Segmentary system

11 November 2018

    M.N Srinivas sees caste as a segmentary system. Every caste for him divided into sub castes which are the units of endogamy whose members follow a common occupation, social and ritual life and common culture and whose members are governed by the same authoritative body viz the panchayat. Srinivas was an eminent Indian sociologist who is known for his work on caste and caste systems, social stratification, Sanskritization and Westernization in southern India and the concept of ‘Dominant Caste’. As part of his methodological practice, Srinivas strongly advocated ethnographic research based on fieldwork, but his concept of fieldwork was tied to the notion of locally bounded sites. Thus some of his best papers, such as the paper on dominant caste and on a joint family dispute, were largely inspired from his direct participation (and as a participant observer) in rural life in south India.
    MN Srinivas in his paper entitled ‘dominant Caste in Rampura’ featured the procedure of social change in India in view of the idea of prevailing standing. As per him, a station to be named, as a prevailing position must have broad cultivable land ought to have significant numerical quality and ought to possess a high place in the neighbourhood caste order.
    The dominant caste may assume self-importance, separate itself from others and think about itself as the defender of the group. Compelling individuals from the prevailing caste settle question in their group as well as intra-station debate. A prevailing station keeping in mind the end goal to keep up agreement among the diverse financial strata inside its standing structure may shape position based affiliations. Position individuals are admonished to take measures to keep up the virtue of the standing and enhance their caste status.
    M.N Srinivas introduced the term sanskritization with Indian Sociology. The term refers to a procedure whereby individuals of lower ranks all in all endeavor to receive upper standing practices and convictions to get higher status. It shows a procedure of social portability that is occurring in the conventional social arrangement of India. M.N.Srinivas in his investigation of the Coorg in Karnataka found that lower standings with a specific end goal to bring their situation up in the rank chain of command embraced a few traditions and practices of the Brahmins and surrendered some of their own which were thought to be tainted by the higher stations. For instance they surrendered meat eating, drinking alcohol and creature forfeit to their gods. They imitiated Brahmins in issues of dress, food and rituals. By this they could assert higher positions in the pecking order of standings inside an age. The reference assemble in this procedure isn’t generally Brahmins however might be the prevailing position of the area. Sanskritization has happened typically in bunches who have appreciated political and monetary power yet were not positioned high in custom positioning. Srinivas, truth be told, has been widening his meaning of the term ‘Sanskritisation’ every once in a while. At first, he portrayed it as—” the procedure of versatility of lower caste by adopting vegetarianism and teetotalism to move in the caste hierarchy in a generation.
    Sanskritisation is a much broader concept than Brahminisation. M.N. Srinivas preferred it to Brahminisation for some reasons:-
    Sanskritisation is more extensive term and it can subsume in itself the smaller procedure of Brahminisation. For example, today, however all around, Brahmins are veggie lovers and nondrinkers, some of them, for example, Kashmiris, Bengalis and saraswath Brahmins eat non-vegan nourishment. Had the term ‘Brahminisation’ been utilized, it would have turned out to be important to indicate which specific Brah¬min gather was implied. Further, the reference gatherings of Sanskritisation are not generally Brahmins. The procedure of impersonation require not really occur on the model of Brahmins. Srinivas himself has given the case of the low ranks of Mysore who received the lifestyle of Lingayats, who are not Brahmins but rather who guarantee uniformity with Brahmins. So also, the smiths (one of the lower positions) of Mysore call themselves Vishwakarma Brahmins and wear holy strings and have sanskritised some of their customs. (All things considered, some of them eat meat and drink alcohol. For the exceptionally same reason, numerous positions, including some untouchable standings don’t acknowledge nourishment or water from their hands).The bring down ranks imitated Brahmins as well as Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, Jats, Shudras, and so forth in various parts of the nation. Subsequently the term Brahminisation does not totally clarify this procedure. M.N. Srinivas himself recognized this reality and stated: “I now understand that, I underscored unduly the Brahminical model of Sanskritisation and disregarded alternate models Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra.
    According to Prof Satish Deshpande the 1980-90 witnessed ‘the return of the repressed’- the renewed militancy and social visibility of the lower classes. During the Nehruvian era, Caste was among the few ‘traditional’ institutions that were presented as all bad, as social evils without any redeeming features. And in 1950’s and 60’s, it seemed to have no active role in urban everyday life. After Mandal, we have realised that the sole reason for the invisibility of caste in the urban context is that it is overwhelmingly dominated by the upper castes. This homogeneity has made caste drop below the threshold of social visibility. Satish Deshpande (2003) have been critical of income and size-based assessments of the middle class. They have analyzed the middle class from the Marxist perspective and have examined it with respect to ideology and power. As a consequence, while Vanaik contends that the middle class is a part of the ruling elite, Deshpande argues that the Indian middle class is hegemonic. Most importantly, they look at class through the lens of power and contend that the middle class derives power from ideological representations. Deshpande, however, sarcastically remarks that with the gradual eclipse of the idea of development “one could no longer be confident that the middle class, the developmental state, and the nation were marching in step.” The middle classes have since then gradually distanced themselves from the idea of nation state and its development.The processes of globalisation and localisation have seen the emergence of sub national loyalties as well as the lure of transnational identities among the ‘new’ middle classes seeking ‘adjustment’. Thus having consolidated its social, economic and political standing, this new class, especially its upper segment, is all set to corner the benefits of globalisation. All the issues like modernity, the nation, Hindutva, or the middle class, seem to veer around to the overarching theme of “globalisation and the geography of cultural regions.” Deshpande suggests that the processes of globalisation that produce “a sort of identity anxiety” should be accompanied by the growth of “particularistic cultural identities of all kinds. caste inequalities) where one sees in India an aggressive ‘return of the repressed’ expressed in the resurgence of Hindu communalism in the 1980’s. Deshpande overviews the spatial strategies Hindu communalism takes up to entrench its interest and re-constitute an idea of India in a different direction from that of the Nehruvian secular-modernist vision. It broadly has been described as a process of ‘competitive de-secularization’ of the public sphere and a re-sacralization of the nation as pace. Genealogically it draws from the writings of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, a militant Hindu nationalist. Symptomatic of its efforts are the events of 1992 Ayodhya – being the demolition of the Babri Mazjid by carders of the Hindu right by claiming that the mosque was originally the site of an ancient Hindu temple. The displacement of the other from the public space via an aggressive symbolic intrusion into it for its own privilege by claiming a mythic historical right over the site has characterized the political spatial strategy of resurgent Hindu communalism. Alongside such developments the book takes a keen look at the class which seems most embroiled in the factors being discussed – the middle class. It historicizes the notion of this category by bringing to bear how it has been thought of in the past and what it may be becoming today. Marx’s initial dismissal of the middle class is re-contextualized using a Gramscian understanding of how the middle class perpetuates and regulates the dominant ideology serving the present social structures – which in some ways accounts for the historical conservativeness of this section. The section then takes a close look at just how large this section may be and considers the possibility that the commonsensical notion of the middle classes now constituting the majority of the country is again a gross misunderstanding. Rigorous quantitative analysis done on the basis of earning, expenditure and consumption demonstrate that the middle class is actually much smaller than we suppose. Having established its relatively smaller size than supposed it then explores as to how this entity is in a position to see itself as the repository of the true moral legitimacy of civil society. Fundamental to this position (as already noted) is the fact that it is the middle class which articulates the hegemony of the ruling bloc, hence the class most dependent on cultural capital (this seems to be as true in the Nehruvian period as it is in the subsequent ones). The post-independent project of developing the state via the Nehruvian middle class also invested this group with the added moral legitimacy they seem to command.
    Louis Dumont’s treatise on the Indian caste system. It analyses the caste hierarchy and the ascendancy tendency of the lower castes to follow the habits of the higher castes. This concept was termed as Sanskritisation by MN Srinivas. Louis Dumont the theory of Varna is Dumont has viewed that India has the traditional hierarchy of Varnnas, colours. Through this there is the fourfold division of the society, such as Brahmins or priest, Khatriyas or warriors, Vaishyas or the traders/ merchants and the Shudras or the servants.  He found that there was no categories below this called to be the untouchables. Caste and varnas are to be understood with relationship of hierarchy and power. He has made a disjunction between the ritual  status and the secular power which includes the political and economic power. There is the subordination of the political and economic criteria of the social stratification to that of the ritual status in Dumont’s model. At the end Dumont discusses, the significant changes in the castes. He views that the traditional interdependence of castes has been replaced by “a universe of impenetrable blocks, self-sufficient, essential, identical and in competition in one another”.
    Various sources of changes in caste system includes judicial and political changes, socio-religious reforms, westernisation, and growth of modern professions, urbanization, spatial mobility and the growth of market economy. But, despite all these factors making for change, the most ubiquitous and the general form the change has occurred in contemporary times is one of a ‘mixture’ or ‘combination’, of traditional and modern features. Those low in a hierarchical system universally see it as disadvantageous to them  and object to the system or to the manner in which it is applied  to themselves. Any social hierarchy, then, is perpetrated and perpetuated by elites and is struggled against as circumstances permit, by those they oppress.
    Name:- Sachin
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