- Can Srinivas' conception of ‘westernisation’ completely explain the exogenous influences on Indian society? 10
- Write a critique of the structural and functional perspective used by M.N. Srinivas in the understanding of Indian society. 10
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Q1. Can Srinivas' conception of ‘westernisation’ completely explain the exogenous influences on Indian society? 10
- The concept of westernisation is employed for evaluating social change in rural India and elsewhere in the country. The concept was also constructed by M.N. Srinivas to describe the process of social and cultural mobility in the traditional social structure of India.
- He defined westernisation as the change brought about in Indian society and culture as a result of over 150 years of British rule, the term subsuming changes occurring at different levels - technology, institutions, ideology and values.
- Srinivas has given details about the development of westernisation in India. He traces it from the period of British Raj. Surely, colonial rule brought with it exploitation and suppression of the masses of people both at the rural and urban levels. At the same time, it also brought certain radical changes in Indian society and culture. The British rule initiated a period of new technology, institutions, knowledge, beliefs and values.
- The colonial rule, thus, integrated the different segments of Indian society. The modern state actually got its beginning from this period. The land was surveyed, revenue was settled, a new bureaucracy emerged, and army, police and law courts were established. British rule also developed communications, railways, post and telegraph and also started schools and colleges.
- The impact of Westernisation on Indian society may clearly be observed in a number of spheres. It has influenced the caste system and the lessening rigidity may be assigned, to a great extent, to the impact of Westernisation; it has promoted the disintegration of joint family and it has induced a number of social reforms movements.
- In the economic and political sphere it has disintegrated cottage industries, promoted variety in cultivation, introduced new measures in land management; it has promoted democratic values and ideals, national consciousness, social justice, and a uniform administrative system in the whole length and breadth of the country. To be more precise, emphasis on humanitarianism and rationalism, as a part of Westernisation, led to a series of institutional and social reforms in India.
- The Christian missionaries worked in the different parts of the country, particularly in those which were backward and inhabited by tribals and untouchables. This brought the weaker sections closer to westernisation.
Other external sources of influence:
- Srinivas attributes Westernisation solely to the rule of the British in India. However, changes that took place in other parts of the world, such as the Russian Revolution as well as the Chinese communist movement has profoundly influenced the socio-political spheres in India. The idea of Five Year Plans, for example, that brought in the economic transformation of India was derived from the Soviet Union’s Five Year Plan model.
- In the contemporary era of globalisation, where nations are connected with one another through trade, transport and communication, we can see that changes in any part of the world affects the others in socio-economic as well as cultural spheres. For example, the rapid spread of the currents of the Arab Spring in different parts of the world.
- Srinivas’ concept of Westernisation helps understand the modernising influences of British colonial rule. However, it has limited scope in understanding the current nature and pace of modernisation, which is a result of numerous influences from across the world.
Q2. Write a critique of the structural and functional perspective used by M.N. Srinivas in the understanding of Indian society. 10
- The structural and functional perspective used by M.N. Srinivas has been influenced by British social anthropology pioneered by Radcliff Brown and Malinowski.
- The structural-functional perspective relies more on the fieldwork tradition for understanding the social reality so that it can also be understood as a contextual or field view perspective of the social phenomena.
- M N Srinivas studied Caste system, Indian village and propounded concepts like Sanskritization, westernization, dominant caste to explain the social change in Indian society.
- Srinivas' micro-level finding through structural-functional perspective often becomes difficult to apply or generalize at the macroscopic level.
- Subaltern scholars like Gail Omvedt advocated that Srinivas' sociology suffers from Brahminical domination and is elitist in nature.
- Srinivas caste centric study of Indian society was criticized by Andre Beteille who claimed to use caste, class and power to study the changing nature of Indian society.
- Marxist sociology criticized this theory as Conservative and status quoits which ignored the possibility of conflict in the society.
- Further, the concept of Sanskritization was criticized by various scholars like D N Majumdar who advocated De-Sanskritization for Kashmiri Pandits.
- His ideas on Sanskritization and Dominant caste have made him closer to Hindutva ideology of cultural nationalism.
- Ghanshyam Shah and S C Dube claimed that Dominant caste is not a cohesive group rather Dominant group or individual among them protect their particular interest.
- Despite such limitations, Srinivas's Structural-functional approach took Indian sociology to mature stage from stage of infancy and gave it indigenous perspective.