UPSC SOCIOLOGY – Paper 2 – Part B – Social Structure: Caste System: Perspectives on the study of caste systems: GS Ghurye, M N Srinivas, Louis Dumont, Andre Beteille.
- Caste is a form of social stratification.
- It is a closed system of stratification.
- At the base of the system is the varna system under the Hindu fold of Indian society.
- The caste system divides Hindus into four main categories – Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and the Shudras.
- For centuries, caste has dictated almost every aspect of Hindu religious and social life, with each group occupying a specific place in this complex hierarchy.
G S GHURYE ON CASTE SYSTEM
- According to him caste and kinship have played an integrative role in India.
- Ghurye played a lead role in toppling the racial theory of caste (caste must have originated in race).
- According to him, tribals are backward Hindus who are at various levels of assimilation in Hindu society.
- Can society is based on hierarchical division.
- Cost involves strict restrictions on marriage.
- He has also analysed the changing pattern of caste system and has opined that it will diminish with the rise of modern education.
M N SRINIVAS ON CASTE SYSTEM
- He introduced Sanskritization, Dominant caste, Vertical and horizontal solidarities and gave the essence of caste as a social institution.
- He viewed caste as rooted in local hierarchy rather than in broader Varna framework.
- Used field studies to explain the working of caste.
- He understood caste in terms of status wealth and power.
- Viewed caste system as dynamic and rejected the varna view which considers caste system as a rigid hierarchical system.
- Each caste and subcaste has certain common attributes like hierarchy, occupational differentiation, restrictions and purity-pollution based relations.
- Caste will ultimately fade away.
LOUIS DUMONT ON CASTE SYSTEM
- The most important work is Homo Hierarchicus: Caste system and its implication in 1966.
- His theory of caste hierarchy locates its basis in pollution and purity distinction.
- His approach is a combination of indological and structuralist approach with the dual focus on ideology as well as structure.
- He views caste system in terms of ideas and values.
- Caste hierarchy is a peculiar feature of Indian society.
- Caste is a set of relationships of economic, political and kinship systems, sustained by certain values which are mostly religious in nature.
- Critics question his approach for being too textual.
ANDRE BETEILLE ON CASTE SYSTEM
- He started his analysis of caste from the empirical study of the village of Sripuram in Tanjore district of Tamil Nadu.
- According to him, along with caste, one should also study kinship, class and power as well.
- Kinships also played an important role as individuals often chose the occupation of their parents.
- He suggests that lower caste were less keen on sanskritization.
- As land comes in the open market, the productive organisation of village tended to be free from the structure of caste and hence power structure in villages also changes.
- The interrelation between caste, class and power is not as harmonious as it was before and it can be attributed to factors like growth of education, secularization of society and occupations, migration, politics and democracy.
AMBEDKAR ON CASTE SYSTEM
- He had a radical view of caste system and called for annihilation of caste system.
- He considered Gandhian view as utopian.
- In a society were merit and equality are the guiding principles, there should be no place for hereditary status.
- He argued that because of caste divisions, Hindu social order has failed to uphold Liberty, equality and fraternity.
- He recommended abolition of religion.
- Promoted inter-caste marriages.
- Rise of dalit consciousness in India is attribute to him.
GANDHI ON CASTE SYSTEM
- He challenged the caste system.
- According to him, Varna Vyavastha was integral to the Hindu social organisation though it needed forms.
- He sought social change within Hinduism.
- Gandhi saw solution to untouchability in terms of gradual change of hearts of Hindus.
- Every work was sacred and the type of work performed by one caste does not make it superior or inferior to other caste.
- He did not want total abolition of caste system but wanted a formation of caste and Hindu society.