UPSC SOCIOLOGY – Paper 2 – Chapter 1 – Perspectives on the study of Indian society: Indology; Structural Functionalism; Marxist Sociology.
- Marxism has also been significant in the Indian academy, but its influence is greater in history, economics, and political science than in sociology.
- Indian Marxist scholars use basic assumptions of Marxian analysis in the understanding of Indian Society.
- Akshay Ramanlal Desai (1915-1994) was arguably the scholar who did the most for the development of Marxist sociology in India.
- The kind of Marxian narratives that we have are largely doctrinaire: systemic, class war, dialectics, evolutionary and production relations.
RELEVANCE OF MARXIST IDEOLOGY IN INDIA
- Two decades of planning was unsuccessful and we needed a new ideology to rectify the deficiency in interpretation of Indiian society.
- Marxist approach understands Indian society in terms of a process of historical developments in dialectical materialistic terms.
- Marxist perspective for generating an understanding of caste and class.
- Indian society can be studied in terms of conflict.
MARXIST INTERPRETATION OF INDIAN NATIONALISM
- R.P. Dutt and A.R. Desai analysed it as a movement which was mostly dominated by the bourgeoisie.
- Although various classes, including the peasantry and the working classes, participated in it, its basic character remained bourgeois.
- Sumit Sarkar is a Marxist historian who is critical of Dutt’s paradigm. In his first book, The Swadeshi Movement in Bengal, 1903-1908, he terms it as a ‘simplistic version of the Marxian class-approach’.
A R DESAI’S CONTRIBUTIONS
- In Social Background of Indian Nationalism, he made a classical analysis about the genesis of Indian nationalism from a social perspective, by adopting the historical approach.
- Desai did question the fundamental motive of Gandhian politics and expressed his candid doubt whether the class collaborationist approach of Gandhian politics could rescue the common Indian masses from the abject exploitation and misery, which, capitalism is bound to inflict upon.
- Desai in his book Social Background of Indian Nationalism (1948) did not discuss of the class-concerns of Indian nationalism that rendered the freedom movement elitist.
- He had limitless trust in socialism and believed that socialism is the panacea to allay all social problems plaguing capitalism.
COMMENT ON MARXIST HISTORIOGRAPHY
- The study of broad social and economic systems such as feudalism and colonialism were undertaken and the social, economic and political changes were considered not in the light of the actions of individual statesmen, but in terms of the working out of economy and conflicts between classes.
- At the level of methodology, Marxists` works introduced an interdisciplinary approach to history which encompassed literature, archaeology, linguistics, anthropology, numismatics and statistics.
- Moreover, the Marxist historiography has made interpretation and explanation more important than narration or description.
LIMITATIONS OF MARXIST STUDIES
- Ignored the importance of religion and culture.
- Directly applied Marxian theories to India without considerably modifying it.
- Takes only a materialistic view.
- Over-simplistic view of pattern of social inequalities.
- Over emphasis on conflict.