FROM THE EDITORS
Sociology of India, Sociology in India, Indian Sociology
Abstract: As a scholarly discipline, Indian sociology draws upon British and American social anthropology and sociology but analyses and interprets a completely different than Western type of culture and social structure. Colonial past and post-colonial development remain very significant points of reference of Indian social sciences. Polish scholars are also interested in Indian social structure and culture.
Modernization and Its Contradictions:
Contemporary Social Changes in India
Abstract: History of the discourse goes back to the national movement for India’s Independence. Both Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, though differed in their perceptions about future of India, they contributed immensely for modernization of India. Gandhi was for preservation of India’s diverse cultural values and traditions with resilience, and Nehru was for a India which was free of barriers of caste, region, religion, etc. However, a large number of studies indicated that Indian tradition did not blur the path of progress which India had set up for itself in the Constitution, Five Year Plans and other such means for a new India. Resilience has been a strong hallmark of the dynamics of Indian society. Both categorical and instrumental values have coexisted in the long history of Indian society and civilization. During the course of India’s modernization, perspectives such as structural-functionalism and historical materialism have
been critically viewed in terms of their relevance for knowing India’s ground reality. Today, it is realized that there is no uniform pattern of modernization, rather the idea of “multiple modernities” has gained currency in contemporary India.
Structural transformation of Indian society on the one hand, and changes in culture, values and
norms on the other, signify a semblance of modernization in India. In domains like economy, politics, education, and media, it is not difficult to work out different phases of change and development. One can see correspondence in different phases relating to these basic structural and cultural domains. The issues of growth, development, weaker sections, human rights, social justice and distributive shares have attracted attention of scholars and concerned people and organizations, including the civil society. Contradictions at the cognitive as well as substantive levels are integral to the process of modernization. The question of cultural identity has surfaced prominently even in the face of considerable growth, development and education.
M. KRZYSZTOF BYRSKI
The Indian Jati and the European Nation:
The Twins-Unlike Concepts of Mega-Tribal2 Level
Abstract: XXI Century requires new approach to mutual relations of civilizations, if we wish to avoid the fate predicted by Samuel Huntington. We have to study carefully and without prejudice our respective achievements and see whether we can run better each our own civilization. One such case is Europe and India or better the whole of South Asia. An oxymoron definition of their mutual relationship is suggested.
They are “twins-unlike” civilizations, being similar on many counts but dissimilar as their ‘personalities’ go. The most fascinating confrontation in their respect is provided by comparison of two social entities: the European ‘nation’ and the India ‘caste’ as well as umma and qaum. The conclusion of this comparison is strikingly political. European Union could solve its problems with supra-national integration if Europeans remodel their sense of mega-tribal identity putting more stress on competence of their respective nations as the main national identity factor while the peoples of South Asia could solve the problem of painful division of the Subcontinent by bestowing paraphernalia of sovereignty upon the constituent parts of both India and Pakistan.
Decolonisation and the Entangled Histories
of Science and Philosophy in India
Abstract: One of the central challenges confronting post-colonial India in its march towards decolonization was the intellectual challenge posed by the idea of modernity. This is reflected in the work of historians of science and philosophers attempting to understand what the past of ‘Indian science’ or ‘Indian philosophy’ meant in relation to the identity of the modern Indian nation state in the making. This essay argues that in this interrogation there were common themes that were entangled in the enterprise of historians of science and philosophers. Beyond the question of the identity of Indian philosophy or Indian science was the attempt to locate the place of reason and science, and in the spirit of modernisation theory to trace the causes of their ascent or decline at the centre of Indian culture over historical time. The paper examines the tanglement of these two discourses and situates them during the decades of decolonisation.
PRATAP BHANU MEHTA
State and Democracy in India
Abstract: This paper examines the relationship between state and democracy in India. It probes the paradox that representative government is not always responsive government. There is a persistant gap between the practices of popular authorisation and the production of legitimacy. It examines this gap from two different directions. On the one hand, it looks at the the myriad mechanisms by which the strucutre of the state impedes democracy. On the other hand it looks at how inherited social inequality produces forms of politics that make the production of shared legitimacy difficult.
ANANTA KUMAR GIRI
Rethinking Civil Society and the Public Spheres:
Pathways of Indian Modernities in Global Conversations
Abstract: Civil society today is a globally valorized discourse but its fundamental terms come from the European discourses which need to be brought to cross-cultural conversations and dialogues. The essay makes such an effort by rethinking civil society and the conjoint concept of public sphere. It argues that civil society consist of overlapping and interpenetrative circles of society, religion, state, market, social movements / voluntary organizations and self. It explores pathways of Indian modernities and its implication for rethinking civil society and public sphere globally.
KANHAYA L. SHARMA
Is there Today Caste System or there is only Caste in India?
Abstract: The main focus of the paper is that caste system has always been resilient and dynamic due to its inner inconsistencies and contradictions on the one hand, and due to its interpenetration into economy, polity and culture on the other. The aim of this paper is to understand continuity and change in the caste system. Caste has engaged people, hence it has acquired a meta-legal approval. Caste has never been a simple ritual hierarchy because it has encompassed the entire matrix of socio-economic and political relations.
It has been argued that there is a need to reconceptualize caste. Caste is no more simply a system
of idea and values. More important is to see actual behaviour of the people vis-ŕ-vis the role of caste as a system. Caste has become a matter of interpretation rather than substantialization. It refers to a purposive rationality. Its discrete use provides a description of the problems of Indian society, polity and economy. However, besides caste, there are new status groups, varied forms of social mobility, and structural processes of change and dominance. In such a situation, “family” and “individual” are emerging as agencies of reproduction of inequality/equality.
Caste is becoming more of a state of mind of an individual. Contemporary changes have reshaped
caste. The policy of reservations based on caste has kept it alive and vibrant. Protests against caste-based reservations have also contributed to the continuity of caste. Caste may be elusive for some who have distanced from their social and cultural roots, but for others, who continue to be there in villages and towns, caste is enduring, and it is there in practice in one way or other. At times, caste-based outbursts surface, though in everyday life, caste is not so visible as a means of social control.
PARAMJIT S. JUDGE
Between Exclusion and Exclusivity: Dalits in Contemporary India
Abstract: The article explores the alternative strategies adopted by the lowest caste groups known by the generic term dalits to improve their social status in India. The mapping of various strategies has been done by taking into consideration the four historical stages, namely, medieval period, renaissance, postcolonial modernity and postmodernity. It has been argued that in these stages different strategies were employed by the dalits. It is in the postmodern state that the dalit discourse of equality has shifted its emphasis from inclusion and equality to exclusivity and difference. There are two predominant dalit discourses, each complimenting the other, in contemporary India. The first is the use of democratic means to claim power at the formal level by creating a distinct voter-constituency through the articulation of dalit identity.
The second is a strong articulation of the exclusiveness of the dalit experience. The argument is that the dalit experience cannot be comprehended by non-dalits as a result of which only dalit can theorise his experience.
Indian “Modernity” and “Tradition”:
A Gender Analysis
Abstract: This paper explores how the language of tradition and modernity has been the dominant idiom that has sought to capture the “essence” of both the Indian nation and the Indian woman. The salience of this discourse demands a critical enquiry to understand how this overarching and hegemonic idiom been accepted as an unproblematic given. India is often seen as a land of contrasts where tradition and modernity coexist—where Indian women are often showcased as emblematic of this coexistence. The paper seeks to look into the complex processes that lie beneath this easy description. It seeks to do so primarily: (i) by presenting a more historicized account of India’s modernity from the vantage point of gender, offering a feminist critique of the public private divide which forms the theoretical hub of the modernization framework, and; (ii) by drawing attention to the centrality of gender in the nation state’s political, developmental and cultural policies and its more recent shifts in a contemporary globalizing India.
DURU ARUN KUMAR
Technology Growth in India—Some Important Concerns
Abstract: Technology has made its presence felt in various sectors of India’s development in the last twenty years. Communication and information technology, manufacturing industry, transportation, defence and space technologies are some of the important sectors which have incorporated modern technology in various aspects of their development and functioning. Also significant and visible changes have taken place in the consumer products available in the Indian market, most of them imported or locally manufactured by multinational corporations based in India. Do these changes qualify India to be considered as a technologically advanced country, and thereby making technological changes an integral part of the social change process of our society? Or are these developments restricted to certain elitist sections of society with little or negligible trickle-down effect of the knowledge bases of the technology developments? In this
study a deconstructivist approach is adopted to analyse some of the processes involved in development and diffusion of technology in a society. With the exception of mobile phone technology it is argued that even though India has strong scientific and technological capabilities, it is emerging as a bigger consumer of technology products than as a producer and innovator of modern technology.
Story of the Clashing Images of the Country.
The Case of India’s Image at Home and in Poland
Abstract: The article deals with the complex process of creating a country image, both at home and abroad. It consists of two parts, being interrelated with each other, however not in a direct way. In part one the focus is laid on the image of India created by Indians themselves, which is partly a result of the grand economic transformation initiated in the beginning of the 1990s, and partly a heritage of much older cultural and political tradition. In part two the case of India’s changing image in Poland is analyzed, viz. the case of a country, which unlike other European states, never ventured to establish its own political presence overseas, but nevertheless it was able to build a complex structure of various images of the civilization it hardly had any direct political contact with.