Modernization and Its Contradictions: Contemporary Social Changes in India
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Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
Publication date: 2012-07-09
Polish Sociological Review 2012;178(2):151-166
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.
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