Indian Sociologists - Solutions

 CBSE Class 11 Sociology

NCERT Solutions
Chapter 10
Indian Sociologists

1. How did Ananthakrishna lyer and Sarat Chandra Roy come to practise social anthropology?

Ans. One of the earliest and best known pioneers of social anthropology in India was L.K. Ananthakrishna Iyer (1861-1937).

  • He was initially a clerk and then became a college teacher in Cochin State.
  • In 1902,L.K. Ananthakrishna Iyer was asked by the Dewan of Cochin to assist with an ethnographic survey of the state.
  • The British government wanted similar surveys done in all the princely states as well as the presidency areas directly under its control, Ananthakrishna did this work on a purely voluntary basis.
  • Later, he worked for British government as unpaid superintendent of ethnography.
  • His work was much appreciated that later he was invited to help with a similar ethnographic survey in Mysore state.
  • L.K. Ananthakrishna Iyer was the first self-taught anthropologist to receive national and international recognition as a scholar and an academician.

Practice of Social Anthropology by Sarat Chandra Roy(1871-1942).

  • Sarat Chandra Roy was educated in Law and English.He gave up his law practice and became a school teacher in Ranchi.
  • Sarat Chandra Roy was deeply interested in tribal society as a byproduct of his professional need to interpret tribal customs and laws to the court.
  • Roy published more than one hundred articles in leading Indian and British academic journals in addition to his famous monographs on the Oraon, the Mundas and the Kharias.
  • He founded the journal Man in India in 1922, the earliest journal of its kind in India.

Both Ananthakrishna Iyer and Sarat Chandra Roy were true pioneers who began practicing a discipline that did not yet exist in India and which had no institution to promote it.

2. What were the main arguments on either side of the debate about how to relate to tribal communities?

Ans. In the 1930s and 1940s there was much debate on the place of tribal societies within India and how the state should respond to them

  • Many British administrator - anthropologists were specially interested in the tribes of India and believed them to be primitive people with a distinctive culture far from mainstream Hinduism.
  • They believed that the innocent and simple tribal would suffer exploitation in the society and cultural degradation through contact with Hindu culture and society..
  • They felt that the state had a duty to protect the tribes and to help them sustain their way of life and culture, which were facing constant pressure to assimilate with mainstream of Hindu culture.

G.S. Ghurye became the best known exponent of the nationalist view :

  • Ghurye became the best known exponent of the nationalist view. He insisted on characterising the tribes of India as 'backward Hindus' rather than distinct cultural groups.He cited detailed evidence of tribal cultures to show that they had been in constant interactions with Hinduism over a long period.

Main points of differences:

  • The differences were how the impact of mainstream culture was evaluated. The protectionist' believed that assimilation would result in the severe exploitation and cultural extinction of the tribals.
  • Ghurye and the nationalists argued that these ill-effects were not specific to tribal cultures, but were common to all the backward and downtrodden sections of Indian society.

3. Outline the positions of Herbert Risley and G.S. Ghurye on the relationship between race and caste in India.


  • Herbert Risley's view held that human beings can be divided into distinct and separate races on the basis of their physical characteristics such as the circumference of the skull, the length of the nose, or the volume of the cranium the part of the skull where the brain is located.
  • Risley believed that India was a unique 'laboratory' for studying the evolution of racial types because caste strictly prohibits inter-marriage among different groups, and had done so for centuries.
  • Risley's main argument was that caste must have originated in race because different caste groups seemed to belong to distinct racial types.
  • The higher castes approximated Indo-Aryan racial traits, while the lower castes seemed to belong to non-Aryan aboriginal, Mongoloid or other racial groups.
  • Risley and others suggested that the lower castes were the original aboriginal inhabitants of India. They had been subjugated by an Aryan people who had come from elsewhere and settled in India.
  • Ghurye did not disagree with the basic argument put forward by Risley but believed it to be only partially correct.
  • He pointed out the problem with using averages alone without considering the variation in the distribution of a particular measurement for a given community.
  • Ghurye believed that Risley's thesis of upper castes being Aryan and the lower castes being non-Aryan was broadly true On it for Northern India.
  • 'Racial purity' had been preserved due to the prohibition on inter-marriage only in 'Hindustan proper' (North India).
  • in the rest of the country, the practice of endogamy may have been introduced into groups that were already racially varied.

4. Summarise the social anthropological definition of caste.

Ans. Social anthropological definition of caste emphasises on six features:

  • Caste is based on segmental division: This means that society is divided into a number of closed, mutually exclusive segments or compartments.It is closed because caste is decided by birth. A person's caste is decided by birth at birth. Thus, it can neither be avoided nor changed.
  • Caste is based on hierarchical division: Each caste is strictly unequal to every other caste which means every caste is either higher or lower than every other caste.
  • Caste imposes restriction on social interaction: The institution of caste necessarily imposes restrictions on social interaction, specially the sharing of food.These rules are governed by ideas of purity and pollution.The same also applies to social interaction. For instance, in the institution of untouchability even the touch of people of particular castes is thought to be polluting.
  • Differential rights and duties for different castes: Following the principles of hierarchy and restricted social interaction, caste also involves differential rights and duties of different castes.These rights and duties pertain not only to religious practices but extend to the secular world.
  • Restriction on the choice of occupation: Caste restricts the choice of occupation, which, like caste itself, is decided by birth and is hereditary. Caste functions as a rigid form of the division of labour with specific occupations being allocated to specific castes.
  • It Imposes strict restrictions on marriage: Caste involves strict restrictions on marriage. Caste 'endogamy', or marriage only within the caste, is often accompanied by rules about 'exogamy', or whom one may not marry. This rule helps reproduce the caste system

5. What does D.P. Mukerji mean by a 'living tradition'? Why did he insist that Indian sociologists be rooted in this tradition?


  • According to D.P. Mukerji, the Indian tradition was a living tradition as it was not only oriented towards its past but also included sensitivity to change and adapting to the present and thus evolving over time..
  • A living tradition thus includes some old elements but also some new ones.
  • What D.P. Mukerji insisted Indian sociologists should be rooted in living tradition to get a better and more concrete sense of what this means.
  • The Indian sociologists can know better the following subjects:
  1. Games played by children of your age groups (boys/girls),
  2. Ways in which a popular festival is celebrated, etc.
  • First duty of an Indian sociologist is to study and to know the social traditions of India. For Mr. Mukerji, this study of tradition was not oriented only towards the past, but also included sensitivity to change.
  • What D.P. Mukerji has written is not enough for Indian sociologists to be a sociologist.. He must be an Indian first, i.e., he is to share in the folk-ways to mores, customs and traditions, for the purpose of understanding his social system and what lies beneath it and beyond it.

6. What are the specifics of Indian culture and society, and how do they affect the pattern of change?


  • D.P. Mukerji felt that the centrality of Indian society is its social tradition that is oriented towards its past but also included sensitivity to change
  • Indian society and culture is not individualistic in the western sense but rigidly fixed by socio-cultural group pattern.
  • Traditions are strongly rooted in the past but doesn't rule out change. It adapts to the internal and external sources of change
  • D.P. Mukerji believed in three principles of change recognised in Indian traditions, namely, shruti, smriti and anubhava. Of these the last anubhava or personal experience is the revolutionary principle.
  • The most important principle of change in Indian society was generalised anubhava, or the collective experience of groups.
  • The high traditions were centered in smriti and shruti, but they were periodically challenged by the collective experience of groups and sects, as for example, in the Bhakti movement.
  • According to D.P. Mukerji, the Indian context is not one where discursive reason (buddhi-vichar) is the dominant force for change, anubhava and prem (experience and love) have been historically superior as agents of change.
  • Conflict and rebellion in Indian context have tended to work through collective experiences.

7. What is a welfare state? Why is A.R. Desai critical of the claims made on its behalf?

Ans. A welfare state is a social system where the government looks after the welfare of of its citizens and ensure their political, economic, social, religious, cultural, developmental, etc, of the people. The modern capitalist state was one of the significant themes that interested A.R. Desai.

Desai suggests some test criteria against which the performance of the welfare state can be measured. These are :

  1. Does the welfare state ensure freedom from poverty, discrimination and security for all?.
  2. Does the welfare state remove inequalities of income through measures to redistribute income from the rich to the poor, and by preventing the concentration of wealth?
  3. Does the welfare state transform the economy in such a way that the capitalist profit motive is made subservient to the real needs of the community?
  4. Does the welfare state ensure stable development free from the cycle of economic booms and depressions?
  5. Does it provide employment for all?.
  • Most modern capitalist states, even in the most developed countries, fail to provide minimum levels of economic and social security to all their citizens.
  • They are unable to reduce economic inequality and often seem to encourage it.
  • The presence of excess economic capacity and high levels of unemployment are yet another failure.
  • Based on these arguments, Desai concludes that the notion of the welfare state is something of a myth.

8. What arguments were given for and against the village as a subject of sociological research by M. N. Srinivas and Louis Dumont?


  • M.N. Srinivas favoured to take Indian villages as a subject of sociological research because village society remained a life long focus of interest for him.
  • Srinivas believed that village is an important social entity serving as a unifying identity.
  • Village was never self-sufficient and had been involved in various social, economic and political relationship at the regional level. Thus, Srinivas felt that village as a site of research offered many advantages to Indian sociology.
  • Louis Dumont on the other hand thought that social institutions like caste were more important than village, which was just a collection of people living in a particular place.
  • Villages may live or die, people may move from one village to another, but social institutions like caste will continue to exist.
  • Dumont believed that it would be misleading to give importance to village as a category.

9. What is the significance of village studies in the history of Indian sociology? What role did M.N. Srinivas play in promoting village studies?


  • Indian village is an important social entity as more than 65 percent of the population resides in rural area of India.
  • Indian village serves as a unifying identity which had important significance in rural life.
  • Village studies helps in challenging the incomplete and wrong information put forward by British administrator anthropologists.
  • M.N. Srinivas along with other scholars like S.C. Dubey and D.N. Majumdar was instrumental in making village studies the dominant field of Indian sociology.
  • Srinivas used historical and sociological evidences to show the considerable changes that village had experienced.
  • Srinivas helped, encouraged and coordinated a major collective effort at producing detailed ethnographic accounts of village society during the 1950s and 1960s.