in Towns

Year

More Total Than 50,000– 20,000– 10,000– Urban Population 100,000 100,000 50,000 20,000

5,000– 10,000

Less Than 5,000

1901

100.00

100.00

100.00

100.00

100.00

100.00

100.00

1911

100.35

107.68

83.86

111.56

92.07

98.17

111.09

1921

108.64

120.61

107.02

116.62

92.29

102.14

128.04

1931

129.41

143.48

140.93

150.82

112.29

112.97

117.30

1941

170.79

246.96

194.24

183.90

131.88

131.68

95.63

1951

241.55

416.87

258.64

253.62

160.40

159.61

126.40

1961

305.34

617.04

323.26

359.36

193.26

118.97

53.94

Base: 1901–100. Source: Srinivas 1965: 27.

111.94 per cent. Table 1 shows the indices of growth of urban population in the different size-classes, taking figures for 1901 as 100. However, it has been the contention of social scientists that urbanization in India has proceeded at a very slow rate in comparison with the pace of urbanization at similar stages in the West. This phenomenon has been explained in terms of sluggish economic growth. Even so, demographers such as Davis have expressed the fear that urban concentration of population will soon be heavily disproportionate to economic development. Davis (1962: 8–9) has worked out by logistic and historical extrapolations that in the year 2000 A.D. at least 21.2 per cent and perhaps 50 per cent of the population will be in places of 100,000 or more. The estimate of percentage for towns of 20,000 or more in the same year varies from 30.8 to 52. Whatever the validity of demographic extrapolations and international comparisons, it appears certain that urban agglomerations in India are steadily expanding and the process will continue for a long time to come. Also, large towns and cities are likely to be the fashion in urban growth during the coming years. What socio-cultural types of urban agglomerations can be called characteristic of modern India? It has been argued earlier that as a result of the British rule the orthogenetic town tended to be replaced by the heterogenetic. In Sjoberg’s (1960: 14) typology, this would mean that the trend is from the pre-industrial to the industrial town whose main

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features are “secularization, voluntary associations, segmented social roles and poorly defined norms.” It is not possible here to enter into the validity of Sjoberg’s analysis of urban history. We must only remember that insofar as Indian towns are industrializing, they are bound to take on some attributes of the industrial urban way of life (see Wirth 1938). On the other hand, Marriott (1954) has argued that the Indian city will be commercial rather than industrial for a long time and that while it will be achievement-oriented it will stress particularism in social relationships. One may infer that Indian towns will remain at the preindustrial cultural level for some time. However, in the absence of adequate concrete data, the extent to which Indian towns possess the “urban way of life” is anybody’s guess.

V To what extent do urban and rural areas differ in receiving the benefits of modernization? The discussion of this question will have to be general and cursory due to the inadequacy of available data. In an important sense, the disparity between villages and towns flows from the fact that the former have a predominantly agricultural economy unlike the latter. There is a considerably higher degree of organization involved in commercial and industrial activities than in agriculture. The exigencies of commercial and industrial work necessitates certain minimum standards of transport, communication, literacy, organized recreation, etc. Hence many villages lack certain facilities which are readily available in towns, such as electricity, hygienic water supply, and medical care. Secondly, the local administrations in towns and cities are economically and organizationally much more viable than their rural counterparts. Due to this, it is possible for townsmen to secure certain special benefits which villagers cannot get. For instance, many important towns have implemented schemes to procure a regular supply of milk. Urban dairies buy most of the milk available in the surrounding rural areas and distribute it among town-dwellers. The result is that there is little or no milk available to villagers themselves. Similarly, when an overall deficit of food supply was felt in India, the Government introduced statutory rationing in large cities so that the population there would not have to suffer much hardship. However, villagers were virtually left alone in this respect and this led to an imbalance of food supply between urban and rural areas. Other facilities such as higher

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education and proximity to government offices are also more easily available to town-dwellers than to rural folk. The census data as well as studies by the National Sample Survey indicate some urban-rural differences in age and sex composition. In short, the proportion of adult males of working age is higher in towns than in villages (see National Sample Survey 1959: 38). This fact is ascribed to adult males migrating to urban centres, leaving their wives and children behind in villages. Migration from rural to urban areas may have important effects on rural society in the long run. It may deprive villagers of human resources and thus impoverish them further. However, one argument is that migration of people from villages is a healthy sign as it may encourage modernization of agriculture in the absence of adequate manpower. We 60 not have sufficient information on what is happening in Indian villages in this regard. In her study of the role of a city on its surroundings, Acharya (1956) describes how the city draws out not only people but also money and rents from the villages. She argues that the trade between a city and its hinterlands is balanced in favour of the former. There is also a higher proportion of upper and middle caste groups among urban populations than in rural areas. It is now well known that many higher and artisan castes in different parts of India traditionally live in towns or cities and some of them emigrate to villages for trade and artisanry. In general, the higher caste groups are economically richer and politically more powerful than lower castes. Their wealth and urban living have given them an advantage over their low-caste neighbours. This means that the urban population has certain basic advantages over rural people. The former have a potential capacity to modernize through their wealth and education, which the ruralites lack. There are highly significant differences of literacy and educational achievements between urban and rural areas. People in the urban areas are much more literate and educated than those in rural areas. Table 2 shows the urbanrural disparity in educational standards. There are different views regarding the size and types of family in urban and rural areas. The census and related data suggest that the size of an average household is smaller in the urban area than in the rural. The implication is that urban families tend towards the Western-type elementary family whereas in rural areas the predominant feature is the joint family. This view has lately been challenged by sociologists. It is now realized that the average size of the household is not at all reliable

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Table 2 Proportion of Population at Different Levels of Education Level of Education

Urban %

Rural %

Illiterate

53.05

80.98

Literate (without education level)

23.49

13.29

Primary or Junior Basic

16.17

5.02

Matriculation and above

7.24

0.69

99.95

99.98

Compiled from Reports on Census of India, 1961.

as an index of the jointness or nuclearity of family. In his recent study of urban-rural relationships, Mukherjee (1965: Ch. 2) did not find significant differences between urban and rural family structures. The ideal of extended family was common to both, and the structure of family overlapped a great deal between them. One contention is that the economic mechanism of business and industry is more conducive to joint family than the vicissitudes of land, and hence the joint family is more common in urban than in rural areas. The information in this regard is however too incomplete to warrant any useful generalization. Economically, the differences between urban and rural communities are obvious. The vast majority of rural population subsists on agriculture and related occupations, whereas in towns and cities industry, commerce and professional pursuits preponderate. In 1961, more than 79 per cent of the total working population in rural areas were engaged in agriculture, whereas the corresponding percentage for urban areas was just over 10. The income and expenditure pattern in urban areas indicates greater financial turnover and orientation to things other than bare necessities than in rural areas. Drawing on information collected by the National Sample Survey, Sovani presents the relative difference in consumer expenditure between urban and rural areas as shown in Table 3. Table 3 suggests that although the difference in expenditure on food is marginal, non-food expenditure varies sharply between the two. While a considerable proportion of non-food expenditure may be incurred on the basic necessities of life such as housing, the above statistics indicate the relative affluence and acceptance of the modern way of life among town-dwellers.

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Table 3 Consumer Expenditure for a Period of 30 Days Item of Expenditure Food Non-food Total

In Rural Areas Rs.

In Urban Areas Rs.

13.54

14.81

7.90

14.91

21.44

29.72

Based on Table 14 in Sovani (1966: 58), which is adapted from a series of statistics available in the National Sample Survey Report No. 16.

In the field of political behaviour, all Indians are constitutionally governed by a uniform democratic set-up. They have equal opportunities to vote and to contest elections, irrespective of their educational or income levels. During elections and otherwise, the various political parties try to cover every corner of the country and hence villagers as well as urban people are exposed to political activity. Unfortunately, there is hardly any systematic information available in this matter. Weiner and Kothari (1965) describe voting behaviour in urban and rural areas, but do not attempt to draw lines of comparison between them. However, it can be stated that townsmen show more political awareness and participation than villagers. This can be explained in terms of better means of communication, higher rates of literacy, relatively greater acceptance of the new political institutions, and the proximity to centres of political activity among urban populations. Moreover, the values, attitudes and beliefs of urban people are considerably different from those of villagers. In schools, colleges, shops, factories, buses and restaurants, urban people are exposed to goods, ideas and ideals that can be called modern. As compared to villagers, they are in closer contact with modern technology and modern way of life. One would then expect that urban people are less inhibited by traditional institutions such as caste and joint family and more open to social and cultural change. Sovani (1960: 78), for instance, argues that caste-control is loose in urban areas and there is more proneness to social change. For instance, he found that urban people were more willing to accept modern family-planning methods than rural folk (p. 76). However, Srinivas (1965) and Redfield and Singer (1954) point out that the bonds of caste are not as loose in town as one may imagine. There is segregation of castes and classes in many urban centres, and hence to some extent the individual is obliged to be under caste control. Similarly,

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Hoselitz (1962 b) has emphasized the contention that values and attitudes in Indian towns are remarkably traditional.

VI The foregoing discussion of urban-rural differences in India is essentially an abstraction. It assumes urban and rural communities as separate entities and neglects the fact that the urban and rural traits are found coexisting in all communities in different degrees. Even a metropolis like Bombay or Delhi has its rural sectors of population (see, for example, Bopegamage 1956) and it is possible to find most rural characteristics among these people. The advantages of urban living mentioned above are not uniformly available to all urban residents and many urbanites live on the borderline of hunger and deprivation. On the other hand, all villagers are not equally aloof of modern and urban society and values. The political leaders at various levels are aware of the urban-rural gap and have been trying hard to bridge it. The Government of India has introduced a comprehensive programme of community development for the economic and social uplift of villages. This programme has brought villagers into contact with the modern methods of farming and of organizing community life. Plans for improving the standards of literacy, housing and sanitation have been undertaken and at least to some extent, executed. Rural electrification and small-scale industry have also been introduced in many parts of Indian rural world. Plans to provide adequate employment to villagers have been undertaken in the context of planning for development. The Government also tries to provide modern means of recreation such as radio and mobile cinema. Health and family planning methods have been propagated in villages through systematic propaganda. Politically, village panchayats (new village councils to manage local affairs) have been instituted in most regions. The councils are popularly elected bodies and are designed to achieve decentralization of power, to enable villagers to control their own affairs and thus to raise the level of political consciousness. Apart from these attempts made at the Government level to fill the rural-urban gap, we must note the important fact that there is a continual interaction between urban and rural areas. As we have seen, a large part of urban people are migrants from rural areas. Many of these migrants keep their families in villages and visit them frequently. In this

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process, they carry some of the urban characteristics and values to the villages. On their part, villagers visit towns and cities in ever increasing number and thus come in contact with various traits of modernity. An urban centre has its hinterland and there is a lot of exchange of goods and values between them. There are definite indications of changes in the consumption patterns of villagers and a tendency among the younger generation to be rational in its relationship with the old. A realistic assessment of urban-rural disparity thus needs to take into account the relative rates of change over a period of time and the interaction between the two types of community at a given point of time. We need to ask: how fast are the towns and villages changing? If the village changes at a faster pace than the town, we can visualize the divergence between them narrowing in course of time. If the converse is true, the gulf may widen inspite of the visible signs of progress in rural areas. It is a pity that we cannot go far beyond guesswork in this regard. From an ideal democratic point of view, whatever gap divides urban and rural areas can be considered dysfunctional to a section of the society and hence undesirable. In this regard, the urban population may appear to be eating away a disproportionately large slice of the national cake. However, we must bear in mind that there is an extent to which urban-rural disparity is inevitable and may even be desirable. It has been argued before that urban areas have certain inherent advantages over villages due to their economic base. Urban areas perform certain special functions for the country which cannot be performed by small village communities. The former have a major share in the total economic development of the country. As Davis and Golden (1954: 23) have argued, the city is functional for greater accumulation of capital and forces innovation. Secondly, urban areas are instrumental in projecting the image of the Indian society in relation to the outside world. The urban elites act as links between the community they live in and the outsiders. Also, urban areas act as carriers of modernity to their hinterland. These and others are valid functions performed by the urban agglomerations for the country and the special advantages flowing from these functions have to be conceded as desirable and essential. This kind of gulf between urban and rural is bound to exist in every society. Insofar as an urban community performs functions such as those just mentioned, it can be called generative, following Hoselitz (1955: 278), as its impact on economic growth of a region or the country is favourable. On the other hand, a town or village may exert the opposite

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influence on its surroundings. It may depend on its hinterland without giving much in return. In that case Hoselitz would call it parasitic. Acharya (1956), for example, has sought to depict Nasik as a parasitic town. But perhaps an apparently parasitic town performs certain important functions which may not lend themselves to sheer economic analysis. A religious or educational centre may be an expensive phenomenon from the viewpoint of the country’s resources but nevertheless functional. Most towns are likely to be performing partly generative and partly parasitic functions (see Hauser 1957) and the net effect may not be easily determined. As Tangri (1962) points out, the contribution of a town to economic development cannot be properly worked out without considering the socioeconomic costs of alienation and anomie prevalent in it. Social scientists will indeed make a distinct contribution to the growth of the Indian society if they follow this suggestion and strive at working out the inputs and outputs in respect of urban areas within a composite socio-economic framework. While it is clear that most social phenomena are not reducible to monetary measures, efforts in this direction may yield valuable results in the long run. This is not to argue that urban-rural differences cannot or should not be ironed out, Looking at the gulf from the angle of the rural community, there is no doubt that villages are in many respects in positions of disadvantage; hence the goal should always be to minimize the disadvantage as far as one can. The multidimensional programme of social, economic and political development of the village community undertaken by the Indian Government is no doubt a step in the right direction. The successive fiveyear plans have stressed the need for overall development of the Indian village, and this is bound to go a long way in narrowing the urban-rural gap. However, at the present stage there are many problems involved in making these programmes successful. As Rao (1962) suggests, economic growth is only the beginning of the story. Before economic change can be successfully generated, it has to cross the hurdles of social tradition. At many places in India, programmes such as family planning and mechanization of farming have run into bad weather due to opposition from villagers who are controlled by traditional values and prejudices. On the other hand, most leaders and officers are urban-bred and they do not have adequate knowledge or proper attitudes to engineer change in a custom-bound society. Moreover, professional people and experts such as engineers, doctors and teachers are mostly urban-oriented and refuse to serve in villages. One often hears about innumerable rural schools and

MODERNIZATION AND THE URBAN-RURAL GAP IN INDIA

47

dispensaries without manpower while potential teachers and physicians starve in towns. If this dismal imbalance is corrected, it can contribute a lot to the achievement of desirable proportions in the development of urban and rural communities. This gulf of attitudes and prejudices between the villager and the urban elite cannot be bridged easily and quickly. It is difficult to say what the best method to solve this problem is. But one of the most effective tools appears to be the right kind of education. Programmes of mass literacy and compulsory rural service for university students are under way. These are valuable, but the whole approach to education needs to be geared to bringing about changes in unhelpful attitudes. Many people think that the urban-rural gap is largely due to the fact of centralization of commerce and industry. On the one hand, expanding industrial centres face problems of many sorts—accommodation, water, power, sanitation. On the other, rural areas are deprived of the chance to develop. The remedy then lies in decentralization. This is a forceful argument, but it must be examined in the overall perspective of a poor and developing economy. Starting new industrial centres implies enormous investment of money and there is not likely to be any return for years together. On the contrary, if industry, is developed in already existing industrial centres, it involves minimum over-heads and yields quick results. It is argued that this is necessary for a remarkably poor economy like India’s. Chaudhuri (1962) examines in detail arguments for and against decentralization and concludes that decentralization is diseconomic. It means sluggishness and low productivity. He advocates increase in agricultural productivity and rural economic development without decentralization. However, others say that we must think more and more in terms of long-term social and economic goals and hence must  not be shy of making investments not yielding quick results. A  middle-of-the-road suggestion is that maximum emphasis be placed on  agriculture-based industry and on optimum commercialization of agriculture. In this connection, it may be mentioned that in some regions, such as Punjab, there are visible signs of economic prosperity and modernization as a result of the peasants’ quick acceptance of modern farming methods and equipment. At present, planning is done separately for the urban and rural levels as the two have their distinctive problems. To a degree, this is unavoidable. However, it is necessary to plan for development of urban and rural areas in an integrated way. As Redfield and Singer (1954: 58) put it,

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rural-urban integration depends on the mutuality of interests or what they call a “symbiotic” relation between them. The urban area should provide a service centre to the region around it and the latter in turn should act as a “food-basket” for the former. Moreover, planning at one level should be in relation to the problems faced at both levels. For instance, when rural planning is done, the question of attitude of officers and experts such as doctors and engineers should be incorporated in it. Similarly, urban planning should be based on migration and population movement estimates. We hardly know anything about who the potential migrants to our urban areas are and what their needs are. If our aim is integrated growth, we must find out some way of forecasting and controlling the various types of migration. At the political level, the modern democratic machinery and village panchayats are of great value to educate the masses. Unfortunately, politics at the village level is still often based on caste and village factions, but the existence of an alternative political structure is valuable in itself and can eventually introduce change in the traditional set-up. In the final analysis, there may not be much disagreement about the goals pursued by India in respect of urban-rural differences. In a nutshell, the goal is to remove the barriers that divide urban communities. However, there is much scope of difference on means. The economic, political and social inequalities between urban and rural areas should be minimized. But to do this one needs unlimited resources, both material and human. In fact, resources are limited. Which then is better: to go on making investments in existing urban areas for immediate economic growth or to focus on removing rural backwardness in the interest of prosperty? Does one think of the future and make investments without much reference to immediate needs or does one invest wisely and hope  that the stage will soon come when it will be possible to invest on long-term socioeconomic ends more easily? Obviously, the art lies in balancing the two. At this stage the issues become naive to the sociologist and radiate into the boundaries of other social sciences and practical affairs.

Note 1. This is a revised version of a working paper submitted for the 34th Study Session of the International Institute of Differing Civilizations, held at Aixeo-Provence, France, in September 1967. I wish to record my gratitude to the Institute for granting special

MODERNIZATION AND THE URBAN-RURAL GAP IN INDIA

49

permission to publish the paper in India. I am grateful to Professors M.S.A. Rao and A.M. Shah for their comments, thanks are due also to Messrs S.P. Jain and J.S. Gandhi and Miss Suman Rajpal for their help in collecting the source material for the paper.

References Acharya, H. 1956 Urbanising Role of a One-Lakh City. Sociological Bulletin, 5:89–101. Bopegamage, A. 1956 Village within a Metropolitan Aura. Sociological Bulletin, 5:102–110. Chaudhuri, Sachin. 1962 Centralisation and the Alternate Forms of Decentralisation. In Turner (1962). Davis, K. and H.H. Golden. 1954 Urbanisation and the Development of Pre-Industrial Areas. Economic Development and Cultural Change, III (1). Davis, K. 1962 Urbanisation in India: Past and Future. In Turner (1962). Hauser, P.M. (ed.) 1957 Urbanisation in Asia and the Far East. Calcutta, UNESCO. Hoselitz, B.F. 1955 Generative and Parasitic Cities. Economic Development and Cultural Change, III (3): 278–294. ———. 1962a A Survey of the Literature on Urbanisation in India. In Turner (1962). ———. 1962b The Role of Urbanisation in Economic Development: Some International Comparisons. In Turner (1962). Marriott, McKim. 1954 Some Comments on W.L. Kolb’s “The Structure and Function of Cities” in the Light of India’s Urbanisation. Economic Development and Cultural Change, III. Moreland, W.H. 1962 India at the Death of Akbar—An Economic Study. Delhi, Atma Ram & Sons. Mukherjee, R. 1965 The Sociologist and Social Change in India Today. New Delhi, PrenticeHall of India. National Sample Survey. 1959 Report on the Characteristics of the Economically Active Population. No. 14. Government of India. ———. 1962 Housing Conditions. No. 67. Government of India. Rao, M.S.A. 1962 Economic Change and Rationality in a Fringe Village. The Economic Weekly, September 29. ———. 1966 Urbanisation in a Delhi Village—Some Social Aspects. Economic and Political Weekly, October 15. Redfield, R. and M. Singer, 1954 The Cultural Role of Cities. Economic Development and Cultural Change, III (1). Sjoberg, G. 1960 The Pre-industrial City: Past and Present. Glencoe, Free Press. Sovani, N.V. 1966 Urbanisation and Urban India. Bombay, Asia Publishing House. Srinivas, M.N. 1959 Social Anthropology and the Study of Rural Societies. The Economic Weekly, Annual Number, January. ———. 1965 Social Structure. The Gazetteer of India. Nasik, Government of India Press. ———. 1966 Social Change in Modern India. Bombay, Allied Publishers. Srinivas, M.N. and A.M. Shah. 1960 The Myth of Self-Sufficiency of the Indian Village. The Economic Weekly, September 10. Tangri, S. 1962 Urbanisation, Political Stability and Economic Growth. In Turner (1962). Turner, Roy (ed.) 1962 India’s Urban Future. Bombay, Oxford University Press. UNESCO. 1964 Urban-Rural Differences in Southern Asia. Delhi, UNESCO Research Centre. Weiner, M. and R. Kothari (eds.) 1965 Indian Voting Behaviour. Calcutta, Firma K.L. Mukhopadhyay. Wirth, Louis. 1938 Urbanism as a Way of Lifes. American Journal of Sociology, XLV: 1–24.

4 ‘Fringe’ Society and the Folk-Urban Continuum M.S.A. Rao

T

he present article aims to focus its attention on one of the points of the folk-urban continuum, namely, the rural-urban fringe. It is only a suggested formulation of a frame of reference for a study of village communities within the ‘field’ of metropolitan or city dominance. I will start with a discussion of the folk-urban continuum which is a wider conceptual framework. The conceptual scheme of folk-urban continuum has been fairly discussed, criticized and employed by anthropologists and field sociologists during its history of about twenty five years. Professor Redfield who formulated the concept, was largely concerned with the construction of the typology of the folk society (1947—pp. 293–308). The folk type of society is characterized as a society which is small, isolated, non-literate, and homogeneous, with a strong sense of group solidarity. The ways of living are conventionalised into that coherent system which we call “a culture”. The behaviour is traditional, spontaneous, uncritical, and personal; there is no legislation or habit of experiment and reflection for intellectual ends. Kinship, its relationships and institutions, are the type categories of experience and the familiar group is the unit of action. The sacred prevails over the secular; the economy is one of status rather than of the market. Secondary and tertiary tools— tools to make tools—are relatively few as compared with primary tools. It is a group economically independent of all others; there is not much

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51

division of labour (Ibid, pp. 293–308). The other pole of the continuum, namely, urban type is only constructed in contrast with the folk people. Oscar Lewis came out with scathing criticism of the folk-urban conceptualization of social change (1935; 1953, pp. 131–137). Horace Miner, in his illustrious article, countered many of the objections raised by Oscar Lewis and other critics and pointed out some useful improvements and modifications in the areas of the problem of fit, the definitions of characteristics and the limited theoretical insight. He concludes by saying about the utility of the concept that “probably the most valuable feature of the continuum is the fact it provides a framework within which various theoretical fields may be integrated to provide greater understanding of the nature and course of culture change” (1952, p. 537). Redfield again reinforced the concept by tagging on to it the emergent qualities of the natural history of the folk society and the relation between Great Tradition and the Little Tradition (1953, pp. 224–28). ‘Peasant Society’ is another point on the folk-urban continuum. Redfield (ibid) conceives ‘peasant society’ as “showing folk-society and state of civilization more nearly in even balance, for the peasant society is that society in which the moral order that prevails among the most primitive societies still prevails, but now in persisting relationship with a technical order of developed tools, trade and formal political and administrative institutions. The peasant village is a half-way house, a stable structure, along the historic road mankind takes between the imagined polarities.” The concept was further strengthened by an examination of the forces operating at and the characteristics of the urban end of the continuum. Both Redfield and Milton Singer analysed the cultural role of the cities into orthogenetic and heterogenetic, the former transforming the Little Tradition into Great Tradition, i.e., the folk culture into its civilized dimensions by carrying forward, developing and elaborating a long-established local culture or civilization, and the latter accomplishing the freeing of the intellectuals, aesthetic, economic and political life from the local moral norms and developing, on the one hand, an individualized expedient motivation, and on the other, a revolutionary, nativistic, humanistic or ecumenical view point, now directed towards reform, progress and designed change. The city of orthogenetic

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M.S.A. Rao

transformation is the city of the moral order and the city of heterogenetic transformation is the city of the technical order. The city is imagined as that community in which orthogenetic and heterogenetic transformations of the folk society have most fully occurred. Further, the authors associate the orthogenetic and heterogenetic roles with primary and secondary processes of urbanization and point out many cultural consequences of these two processes (1954, pp. 53–73). This brief review of the concept over the years shows that it has, proved a useful one in the analysis of social and cultural change Even Oscar Lewis, its most ardent critic, makes the typologies of the peasant societies the basis of comparative studies of Mexican and Indian villages (1958, p. 322). It can also be seen that the concept of folk-urban continuum provides so wide a framework as to encompass the analysis of all types of cultures and civilizations and the processes of culture change in an integrated way. The following remark of Redfield about India is significant: “In civilization where tribal life also persists, as in India and parts of Latin America, one may recognize a structure of levels, tribal, peasant and urbanized or manorial. This structure can be recognised as making up the whole civilized society, while one may describe the processes of change whereby a particular community or individual is moved from one level to the next” (1956, p. 63).

II It is in this wider framework of reference that another point on the continuum at the nearer end of the urban pole may be developed. This point may be called ‘Fringe’ society or ‘Rurban’ society, partly for want of a better term and partly because of the convergence of attention of sociologists, human ecologists and land economists on this point. The first systematic discussion on the rural-urban ‘fringe’ appeared in 1953, when it was examined both from the urban and the rural points of view (Lively, C. E., and others, 1953). The ‘rural-urban fringe’ has been used to describe a number of different situations and characteristics. G. S. Wehrwein defines it “as the area of transition between well recognised urban land uses and the area devoted to agriculture” (1942). W. Firey considered rurban fringe as a marginal area (1946). Dickinson considered it “as an extension of the city itself, present or potential” (1952, p. 120).

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53

Attention is also given to describe the population characteristics of the fringe (J. A. Beegle, 1947). It is shown that the fringe generally occupies an intermediate position in certain demographic characteristics between rural and urban situations. The economic life of the people in the fringe is shown to have characteristics of combination of farm and non-farm occupations, part-time farming and commuting (Eonklin, Horward E., 1944; Black, H. H., 1945). Emergence of new family forms in the fringe area is studied by G. E. Jaco and I. Belknap (1953). They suggest that the historic functions of the family are seemingly better retained in the urban fringe. Rural-urban fringe is also used to study the process of fringe settlement as a two directional movement where the differential characters of families migrated from rural and urban places are examined (M. W. Rodehaver, 1947). The various characteristics associated with the rural-urban fringe in these and other studies point out that the fringe society represents a focal point on the folk-urban continuum with many transitional features of the peasant-urban society. It also suggests that there are new types which are only found in the fringe society.

III The rural-urban fringe in India, however, differs from that in the United States in an essential feature. In the U.S., it is largely the result of deconcentration of urban population, whereas in India it is the result of the growing impact of metropolitan cities on the villages nearby. The ‘extended fringe’ formed by the invasion of the countryside by the city people exists only in a limited sense in India. The fringe villages in the area of metropolitan dominance while retaining their identity, react to the urban situation and their social structure, organisation and cultural values and undergo drastic changes in the process. The rural-urban interaction in the fringe villages is more intense not merely because of their physical propinquity but because of greater connections with the city. Different processes and levels of adjustments to the urban influence manifest themselves, and the time dimension in the processes of social change assumes significance. A few significant studies of the villages near a town, city or metropolis in India reveal changes in their social and economic structure which approximate to some of the characteristics of the Fringe society—A. R. Beal’s

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study of Namhalli, a village near Bangalore and T. S. Trent’s study of Manhalli, a village near a sugar factory town in Mysore (see M. N. Srinivas, 1956), N. G. Chapekar’s study of Badlapur, a village near Kalyan (1954), Hemalata Acharya’s study of four villages around Nasik (1956) and K. M. Kapadia’s study of five ‘impact’ villages around Navsari (1956). We are very much looking forward to the results of Prof. G. S. Ghurye’s study of country-town relations in Haveli Taluka. The first stage analysis of the data collected during the course of ten month’s field work in a village on the rural-urban fringe of Delhi* exhibits some characteristics which may be designated as peculiar to the fringe society. In the area of caste structure and occupational mobility it is found that there is greater mobility in the younger generation. The analysis of the employment histories of 282 males (all the self-supporting persons of the village) exhibit significant variations in the mobility patterns which may be taken to characterize a fringe society. At the one end, there are cases of consistent deviation from the caste occupations, where individuals start with different occupations from those of their caste, change but do not return to the caste occupation any time. At the other end, there are cases where individuals start with their caste occupation and continue in that without changing. In between there are many variations: the individuals start with a different occupation but return to their traditional occupation immediately or subsequently, either to stay in or go off from it. The second variation is provided by those who start with the traditional occupation but change and do not return to caste occupation. The third variation is the combination of traditional and different occupation where either of the two is secondary. The fourth variation is one where the persons follow their traditional occupation but at a different level of economy. For instance, many Bhangis work in the nearby Badli dump where the nature of work is the same as their traditional occupation but they work for a monthly salary. Thus, although the caste occupation has undergone many changes under the impact of the urban environmental forces, it is seen to function as a cushioning agency to absorb the shocks due to the vagaries of the employment situation. The urban-market-oriented-economy has brought a greater degree of competition but it has significantly altered the traditional cooperative activities in caste and kinship. Although the urban-employed persons

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55

show a greater dichotomy of the urban and peasant values, they conform more to the latter. There is a greater number of nuclear families, but they do not approximate to those in the urban areas. The brothers get separated more for the sake of convenience, to avoid conflicts between their wives. The joint-family system is still respected and its advantages are praised. The family organisation shows a level of adjustment which is not found either in the urban or in the rural society. It is not the purpose of this article to report at length the results of the study nor to make fuller, detailed statements about the features of the fringe society with respect to all the areas of social, cultural and personality behaviour. It only seeks to present a case, ignoring other issues, that the ‘fringe society’ can be treated as a social isolate and used as a tool of analysis to study the process of urbanization in fringe villages and for understanding the dynamic forces of interaction and rural-urban relations as a point of two-way directional movement on the folk-urban continuum. ‘Fringe Society’ represents that structural level in the continuum which is half-way between the peasant and the urban society, exhibiting the characteristics of peasant society in a more intensified manner, with some new types coming in.

Note * The village ‘Shamepur’ with 207 households is seven miles to the northwest of Delhi city. It is well connected with the city by train and road and it specializes in supplying vegetables to the city. The field work was done by the author during 1957. The author is thankful to late Sri Lala Khubi Ram and his family, who helped his family’s stay in the village.

References Acharya, Hemalata1956 “Urbanizing Role of a One-lakh City” in symposium on RuralUrban Relations S.B., Sept. 1956, pp. 89–101. Beegle, J. A. 1947 “Characteristics of Michigan’s Fringe Population” R.S., 12, pp. 254–263. Black, H. H. 1945 “Rurbanization of Worcester’s Environs” E.G., 21, pp. 104–16. Chapekar, N.G. 1954 “Social Change in Rural Maharashtra” in Professor Ghurye Felicitation volume, (Ed.) K. M. Kapadia, pp. 169–182. Dickinson, R. K. 1952 City Region and Regionalism. Eonklin, H. E. 1944 “The Rural-Urban Economy of the Elmira Corn Region.” I.L. & P.U.E. 20.

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Firey, Walter 1946 “Ecological considerations in Planning for Rurban Fringes” A.S.R., 11, pp. 411–21. Jaco, E. Gartly & Ivan Belknap 1953 “Is a New Family Form Emerging in the urban fringe?” A.S.R., 18, pp. 551–57. Kapadia, K. M. 1956 “Rural Family Patterns” in symposium on Rural-urban Relations, S.B., Sept. 1956 pp. 111–126. Lewis, Oscar 1951 Life in a Mexican village: Tepoztlan Restudied. ———. 1953 “Tepoztlan Restudied: A Critique of the folk-urban Conceptualization of social Change” R.S., 18, pp. 121–137. ———. 1958 Village Life in Northern India. Lively, C. E. & others 1953 “The Sociological Significance of the Rural-Urban Fringe” R.S., 18. pp. 101–120. Miner,Horace 1952 “The Folk-urban continuum”. A.S.R. 17, 52, pp. 529–37. Redfield, Robert 1947 “The Folk Society” A.J.S., 52, pp. 293–308. ———.1953 “The Natural History of the Folk-Society”, S.F., 31, pp. 224–28. Srinivas, M. N. 1956 “Primitive and Peasant: Simple and Compound Society” in Society in India, (Eds.) A. Aiyappan & L. K. Bala Ratnam, pp. 54–72. ———.1956 “The Industrialization and Urbanization of Rural Areas,” in symposium on Rural-Urban Relations,” S.B., Sept. 1956, pp. 79–88. Rodehaver, M. W. 1947 “Fringe Settlement as a Two-Directional Movement,” R.S., 12, pp. 49–57. Redfield, Robert & Singer, M. B.1954 “The Cultural Role of Cities,” E.D. & C.C. 3, pp. 53–73. Wehrwein, G. S. 1942 “The Rural-Urban Fringe,” E.G., 18, pp. 217–28.

5 Rural Family Patterns: A Study in Urban-Rural Relations K.M. Kapadia

N

avsari is a town with a population of 44, 663 according to the Census of 1951. It is a small town with all urban amenities. There are 11 primary schools, 2 Anglo-Vernacular schools and 5 high schools of which two cater for girls. Within the last 10 years there have sprung up a College with units for Arts and Science courses, a Technical high school and a Commercial high school. There are four libraries two of which having more than ten thousand books each. There are three cinema houses. There are two public hospitals, one of them being run by the Government, and five private ones of which two are for eyes and three for general surgery. The two of the latter are equipped with X-Ray machines. There are two public maternity hospitals, one for the Parsis and the other for the Hindus, besides three private Maternity Homes. Electricity is available for the most part of the day for lighting and sundry economic activities since 1923. Water supply was introduced in January 1929 and drainage was completed by 1934–35. The town has two textile mills, one started as early as 1932 and the other in 1938. They provide employment to about three thousand workers. There are a ‘Metal Works,’ two bobbin factories, two ice factories, two saw mills, one tanning factory and about twenty small industrial concerns.

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There are four banks the oldest of which was established in 1910 as the State treasury (of the old Baroda State). There is also a Co-operative Bank started in 1913 and a Land Mortgage Bank functioning from 1938. Navsari has 145 villages spread out on all its four sides. The nearest ones are at a distance of one mile, the farthest about fifteen miles. There are bus routes which connect a very large number of these villages with the town. There are eight routes on which the buses run from five in the morning to nine in the night, and many of these routes are in use all the year round. This brief picture of interconnections and interrelations between Navsari and the surrounding villages envisages a significant impact of the town on the rural life and institutions and vice-versa. This paper is confined to the analysis of this impact in so far as it relates to one institution only, viz. the family. The family pattern in the rural area is delineated in this paper on the basis of the data in the 1951 Census. Fifteen villages have been chosen, five within the range of one to three miles from Navsari, seven within the range of four to nine and three within ten to thirteen miles. The three dominant castes in Navsari taluka are: the Koli, the Anavil and the Patidar. The villages are so selected that they include two or three villages in which each of these castes is dominant. Every fifth house in a village so selected is taken up for analysis. The present paper is thus based on the 20% sample of the families in fifteen villages of Navsari taluka selected with due consideration to the distance and caste factors. The strength of the fifteen villages is 8260 families, of which 426 are non-Hindus, 2577 Halapatis and Harijans, 2910 Kolis, 138 Bharwads, 578 functional castes, 406 Patidars including Rajputs, 90 Banias including Jains, 525 Brahmins and Anavils, and 610 whose castes cannot be identified.* Of these, the non-Hindus, the Halapatis and the Harijans are excluded, leaving for the present paper 63.7% or about two-thirds of the village families. The number of sample families is 1099 which constitute 20.9% of the families accepted for analysis. As for Navsari town, I have taken for this paper 246 families. Of the total number of 12 wards in Navsari only 6 where higher incidence of castes included in the village sample was traceable were chosen. After  elimination and necessary discrimination families were selected proportionately from each ward. The problem of the family is approached here from the structural point of view. The first question is whether the rural families are predominantly nuclear or joint.

RURAL FAMILY PATTERNS: A STUDY IN URBAN-RURAL RELATIONS

59

Table 1 Caste

No. of Nuclear Family

No. of Joint Family

Nuclear Family in %

Joint Family in %

Kolis

315

264

54.3

45. 7

Functional Castes I*

52

68

43.3

56.7

Functional Castes II#

15

12

55.6

44.4

Patidars–Rajputs

27

38

38.3

61.7

8

10

44.4

55.6

57.1

42.9

Banias–Jains Bhaiya



1

Bharwads

16

12

6

1

75

75

50.0

50.0

553

546

50.3

49.7

Lower Castes## Unidentified Castes Total

* This includes carpenter, tailor, goldsmith, blacksmith, brazier, corn-seller, green-grocer (Kachhia), potter, oil-presser (Ghanchi), perfumer (Saraiya) and bangle-seller (Chudagar). # This includes washerman, barber, cobbler, gardener and fisherman. ## This includes basket-maker, Gosai and Jogi.

In the rural community, the proportion of joint families is almost the same as that of nuclear families. However, when the nature of the family pattern is viewed in relation to castes it is evident that the higher castes, viz. the Patidars, the Brahmins and even the Banias have predominantly joint family, its proportion to the nuclear family being nearly 5:3. The comparatively lower castes such as the Kolis, functional castes II and the Bharwads show a greater incidence of nuclear family, the proportion of the joint family to the nuclear being 9:11. That is, while among the higher castes we find 0.6 nuclear family per every joint family, among the lower castes every joint family has as its counterpart 1.2 nuclear families. The Patidars and the Anavils show the same pattern. Both are predominantly agriculturists. As such joint family may be said to be predominant among the agricultural castes. The potters who are also by now agriculturists and the Kachhias who are to some extent agriculturists, even while showing a greater incidence of the joint family, show a higher percentage of the nuclear family (viz. 46.9) than that among the Patidars. The Kolis who have also by now taken to agriculture to

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a  greater extent have 54.3% of their families nuclear. This is just in consonance with a situation in the transitional stage. The functional castes, however, who have nothing to do with agriculture show such a high percentage of the joint family as 64.1%, the Ghanchis having 68.7%. From the pattern of the family found in the rural community it becomes doubtful whether the joint family is now necessarily a concomitant of the agricultural economy. As for the pattern of family in Navsari, we find: — Table 2 Caste

No. of Nuclear Family

No. of Joint Family

Nuclear Family in %

Joint Family in %

Kolis

18

21

46.2

53.8

Functional Castes I

32

35

47.8

52.2

Functional Castes II

10

12

45.5

54.5

Patidars

5

10

33.3

66.6

Banias

12

28

30.0

70.0

Brahmins

28

32

46.7

53.3

Kayastha

1

Bharwads

1

1

107

139

43.5

56.5

Total

The percentage of nuclear families in Navsari is 43.5** which gives a proportion of 0.77 nuclear family per every joint family. But the complement of the joint family is actually greater than this. We find that, while 486 persons live in nuclear families, 969 live in joint families. This gives only 0.5 nuclear family per every joint family. The general presumption is that people in cities and big towns live in nuclear families and that towns and cities have disintegrative influences on the structure of the family. It would not be proper to generalise anyway on the basis of such a small sample, yet it may be said on the basis of this data that this assumption does not hold good for Navsari. The question in this case would rather be: How is it that people in the town are more favourably inclined to the joint family? In order to understand the impact of the town on the surrounding villages it is proposed to analyse the pattern of the family in the five

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61

Table 3 Caste

No. of Nuclear Family

No. of Joint Family

Nuclear Family in %

Joint Family in %

Kolis

101

82

55.2

44.8

Functional Castes I

28

34

45.1

54.9

Functional Castes II

4

3

57.1

42.9

Patidars

7

12

36.8

63.2

Banias

1

Brahmins

16

28

36.4

63.6

Bharwads

3

3

50.0

50.0

Lower Castes

5 66

64

50.8

49.2

231

226

50.5

49.5

Unidentified Castes Total

villages within three miles of Navsari, villages within the aura of the town, which may be referred to hereafter in this paper as impact villages. It is evident from the Table that the family pattern in the impact villages closely resembles the rural pattern in Table 1, and has no correspondence with the town pattern. Here, as in the villages, the pattern shows the caste variations. It is further found that the functional castes show a gradual increase of nuclear families (43.3, 45.1, 47.7) and the Patidars show a gradual decrease of nuclear families (38.3, 36.8, 33.3) as we move from villages to the impact villages to the town. Can we attribute this deviation to the impact of the town? Or is it merely an expression of caste variations? The deviation in the town pattern from that in the villages may be partially explained: a. Functional Castes I: The group of castes—tailors, gold smiths, carpenters and blacksmiths—show the same pattern both in the village and the town. The oil-pressers, on the other hand, show a marked tendency toward nuclear family in the town. There are ten nuclear families against eleven joint families in Navsari among them while the corresponding numbers are five and eleven in the villages. b. Functional Castes II: The fishermen, barbers and gardeners in the town show a marked tendency towards joint living. In their case, the nature of their vocation is conducive to joint living.

1–3

55

9

1

3

4

16







13

101

18.5

Persons

Kolis

Functional I

Functional II

Patidars

Banias

Brahmins

Bharwads

Bhaiyas

Lower caste

Unidentified

Total

In percentage

Caste

Table 4

46.5

254

37





7

31

2

20

6

31

120

27.3

149

19

1

1

5

16

2

8

3

19

75

7–10

Number of Families 4–6

7.7

42

6

2

2

7

2

9

14

11–

546

75

1

1

12

65

10

38

12

68

264

Total

7.9

258

31







43

9

9

3

25

138

1–3

38.8

1259

189





37

150

9

92

30

148

604

4–6

37.1

1199

148

9

9

41

130

16

61

26

151

608

7–10

11–

16.2

526

72







26

26

89

23

118

172

Number of Persons

3242

440

9

9

78

349

60

251

82

442

1522

Total

62 K.M. Kapadia

RURAL FAMILY PATTERNS: A STUDY IN URBAN-RURAL RELATIONS

63

c. Banias: Banias are few and far between in villages. There may be one or two families in each village. In Navsari, on the other hand, they are mainly traders dealing in cloth or gold ornaments and jewellery. Even in the case of those who are not traders joint living is economically enforced because of their high standard of living and heavy social obligations. d. Brahmins: Many Anavils are settled in Navsari as employees in schools, government offices and to a certain extent in factories and railways. It is quite possible that, although they have been recorded as members of nuclear families in the Census, their links with their parent families in the surrounding villages, from which they have come to Navsari for employment, are not functionally severed. If this assumption be correct, the higher percentage of nuclear families among the Branhmins in Navsari is apparent and not real. e. It is only in the case of the Kolis that no satisfactory explanation is possible.

In the light of this explanation the conclusion would be forced upon us that the difference between the rural and the town patterns is partly the result of modification of the caste family patterns by economic factor. Caste lines as a result seem to have been partly blurred. Having so far ascertained the types of the family it would be worthwhile to proceed to the analysis of the structure of the joint family, first from the point of view of its size and then of the relationships among its constituent members. To start with the size, the joint families may be arranged into four groups for the purpose. Family-wise the highest number of families are to be found in the group of 4–6 persons. Next comes the family group of 7–10 members. These together constitute about three-fourths of the joint families in the rural area. Only one-fifth of the families are small families of 1–3 persons. But the proportion of small families is less than one-twelfth when we consider these groups person-wise, i.e. in terms of persons living in these forms of families. Likewise persons living in the families of 11 and more members constitute one-sixth of the total persons living jointly. It may further be said that 53% of the persons, i.e., more than half of the members of the joint families live in family groups of 7 and more members. This fact is very interesting, because it unfolds a new perspective which belies the usual practice of representing the pattern in terms of average. The average size of a family in the village is very near to six. More than half the persons are, however, seen to be living in families of more than six persons. Going to the town now, we find: —

4

11

7.9

Total

In percentage

Banias



3

Patidars

Bharwads



Functional II

Brahmins

2



Functional I

2

Kolis

41.0

57



15

10

2

7

14

9

41.0

57

1

11

10

7

5

16

7

7–10

4–6

Persons

1–3

Number of Families

Caste

Table 5

2

5

1

3

10.1

14





3

11–

139

1

32

28

10

12

35

21

Total

2.9

30



11

8





6

5

1–3

29.8

289



76

52

10

39

71

41

4–6

47.4

460

10

86

83

56

38

132

55

7–10

Number of Persons

19.9

190



25

75

11



39

40

11–

969

10

198

218

77

77

248

141

Total

64 K.M. Kapadia

RURAL FAMILY PATTERNS: A STUDY IN URBAN-RURAL RELATIONS

65

Family-wise about four-fifths of the families are of 4 to 10 persons and one-tenth of 11 and more members. Person-wise, too, the percentage of persons living in the families of 4 to 10 members does not appear to deviate much from that of such families. The significant difference is, however, seen in the fact that the percentage of persons living in the large families of 11 and more is almost double. Similarly, two-thirds of the persons live in the families of 7 and more members, though familywise such families constitute only 51% of the total families. The situation in the impact villages may be presented in the perspective of the rural and the town situations. Table 6 Area

Groups Family-wise

Groups Person-wise

Persons

4–10

7 and Above

4–10

7 and Above

Rural area

73.8%

35.0

75.9%

53.3

Average Size of a Family 6

Impact villages

72.0

40.4

71.9

59.2

6.2

Town

82.0

51.1

77.2

67.3

7

Whether we look at the situation from the point of view of the average size of a family, or from the point of view of the size-groups of the families or from the point of view of persons living in the different size-groups, we find that the town scores over the villages in the incidence of higher number, and the impact villages stand somewhere between the two. As for the small family group (i.e. 1–3 members), the impact villages bear close resemblance to the villages, the percentages being 17.8 and 18.5 respectively from the point of view of persons. In respect of other groups, considered both family-wise and person-wise one can see a transition in favour of a large group as one moves from villages to the impact villages to the town. Two conclusions follow from the Table. First, not only the total complement of the joint family is higher in the town but even its size is larger there than in the rural area. The latter fact reinforces the validity of the former, and so the predominance of joint familes in the town cannot be regarded as accidental. Secondly, both in the strength as well

66

K.M. Kapadia

Table 7 Type I

Type II

Parent Brother, P. & (s) Sister Br. Sr. 19

13

9

Type III

Grand G. Ch. Total Children & R. Total 41 29.5%

22

8

30 21.6%

Joint Family R. 34

Total

34 68

Grand Total 139

48.9%

as in the structure, the impact villages stand midway between the village and the town, substantiating thereby the fact of impact. When this data of the size-groups of the families is scrutinized castewise, the following facts are observed. The Kolis, the functional castes I and the Patidars show a gradual increase of the families of seven and more members as we proceed from villages to the impact villages to the town. The relevant percentages are: 33.8, 45.1, 47.6; 41.2, 47.1, 54.2; 39.5, 54.6, 80.0. The Brahmin caste has failed to show this trend. It has, on the other hand, shown a stable percentage in respect of the family group of 4 to 6 members in all the three areas—47.7, 46.4, 46.8—and a marked rise in that of the small family unit in the impact villages, viz. 35.7 as against 24.6 in the villages and 12.5 in the town. The functional castes I and the Patidars show very close resemblance in respect of the small family units in the villages and the impact villages both family-wise and person-wise, a correspondence which also bear with the population as a whole of both the areas. One significant fact is that not a single caste shows any correspondence between the town and the impact villages in respect of the familygroups of 11 and more or of 4 to 6. Under the circumstances caste cannot precisely be said to be the demarcating line in the family pattern, though it would not be at the same time justifiable to rule out altogether its role in the understanding of the family pattern. We now proceed to the analysis of the family groups in terms of relationships between the members constituting a family. We begin with the town. In the above Table I have divided the families into three types. The third type is the traditional joint family, although its range of relationship, generations held together, is not as wide as it once was, the present-day family being usually the family of three generations. A man leaves the parent

RURAL FAMILY PATTERNS: A STUDY IN URBAN-RURAL RELATIONS

67

family to start his nuclear family. In course of time his sons get married, and they do not generally leave the family on marriage but stay there and, in course of time, as they become parents of children, extend its circumference. A family of three generations is thus once again formed. Theoretically it does not much differ from the traditional family. The difference lies only in the perspective of the individual who heads it. He left the family which consisted of his brothers, collaterals and ascendants. He now heads the family which consists of his sons and grandsons, his daughters and daughters-in-law, who are dearer to him than his brothers and collaterals. While he did not like to bother about his brother or uncle, he would feel happy to fondle his grandson, and feel proud to bolster him up. It is this emotional reaction, the varying degrees of intensity of feelings that distinguishes it from the conventional joint family. But it is not solely founded on this emotional intensity. There is lurking behind it, perhaps, a strong desire that the sons and grandsons would provide him and his wife with food, shelter and care in old age. This desire may or may not be fulfilled: there is even a subconscious apprehension that it is to remain unfulfilled. The fact that this does not tend to minimise the popularity of this form of family indicates the stress that is laid here on emotional intensity for this form. It is a common experience that economic obligations of the joint family are not felt as strains in this type; they are rather met with with easy heart as filial duty. Such a family is therefore demarcated here from the conventional joint family as its modern counterpart and distinguished as type II. It is a common experience for a Hindu male to look after his parent or parents who have gone old or who are disabled for earning. In some cases the parent may also be earning. It is as well considered a moral obligation for a person to support his younger brothers and sisters who are in their teens and/or unmarried and have not started on the career of earning. A joint family of a person, his wife and children, his parent or parents and/or younger brothers or sisters who are his dependants is of common occurrence. It is founded not merely on the moral obligation of a person but also backed up by public opinion. A person who is indifferent to his aged parents or to his young brothers and sisters is condemned by his kin, members of his caste and even residents of his locality. This type differs from the either type given above both in its range of relationship—it being the family of two generations— and its moral foundation. This demarcation into types helps to bring out in bold relief the nucleus of the contemporary form of the joint family and trends which would decide its future form and existence.

68

K.M. Kapadia

From the table it is evident that the joint family has not been in decadance even in the town because nearly half the families in the town are yet the traditional families. It is regretted that the Census data does not record the relationship a member of the family bears to its head. It is at least gratifying to note that the Census authorities have realised the gravity of this error. Writes J. Bowman: ‘It is a pity that degrees of relationship were not tabulated more fully’.1 In spite of this omission, effort has been made to trace certain relationships: brothers, their wives and children, father’s brothers or mother have been identified with the help of names, age and civic condition. In some cases this attempt failed when the names of persons could not properly be placed into the genealogy of the head of the family. All such persons whose relationship with the head of the family could not precisely be ascertained, have been shown in the Table under the column R (relatives). It is assumed that they are agnatic relatives. It may be that in some cases some persons may be other than the agnates. It is found that in many cases these relatives (R) are widows, unmarried females and at times married women. Again, at least in Navsari, the largest number of such untraced relatives are found in Brahmin caste. It is not too much to assume that these relatives must be more often the daughters or sisters, young or widowed, widowed sisters-in-law or wives of such near relatives as the son, brother, uncle, nephew etc., gone out for employment. It is not ruled out that some of these persons may be non-agnatic relatives—cognates or affines—or mere acquaintances. As a matter of fact in one Bania family I have been able to find the father’s sister’s daughter, her son and daughter-in-law. In spite of this the inclusion of these families (in the column R) in the traditional family in our analysis may not be said to lack validity. As against a predominantly large number of the traditional family, we have only 21.6% of the II type of joint family. It may further be noted that of the 30 families in the latter type, 8 have one relative besides the lineal descendants. In one case the relative is the mother’s sister and in another the father. The relationship of persons in other cases could not be ascertained. It may be added that in two out of these six cases one is a widow and another a female. If the relationship of these persons with the head of the family were known, it is not unlikely that some at least of these families would have been found to be the traditional families. Under the circumstances, there is a greater probability of a higher percentage of the traditional family than is shown in the Table.

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69

The I type of the family is of pertinent relevance to the stability of the joint family in modern India. It is regretted that the ages of the persons who constitute the I type of the family have not been recorded by me from the Census data. That would have enabled us to know the exact nature of dependency. There is, however, some indication of it otherwise. In two Bania families the sisters are widowed sisters. Incidentally it may be noted that in this sample of 139 families there are two families which support the widowed daughters, two, widowed sisters, two, brothers’ widows and six, widows whose relationship with the head of the family could not be precisely determined. In all 12 families support the widows. If the dependents constitute aged parents incapable of earning and maintaining themselves, young siblings who are to be educated and maintained for a pretty long time before they start on the career of earning and widowed females, then the presumption that this peculiar characteristic of this family would necessitate its perpetuation for long is not completely unwarranted. In the case of villages, it is regretted that I have not been able to present at this stage my data for all the 15 villages nor am I in a position to present the data caste-wise. If we compare these family groups with those in the town we shall, in a sense, find greater correspondence than contrast between the two. The percentages of the I type in the town and the villages are 29.5 and 25.7 respectively, while those of the II type, when we take families with lineal descendants only, are 15.8 and 15.2 respectively. When we take, on the other hand, the second type as shown in the Table there is a wide gulf, the percentages being 21.6 and 56.0. But this comparison is vitiated by the fact that there are few families in the town which have other relatives and there is only one such relative in each family.† In the villages, on the contrary, the number of families with such relatives is very nearly 2(3/4) times the families with lineal descendants alone. Again, 20 such families Table 82 P.

Br. Sr.

P. & Br. Sr.

G. Ch.

G. Ch. & R.

Jt. F.

R.

Grand Total

29

18

12

35

94

5

37

230

25.7%

56.0%

18.3%

70

K.M. Kapadia

have two relatives and 24 three or more relatives.† It is quite possible that many of these relatives are persons, males and females (generally widows), who form part of the traditional joint family. If so, many of these families would have to be included in the III type. This would lower the percentage of the II type and raise correspondingly that of the III type in the rural family groups. Even if this assumption is not completely valid, the rural family groups will not so much differ from the urban groups in the higher incidence of the II type in the rural area as is found in the Table. The assumption in the foregoing paragraph is, however, borne out by a small sample of rural families carried out by me personally. In this sample of 94 families 34.1% belong to the I type, 15.9% to the II type and 50.0% to the III type. And this is in close correspondence with the urban types. The castewise distribution of the urban families and the 94 rural families of my survey is: Table 9 Navsari Caste

Rural Area

I

II

III

Total

I

II

III

Total

Koli

8

2

11

21

8

5

16

29

Functional I

9

13

13

35

4

3

10

17

Patidar

2

3

5

10

6

2

7

15

Brahmin

7

4

21

35

13

3

14

30

Total

41

30

68

139

32

15

47

94

It is evident from the Table that there is no marked correspondence between the type of family and caste. Of the four castes only two show more or less a similar proportion of the III type both in the town and the villages. There is similarly a correspondence in respect of the I and the II types only in one caste. The comparison, however, brings out one fact, viz. the largest number of the traditional joint family is found among the Brahmins. It is 60% in the town and about 47% in the villages. The Anavils among the Brahmins are agriculturists in the villages, but they are mainly non-agriculturists in the town. And yet the town shows 60% of the Brahmin families as joint families. The Kolis are also agriculturists, but there is a large section among them, specially in the

RURAL FAMILY PATTERNS: A STUDY IN URBAN-RURAL RELATIONS

71

town, which is non-agriculturist. They too have 55.2% families of the III type in the villages and 52.4% in the town. This substantiates our observation that the joint family is not now invariably the result of agricultural economy. Its persistence among all the castes stresses its role in providing security to the old, the disabled, the young or the widowed members of the family. Besides the economic implication, it has cultural ring about it. The higher castes guarantee this economic security to the near kin, specially the widows, in pursuance of their cultural norms. In view of this, perpetuity of the joint family in Hindu society cannot be easily ruled out. This analysis of the family pattern was based on the Census data. Even on this basis joint families are found to outnumber the nuclear families. But it should be very pertinently added here that the persons who break away from the parent family and start their own separate residence and kitchen for a number of varied reasons do not necessarily sever their entire link with the parent family. On the contrary, even when property is shared, the members of different constituent families meet on various occasions such as marriage feasts, Sraddha dinner, celebration of a vrata, performance of samskaras (tonsure, first-feeding, thread ceremony), big festivals like astami, new year day or birth day of the first male child, when the participation involves not only sharing the joy of the occasion and dinner but also monetary obligations: and they are met with with easy heart. Again, on the occasion of death in a family, kutumba, there is not only common sharing of grief but there are common obligations, not primarily economic but religious or religio-social. Serious illness is another occasion when the members are brought together with emotional poignancy and ever-readiness to help even monetarily. It is this functional relationship that needs to be stressed in the evaluation of the Hindu joint family. During the course of my investigation I have found that the sentiments for the joint family are yet fairly strong. 70 persons have reported that the relations between their families and those of their relatives separated from them are very cordial. As against this only seven have said that the relations after separation are neither very good nor bad and 12 have said that they are formal. Only 3 have said that their relations are strained. This avowed cordiality can be verified by inquiring into the nature of contacts persisting between the two families after partition. For this reason I set two questions: the occasions on which the members of the two families

72

K.M. Kapadia

(constituents of the old joint family) meet and the preparedness of the members of each of these families to help the other. As regards the first, 37 reported that they meet on the occasion of marriage, 39 said that they do on the occasion of illness; 34, on that of death; 7, on that of celebration of a vrata or a festival; 10, when consultation between the two families becomes necessary; and 4, when the family is in need of money. As regards the second question, 53 persons have reported that they are prepared to help any member of the kutumba provided any help is necessary. When asked to specify the occasions when they would be ready to help, 19 said at the time of marriage or illness; 16, in times of difficulty; 3, at times; and 5, on all occasions. 10 have said that they would like to help out of their feelings for the relatives, 8 have said that they would do it as their duty and 7 have said to help either out of prestige or under social pressure. The number of occasions for contact and help is small here because all persons did not reply to these questions. The persistence of cordiality and functional tie between the families after separation into two or more units becomes intelligible when we inquire into the reasons for the break up of the joint family. 20 persons had to separate from the family to go out of the village for service or trade; 10 separated as the household was found to be very large. In case of 22 there was some tension between the females and children of the members of the family. 24 persons reported that there were strained relations between the male relatives; between father and son, brother and brother or a person and his elders. This tension between the male relatives was not always due to the fact that all members were not prepared to pool their income together or that they did not help, as they should, in work on the farm. Only 8 have said that the break up of the family was due to their keeping their income with them and 5, for not helping on the farm. Only in 4 cases instigation to separate came from the affines of a member of the family. These causes do not indicate such serious strains as would compel the members separating to sever their entire ties with the parent family. An analysis of the relations between the two or more households which in recent past formed one joint family would indeed indicate that the complement of the joint family is much higher than the one indicated

RURAL FAMILY PATTERNS: A STUDY IN URBAN-RURAL RELATIONS

73

by its mere composition, and common residence and common kitchen as its external insignia.

Notes * The Government have discarded recording of castes of persons in the Census data with the result that the caste of a person had to be traced from his occupation, name and such other evidence. Naturally in some cases castes could not be precisely identified. ** There are 14 families consisting either of a man and his wife or any one of them. † 12 with 3R, 5 with 4R, 4 with 6R, 2 with 7R and 1 with 8R.

References 1. 2.

I. P. Desai, Sociological Bulletin, Vol. IV, No. 2, pp. 100ff. K. M. Kapadia, Sociological Bulletin, Vol. IV, No. 2, p. 185.

SECTION II SOCIAL STRATIFICATION IN RURAL INDIA

6 Measurement of Rigidity–Fluidity Dimension of Social Stratification in Six Indian Villages Victor S. D’Souza

O

rdinarily, the rigidity-fluidity dimension of social stratification is measured through the indices of occupational or educational mobility. The measurement used in the present study1 is rather an uncommon one, as it is based on a reinterpretation of the concepts of caste and class, in which the two ideal-typical concepts are taken to be the polar opposites of the rigidity-fuidity dimension of social stratification (for a fuller discussion of this, see D’Souza 1967). In our reinterpretation, caste system has been defined as the integration of the interacting and heterogeneous, but internally homogeneous, hereditary groups, into a structure of status hierarchy. Not only does this concept describe the caste system as a superior or subordinate relationship among hereditary groups in a society or community, but it also explains the conditions under which such a relationship takes place. The basis for the ranking of groups in the caste system and individuals in the class system is the same. In both cases it depends upon certain properties or attributes of individuals which are evaluated by the society. But the difference lies in the pattern of distribution of these properties

78

Victor S. D’Souza

of individuals in hereditary groups. If the distribution in each group is homogeneous so that each group differs from the other groups and from the total population, the resulting form of social stratification is caste system, and if it is heterogeneous such that it is more or less the same in every group and in the total population, the form is class system. In the first instance we have a rigid form of social stratification and in the second a fluid one. The pattern of distribution of properties of individuals in hereditary groups in any community, however, may vary within extreme limits so that we have caste and class systems existing side by side in an inverse relationship and the ideal types of caste and class systems are the limiting cases. Thus the measure of the pattern of distribution of the properties of individuals in hereditary groups gives us an index of the rigidity-fuidity dimension of social stratification. Since the occupational prestige is among the most important variables determining the prestige of an individual we have considered this property, from among the relevant properties of individuals, for demonstrating our proposition. Accordingly, the measure of the degree of heterogeneity in the distribution of occupational prestige of members in hereditary groups may be regarded as the primary index of the rigidityfuidity dimension of social stratification. This maybe termed the index of occupational heterogeneity. The greater the degree of heterogeneity, the greater is the fuidity of social stratification. Occupational prestige is something which determines the prestige of individuals and of groups. But what characterises social stratification is the prestige of individuals and of groups. It should therefore be possible for us to derive other indices of rigidity-fuidity dimension of social stratification out of the variables of the prestige of individuals and of groups. However, since these variables are dependent upon the variable of occupational prestige, the indices derived out of them may be regarded as secondary indices of social stratification. With regard to the prestige of hereditary groups, it is clear that in an ideal-typical caste system, there should be complete unanimity in ranking the hereditary groups on the part of the members of the community. The decreasing degree of unanimity would indicate an increasing degree of fluidity of social stratification. Therefore, the degree of consensus about the ranking of caste groups or the index of consensus about caste status may be regarded as one of the secondary indices of the rigidity-fuidity dimension of social stratification.

DIMENSION OF SOCIAL STRATIFICATION IN SIX INDIAN VILLAGES

79

Again, in an ideal-typical caste system, every caste group should be homogeneous with regard to the distribution of individual prestige of members (D’Souza 1967: 199, 209, 210). Heterogeneity of the distribution of individual prestige would indicate a certain degree of fuidity of social stratification. Consequently the degree of heterogeneity of individual prestige would provide us with another secondary index of the rigidity-fuidity of social stratification. A third secondary measure, termed the index of consensus about individual prestige is also connected with the variable of the prestige of individual. This index rests on the assumption that the prestige of an individual is dependent not only on his personal properties but also upon the pattern of distribution of the properties of members in his hereditary group (D’Souza 1967: 197, 208). When an individual’s properties differ from those of the members of his group as a whole, his prestige becomes more ambiguous. The degree of lack of consensus about individual prestige would also indicate the degree of fluidity of social stratification. It has already been demonstrated that all these four indices of the rigidity-fuidity dimension of social stratification are intercorrelated in the study of two villages, Devigarh and Rampur (pseudonyms) (D’Souza 1967: 199–210). One of the two major objectives of this paper is to consider whether this relationship also holds good in the case of six villages, including Devigarh and Rampur, which are all chosen from the same region and form part of the same Development Block of the Community Development project in the State of Punjab, India. The other four villages are Manali, Kelon, Dakala and Khera (pseudonyms). The second objective is to test the validity of the indices by correlating them with other significant variables which are also usually associated with social stratification. The data used in this analysis are taken from a field study which was conducted in 1964 . The six villages studied were chosen purposively to represent different levels of development. The units of investigation were households. The sample consisted of all the households from Devigarh, Rampur and Khera, half the households from Manali and Kelon, and one third of the households from Dakala. When a sample of the households in a village was included, it was selected systematically. Of the four indices, we do not have comparable information on the index of consensus about caste status for four out of the six villages and so we may disregard this index for the rest of our discussion. Further, it is useful to bear in mind that the information on the remaining three indices is not quite refined.

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Victor S. D’Souza

For a refined index of occupational heterogeneity we have to take into account both the diversity of occupations and the degree of their prestige. Since occupations in this study were graded arbitrarily and since we have to reckon with a large number of different types of occupations, about 30 in the total sample, our grading does not indicate the precise amount of prestige difference between any two occupations. That is to say, the prestige gradation of occupations does not form an interval scale. Therefore, a measure of mean deviation of occupational prestige, which can be an adequate index of occupational heterogeneity, is not feasible. As an alternative, the index has been computed in terms of the number of different types of occupations followed in each hereditary group which is conventionally referred to as a caste in the village. Traditionally each caste group was occupationally homogeneous, in the sense that all the members of a caste had to follow the same type of occupation. When there are different types of occupations followed by the members of a caste group, the group is occupationally heterogeneous. And the greater the number of different types of occupations the greater the heterogeneity within the group. The occupational heterogeneity for the village as a whole is obtained by computing the arithmetic mean of the numbers of different types of occupations in all the castes in the village. Only the occupations of heads of households have been considered for the sake of convenience. Further, we have excluded for this purpose, castes with only one household each and also occupations with unspecified names. Table 1 shows the average number of different types of occupations in caste groups followed by household heads, distributed according to village and the minimum size of castes considered. It provides a descriptive picture of occupational heterogeneity. The average number of different types of occupations followed in a caste does not depend upon the number of castes in a village. It is also evident that even if we vary the coverage of castes by varying the minimum number of households in castes considered for inclusion, the relative order of villages according to this index does not alter significantly except when castes with single households are included. Therefore, the arbitrary manner in which we have computed the index of occupational heterogeneity, by including only caste groups with two or more households, is not without justification. The index of heterogeneity of individual prestige is given by the weighted mean deviation of the distribution of heads of households in each caste according to individual prestige. For measuring the prestige of

No. of Castes

9

6

13

12

8

7

Village

Devigarh

Manali

Kelon

Dakala

Rampur

Khera

1.6

3.0

2.5

3.2

3.3

3.1

A.M. of No. of Types of Occupations

One or More

5

8

9

9

4

6

No. of Castes

1.8

3.0

3.0

3.6

4.5

4.2

3

6

6

9

4

5

No. of Castes

2.0

3.5

3.5

3.6

4.5

4.8

A M. of No. of Types of Occupations

Three or More

No. of Households in Castes

A.M. of No. of Types of Occupations

Two or More

2

5

6

9

4

4

No. of Castes

2.5

3.6

3.5

3.6

4.5

5.8

A.M. of No. of Types of Occupations

Four or More

69

60

79

84

71

88

Total. No. of Households in the Sample

Table 1 Arithmetic Means of Numbers of Different Types of Occupations in Caste Groups Followed by Heads of Households, by Village and the Minimum Size of Caste Groups

DIMENSION OF SOCIAL STRATIFICATION IN SIX INDIAN VILLAGES 81

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Victor S. D’Souza

Table 2 Number of Judges Grading the Prestige of Heads of Households by Village and Number of Castes Represented Number of Judges

Number of Castes Represented

Devigarh

11

6

Manali

10

6

Village

Kelon

10

5

Dakala

15

12

Rampur

10

6

9

6

Khera

individuals, a selected number of heads of households in each village were asked to rank all the household heads in their respective village into four hierarchical classes of prestige. The judges were chosen by the interviewers for their knowledge in the village affairs and also so as to represent as many different castes as possible. The number of judges in each village and the number of castes represented by them are given in Table 2. Although the number of judges in each case is small, this deficiency is somewhat balanced by a judicious selection. The four hierarchical classes of prestige were given scores 1 through 4 in the descending order of prestige. The prestige of any individual is given by the average of the scores obtained according to the ranking by all the judges in the village. The index of heterogeneity of individual prestige for a village was worked out first by finding out the mean deviation of prestige of individuals in each caste and then by computing the weighted mean of the mean deviations in all the castes in the village. The index of consensus about individual prestige rests on the implied assumption that when the stratification is rigid all the judges would agree in giving the same prestige score to the same person. Deviation from this pattern would indicate fluidity. This index is therefore worked out by calculating the mean of the deviations of prestige scores given by the different judges in respect of every individual in the village. In the case of this index also the main defect lies in the small size of the number of judges. The three indices of the degree of fluidity of social stratification are shown in Table 3. Taking into account all the three indices, it is possible for us to divide the villages into two categories, one of a higher degree of fluidity of social stratification, including Devigarh, Manali and Kelon,

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83

Table 3 Index Scores of Social Stratification by Village and Type of Index Type of Index Occupational Heterogeneity

Heterogeneity of Individual Prestige

Concensus about Individual Prestige

Devigarh

4.2

0.97

0.43

Manali

4.5

0.74

0.51

Kelon

3.6

0.65

0.50

Dakala

3.0

0.67

0.25

Rampur

3.0

0.43

0.27

Khera

1.8

0.30

0.18

Village

Table 4 Spearman’s Coefficients of Rank-Order Correlation for Pairs of Indices of Social Stratification in Six Villages Pair of Indices

Coefficient of Correlation Remarks

Occupational heterogeneity and heterogeneity of individual prestige.

0.843

Significant at .02 level.

Occupational heterogeneity and consensus about individual prestige.

0.929

Significant at 0.01 level.

Heterogeneity of individual prestige and consensus about individual prestige.

0.600

and the other of a lower degree of fluidity, including Dakala, Rampur and Khera. There is also a significant degree of correlation among the rank orders of villages on each of the indices. Spearman’s Rank-order coefficients of correlation between the three pairs of indices are shown in Table 4. In two cases the coefficients are highly significant. The significance of the coefficient in the case of the third pair, namely, heterogeneity of individual prestige and consensus about individual prestige, is relatively low. But it is worth noting that all the three indices, even though crude, are correlated with one another as suggested by our hypotheses. We may next test the validity of the indices of social stratification by examining their relationship with some of the variables which are commonly

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Victor S. D’Souza

held to be associated with social stratification. In the indices considered, the entire community is treated as a unit for the purpose of measurement and so they are measures of complex entities or of group properties. Therefore, the correlates of these indices should also be the measures of the society or community taken as a unit, measuring its group property. Social scientists have formulated a number of constructed typologies for comparison among societies as complex wholes. The better known among these polar, ideal types are Tonnies’ Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft, Redfield’s Folk-Urban continuum, Becker’s Sacred and Secular societies, parsons’ societal types expressed in Pattern Variables of Action Orientation, and Weber’s Traditional and Rational societies (Tonnies 1963: 12–29). Although these different pairs of ideal types emphasise different sets of general characteristics of societies, they are all basically the same. They all point to the same conclusion that as societies develop from simple to complex forms, they undergo similar transformations in their general characteristics. Besides this, in the present context it is important to note that all these ideal types refer to social stratification in one way or another. It is generally assumed that as a society or community advances from a lower level of complexity to a higher one, its system of social stratification becomes more mobile. In the inter-personal behaviour of members, the achieved status gains in importance at the expense of the ascribed status. This is the same as saying that in the rising scale of societal complexity social stratification becomes more and more fluid as measured by our indices. Therefore, for the validation of the indices of social stratification which are really the measure of societal complexity, we should demonstrate their relationship with variables derived from the ideal types of societies. Among other variables, population size, literacy rate, distance from larger communities, and level of services are often found to be correlated with the complexity of a community. Information pertaining to these items is presented in Table 5. Our field study was conducted in 1964, but the data about population and literacy, given in the table, refer to an earlier period. However, these figures for 1964 were not likely to be very much different from those of 1961. The variation in population does not appear to be significantly correlated with the indices of social stratification. The largest village comes about fourth in the order of the degree of fluidity of social stratification. Spearman’s Rank-order coefficients of correlation between population size and each of the indices of occupational heterogeneity, heterogeneity

716

1344

343

393

Dakala

Rampur

Khera

853

Manali

Kelon

447

Devigarh

Village

23

5

57

119

16

0

Percentage Increase Over Population in Population in 1951 1961

7

20

12

33

27

24

Percent Literate in 1961

0

11

8

41

48

37

Percent Literate Female to Literate Male Population in 1961

Table 5 Demographic, Locational and Developmental Characteristics

4

5

4

23

14

5

Percent Literate in 1951

0

0

0

9

2

14

14

12

12

12

6

11

6

3

5





1

Percent Literate Female to Distance Distance Literate Male from Main Population in from Tehsil Town (miles) Road (miles) 1951

low

medium

low

high

high

medium

Relative Level of Services

DIMENSION OF SOCIAL STRATIFICATION IN SIX INDIAN VILLAGES 85

86

Victor S. D’Souza

of individual prestige, and consensus about individual prestige are 0.543, 0.543 and 0.314, respectively, which are not very significant. Although the villages vary widely among themselves in their population numbers, their absolute sizes are not very large, and this may be the reason for the relative lack of influence of size on societal complexity. However, literacy rate seems to be an important correlate of social stratification. The coefficients of correlation of each of the indices of with higher indices of occupational heterogeneity, heterogeneity of individual prestige, and consensus about individual prestige with the percentage of literate population in 1961 are 0814 (p. < .05), 0.486 and 0.943 (p. < .01), respectively, and with the percentage of literate female to literate male population in 1961 are 0.929 (p. < .01), 0.600 and 1.000 (p. < .001), respectively. At least two of the coefficients in each set are highly significant. The Indian village community is not entirely isolated or selfcontained. As Robert Redfield has pointed out (1963: 33–34), in it we find a good example of a peasant society in which the smaller social system of the self-contained village is in interaction with the larger social system of the national community. Obviously the national system would interact with the village communities through the larger neighbouring communities. Accordingly, the city in the vicinity exerts its influence over the surrounding villages. Among the villages coming under the influence of the same city, the nearer the village, the greater would be the city’s influence, and consequently, the greater would be the complexity of the social system of the village. The closest to all the six villages is the headquarters of the tehsil in which the villages are located (tehsil = administrative division above the village). However, except in Manali which is nearest the town, the range of variation in the distances of the villages from the town is not appreciably wide. But there is a significant variation in the distance of the villages from the main road which connects them to the town, and the three villages with higher indices of social stratification are closer to the main road than the remaining three. At the beginning of the study and before the sample of villages for detailed study was chosen, all the villages in the same Community Development Block were classified into high, medium and low categories, according to the level of community services such as schools, medical facilities, special institutional arrangements for the cultivators, and so on. As can be seen from the last column of Table 5, two of the three villages with higher degrees of indices of social stratification had a high

DIMENSION OF SOCIAL STRATIFICATION IN SIX INDIAN VILLAGES

87

level of services, and one medium level. On the other hand, of the remaining three villages, two had a low level of services, and one medium. Thus, on the whole, the level of services is related to the degree of fluidity of social stratification. Also, at the beginning of the study, the Block level officials of the Community Development Project were asked to rank all the villages in their Block, including the six villages, into live categories of decreasing degree of progressiveness. These categories were given scores from one through five. The mean scores for the six villages are as follows:— Village

Rank Score

Devigarh Manali Kelon Dakala Rampur Khera

1.2 1.6 1.4 3.0 4.0 4.3

The Rank-order correlation coefficients between the order of progressiveness and each of the indices of occupational heterogeneity, heterogeneity of individual prestige, and consensus about individual prestige are 0.929 (p. < .01), 0.714 (p. < .1) and 0.943 (p. < .01), respectively, two of the coefficients being highly significant. It is therefore remarkable that even this highly subjective index of progressiveness is so significantly correlated with the objective indices of social stratification. Social scientists who are attempting to study the process of economic development have come to increasingly realise that economic development is a part of the larger process of social development, which is nothing else but the transformation of the society from a lower level of complexity to a higher one in the manner indicated by the ideal types of society referred to above (Hoselitz and Moore 1963). In this context, the process of development of a backward and tradition-oriented society into an advanced one is known as modernization. Thus, the increasing scale of complexity in a society is accompanied with a trend towards modernization. Among his other characteristics, the modern man has strong secular aspirations and attitudes, lays greater emphasis on the functional role rather than the ascribed traditional one, and is development-oriented. Consequently, he is more responsive to change and prone to make use of scientific and technological knowledge for

88

Victor S. D’Souza

advancement. In our detailed study conducted in the six villages, we obtained information on the attitudinal dimension of modernity, and the adoption of recommended and improved agricultural practices which is a tangible index of modernization. We may, therefore, examine to what extent these variables of societal complexity are also correlated with indices of social stratification. The following six items were intended to elicit information on the attitudinal dimension of modernity: 1. What is your opinion about the education of boys for making a good living these days? Check if it is: Essential/Necessary/Immaterial/Not necessary/ Handicap/No opinion. 2. How much education do you think girls should be given these days? High education/Moderate education/No education/No opinion. 3. In your opinion, should the girls be sufficiently educated so as to secure employment? Yes/No/No opinion. 4. What should be the basis of election of a person to an office in a village organization? Merit/Caste/Religon/Economic condition/No opinion. 5. For the development and welfare of village community, do you think that young people should have separate youth organizations? Yes/No/No opinion. 6. Should young people be consulted in planning, organizing and executing village development plan? Yes/No/No opinion.

The responses to live of these items, Nos. 1 to 4 and 6, form a consistent pattern indicating a monotonic relationship. It is possible that since the villagers had no experience about separate youth organizations, their responses to item 5 were unrealistic. This item, therefore, has been omitted from our analysis. The percentages of persons responding “Yes” to items 3 and 6 and indicating “Merit” on item 4 are adequate to discriminate among the villages. So in Table 6 these percentages have been treated as attitudinal scores on those items for the village as a whole. However, for a clearer discrimination, the scores for items 1 and 2 have been obtained by giving separate scores to response categories in such a way that the maximum item score is 100. For instance, in the case of item l, the response category “Essential” is given score 2, “Necessary” score 1, and the remaining categories O. The item score is obtained by multiplying the percentage of responses in each category by its respective score and dividing the sum of the scores of all categories by 2. The last row in Table 6 shows the composite index score for all the items. To obtain this score, the score on a particular item for a village is

89 160

Importance of education of boys.

Importance of education of girls.

Favourable disposition towards employment of women.

Composite index score.

1.

2.

3.

85

93

100

Merit as basis of leadership.

4.

99

Importance of opinion of youth.

Devigarh

6.

Items

Table 6 Scores on Attitudinal Dimension of Modernity

119

51

64

72

97

96

Manali

96

23

50

52

100

95

Kelon

93

30

58

62

72

70

Dakala

Villages

69

4

35

50

67

83

Khera

30

0

15

32

25

31

Rampur

100

36

54

62

80

81

Total Sample

DIMENSION OF SOCIAL STRATIFICATION IN SIX INDIAN VILLAGES 89

90

Victor S. D’Souza

converted into the percentage of the corresponding score for the total sample, and the resulting percentages for all the items are averaged. The villages vary over a wide range both on the individual item score and the composite index score, indicating that they occupy different positions on the attitudinal dimension of modernity. We are finally concerned with the relationship of this variable with the indices of social stratification. And as a matter of fact we do and a significant degree of correlation between them. The Rank-order coefficient of correlation between the attitudinal variable and each of the indices of occupational heterogeneity, heterogeneity of individual prestige and consensus about individual prestige are 0.843 (p. < .02), 0.885 (p. < .01), and 0.657 respectively, two of the coefficients being highly significant. As to the adoption of improved agricultural practices recommended by the officials of Community Development Project, the factors in agricultural development may be broadly divided into two categories: technological and socio-cultural. There is already a large body of scientific and technological knowledge made available to the villagers by external agencies. Therefore the main obstacles to be surmounted in the application of this knowledge are socio-cultural ones. It is our assumption that societies with a higher degree of complexity would facilitate the adoption of practices with the possibilities of advancement. Therefore, we may predict that the level of adoption of improved agricultural practices would be correlated with the indices of social stratification. Our information on the level of adoption of agricultural practices relates to 20 practices divided into five major categories: (1) Use of chemical fertilizers, (2) Adoption of improved methods of cultivation, (3) Use of improved variety of seeds, (4) Use of modern methods of plant protection, and (5) Use of improved methods of animal husbandry. Each category consists of four practices. However, the information on two of the practices about animal husbandry cannot be used for comparative purposes. These are (a) use of artificial insemination, because except in one village, Kelon, there were no artificial insemination centres in the villages, and (b) use of stud bull, because this practice was reported by hardly one or two respondents in the entire sample. The indices of adoption of the remaining 18 practices are shown in Table 7. The index score on a particular practice in any village is obtained by converting the percentage of cultivators in the village adopting the

DIMENSION OF SOCIAL STRATIFICATION IN SIX INDIAN VILLAGES

91

practice as a percentage of the corresponding percentage in the total sample shown in the last column. In calculating the percentages of adopters, only the cultivators to whom the practices are applicable are considered. The last row of the table shows the composite index of adoption of 15 out of the 18 items. The items excluded for the purpose of this index are Nos. 14, 15 and 16, because these practices were adopted by a negligible proportion of the total sample, and so the villages in which it has been adopted would gain under-weightage in the composite index. The composite adoption index score shows a wide range of variation from 134 in Devigarh to 54 in Rampur. The three villages Devigarh, Manali and Kelon, which have higher degrees of indices of social stratification, have quite high adoption scores. But what is surprising is that Khera, which comes last or last-but-one in the order of all the other variables considered so far, comes second in order in the case of this index. As a result, the correlation coefficients between this index and the indices of social stratification cease to have any significance. The Rank-order correlation coefficients between this and each of the indices of occupational heterogeneity, individual prestige and consensus about individual prestige are 0.300, 0.371 and 0.086 respectively. The Rankorder coefficient of correlation between this index and the index of attitude towards modernity is also relatively low, being 0.657. It is true that the index of adoption of agricultural practices refers only to the cultivators whereas the other variables considered refer to the total sample. But this is not an explanation of the peculiar status of Khera on the index of adoption. It is also true that if we consider only the number of practices adopted, irrespective of the proportion of cultivators adopting them, Khera comes fourth on the adoption index, thus supporting our hypothesis about the relationship between adoption index and the indices of social stratification. But this index of adoption is too crude to fall back upon. Therefore, other factors, not included in our discussion, may be needed to provide a satisfactory explanation. For the time being, however, we may assume that our hypothesis holds good and that some fortuitous circumstances are responsible for the unexpected behaviour of Khera. If so, the behaviour of the remaining five villages should confirm our hypothesis. And this is indeed the case for in that event the Rank-order coefficients of correlation between

122 100 156 167 104 156 100 250 67

2. Use of fertilizers for cotton at flowering.

3. Use of fertilizers for groundnut at sowing.

4. Use of fertilizers for wheat at sowing and subsequent irrigation.

5. Line-sowing of cotton.

6. Weeding of cotton.

7. Use of cotton drill.

8. Use of compost pits.

9. Wheat C273 for irrigated land.

Devigarh

1. Use of fertilizers for rice at planting.

Practices

169

232

30

72

104

68

35

127

39

Manali

106

110

103

33

107

40

32

233

88

Kelon

31

0

10

54

6

103

93

0

108

Dakala

Villages

Table 7 Index of Adoption of Recommended Agricultural Practices during the Season Preceding the Field Study

178

0

333

175

186

167

167

0

134

Khera

0

0

27

149

157

60

0

253

0

Rampur

45

40

30

57

54

60

60

15

75

Total %

92 Victor S. D’Souza

116 150 21 134

18. Vaccination against rinderpest (preceding and past seasons).

Average for 15 items, excluding Nos. 14, 15 and 16.

133

15. Application of BHC when planting sugar cane.

17. Vaccination against hemorrhage septicenia (preceding and past seasons).

175

14. Cotton Spray (BHC/DDT)

16. Use of solar treatment of wheat.

120 145

13. Cotton Desi 321R

174

11. Groundnut Pb. No. 1 or C501.

12. Cotton American 320

203

10. Wheat C591 or C286 for unirrgrated land.

101

153

97

100

0

75

118

24

136

116

95

135

111

50

334

300

104

111

11

164

55

0

44

0

0

0

148

125

77

26

130

186

154

317

0

0

6

116

147

0

54

0

0

0

0

0

23

115

0

116

100

52

61

6

6

4

66

80

47

31

DIMENSION OF SOCIAL STRATIFICATION IN SIX INDIAN VILLAGES 93

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Victor S. D’Souza

the adoption index and each of the indices of occupational heterogeneity, heterogeneity of individual prestige and consensus about individual prestige increase considerably to 0.875 (p. < .05), 0.900 (p. < .02), and 0.600, respectively, the first two co-efficients being highly significant. In so far as we have demonstrated the relationship between the indices of social stratification and the various important indices of societal complexity, we may conclude that the measures that we have derived are valid indices of the degree of fluidity of social stratification. However, considering only those variables of societal complexity for which we have more up-to-date and objective information, such as the indices of attitude towards modernity and adoption of recommended agricultural practices, it is evident that the indices of occupational heterogeneity and heterogeneity of individual prestige are more reliable as the indices of social stratification than the index of consensus about individual prestige. This is hardly surprising because the last index has been derived in a relatively more indirect fashion.

Note 1. This paper was presented at the Seminar on Trans-Disciplinary Method in Social Sciences, at Lucknow on March 11–12, 1967. It is a revised version of Journal Paper No. 15 of Social Science Research Centre, Mississippi State University. Data utilized in this paper were taken from a study conducted co-operatively by the Department of Sociology, Panjab University and the Social Science Research Center, Mississippi State University. Thanks are due to Harold F. Kaufman and Robert C. Angell for their helpful comments.

References D’Souza, Victor S. I967 Caste and Class: A Reinterpretation. Journal of Asian and African Studies, 11(3): 192–211. Hoselitz, Bert F. and Wilbert E. Moore (ed) 1963 Industrialization and Society. Unesco: Mouton Redfield, Robert 1963 Peasant Society and Culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press (Phoenix Books). Tonnies, Ferdinand 1963 Community and Society. Translated from German and edited by Charles P. Loomis. New York: Harper and Row.

7 Bhadralok and Chhotolok in a Rural Area of West Bengal Surajit Sinha and Ranjit Bhattacharya

I. Introduction

T

he term Bhadralok came in usage in Bengali society around the beginning of the nineteenth century as a Sanskritised synonym of the English term ‘gentleman’. We find the use of the term in the Bengali newspapers and periodicals in the early half of the nineteenth century (Bandopadhyaya 1946). The term is literally derived from the Sanskrit word bhadra, which carries connotations such as shishta (cultured and of restrained manners), sabhya (civilised), mangal (auspicious), uttam (of superior quality), marjita ruchi bishishta (of cultivated taste), etc. (Das 1930). The term thus emphasizes ‘cultivated taste’ and ‘civilsed manners’ rather than wealth and power. The Bhadralok is to be identified by bhadrata (good manners). A Bhadralok, according to the standard Bengali dictionary-meaning of today, is expected to be binoyee (modest), priyabadee (gentle in speech), shanta (composed) and shishta (of restrained manners). He is also expected to be satbangshajata (born of good lineage) (Das 1930). One comes across a term of equivalent meaning, shista jaina, in Chaitanya Charitamrita composed by Krishnadas Kaviraj in the seventeenth century. The term Chhotolok (lowly people) or Chhoto Jat (low caste) cannot be regarded as a translation of the English terms ‘lower classes’ or ‘serfs’. The category

96

Surajit Sinha and Ranjit Bhattacharya

derives directly from the system of varna and jati in the Bengali Hindu society. Regardless of the fact whether the term Bhadralok originated as the translation of an English term or of an English social category or not, it will appear to any observer in rural as well as urban West Bengal that the related social concept is thoroughly embedded in the regional social mileu. The cultural pattern and the mode of intergroup behaviour of the people of West Bengal are guided in detail by the great divide of Bhadralok and Chhotolok. This is particularly true for the Hindus, but holds, in a general way, also for the Moslem population. It is surprising that there has not been any systematic anthropological study to define the socio-economic and cultural parameters of these important categories of stratification. Anthropologists of Bengali society, from Risley onwards, have been directly interested in the caste system and—only occasionally—in the nature of correlation between caste stratification and economic classes. There are only a few passing references to the categories of Bhadralok and Chhotolok (Sarma 1955, Nair 1961, Chattopadhyaya 1964, Bose 1967). Recently, in an unpublished report, Danda and Danda (1968) have dealt with the pattern of interaction between the Bhadralok and Chhotolok in some detail. We became specially aware of the significance of the BhadralokChhotolok dimension of social stratification in the course of a field investigation on cultural factors differentially affecting the nature of involvement in agricultural technology among three distinct communities—Hindus, Moslems and the tribal Santal-in three adjacent villages, Bergram, Khiruli and Debagram, in Bolpur police station, in Birbhum district, during 1966.1 Further fieldwork was done by Ranjit Bhattacharya among the Moslems of Khiruli during 1967–68 in connection with a research project on social srtucture and cultural system of the Moslems. This prolonged fieldwork provided us with enough opportunity to observe social interaction in varied contexts, to probe into the mind of the respondents, and to get a feel for their guiding social sentiments. Although the focus of this paper will be on the Hindu society of Bergram, the constrastive perspective of the neighbouring Moslem and Santal societies will also be utilsed in order to deepen our understanding of the essence of the Bhadralok-Chhotolok system of stratification.

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97

II. The Layout of the Three Villages The categories Bhadralok and Chhotolok are graphically represented in the layout of the habitations of the Hindu village Bergram. There is a rough division of the population into two residential zones (paras), Bhadralok Para and Chhotolok Para, inhabited by two clusters of castes, the Bhadralok and the Chhotolok. Within this broad residental divide, Sunri Para, the settlement zone of the Sunri (traditionally wine distillers and sellers), has an anomalous position. While the uncontrovertially Bhadralok castes, such as the Brahman and Kayastha, do not regard the Sunri quite within their fold, the typical Chhotolok castes, such as the Dom (labourers) and Bayan (traditionally leather-workers and drummers), regard them as Bhadralok (see Table 1). Excluding the controversial 7 Sunri households, Bergram has 22 Bhadralok and 20 Chhotolok families. In contrast to the Hindus, the Moslems of Khiruli first divide their Paras as Moslem Para and Chhotolok Para (Para inhabited by the Hindu Chhotolok castes) and then sub-divide the Moslem Para in terms of cartogrpahic cardinal points, such as Pub Para (Eastern Zone), Maj Para (Central Zone) and Pachhim Para (Western Zone). The Moslem Para is not rigidly segmented into areas lived by distinct social or economic strata. So, while the existence of the Hindu Chhotolok castes provides this Moslem village with a Chhotolok Para, their own society does not provide the precise contrast of Bhadralok Para (see Table 2). The tribal people in this area tend to live at some distance from the major settlements of the Hindus or of the Moslems. The Majhi Para hamlet of the Santal of Debagram is located away from the main Hindu settlement of Debagram village. Although the Santal are regarded by the Hindu Bhadralok as equivalent to the Chhotolok castes, yet their hamlet is not labelled by the high caste Hindus as Chhotolok Para. Just as the settlement of the Oraon in this area is known as Oraon Para or Dhangar Para, the settlements of the Santal are also designated as Majhi Para, as the residential area of a distinct ethnic group. The Santal themselves do not think of their locality as Chhotolok Para and the concept of Bhadralok does not have any relevance within their hamlet.

Total

Chhotolok conception of Bhadralok Para

Major Segments

7 Paras

Chhotolok Para

Bhadralok conception of Bhadralok Para

{

{ {

Table 1 Para-wise Caste Distribution in Bergram

7 Castes (Konar Sadgop included in Sadgop category)

Bayan Para

{

8

Bayan or Muchi 49

1

12

6

4

Sunri

Dom

Sunri

Sunri para Dom Para

Sadgop

Deashi Para

5

Sadgop

4

1

1

Sarnakar Konar Sadgop

2

Kayastha

Sadgop

{

{ 5

Households

Brahman

Caste

Pal Para

Moral Para

Brahman Para

Para

Chhotolok

Status not defined

Chhtolok

Status not defined

,,

,,

,,

,,

Bhadralok

Bhadralok par excellence ,,

Bhadralolk/Chhotolok

98 Surajit Sinha and Ranjit Bhattacharya

BHADRALOK AND CHHOTOLOK IN A RURAL AREA OF WEST BENGAL

99

Table 2 Layout of Khiruli Village Major Segments Moslem Para

Chhotolok Para

{ {

Para

Caste or Community

Households

Bhadralok/ Chhotolok

Pub Para

Moslem

31

Not defined

Maj Para

Moslem

14

Not defined

Pachhim Para

Moslem

26

Not defined



Hadi

1

Chhotolok



Dom

8

Chhotolok

80 Table 3 Hierarchy of Castes in Bergram Caste Status

Bhadralok/Chhotolok Status

1. Brahman

Bhadralok

2. Kayastha

,,

3. Sarnakar

,,

4. Sadgop

,,

5. Sunri

Controvertial

6. Dom

Chhotolok

7. Muchi or Bayan

,,

III. Caste and Bhadralok-Chhotolok Status Groups From the settlement pattern itself it will be apparent that the BhadralokChhotolok status categories include clusters of castes and not individuals or families, and also that these categories are particularly meaningful in the Hindu village of Bergram, less so in the Moslem village of Khiruli, and the least of all in the Santal hamlet of Majhi Para in Debagram. In Bergram the members of the upper four castes would arrange the seven castes of the village in a hierarchy as shown in Table 3. It has already been stated that while the lowest two castes regard the Sunri as belonging to the Bhadralok category the upper four castes regard them as not quite within the sphere of the Bhadralok. Although the Dom and Muchi accept their low status and Chhotolok category, there is some controversy among themselves regarding relative caste status.

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The first thing that impresses one about the Bhadralok-Chhotolok categories is that although the broad outlines of the caste division are accepted in this mode of classification, the detailed caste hierarchy of seven grades is ignored in favour of two broad divisions, with an intermediate position for the Sunri. The people of Bergram, especially the members of the upper castes, are aware that throughout West Bengal the three higher castes, the Brahman, Vaidya and Kayastha, are regareded as typical Bhadralok castes—the Bhadralok par excellence—and that within this group the Brahman do not necessarily hold the highest position. In other words, the ritual or sacred position of the Brahman is not fully validated in the conceptualization of the Bhadralok class. Yet the ritual criterion of caste is not completely ignored, for the ritually low Sunri have difficulty in gaining Bhadralok status while the more ‘degraded’ Dom and Bayan have no chances at all of recognition as Bhadralok. The crucial characteristic of the Bhadralok per excellence in the rural area is the negative feature that they do not plough fields with their own hands. They are also expected to be literate. While the three uppermost castes, the Brahman, Vaidya and Kayastha, are universally accepted as Bhadralok in rural West Bengal, there are certain groups in the middle and the lower (though not the lowest) range of the varna strata who attain Bhadralok status mainly on the basis of local dominance in landholding and number. The Sadgop form such a ‘dominant caste’ in Bergram and are locally regarded as Bhadralok. They prefer supervisory role in agriculture, although they cannot always avoid ploughing the fields with their own hands. Only the Konar Sadgop among them totally avoid ploughing with their own hands in order to fully validate their Bhadralok status. It should also be mentioned that the lowest castes tend to take the factor of local dominance more seriously than the upper castes in ascribing status in the Bhadralok-Chhotolok hierarchy. The Dom and Bayan, for example, regard the dominant Sadgop as the Bhadralok par excellence, an attitude which the upper castes do not share. Both the Bhadralok and Chhotolok groups of Hindu castes regard the Moslems as outside the sphere of varna-based jati hierarchy. The Chhotolok castes, however, tend to regard the Moslems as more polluting and, hence, lower than themselves and as belonging to the Chhotolok category. The upper Hindu castes belonging to the Bhadralok category, however, do not regard the Moslems en bloc as Chhotolok. They consider the rich Moslems in the neighbouring villages as Bhadralok in a ‘secular sense’, that is, in the sense of a non-ritual upper status group. The Hindu Bhadralok of Bergram do not feel threatened by conceding

BHADRALOK AND CHHOTOLOK IN A RURAL AREA OF WEST BENGAL

101

this status of equality to the Moslem, for the Moslems do not live in their own village and do not compete with them for status within the idiom of caste hierarchy. The Moslems do not think of themselves as a distinct caste group. They regard themselves as a distinct minority religious community with its own set of Great Tradition and consciousness of its history. Their society, in this area, is not divided into rigidly graded endogamous castes. Yet the Moslem peasants in this region may be roughly divided into two caste-like strata: (a) The upper stratum (analogous to the Bhadralok among the Hindus) including the Saiyad, Sheik and Palhan; and (b) the lower stratum (analogous to the Chhotolok among the Hindus) including the weaver Jolha and the painter Patua. While the highest rank of the Saiyad is conceded by all, there is controversy among the Sheik and Palhan about their relative rank. In Khiruli one comes across only the Sheik while the Moslem inhabitants of the neighbouring village of Keshabpur are all Pathans. Although one can feel the rough divide between the BhadralokChhotolok ‘analogue groups’ among the Moslems in their tendency to avoid marriage across the line, interaction between these groups is not built up systematically in a set of hierarchic relationship. The upper and the lower status groups of Moslems, or even two groups belonging to the upper status category, do not usually live in the same village in this region. Unlike the Hindu Bhadralok, the Moslem upper status groups are not organically linked with their own lower status groups in building up the local economic and social life. Apart from the factors of residential pattern and economic relationship, the egalitarian teachings of the Koran and the Hadith play some role in not allowing the status analogues of the Hindu Bhadralok-Chhotolok divisions to harden too far among the Moslems. The Great Tradition of Islam, however, does not tone down the disparity in economic levels among the Moslem inhabitants of Khiruli. Unlike the Hindus and Moslems, the Santals of Majhi Para in Debagram-have no concept of status hierarchy among themselves. They divide their twelve khunts or clans in a traditional hierarchy based on the mythological notion of the order of their first appearance on the earth. This traditional hierarchy, however, is merely a concept; it has no concrete social function. The Santal are aware that they are regarded as a Chhotolok group by the Bhadralok as well as Chhotolok Hindu castes and also by the Moslems. They are also aware of the Bhadralok category among the Hindus. Unlike the Hindu Chhotolok castes, however, they have not accepted the Chhotolok status assigned to them by the Hindus who are Dikus (foreigners) and outside their social sphere.

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IV. Class, Power and Bhadralok-Chhotolok Categories From our observation of the economic life of the village of Bergram it is apparent that the high social status of the upper ranges of castes, that is, the Bhadralok group of castes, has firm basis in their economic superiority, specially in landholding. They used to be landlords and superior tenure holders and still are substantial landholders, while the Chhotolok castes are either landless or poor farmers depending for their subsistence mainly on working as hired labourers in the fields or houses of the Bhadralok castes. Thus, in reality, class stratification is embedded, to a great extent, within the hierarchy of castes. Caste-and community-wise landholding in Bergram, Khiruli and Debagram Majhi Para has been shown in Tables 4, 5 and 6. It will be apparent from Table 4 that the Bhadralok castes virtually monopolise the landholding in Bergram, while nearly half of the Chhotolok castes are landless and the rest have scanty landholding. The same table also indicates that the Sadgop decisively dominate in landholding. The people of Bergram divide the castes roughly as shown in Table 7 in terms of economic classes. If has already been mentioned that the typical Bhadralok are expected to avoid manual labour, specially, ploughing the field. The Bhadralok women also avoid agricultural work Table 4 Caste-wise Landholding in Bergram

Households

Approximate Holding of Cultivable Land (in acres)

Landless Households

Brahman

5

30



Kayastha

2

16



Sarnakar

1

5



Sadgop

14

154



Sunri

7

19

1

Dom

12

3

7

Muchi

8

3

6

Total

49

230

14

Caste

BHADRALOK AND CHHOTOLOK IN A RURAL AREA OF WEST BENGAL

103

Table 5 Caste and Community-wise Landholding in Khiruli Caste or Community

Households

Approximate Holding of Cultivable Land

Landless Households

Moslem

71

145

20

Handi

1



1

Dom

8

10



Total

80

155

21

Households

Approximate Holding of Cultivable Land

Landless Households

26

14

12

Table 6 Landholding in Debagram Majhi Para Community Santal

Table 7 Division of Castes in Bergtam in Terms of Economic Classes Caste

Economic Class

Sadgop, Sunri*

Rich

Brahman, Kayastha, Sarnakar

Middle class

Dom, Bayan

Poor

* Though the Sunri are not actually as rich as they are shown here, and should be placed in the middle class, the people think of them as a wealthy caste on the basis of memory of their past record of landholding.

in the field and their children mostly go to school and do not participate in agricultural work. Moreover, many of these Bhadralok families in Bergram have more land than they could have cultivated with their family-based manpower even if they all worked with their own hands. These factors combine together to make the Bhadralok depend primarily on the Chhotolok for agricultural labour, while their own role is reduced to that of supervisors. It has been roughly estimated that one supervisor is enough to look after the work of 2 to 3 labourers on an area of about 13 acres. Thus while the Bhadralok provide enough subsistence-level employment to the Chhotolok of this village as

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Table 8 Non-Agricultural Occupations in Bergram

Occupation

Nature of Involvement

Persons/Family Involved

Their Caste

4 families

3 Sadgop

X

1 Sunri

X

1 Brahman

X

Primary

Secondary

Business Usury Grocery and cigarette shops

2 persons

1 Sunri 1 family

Sadgop

Itinerary trader in betel leaves

1 person

Sunri

Cycle repairing

2 persons

1 Brahman 1 Kayastha

X X X X X

Professions and Services Priesthood

3 families

Brahman

X

Drummer

3 families

Muchi (caste occupation)

X

School teacher

3 persons

2 Sadgop

X

1 Brahman

X X

Quack medical practitioner

1 person

Sadgop

Medicine-man

1 person

Sadgop

Worker in cycle repair shop at Bolpur

1 person

Brahman

Post Master

1 person

Sadgop

Contractor

2 persons

Sadgop

X

Postal peon

1 person

Sadgop

X

X X

X

BHADRALOK AND CHHOTOLOK IN A RURAL AREA OF WEST BENGAL

105

agricultural labourers, they usually have a surplus of supervisors in their own joint families. This surplus of potential supervisors tend to go in for non-agricultural occupations with the support of their formal education (see Table 8). It will be seen from Table 8 that except for the socially degrading traditional service of drumming no other non-agricultural trade, profession or service is pursued by the typical Chhotolok castes. Dominance of the Sadgop is again reflected in their practice of the majority of business and professional occupations. Out of 26 families and/or persons involved in various non-agricultural occupations the Sadgop are represented in 12 cases. One also notices the participation of the marginal Sunri in this category. Apart from the limitations of belonging to the polluting and degraded social groups, the Chhotolok are handicapped from going in for the above non-caste occupations due to their lack of capital and illiteracy. The relatively rich Moslem families of Khiruli have landholdings comparable to those of the Hindu Bhadralok class, particularly to that of the dominant caste Sadgop (see Table 5). The Moslem women of this class also remain away from the productive activities in the field. Some of the substantial Moslem farmers, like their Hindu counterparts, depend primarily on non-agricultural occupations (see Table 9). With all these similarities between the Hindu Bhadralok castes and their Moslem equivalents, the Molems have not fully accepted non-manual orientation of the Hindu Bhadralok castes. The Moslem rich are not so thoroughly dependent on the poor and low Hindu castes and the tribals for their productive activities. The poor Moslems within the village, belonging to the high social status Sheik, provide a good amount of the regular labour force to the rich. Unlike the Hindu Bhadralok, the poor relatives among the Moslem upper strata groups do not have much inhibition in serving as paid labourers or mahendar in the house of a rich relative. They serve there as paid helping hands but not quite as servants. As a result the employers and the above category of employees may meet as equals on various social occasions. It may be mentioned here that while the poor Hindu Bhadralok will never work as a mahendar in the house of a rich relative, the Hindu Chhotolok will not mind working as a paid labourer in the house of one of his relatives. The economic relation of the tribal Santal with the Hindu Bhadralok is similar to that of the Hindu Chhotolok, namely as supplier

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Surajit Sinha and Ranjit Bhattacharya

Table 9 Non-Agricultural Occupations in Khiruli Nature of Involvement

Persons/ Families Involved

Their Caste/ Community

Usury

12 families

Moslem

X

Business in paddy and rice

10 families

,,

X

Business in eggs

2 persons

,,

X(1)

Cloth dealer

1 person

,,

X

Occupation

Primary

Secondary

Business

Paikar 2 persons (dealers in cattle)

,,

X(1) X

Grocer’s shop

4 persons

,,

Transport

Many persons owning bullock carts

,,

X(1)

X(3) X

Occasional dealer in earthen ware

2 persons

1 Moslem

X

1 Handi

X

Professions and services Primary school teacher

1 person

Moslem

X

Dafadar

1 person

,,

X

Chowkidar

1 person

Dom

X

Builder

2 persons

Moslem

Lorry driver

2 persons

,,

Amin (surveyor)

1 person

,,

X

Mali (gardener)

1 person

,,

X

Barber

2 persons

,,

1 person

Handi

X X

X(1)

Caste occupation Midwifery

X

X(1)

BHADRALOK AND CHHOTOLOK IN A RURAL AREA OF WEST BENGAL

107

of paid labour. As a result, they are considered equivalent to the Chhotolok by the non-tribal population of the area. It has been mentioned that although the Santal are fully aware of their precarious and dependent economic position and of their low social status in the eyes of the Hindus, they maintain a sense of ethnic pride in the isolation of their settlement and the distinct socio-ritual life. The land and work relations thus underlie the great divide of castes into Bhadralok and Chhotolok to a large extent. These relations re-group the basic building blocks of the society, namely, castes and their detailed ritually determined hierarchy, into a flexible and workable broad division of landholders and landless or poor labourers. The Bhadralok castes of Bergram not only dominate the economic field, they also virtually monopolize the channels of formal and informal sources of power and influence in the village. They hold all the offices of the new Panchayat and the School Committee and the points of contact of the village with organizations in the outside world such as the office of the Block Development Officer. A distinction may here be made between the traditional structure of influence and the contemporary realities of distribution of power. In the traditional system of arbitration of disputes the Brahman and Kayastha held the highest position and the Sarnakar and Sadgop came next in influence while the Chhotolok castes and the Sunri had to play a completely subservient role. The Chhotolok accepted the arbitration of the influential Bhandralok in the settlement of minor disputes. The new power structure, related to the operation of the new institutions like Panchayat, Block Development Office and national elections, closely corresponds to the class structure, with the Sadgop in the highest position and the Sunri, Kayastha and Sarnakar coming in the next category (see Table 10). In both the systems the true Chhotolok have no power, but in the new power structure the dominance of the Sadgop in the secular spheres of number and landholding becomes the decisive factor in placing them at the top position. By the same logic, the ritually low Sunri is placed on parity with the upper castes in the new power structure. In other words, although the Bhadralok-Chhotolok divide is operative in the distribution of power in bulk, the nature of detailed distribution of influence has shifted from congruence with ritual hierarchy of castes to the secular hierarchy based on wealth and numerical strength.

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Table 10 Caste and Position in Power Structure Caste

Position

A. Traditional Power Structure Brahman

Highest

Kayastha

High

Sarnakar, Sadgop

Ordinary

B. New Power Structure Sadgop

Highest

Sunri, Kayastha, Brahman, Sarnakar

Ordinary

The prevailing stereotype about the Chhotolok is that he is a landless or poor person, a mahendar (household servant and agricultural labourer), a kisan (agricultural labourer on seasonal contract), or a munish (agricultural day-labourer). His dwellings, his clothes, and his half-fed, ill, hungry and tired look will show every sign of his complete distinction. He is also ‘expected’ to lack economic initiative, intelligence and social responsibility. The image of the Bhadralok is just the polar opposite of the Chhotolok. He should have substantial cultivable land, milch cows, comfortable and spacious dwellings, and a well-fed look. He would take rest after day’s meal, lead a relatively regulated life, and use polished language. The Bhadralok are supposed to be responsible and intelligent and to have economic initiative. Education is considered to be an essential quality of the Bhadralok, and their women maintain veil and refrain from agricultural work in the field. A Bhadralok is also supposed to be a member of a joint family, since the joint family is regarded as an indication of good living and prosperity. Both the Bhadralok and Chhotolok castes of Bergram share- these images which have considerable bearing in reality. These stereotypes are partly shared also by the Moslems of Khiruli. They regard the Hindu Chhotolok castes and some of their own poor artisan groups as Chhotolok and their upper strata share many of the cultural emphases of the Hindu Bhadralok although non-manual orientation is considerably toned down in their case. The concept of ritual pollution is also very feeble among them.

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109

V. Pattern of Interaction between the Bhadralok and Chhotolok Economic, political and social dominance of the Bhadralok and social segregation of the Chhotolok are the main features in the interaction between the Bhadralok and Chhotolok. Although the Bhadralok are utterly dependent on the Chhotolok for the supply of labour force, they look down upon the Chhotolok in all respects, including even their mode of worship and ritual idioms. With their own sets of ‘degraded’ Brahmans viz. Napits (barbers and midwives), the Chhotolok tend to live in their separate world not only in residential zone but also in other aspects of social and cultural life. They can interact with the Bhadralok only in a submissive and segregated role while the Bhadralok do not at all participate in the social functions sponsored by the Chhotolok. Any member of the Bhadralok caste can invite the members of the other castes, including the Chhotolok, to a social feast, but it is a convention that the Chhotolok should not only take their seat in a segregated area, they should also express their deference to the Bhadralok castes by not taking food before the latter have started eating. The members of the Chhotolok group are not permitted to invite the members of the upper castes to a social dinner in their own house. They may only send uncooked food or arrange for a social feast in the house of a Bhadralok where food will be cooked by members of the upper castes. Illicit sexual contacts between the Bhadralok males and the Chhotolok females is common and not considered a major social offence, although the contrary cases, if they ever occurred, would be regarded as thoroughly repulsive and as severe breaches of social norms. During the community festivals such as Durga Puja, Kali Puja, Sitala Puja and Manasa Puja the Chhotolok castes are not allowed to offer flowers to the idols. They are not permitted to enter any temple, although they can worship their own house deities of inferior status. Only on the occasion of Dharmaraj Puja in the month of Vaisakh (AprilMay) the devotees, bhaktas, may belong to any caste, high or low, but not the lowest, i.e, the Bayan or Muchi. The bhaktas attain a temporary state of castelessness during the four days of the Puja. The Chhotolok are fully aware of their dependent and underprivileged situation in every sphere of life. They are aware that although they supply the major work-force for the productive activities of the village,

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they have no control over the village community of Bergram. One may wonder why the Chhotolok accept this wretched fate and do not unite to resist the dominance and exploitation of the privileged class. The answer lies partly in the fact that the Chhotolok class of this village (as  elsewhere) is segmented into several mutually exclusive groups or castes competing for status in the eyes of the Bhadralok. A sense of security due to steady availability of bare subsistence-level wage from the Bhadralok employer also tones down their spirit of resentment. In terms of sheer number, again, they form a minority vis-a-vis the upper castes, specially the dominant Sadgop caste. It also seems that the concept of rebirth still continues, to a certain extent, to heal the strain of their poor life-chances and to make them accept the deprived status. It should also be mentioned that the Bhadralok are interested in keeping the Chhotolok in a perpetual state of degradation, poverty and dependence. This they do in a masked manner and without conscious planning. They take every occasion to remind the Chhotolok that they are not quite fit in their habits, customs and mental capacity to mix with the Bhadralok on a level of parity. They do not take any genuine interest to upgrade the Chhotolok and to let them avail of the new opportunities for primary and secondary education on a massive scale. Rather than any innate disposition to avoid new opportunities for educating their children the Chhotolok have objective reasons for not being enthusiastic about formal education. The Chhotolok, who have to adjust themselves to the unpredictable cycle of weather and the whims of the employers in developing their working habits, cannot afford to subject their children to the disciplined hours of the school. Further, they cannot spend money for their children’s education for a long period, specially when they do not perceive an open structure of opportunity for employment. They have to train children in the technological knowhow of agriculture so that they can perform effectively in the sure source of livelihood, namely, as hired agricultural labourers.

VI. Summing Up From our observation of the behaviour of the people of Bergram it appears that the stratification of Bhadralok-Chhotolok is old and deeprooted and not just the product of borrowed terminology and social norms from the British. Nor does it appear to be primarily the product

BHADRALOK AND CHHOTOLOK IN A RURAL AREA OF WEST BENGAL

111

of a rising middle class under the impact of the British rule. This latter impact may have only given a particular twist to the role of the Bhadralok class, particularly in urban Bengal, along with the emergence of the ‘babu’ culture (Misra 1961; Sedition Committee 1918). The Bhadralok-Chhotolok division includes blocks of castes rather than individuals and families. The division follows a simplified version of the varna order in distinguishing the low castes belonging to the lower rung of the “unclean’ Sudra from the upper castes. Yet the basis of this stratification does not lie solely in the varna order, since the absolute supremacy-of the Brahman is not assured in this system and be is lumped together with the Kayastha, a clean Sudra caste, and the Vaidya as the Bhadralok par excellence. Nevertheless, it is a ‘caste-styled’ system of stratification since it recognises castes as component units and the stratification ‘roughly approximates’ the varna order. Apart from the structural features, in the style of life also the varna idioms play their role. The Bhadralok emphasis is on the satvik-rajasik mental traits, i.e. traits of restraint, discipline and endeavour, and the Chhotolok are stereotyped as having tamasik mental features i.e., traits of laxity and lethargy. Yet within the general framework of caste style, the BhadralokChhotolok stratification is essentially a flexible, simple and workable hierarchy which facilitates day-to-day interaction among the people of the village. It divides the superordinate and the subordinate into two groups and thus distinguishes the supervisors from the agricultural labourers, the masters from the ‘serfs’, the privileged from the unprivileged. To be more specific, this hierarchy has stratified the manual and the non-manual workers into two groups. This devaluation of manual labour seems to be mainly the product of the Hindu cultural milieu in this region, for we do not find it so pronounced among the Moslems and not at all among the Santal. One distinctive feature of the Bhadralok-Chhotolok mode of stratification is its flexibility. It is not rigid in attributing proportionable status to a group or groups of castes due to their relatively low status in the ritual hierarchy of castes when they hold a good position in the local structure of opportunity and power, e.g., the Sadgop of Bergram. The Bhadralok-Chhotolok stratification is the product of practical compromise between the long-range historical stream of varna-based caste hierarchy and the concrete situational context of the distribution

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of wealth and power. It is thus an evolved, practical and secular form of caste stratification. It also appears that such secular hierarchic dichotomy in styles of life has deep historical roots in Indian civilization in the form of division between Arya and Anarya in ethnic categories and patterns of life, Sanskrit and Prakrit in language, Marga (classical) and Deshi (folk) in music. In all these there is an effort to distinguish cultivated taste from the uncultivated. It is not unlikely that along with the varna division, the above persistent trend and model to divide the secular style of life into refined and crude has also contributed to the division of Bhadra and Abhadra as two distinct styles of life in later phase of history. Although the essence of Bhadralok-Chhotolok hierarchy has to be defined in terms of ‘style of life’ and ‘status stratification’ in Weberian sense, one also finds remarkable congruence of the dimensions of class and power with this category of status stratification. From our observation among the neighbouring Moslems and Santals it appears that while the Moslems have been partially drawn into the essentially Hindu idiom of stratification of Bhadralok and Chhotolok, the tribal Santals have maintained their egalitarian solidarity in residential and socio-cultural isolation. The preliminary enquiry on the Bhadralok-Chhotolok divide in rural West Bengal may stimulate us to enquire whether similar flexible and simplified secular adaptations of the caste hierarchy have evolved in different linguistic and cultural regions of India having different patterns of jati hierarchy. The scope of comparison may be extended to the non-Hindu communities: the Moslems, Jains, Parsis, Sikhs, Christians and the acculturated tribals. In looking into our data in the rural field we have deliberately ignored the urban context. We have not enquired to what extent the style of life of the Bhadralok is shaped after, apart from the varna idiom, the model of the urban middle and upper class citizens. One may also enquire to what extent the concept of Bhadralok has been individualised and released from the framework of varna and caste in the urban milieu. The Report of the Sedition Committee (1918) hinted that Bengal has a unique pattern of penetration of the literate, upper, Bhadralok strata into the villages. It is only on the basis of carefully collected comparative data that the above proposition can be tested. The existing village-studies, with their pre-occupation with caste and intricacies of

BHADRALOK AND CHHOTOLOK IN A RURAL AREA OF WEST BENGAL

113

ritual hierarchy, will not provide adequate understanding of the above perspective.

Note 1. This field investigation, done by Ranjit Bhattacharya, was part of a project on “Science and Technology in Relation to Cultural Values and Institutions of South and Southeast Asia: India and Ceylon,” sponsored by the UNESCO and directed by Surajit Sinha during 1965–66. We are very thankful to the UNESCO and to the Chairman, India International Centre, New Delhi, for sponsoring the project, which provided us the initial field experience for writing this easy. We are greatful to Shri K. T. Chandy, the then Director, Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, for providing various facilities to S.C. Sinha for directing the programme. Further field-work was possible in the area during 1967–68 due to the kind permission of Dr. D.K. Sen, Director, Anthropological Survey of India.

References Bandopadhyaya, Brajendra N. ed. 1946 Sangbadpatrey Shekaler Katha (1818–1830), Part I. Calcutta, Bangiya Sahitya Parishad. Bhattacharya, R. 1968. Social and Cultural Constraints in Agriculture in Three Villages (Hindu, Moslem and Tribal) of West Bengal. Journ. Anth. Soc. Indi., III (I). In Press. Bose, N.K. 1967. Culture and Society in India. Calcutta, Asia Publishing House. Chattopadhyaya, G. 1964. Ranjana: a Village in West Bengal. Calcutta, Bookland. Das, J.M., 1930. Bangla Bhashar Abhidhan. Calcutta, Bangiya Sahitya Parishad. Danda, Ajit and Deepali Danda, 1968 Development and Change in a Bengali Village. Hyderabad, National Institute of Community Development. Mimeo. Misra, B.B., 1961. The Indian Middle Classes: Their Growth in Modern Times. London Oxford University Press. Nair, Kusum, 1961. Blossoms in the Dust: the Human Element in Indian Development. London Gerald Duekworth. Sarma, J., 1955. A Village in West Bengal. In India’s Villages, M.N. Srinivas (ed.), Bombay, Asia Publishing House. Sedition Committee 1918. Report. Sinha, Surajit (ed.) 1966. Science and Technology in Relation to Cultural Values and Institutions of South and South-east Asia: India and Ceylon. Mimeographed report submitted to UNESCO.

8 Caste System in Contemporary Rural Bihar: A Study of Selected Villages Gaurang Ranjan Sahay

M

uch has been written on the caste system in India. But the system is so complex and dynamic that it continues to engage the attention of social scientists. The present study focuses on certain aspects of the caste system in contemporary rural Bihar, and examines in particular the linkage between caste and occupation as well as the status of the jajmani system today. This paper is based on the data collected from four villages of the Buxar (Bhogpur) district of Bihar during a period of three years from 1991–93 by means of interview schedule and careful observation of every day life practises of the villagers. The four villages selected for this study were: Unwas, Basantpur, Bishrampur and Bharchakia. Though they have many similarities, the villages are also dissimilar in several respects. Two of these villages, Unwas and Basantpur, are very old while the other two, Bishrampur and Bharchakia, are quite new. Just before independence, Basantpur was under the zamindari system whereas Unwas was under the ryotwari system. The other two villages came up after independence. In Unwas and Basantpur there are many castes while Bishrampur and Bharchakia have fewer castes. The ‘upper castes’ dominate Basantpur and Unwas while Bishrampur and Bharchakia are economically dominated by

A STUDY OF SELECTED VILLAGES

115

the ‘backward castes’. While Bishrampur and Bharchakia are almost spatially divided on the basis of caste, Unwas and Basantpur are not so neatly divided. Taken together, however, these four villages provide a representative picture of rural Bihar. For this very reason, data pertaining to all the villages has been put together for purposes of analysis and presentation. A caste in contemporary rural Bihar is an endogamous group, with a set of ritual practises which separates it from other castes. The caste of a person is determined by his/her birth. People belonging to a particular caste claim that the origin of their caste is different from that of other castes. This claim is legitimized on the basis of various origin myths which constitute an important element of caste beliefs. People belonging to different castes create their mternal hierarchies according to their origin myths and beliefs. And by doing so various castes maintain their specific customs and traditions which help them to distinguish themselves from each other. The four villages amongst themselves have twenty-four castes. Five of these—the Brahmin, Rajput, Kayastha, Bhumihar and Mahabrahman—belong to the forward caste category. Fifteen of these—the Yadav, Koeri, Bania, Bind, Rajbhar, Bhar, Kamkar, Gond, Paneri, Nonia, Lohar, Bari, Nau, Kohar and Sonar—are backward castes. The remaining four—the Dhobi, Chamar, Dusadh and Dom—belong to the Scheduled Caste category. Apart from these castes seven Muslim families also reside in the villages. In this work the concept of class denotes a category of people who occupy the same position in the economic structure within a social formation. The position is determined by the quantity of possession of the most important means of production in the villages, that is, land. On the basis of their ownership of land, people have been categorized into five classes. Those families which own more than twelve acres of land constitute the class of big peasants. Families having more than seven acres of land but not exceeding twelve acres constitute the so-called upper-middle peasants. Families with three to seven acres of land constitute the lower-middle peasant class, while families owning between one to three acres of land constitute the small peasants. Families which are either landless or owning not more than one acre of land constitute the class of landless and near landless people. Of the various practices that help in maintaining distinctions among various castes in the villages, two stand out as being conceptually more relevant for understanding the nature of the caste system in

116

Gaurang Ranjan Sahay

contemporary rural social formations. One is the worship of different deities and the other is endogamy. The latter is more general and so has more explanatory value than the former. It needs also to be noted that various castes, apart from worshipping some common gods and goddesses, worship their own specific deities at least once a year. For example, the Yadav perform Govardhanpuja, the Kayastha perform Chitragupta Puja, the Chamar perform Ravidas Puja, and so on. Some of these castes worship their deities publicly by organizing big functions. The deities are considered to be either the original founders or the most important representatives of their castes. The most important institutional practise among the various castes is endogamous marriage. The practice of endogamy is widespread and strictly observed. I did not come across even a single intercaste marriage. By following the practise of endogamy and worshipping different deities, the castes separate themselves from one another and maintain their distinct character.

Caste and Occupation Many writers on the caste system such as Ghurye (1969) and Srinivas (1982) have opined that a particular caste differentiates itself from others by engaging in a particular occupation not performed by other castes. In other words, each caste has an assigned occupation. The present study finds such an assertion. There are four general types of occupations in the villages. These are: (i) agricultural farming, (ii) monthly paid government or nongovernment services, (iii) business, and (iv) hiring out labour power (HL) or working as wage labourers. Agricultural fanning is an occupation in which the majority of the families from different castes are involved (see table 1): 81.4 per cent of the Brahmin, 87.5 per cent of the Rajput, 40 per cent of the Kayastha, 50 per cent of the Bhumihar, 91.6 per cent of the Yadav, 89.3 per cent of the Koeri, 31.5 per cent of the Bania, 60 per cent of the Rajbhar, 31.8 per cent of the Bhar, 53.3 per cent of the Kamkar, 40 per cent of the Gond, 50 per cent of the Paneri, 60 per cent of the Dhobi, 70.2 per cent of the Nonia, 37.5 per cent of the Lohar, 47 per cent of the Chamar, 85.7 per cent of the Dusadh, 50 per cent of the Bari, 62.5 per cent of the Nau, 88.8 per cent of the Kohar, 85.7 per cent of the Muslim

A STUDY OF SELECTED VILLAGES

117

and 66.6 per cent of the Mahabrahman families are involved in this occupation. It is thus clear that agricultural farming is an occupation practised by almost all castes. Most of the families belonging to the three categories—the forward, the backward and the Scheduled Castesare involved in this occupation. It is the most extensively practised occupation in the villages, with 319 out of 475 families from the four villages engaged in it. Further, people belonging to all castes (except five) are employed in government jobs or in the private sector outside the villages (see table 1). These five castes are: Gond, Paneri, Dusadh, Dom and Mahabrahman, whose members are not found in such jobs. There are 25 families in all who belong to these castes in the villages. We find that 50.1 per cent of the Brahmin, 56.3 per cent of the Rajput, 40 per cent of the Kayastha, 100 per cent of the Bhumihar, 34 per cent of the Yadav, 29.8 per cent of the Koeri, 6.9 per cent of the Bania, 100 per cent of the Bind, 20 per cent of the Rajbhar, 4.5 per cent of the Bhar, 26.7 per cent of the Kamkar, 20 per cent of the Dhobi, 4.3 per cent of the Nonia, 12.5 per cent of the Lohar, 12.3 per cent of the Chamar, 100 per cent of the Bari, 25 per cent of the Nau, 11.1 per cent of the Kohar, 14.3 per cent of the Muslim and 50 per cent of the Sonar families have some family member or the other in a monthly paid job in government or non-government organizations outside the villages. Altogether 109 out of 475 families have at least one member employed in monthly paid service. We also find (table 1) that a majority of the families belonging to the forward castes such as Brahmin, Rajput and Bhumihar have access to monthly paid jobs. Other castes, with the exception of the Bari and Bind, do not have as much access to similar opportunities. Although all families belonging to Bari and Bind are attached to agricultural farming their members perform meagerly paid jobs. Among the backward castes a good percentage of families belonging to the Yadav, Koeri, Kamkar and Sonar have access to monthly paid jobs whereas the representation of Bania, Rajbhar, Bhar, Gond, Paneri, Nonia, Lohar, Nau and Kohar in government and non-government services is very Chamar, Dusadh and Dom have very limited access to such jobs. Thus, a highly uneven pattern emerges, if the representation of various castes in government of non-government monthly paid services is taken into account. In the villages mainly three types of professions—shopkeeping, transportation

Farming and HL

Farming and Business

0

25%

2.1%

0

4

1

7

43.8%

14

29.2%

Farming and Service

0

0

0

2.1%

1

12.5%

14.6%

HL

Business

2

7

3

18.8%

22

45.9%

Farming

Service

1 2 Brahmin Rajput

Name of Occupation

Table 1 Caste and Occupation

0

0

0

0

20%

1

20%

1

20%

1

0

0

50%

1

0

0

50%

1

0

3 4 Kayastha Bhumihar

9 10.7%

8

9.5%

8

17%

8.5%

4

29.8% 22.6%

19

7.1%

2.1% 14

6

0

2.4%

2

41.7%

35

6 Koeri

1

2.1%

1

2.1%

1

36.2%

17

5 Yadav

3.4%

1

17.2%

5

0

10.3%

3

44.8%

13

0

10.3%

3

7 Bania

0

0

0

0

0

100%

1

0

8 Bind

40%

2

0

0

20%

1

0

20%

1

20%

1

9 Rajbhar

13.6%

3

0

4.5%

1

68.2%

15

0

0

13.6%

3

10 Bhar

13.3%

2

6.7%

1

20%

3

40%

6

0

6.7%

1

13.3%

2

11 Kamkar

3

0

16.7%

1

13 Paneri

40%

4

0

0

50%

5

0

0

0

33.3%

2

50.0% 10%

0

0

0

12 Gond

118 Gaurang Ranjan Sahay

0

0

1

Farming, Service and HL

Farming, Business, Services, HL

Services and Business

0

0

48

Service and HL

Business and HL

Total

2.1%

0

4.2%

2

Farming, Business and HL

Farming, Service and Business

16

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

5

20%

1

0

0

0

0

0

20%

1

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

47

0

2.1%

1

0

0

0

0

0

84

0

0

1.2%

1

1.2%

1

0

29

3.4%

1

0

0

0

0

1 3.4%

1

6.9%

2

1.2%

2.4%

2

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

5

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

22

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

15

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

6

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

(Table 1 Contd.)

10

10%

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

A STUDY OF SELECTED VILLAGES 119

13

27.7%

0

1

10%

Business

HL

4.3%

30%

Farming and HL

2

3

Farming and Business

22

46.8%

1

10%

4.3%

2

0

Farming and Service

2.1%

1

0

0

Service

7

15 Nonia

0

14 Dhobi

Farming

Name of Occupation

(Table 1 contd.)

0

37.5%

3

0

50%

4

0

12.5%

1

0

16 Lohar

35.8%

29

1.2%

1

0

45.7%

37

0

1.2%

1

1.2%

1

71.4%

5

0

0

14.3%

1

0

0

0

17 18 Chamar Dusadh

0

0

50%

1

0

0

0

0

19 Bari

0

0

0

0

100%

1

0

0

20 Dom

0

12.5%

1

25%

2

0

37.5%

3

0

25%

2

21 Nau

44.4%

4

22.2%

2

11.1%

1

11.1%

1

0

0

11.1%

1

22 Kohar

14.3%

1

28.3%

2

0

0

14.3%

1

0

28.6%

2

0

33.3%

1

0

0

33.3%

1

0

33.3%

1

23 24 Muslim Mahabr

0

0

0

0

50%

1

0

0

25 Sonar

19%

90

7.8%

37

13.7%

65

20.4%

97

5.9%

28

4.2%

20

21.7%

103

Total

120 Gaurang Ranjan Sahay

2

Business and HL

HL = Hiring out own labour power

47

0

0

8

0

0

0

6.2%

1

4.9%

4

0

0

81

0

Service and HL

0

0

5

2.5%

2

0

10

0

Services and Business

0

0

0

0

1.2%

0

Farming, Business, Services, HL

0

0

0

20%

0

10%

1

20%

2

Farming, Service and HL6.

Farming, Business and HL

Farming, Service and Business

7

0

0

0

0

0

14.3%

1

0

2

0

50%

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

8

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

9

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

7

0

0

0

0

0

0

14.3%

1

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0.6%

2

0

475

1.5%

7

1.3%

6

50% 0

3

0.2%

1

1.1%

5

1.3%

6

1.7%

8

1

0

0

0

0

A STUDY OF SELECTED VILLAGES 121

122

Gaurang Ranjan Sahay

and trading in agricultural products—are being practiced. People belonging to all except five castes have some sort of involvement in these professions. The caste whose members are not involved in business are Bhumihar, Bind, Rajbhar, Bhar and Bari. These castes comprise only 32 families. However, a small percentage of families have some members involved in this occupation (table 1): 10.5 per cent of the Brahmin, 25 per cent of the Rajput, 40 per cent of the Kayastha, 10.6 per cent of the Yadav, 15.5 per cent of the Koeri, 75.7 per cent of the Bania, 6.7 per cent of the Kamkar, 10 per cent of the Gond, 50 per cent of the Paneri, 80 per cent of the Dhobi, 6.4 per cent of the Nonia, 37.5 per cent of the Lohar, 4.9 per cent of the Chamar, 14.3 per cent of the Dusadh, 100 per cent of the Dom, 50 per cent of the Nau, 22.2 per cent of the Kohar, 56 per cent of the Muslim, 66.6 per cent of the Mahabrahaman and 100 per cent of the Sonar families have some member of the family or the other involved in the three professions. Thus, there are only seven castes including the Muslim community where 50 per cent or more than 50 per cent of the families carry out some business activities. Among these castes Bania, Paneri, Nau, Dhobi, Dom, and Sonar have commercialized their caste related occupations. The Dom and Sonar constitute only three families. All of them do business. Bania, Paneri, Nau and Sonar belong to backward castes whereas Dhobi and Dom are scheduled castes. Altogether 90 out of 475 families are involved in business. In much the same way, we find that a large number of families belonging to various castes hire out their labour (table 1). There are only eight castes which do not hire out their labour. Among these are the Brahmin, Rajput, Bhumihar and Mahabrahaman, which belong to the forward castes, the Bind, Nau and Sonar, which belong to backward castes, and the Dom which is a Scheduled Caste. The latter four castes comprise only twelve families. We may note that 20 per cent of the Kayastha, 21.2 per cent of the Yadav, 20.2 per cent of the Koeri, 20.5 per cent of the Bania, 60 per cent of the Rajbhar, 81.8 per cent of the Bhar, 53.3 per cent of the Kamkar, 100 per cent of the Gond, 33.3 per cent of the Paneri, 50 per cent of the Dhobi, 74.5 per cent of the Nonia, 50 per cent of the Lohar, 96.4 per cent of the Chamar, 100 per cent of the Dusadh, 50 per cent of the Bari, 55.5 per cent of the Kohar and 14.3 per cent of the Muslim families hire out their labour power.

A STUDY OF SELECTED VILLAGES

123

There are eleven castes from which 50 per cent or more families hire out their labour power or work as agricultural labourers (table 1). Out of these eleven castes, eight belong to the backward castes and three to the Scheduled Castes. Around 20 per cent of the families belonging to three more powerful backward castes, such as Yadav, Koeri and Bania also hire out their labour power. Altogether 206 out of 475 families hire themselves out as labourers-Therefore, after agricultural farming, hiring out labour emerges as another general occupation in the villages. Thus, all the four major economic activities, that is, farming, service in government or non-government sectors outside the villages, business and labour on hire are widely practised by the people belonging to various castes in the villages. Another important fact is that when a person starts performing a job which is not considered his traditional caste occupation, he is not condemned or penalised by his society. For instance, when a Brahmin opened a shop he was not looked down upon by his caste fellows. Likewise, when a Kayastha started working as a labourer, he was not told by other members of his caste to discontinue this practice.

The Jajmani Institution: An Empirical Analysis An empirical analysis of the jajmani institution is critical for understanding how the caste system works because ‘caste values of pollution and occupational division of labour, and the general cultural emphasis upon hierarchy and inequality are all tightly involved in the jajmani system’ (Kolenda 1981:6). Regarding the jajmani system in the villages, it depicts a different picture from the one that is found in the various well known and established writings (Wiser 1936; Dumont 1970). In the villages the jajmani system seems to have a labour-buyer/wageearner relationship. Four terms are used to designate the persons who are involved in the jajmani system: jajman, pauni, purohit and Mahabrahman. The term jajman designates a person who buys the labour power of the pauni, purohit and Mahabrahman. Paunis, purohits and Mahabrahmans provide services to jajmans. But they provide different services. Purohits perform rituals and worship deities for the jajman. Mahabrahmans also perform rituals but only funerary or mortuary ones. In turn, jajmans pay them in both cash and kind. Paunis perform

124

Gaurang Ranjan Sahay

manual work for jajmans like washing clothes, shaving, cutting hair, and the like. Generally, jajmans pay in kind. The wage for the services of the pauni is fixed but it may vary from one village to another. All the families of jajmans have to pay fixed wages to receive the services of the paunis. However, some rich families pay more to please them and to get their work done fast and early. The wage for the purohit and Mahabrahman is not fixed. It varies from one family to another even in a single village. Generally, rich jajmans pay more and the poor pay less. This is because there is a notion that those who pay more to the purohit and Mahabrahman will receive good treatment in the other world after death. Unlike purohits and Mahabrahmans, paunis are not paid immediately after their assigned work is over. They are paid when the process of harvesting crops is going on or just after it gets over. Unlike purohits and Mahabrahmans, paunis get more or less fixed wages even if their services keep varying from year to year in terms of quantity. In contrast, the wages of purohits and Mahabrahmans vary depending on the amount of work they have done for the jajmans. If they perform more rituals for the jajmans, they are paid more, and so on. In the villages the jajmans exist within almost all castes, whereas the  purohits, Mahabrahman and paunis come from some specific castes only. In the villages studied not all purohits were Brahmins. There is a family belonging to the Koeri caste which also acts as purohit. This is a new phenomenon. Until a few years ago all the purohits used to be Brahmins. This change occurred because some of the families, particularly those belonging to the Koeri caste, did not feel comfortable with the Brahminical set up. They wanted to oppose and change it. In their effort they were helped by the Arya Samaj movement. They accepted some of its principles and decided not to accept the services of Brahmin purohits. That is why they designated one of the families belonging to their own caste as a purohit family, to perform all the rituals for them. Paunis belong to more than one caste such as the Nau, Dhobi, Lohar, Mallah and Bari. They are paid at fixed points of time. Apart from these castes there are some other castes like the Chamar, Paneri, Dom, Kohar and Dusadh, some of whose members perform their traditional caste occupations and provide services to the people. However, they are not paunis in the proper sense of the term because after receiving services the people pay the required wage. The wage is not fixed on

A STUDY OF SELECTED VILLAGES

125

a yearly basis. It depends on the amount of services they provide. There may be years when some of them are not asked to provide any services at all and therefore do not get anything. On the occasion of death some religious rituals have to be performed. These rituals are not performed by purohits but by persons belonging to the Mahabrahman caste. By performing these rituals the Mahabrahman consumes ‘impurities’ and hence is ‘polluted’ as the rituals are related to death. Since the Mahabrahmans claim to be Brahmins of a different type and wear the sacred thread, the jajmans treat them with respect. Like the purohits, they get paid just after performing the rituals. The wage is not fixed. Generally, the rich jajmans pay more and the poor pay less. Primarily, the jajmani system in the sample villages does not denote a relationship between various castes but between families. The point is that caste is not the primary component of the jajmani system. The study revealed that not all Brahmin families are purohits nor are all Lohar, Dhobi, Nau paunis or purohits, a fact which would have been the primary component of the jajmani system. Second, there is no castebased division of labour in the villages. It is not always the case that only the so-called low castes have taken up occupations which are traditionally supposed to be the prerogative of the so-called higher castes. People belonging to the so-called higher and twice-born castes have also taken up those occupations which have not been sanctioned to them by Brahminical orthodoxy. In table 1 we can see this substantiated clearly, as the data reveals that a lot of Brahmin and Rajput families are in business. They have opened shops and are engaged in commerce and trade. These jobs were traditionally supposed to be done by lower castes like the Banias. In the sample villages the number of families which were traditionally supposed to provide services to the jajmans either as purohits or paunis or Mahabrahmans total 187; however, of these only 56 families provide their services to the jajmans. Twenty-five families claim that the number of families to whom they provide services has increased in their lifetime, whereas 29 claim that the number has decreased. Almost all families are jajmans. But not all of them ask for the same type of services. In fact, there is a large variation as regards availing the services of purohits, paunis and Mahabrahmaqs by the jajmans belonging to different castes and classes is concerned. This is evident in tables 2 and 3, where out of 464 jajman families, 197 take advantage of the services of the Lohar, 157 of the Dhobi, 237

1 Brahmin

9 (18%)

7 (14%)

12 (24%)

2 (4%)

4 (8%)

7 (14%)

4 (8%)

0

0

1 (2%)

0

0

0

0

0

Purohits, Mahabrahmans and Paunis

Purohit, Lohar Mbhrmn

Purohit, Mahabrahman D,L,N

Purohit, Mahabrahman

Purohit, Mahabrahman, D,N

Purohit, Dhobi, Mbhrmn

Purohit, Lohar, Nau, Mbhrmn

Purohit, Nau, Mbhrmn

Nau, Dhobi, Koeri, Purohit

Dhobi, Lohar, Koeri, Purohit

Purohit, Dhobi, Lohar, Mbhrmn

Nau, Korei, Purohit

Nau, Dhobi, Lohar, Koeri, Puroh

Nau, Lohar, Koeri, Purohit

Purohit, Mahabrahman, L,M,N

Purohit, Mbhrmn, N,M,L,B

0

0

4 Bhumihar

0

0

0

0

0

0

1 (14.3%)

0

0

1 (14.3%)

4 (57.1%)

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1 (14.3%) 0

0

3 Kayasth

2 (12.5%) 0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2 Rajput

Table 2 Caste and the Services of Purohits, Paunis and Mahabrahmans

5 (10.6%)

5 (10.6%)

1 (2.1%)

0

0

0

1 (2.1%)

0

0

9 (19.1%)

3 (6.4%)

1 (2.1%)

6 (12.8%)

4 (8.5%)

2 (4.3%)

5 Yadav

2 (2.3%)

2 (2.3%)

1 (1.2%)

37 (43%)

6 (7%)

0

0

0

3 (3.5%)

2 (2.3%)

0

2 (2.3%)

3 (3.5%)

3 (3.5%)

1 (1.2%)

6 Koeri

1 (3.3%)

1 (3.3%)

0

0

0

1 (1.4%)

0

0

1 (3.3%)

1 (3.3%)

2 (6.7%)

2 (6.7%)

18 (60%)

1 (3.3%)

0

7 Bania

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1 (100%)

0

0

8 Bind

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1 (20%)

1 (20%)

0

0

2 (40%)

0

1 (20%)

9 Rajbhar

126 Gaurang Ranjan Sahay

0

0

0

2 (4%)

0

0

0

1 (2%)

0

1 (2%)

0

0

0

0

0

0

50

Purohit, Mahabrabman, M,N

Purohit, Mbhrmn, M,B,N.

Purohit, Mbhrmn, B,M,L

Purohit, Mbhrmn, D,N,M,L,B

Purohit, Mallah, Mbhrmn

Purohit, Mbhrmn, D,M,L,N

Purohit, Mbhrmn, L,M

Purohit, Mbhrmn, M,B,D,N

Purohit, Mbhrmn, M,L,D

Purohit, Mbhrmn, N,D,B

Purohit, Mbhrmn, D,M

Purohit, Mbhrmn, M,D,N

Temporary Purohit, M,N

Temporary Purohit, TM,N,L

Temporary Purohit, TM

Lohar, Koeri, Purohit

Total

16

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2 (12.5%)

0

6 (37.5%)

0

0

3 (18.8%)

7

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1 (2.1%)

0

0

1 (2.1%)

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

47

0

0

0

0

1 (2.1%)

0

0

0

0

1 (100%) 0

0

0

0

0

0

0

86

4 (4.7%)

5 (5.8%)

6 (7%)

8 (9.3%)

0

0

0

0

0

0

4 (8.5%)

0

2 (4.3%)

1 (1.2%)

0

1 (2.1%)

30

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1 (3.3%)

0

0

0

2 (6.7%)

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

(Table 2 contd.)

5

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

A STUDY OF SELECTED VILLAGES 127

0

0

0

Dhobi, Lohar, Koeri, Purohit

Purohit, Dhobi, Lohar, Mbhrmn

Nau, Korei, Purohit

0

0

Nau, Dhobi, Koeri, Purohit

Purohit, Mbhrmn, N,M,L,B

1 (4.8%)

Purohit, Nau, Mbhrmn

1 (4.8%)

0

Purohit, Lohar, Nau, Mbhrmn

Purohit, Mahabrahman, L,M,N

0

Purohit, Dhobi, Mbhrmn

0

0

Purohit, Mahabrahman, D,N

0

14 (66.7%)

Purohit, Mahabrahman

Nau, Lohar, Koeri, Purohit

1 (4.8%)

Purohit, Mahabrahman D,L,N

Nau, Dhobi, Lohar, Koeri, Puroh

1 (4.8%)

10 Bhar

Purohit, Lohar Mbhrmn

Purohits, Mahabrahmans and Paunis

(Table 2 contd.)

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2 (12.5%)

3 (18.8%)

1 (6.3%)

5 (31.3%)

0

5 (31.3%)

11 Kamkar

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

4 (50%)

1 (12.5%)

0

12 Gond

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1 (16.7%)

0

0

0

5 (8.3%)

0

0

13 Paneri

0

2 (20%)

0

0

0

0

0

0

2 (20%)

0

0

0

1 (10%)

0

0

14 Dhobi

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1 (2.1%)

4 (8.5%)

1 (12.1%)

0

0

34 (72.3%)

7 (14.9%)

0

15 Nonia

0

0

0

0

0

1 (2%)

0

0

0

0

1 (2.5%)

2 (25%)

1 (12.5%)

0

0

16 Lohar

0

5 (6.8%)

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

19 (26%)

2 (2.7%)

23 (31.5%)

0

0

17 Chamar

128 Gaurang Ranjan Sahay

0 16

0

0

0

0

1 (4.8%)

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

21

Purohit, Mbhrmn, B,M,L

Purohit, Mbhrmn, D,N,M,L,B

Purohit, Mallah, Mbhrmn

Purohit, Mbhrmn, D,M,L,N

Purohit, Mbhrmn, L,M

Purohit, Mbhrmn, M,B,D,N

Purohit, Mbhrmn, M,L,D

Purohit, Mbhrmn, N,D,B

Purohit, Mbhrmn, D,M

Purohit, Mbhrmn, M,D,N

Temporary Purohit, M,N

Temporary Purohit, TM,N,L

Temporary Purohit, TM

Lohar, Koeri, Purohit 8

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

3 (37.5%)

0

0

0

0

6

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

10

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1 (10%)

4 (40%)

47

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

8

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

4 (50%)

73

0

0

0

0

0

1 (1.4%)

0

4 (5.5%)

0

1 (1.4%)

6 (8.2%)

3 (4.1%)

0

0

0

8 (11%)

L = Lohar, D = Dhobi, N = Nau, M = Mallah, B = Ban, KP = Koeri; Purohit, TP = Temporary; Purohit, TM = Temporary; Mahabrahman, Mbhrmn = Mahabiahman (Table 2 contd.)

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Purohit, Mbhrmn, M,B,N.

0

2 (9.5%)

Purohit, Mahabrabman, M,N

A STUDY OF SELECTED VILLAGES 129

0

0

0

1 (14.3%)

1 (14.3%)

0

Nau, Dhobi, Lohar, Koeri, Puroh

Nau, Lohar, Koeri, Purohit

Purohit, Mahabrahman, L,M,N

Purohit, Mbhrmn, N,M,L,B

Purohit, Mahabrabman, M,N

0

Purohit, Nau, Mbhrmn

Nau, Korei, Purohit

0

Purohit, Lohar, Nau, Mbhrmn

0

1 (14.3%)

Purohit, Dhobi, Mbhrmn

Purohit, Dhobi, Lohar, Mbhrmn

0

Purohit, Mahabrahman, D,N

0

3 (42.9%)

Purohit, Mahabrahman

0

0

Purohit, Mahabrahman D,L,N

Dhobi, Lohar, Koeri, Purohit

0

Purohit, Lohar Mbhrmn

Nau, Dhobi, Koeri, Purohit

18 Dusadh

Purohits, Mahabrahmans and Paunis

(Table 2 contd.)

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

19 Bari

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1 (100%)

0

0

20 Dom

1 (12.5%)

1 (12.5%)

0

0

0

0

2 (25%)

0

0

0

0

0

0

2 (25%)

0

0

21 Nau

1 (11.1%)

0

2 (22.2%)

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2 (22.2%)

0

22 Kohar

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1 (33.3%)

0

0

1 (33.3%)

1 (33.3%)

0

23 Mahabrah

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2 (100%)

0

0

24 Sonar

24 (5.1%)

13 (2.8%)

21 (4.5%)

2 (0.4%)

37 (7.9%)

6 (1.3%)

4 (0.9%)

1 (0.2%)

1 (0.2%)

18 (3.9%)

24 (5.1%)

33 (7.1%)

13 (2.8%)

142 (30.4%)

28 (6%)

19 (4.1%)

Total

130 Gaurang Ranjan Sahay

0

1 (50%) 0

0 2

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

7

Purohit, Mbhrmn, B,M,L

Purohit, Mbhrmn, D,N,M,L,B

Purohit, Mallah, Mbhrmn

Purohit, Mbhrmn, D,M,L,N

Purohit, Mbhrmn, L,M

Purohit, Mbhrmn, M,B,D,N

Purohit, Mbhrmn, M,L,D

Purohit, Mbhrmn, N,D,B

Purohit, Mbhrmn, D,M

Purohit, Mbhrmn, M,D,N

Temporary Purohit, M,N

Temporary Purohit, TM,N,L

Temporary Purohit, TM

Lohar, Koeri, Purohit 1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

8

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1 (12.5%)

0

0

1 (12.5%)

0

0

0

0

9

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1 (11.1%)

3 (33.3%)

0

0

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

464 (100%)

4 (0.9%)

5 (1.1%)

6 (1.3%)

8 (1.7%)

1 (0.2%)

1 (0.2%)

1 (0.2%)

6 (1.3%)

2 (0.4%)

3 (0.6%)

14 (3%)

8 (1.7%)

15 (3.2%)

1 (0.2%)

3 (0.6%)

L = Lohar; D = Dhobi; N = Nau; M = Mallah; B = Ban; KP = Koeri Purohit; TP = Temporary Purohit; TM = Temporary Mahabrahman; Mbhrmn = Mahabiahman

0

0

0

0

0

0

1 (12.5%)

0

0

0

0

1 (14.3%)

Purohit, Mbhrmn, M,B,N.

A STUDY OF SELECTED VILLAGES 131

Purohit, Nan, Mahabrahman

Purohit, Lohar, Nau, Mahabrahman

Purohit, Dhobi, Mahabrahman

Purohit, Mahabrahman D,N

Purohit, Mahabrahman

Purohit, Mahabrahman, D,L,N

Purohit, Lohar, Mahabrahman

Purohit, Mahabrahmans and Paunis

1 1.5%

11 4.3%

1 1.5%

5

4.6%

9.8% 2%

3

25

3 4.6%

6

20%

44.1% 2.3%

13

113

7 10.8%

9

4.6%

1.6% 3.5%

3

Small Peasants

4

Landless and Near Landless People

Table 3 Class and the Services of Purohits, Paunis and Mahabrahman

4.2%

3

5.6%

4

2.8%

2

4.2%

3

16.7%

12

5.6%

4

6.9%

5

Lower Middle Peasants

2.9%

1

25.7%

9

2.9%

1

0

8.6%

3

8.6%

3

11.4%

4

Upper Middle Peasants

5.1%

2

12.8%

5

5.1%

2

2.6%

1

2.6%

1

12.8%

5

7.7%

3

Big Peasants

3.9%

18

5.1%

24

7.1%

32

2.8%

13

30.4%

142

6%

28

4.1%

19

Total

132 Gaurang Ranjan Sahay

Purohit, Mahabrahman, M,N

1 1.5%

18 7%

4 6.2%

1 0.4%

6.2%

3.9%

Purohit, Mahabrahman N,M,L,B

4

10

Purohit, Mahabrahman, L,M,N

0

15.4%

3.5% 0

10

9

1 1.6%

2 0.8%

0

0

0

Nau, Lohar, Koeri, Purohit

Nau, Dhobi, Lohar Koeri, Purohit

Nau, Koeri, Purohit

3

Purohit, Dhobi, Lohar, Mahabrahman 1.2%

0

0.4%

1

Dhobi, Lohar, Koeri, Purohit

Nau, Dhobi, Koeri Purohit

6.9%

5

8.3%

6

5.6%

4

2.8%

2

15.3%

11

2.8%

2

1.4%

1

0

0

0

5.7%

2

2.9%

1

0

8.6%

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

5.1%

2

0

10.3%

4

2.6%

1

0

(Table 3 contd.)

5.1%

24

2.8%

13

4.5%

21

0.4%

2

7.9%

37

1.3%

6

0.9%

4

1 0.2%

1

0.2%

1

2.6%

0

A STUDY OF SELECTED VILLAGES 133

2.3%

6

Purohit, Mahabrahman, M,L,D

0

0

1.5%

0

1

0.4%

3.1%

2% 1

2

0

5

Purohit, Mahabrahman, M,B,D,N

Purohit, Mahabrahman, L,M

Purohit, Mahabrahman, D,M,L,N

3.1%

8

4.6%

0.4%

Purohit, Mallah Mahabrahman

3

1

1.5%

Purohit, Mahabrahman, D,N,M,L,B

1

0

Small Peasants

0

1.2%

3

Landless and Near Landless People

Purohit, Mahabrahman, B,M,L

Purohit, Mahabrahman, M,B,N

Purohit, Mahabrahmans and Paunis

(Table 3 contd.)

0

0

0

4.2%

3

0

2.8%

2

0

0

Lower Middle Peasants

0

2.6%

2.9% 0

1

2.6%

1

2.6%

1

0

15.4%

6

0

0

Big Peasants

1

0

8.6%

3

0

8.6%

3

0

0

Upper Middle Peasants

1.3%

6

0.4%

2

0.6%

3

3%

14

1.7%

8

3.2%

15

0.2%

1

0.6%

3

Total

134 Gaurang Ranjan Sahay

254

64

1.5%

0.8% 72

1.4%

1

0

35

0

0

2.9%

1

0

0

0

0

39

0

2.6%

1

2.6%

1

0

0

100%

464

0.9%

4

1.1%

5

1.3%

6

1.7%

8

0.2%

1

0.2%

1

0.2%

2.6% 0

1

1

L = Lohar; D = Dhobi; N = Nau; M = Mallah; B = Bari; KP = Koeri Purohit; TP = Temporary Purohit; TM = Temporary Mahabrahman

Total

1

2

1.5%

1.2%

Lohar, Koeri, Purohit

1

3

1.4%

4.6%

Temporary Purohit TM

1

1.4%

1

0

0

0

3

1.5%

0

1

2.3%

0

6

0.4%

1

0

0

Temporary Purohit TM,N,L

Temporary Purohit TM,N

Purohit, Mahabrahman, M,D,N

1

Purohit, Mahabrahman, D,M 0.4%

0

Purohit, Mahabrahman, N,D,B

A STUDY OF SELECTED VILLAGES 135

136

Gaurang Ranjan Sahay

of the Nau, 91 of the Maliah, and 35 of the Ban. Another notable point is that 51 jajmans use he services of a Koeri purohit (see tables 2 and 3). The rest of the jajman families get purohit services from Brahmins. There are 19 jajman families in the sample villages which do not have any permanent relationship with a purohit or Mahabrahman family. Whenever they need the services of a purohit and Mahabrahman they ask any purohit and Mahabrahman to provide such services. We also find that 48 families out of the 51 who ask a Koeri purohit to perform rituals belong to the Koeri caste itself. Two of the families belonging to the Yadav caste also ask a Koeri purohit to perform rituals. Only one Nonia family avails of the services of a Koeri purohit. The rest of the families belonging to other castes ask Brahmin purohits to perform the required rituals. There are a large number of families in the sample villages (tables 2 and 3) which do not ask for the services of any of the paunis. The number of such families is 142, that is, 30.4 per cent of the total jajman families. Families which consider their traditional caste occupations less prestigious and economically less beneficial have abandoned these at the earliest opportunity. That is why, within a certain caste, families which are economically better off are not performing their caste occupation if it is non-prestigious. For example, there are four Nau families, two in Unwas and two in Basantpur, who have stopped providing their caste services to the jajmans. In all, 171 pauni and purohit families have stopped performing their caste occupation. The above elucidation of the jajmani system in the sample villages provides some important insights, the most important being that castebased occupations no longer exist in the villages. This is substantiated by the fact that a large majority of families belonging to the category of pauni do not perform their caste occupations. Recently, one family belonging to the Koeri caste has started performing the work of a purohit and has also been accepted as such by many. Nobody in the sample villages has been excommunicated for following a non-traditional occupation. In conclusion, one can observe that the caste system as also the jajmani system in contemporary rural Bihar have undergone notable changes specially as regards the linkage between caste and occupation.

A STUDY OF SELECTED VILLAGES

137

Note I am grateful to Professor Dipankar Gupta, my Ph.D supervisor, for his patient guidance. He taught me how to place various facts and ideas in a proper perspective. I thank Dr. Patricia Uberoi, Professor M. N. Panini, Dr. Avijit Pathak and Dr. Nadarajah for their constant encouragement, valuable suggestions and keen interest in the progress of my work.

References Dumont, Louis. 1970. Homo Hierarchicus: The Caste System and its Implications. London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson. Ghurye, G. S. 1969. Caste and Race in India. Bombay: Popular Prakashan. Kolenda, P. 1981. Caste, Cult and Hierarchy: Essays on the Cultures of India. Meerut: Folklore Institute. Srinivas, M. N. 1982. India: Social Structure. Delhi: Hindustan Publishing Corporation. Wiser, W. H. 1936. The Hindu Jajmani System: A Socio-Economic System Interrelating Members of a Hindu Village Community in Services. Lucknow: Lucknow Publishing House.

9 Power Elite in Rural India: Some Questions and Clarifications K.L. Sharma

I

T

he purpose of this paper is twofold: namely, to examine, (1) the nature of sources and determinants of power of rural elite, and (2) the mobility of elites. The first point deals with the social background of elites, and the second refers to the changes in the structure of elites. An effort has been made to analyse power elite and dominance mobility in the light of these two points. The discussion relating to the sources and determinants of power of rural elite could be located in three contexts: (1) caste or group dominance (Srinivas, 1959: 1–16; Kothari, 1970: 18); (2) dominance of individuals (Dube, 1968: 58–81); and (3) “levels of dominance” and “dominance statuses” (Gardner, 1968: 82–97). Srinivas refers to numerical strength, economic position (land ownership) and political power as the decisive factors of caste dominance. Kothari delineates caste (group) dominance in terms of an “entrenched caste” which does not enjoy dominance on the basis of its numerical strength and dominance in the form of an “ascendent caste”, the caste which was not satisfied to work in the traditional framework of interdependence complementarity in social

POWER ELITE IN RURAL INDIA: SOME QUESTIONS AND CLARIFICATIONS

139

and economic spheres. Srinivas refers to “locally and regionally dominant caste groups”. Others refer to “caste lobbies” in state politics. Dube views caste dominance as an unreal proposition in terms of its group character and distribution of power and dominance. According to him it is the individuals (families) who are dominant and not the castes. Considering these two views the most pertinent questions to be asked and answered are as follows: (i) How is dominance legitimised (acceptance of dominance cf new members)? (ii) What are the basic resources which facilitate dominance of members in village community? (iii) Are the areas of group and individual dominance separate and distinct? (iv) Is there any contradiction between individual and group dominance or are they complimentary to each other? (v) Can the two types of dominance prevail simultaneously in the same social setting?

Gardner’s view regarding dominance is relevant in the analysis of dominance mobility. According to Gardner there is a tendency to achieve group (Kshtriya) dominance status by the holders of “patron status” (dominant individuals). Gardner explicitly states that the dominant individuals would tend to communalise their dispersed dominance. It would also imply that dominance mobility from group to individual is conspicuously absent. However, my study shows that group dominance has enormously eroded in the recent years (Sharma, 1973: 59–77). New “dominant groups” have emerged recently (though they come from divergent backgrounds) and are of an amorphous nature. In fact, there is no elite group having same caste membership, economic position and other uniform social and cultural attributes. Thus the elite group is not a ‘group’ in terms of these characteristics, it is an amorphous set of persons who enjoy dominance at different levels of village social organisation. The two pertinent questions in regard to dominance mobility then, can be formulated as follows: (i) What is the direction of dominance mobility? (ii) How do different factors differently affect the nature and direction of dominance mobility?

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II Srinivas (1959: 1–16; 1966: 10–16) for the first time conceptualised mobility (Sanskritization) and dominance (dominant caste) as group phenomena. According to Srinivas caste dominance has the elements of numerical strength, economic and political power, ritual status and Western education and modern occupations. A caste enjoying all or most of these elements has a decisive dominance. Dube (1968: 58–81) has examined the elements of caste dominance in a study of four villages in Madhya Pradesh. According to him a caste is dominant when power is diffused in the group and is expressed in the interest of the whole group or at least a sizeable part of it. Pronounced inequalities of wealth, prestige and power are found between the members of a so-called dominant caste. The dominant individuals of such a caste exploit non-dominant members of their own caste as well as members of “non-dominant castes”. Oommen (1970(a): 74–76) has raised some pertinent questions about the validity of the concept of dominant caste. According to Oommen alternate situations of dominance have not been visualised by Srinivas such as: “a numerically weak caste owning most of the land and wealth in a village; or a numerically strong caste which is economically deprived and ritually depressed; or a ritually superior caste which is numerically weak; and so on . . . . It seems fairly obvious that in such situations a number of castes will share the community power” (Ibid.,  75). Oommen also refers to two other points: (i) the context of dominance; and (ii) the aspects of power, namely, the resources available to individuals and groups for the exercise of power and the act of power exercising. According to him, there is “multiple power structure” in a multi-caste village or region having different layers and levels of leadership. Oommen refers to two other useful concepts in another essay (1970(b): 226–239) in regard to community power structure, namely “power pool” and “power dispersion”. Thus, we find that: (a) There is caste (group) dominance, hence corporate mobility or Sanskritization (Srinivas, 1959; 1966). (b) There are dominant individuals and not dominant caste or castes in the village community (Dube, 1968). (c) “Multiple power structure” exists in a multi-caste village or region and there  is “power pool” and “power dispersion” in village communities (Oommen, 1970(a); 1970(b)).

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The above formulations are singularistic in their nature and hence are incomplete. There are certain areas and aspects of social life in which a group asserts its power. There are other areas in which only families and individuals matter, and in still other domains near-monopoly of power or dispersion of power is found. Both castes and individuals are found dominant, but the areas and aspects of dominance of the two differ to a large extent. The rural power elite do not comprise a homogeneous social segment because they do not have the characteristics of a group such as unity, commonality of interests, equality of status and economic position. An “elite group” is an aggregation of differentiated dominant individuals. To understand the process through which the elite formation crystallizes it is necessary to discuss the nature of traditional elite and dominance in the village community.

III The traditional elites in village India were different from that of today in relation to their size, composition and recruitment etc. The “twiceborn” constituted three broad categories of elites. Brahmins, Kshtriyas and Vaishyas formed religious and cultural, administrative and power, and business and economic elites respectively. But they did not have intra-group unity and homogeneity nor all the three categories of elites enjoyed equal status and significance in the eyes of the people. These “twice-born” groups belonged to a system of hierarchy, therefore, their interrelations were determined by norms of ranking which placed them in high and low positions in different sectors such as administrative, economic, and ritual. However, inspite of differentiation of functions of the groups the Brahmins enjoyed decisive superiority over Kshtriyas and the latter over the Vaishyas. Wealth, sanskritic education and accessibility to the rulers were some of the bases of intra-elite ranking. The study of Vedas (e.g. education) determined even nomenclature such as Dwidevi, Trivedi and Chaturvedi etc. (Ingalls, 1959: 3–9). There were Brahmins who did not study Vedas and engaged themselves in cultivation and menial works. The broad distinction of Daivik and Laukik Brahmins testifies this intra-elite hierarchy. Thus, elites were never a unified group in terms of exercise and distribution of power among the members belonging to a particular category of elite. Leach’s observation (1954) that “structure of ideas” is

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different from that of “structure of facts” rightly applies even to the traditional Indian village community, and more so it is found today due to change from cumulative to dispersed inequalities between groups and individuals. There were Brahmins who broke traditional cultural and social sanctions and involved themselves into “anti-Brahmin movements”. Some of these “deviants” strived for positions of power and privilege through such “innovative activities”. “The idea of martial Rajput” (Hitchcock, 1959: 10–17) explains the nature of the traditional power elites. It is his (Rajput’s) duty to maintain law and order in the society and expect in return deference and obedience from the community members (including the members of his own clan). An elaborate hierarchy prevailed among the traditional ruling and power elites. The nature and size of land ownership and rank of the ‘estate’ determined the position of the ruling elite in the hierarchy. For example, the princes of the twenty-two princely states in Rajasthan were thought of as “supermen” of their respective estates. Below in the hierarchy were Rao Rajas, Raos, Talukedars, Jagirdars and Zamindars. Within each category of this landed aristocracy heterogeneity of rank existed as all the princes were not of equal status and so also the Jagirdars and Zamindars (Tod 1950; Sharma 1974). The economic elites (e.g. Vaishyas or popularly known as Banias) must have a first hand knowledge of economic realities and complexities (Lamb 1959: 10–17). But they too were not a unified elite. Among the economic dominants there was a hierarchy of “Seths” (money-lenders). At the top of the economic dominants was the “Jagat-Seth” (the biggest money-lender). Below this were “Nagar-Seth” (the city money-lenders) and the “Gram-Seth” (the village money-lenders) and so on. Within each category inequality of rank prevailed because of differences of wealth, generous attitudes and relations with the rulers and the masses. The hierarchy of cultural, power and economic elites was congruent with caste stratification. This was precisely because of its ascriptive base. The size of the traditional elite was small as it was restricted by ascription of birth (Oommen 1970(b)). However, the traditional elites were specialists or professionalists in their respective fields, e.g., cultural, political and economic. This was determined by the structural requirements, and professionalisation became a part of the elite culture itself. It was received by the elite through the processes of specialisation and informal training. Today there is congruence in some aspects of elite’s

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culture, styles of living and exercise of power, whereas in some other aspects certain amount of incongruence prevails. For instance, there is a greater possibility of political elite wielding economic power and that of less possibility of economic dominants exerting political dominance. The cultural elites may have more economic privileges than having access to positions of political power. However, professional elites continue to be a dividing line between different types of elites though the nature of professionalization today is different from that of the traditional one. The elites were never a unified group, and today also they persist in the same character to a large extent. Therefore, it is futile to talk of polarity between tradition and modernity. “Modernisation is a high order integrative process” (Singh 1975: 660) and in the wake of modern forces of change tradition has been able to maintain its identity though in a varied form in Indian society.

IV Sociological studies and analyses of elites and dominance are a few only. Bottomore (1965: 180–188), Beteille (1967: 223–243), Desai (1965: 150–156), Morris-Jones (1964), Srinivas (1966) and Misra (1964) have made analyses of elites at the national level whereas Lewis (1958: 113–156), Sirsikar (1970), Somjee (1971), Carras (1972), Carter (1975) and Narain (1976) have made studies of rural elites. Most studies of the national elites are impressionistic, while the analyses of rural elites are based on empirical investigations. Beteille refers to political elites, that is, the people in concrete political structures such as cabinets, parties and legislatures. The emphasis on the system of education and recruitment to the Indian Administrative Service is found in Morris-Jones’ analysis of government and politics in India. The “new middle classes” according to Misra are the products of secondary and higher education in India rather than development of industry. Shils (1961) has found continuity between the traditional intellectual elite and the modern elite. Desai also likes Morris-Jones, Misra and Shils find the new elite a “product of modernisation, though mainly of Western education and culture, who depended on their fathers and grand-fathers (who were traditionally powerful) for mobilising people in the national movement.

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These observations about the national elites do not sound valid. In addition to education and Western impact a number of sociocultural and historical factors and forces have been responsible for the emergence of a new elite structure. The new political structures and political values, at least theoretically, derecognised the traditional social networks and values. The new power elite might have been at the initial stage a non-congruent type of elite, that they did not encompass power and influence in arenas other than political. But once the political elites had its roots entrenched they started spreading their net wide. They tried to accumulate wealth and get into such positions which further enhanced their economic status. They were also influenced by the economic dominants of the country to a large extent. In the process of new elite formation, slowly the discreteness of the elite diminished and a congruent type of elite emerged. This applies to the rural elite in India as well. The congruence as a basic feature of rural elite is not so much a result of the process of elite formation. The modern rural elites are a product of post-Independe