Chapter 5: Indian Sociologists – CBSE NCERT Sociology Class 11 Notes

Class 11 Sociology Notes for Chapter 5: Indian Sociologists
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Chapter Definitions and Short Notes

Chapter 5: Indian Sociologists – Short Notes and Definitions

Development of Sociology in India

Sociology in India began formally in 1919 with the establishment of departments at the University of Bombay, followed by the Universities of Calcutta and Lucknow in the early 1920s.
Initially, the direction and relevance of Indian sociology were uncertain, as it needed to address India’s unique social, cultural, and historical contexts, especially under colonial influence.
Over time, Indian sociology evolved, addressing local issues and incorporating influences from Western sociology to understand and interpret the changes brought by modernity in a colonial and post-colonial setting. Prominent early sociologists in India included LK Ananthakrishma Iyer, Sarat Chandra Roy, Govind Sadashiv Ghurye, DP Mukerji, AR Desai, and MN Srinivas, who were instrumental in shaping the discipline within the country’s specific context.

Short Pointers:

  • Start of Formal Sociology: Began in 1919 at the University of Bombay; expanded to Calcutta and Lucknow by 1920.
  • Early Uncertainty: Initially unclear how Indian sociology would develop or its necessity.
  • Influence of Modernity: Shaped by India’s experience with modernity during the colonial era.
  • Key Figures: LK Ananthakrishma Iyer, Sarat Chandra Roy, Govind Sadashiv Ghurye, DP Mukerji, AR Desai, MN Srinivas.
  • Cultural and Historical Context: Adapted to address India’s specific social and historical challenges.
  • Growth and Recognition: Now a standard and established discipline across major Indian universities.
  • Role in Independent India: Evolved to support India’s development and democratic journey post-independence.

LK Ananthakrishna Iyer and His Contributions to Indian Anthropology

LK Ananthakrishna Iyer, a seminal figure in Indian anthropology, began his career in diverse roles before establishing himself in academia. Initially a clerk and later a teacher, his anthropological journey started in 1902 when he assisted in an ethnographic survey in Cochin, mandated by the British government. His work extended to other regions, including Mysore. Despite having no formal training in anthropology, Ananthakrishna Iyer was instrumental in establishing the first post-graduate anthropology department at the University of Calcutta between 1917 and 1932. Recognized both nationally and internationally, he received numerous accolades, including an honorary doctorate from a German university and prestigious titles from the Cochin state. His pioneering efforts helped popularise anthropology and sociology in India, marking him as one of the first self-taught anthropologists to gain significant recognition.

Short Pointers:

  • Career Beginnings: Started as a clerk, then became a school and college teacher in Cochin.
  • Ethnographic Survey: Volunteered for the ethnographic survey of Cochin in 1902, later expanded to Mysore.
  • Academic Contributions: Founded the post-graduate anthropology department at the University of Calcutta.
  • Recognition: Received national and international acclaim, an honorary doctorate from Germany, and titles ‘Rao Bahadur’ and ‘Dewan Bahadur.’
  • Legacy in Indian Anthropology: Credited with pioneering efforts to establish anthropology as a recognized academic discipline in India.

Sarat Chandra Roy – A Pioneer of Anthropology in India

Sarat Chandra Roy (1871-1942) was a distinguished figure in Indian anthropology and sociology, known for his extensive fieldwork and contributions to understanding tribal cultures in India. Initially trained in English and law at Calcutta’s Ripon College, Roy’s career took a significant turn when he moved to Ranchi in 1898 to teach English at a Christian missionary school. His professional journey as a lawyer in Ranchi led him to become deeply involved with the tribal communities of the Chhotanagpur region (now Jharkhand). His need to interpret tribal customs and laws for legal purposes drove him to conduct intensive fieldwork among these communities, culminating in numerous scholarly articles and monographs on tribes like the Oraon, Mundas, and Kharias. In 1922, he founded the journal “Man in India,” which remains a significant publication in the field of anthropology.

Short Pointers:

  • Educational Background: Graduated and post-graduated in English, later earned a law degree from Ripon College, Calcutta.
  • Career Shift: Moved from teaching English to practising law in Ranchi, which sparked his interest in anthropology.
  • Fieldwork: Conducted extensive research on tribal societies in Chhotanagpur, leveraging his legal expertise to understand tribal laws and customs.
  • Publications: Authored over one hundred articles and several significant monographs on tribal cultures.
  • Journal Founder: Established “Man in India,” the first of its kind in India and still published today.
  • Legacy: Recognized both nationally and internationally as a pioneer in the field of anthropology in India.

Govind Sadashiv Ghurye and the Institutionalization of Sociology in India

Govind Sadashiv Ghurye is recognized as the founder of institutionalised sociology in India. He led Bombay University’s first post-graduate sociology department for 35 years, which was pivotal in combining teaching and research and merging sociology with social anthropology. Ghurye founded the Indian Sociological Society and its journal, the Sociological Bulletin, which played crucial roles in nurturing sociology as an Indian discipline.
His academic work spanned a wide array of subjects including caste, race, tribes, kinship, family, marriage, culture, civilization, urban development, religion, and the sociology of conflict and integration.

Short Pointers:

  • Foundational Role: Established the first institutionalised sociology department at Bombay University.
  • Leadership: Headed the department for 35 years, influencing many scholars.
  • Indian Sociological Society: Founded this key society and its publication to foster the discipline in India.
  • Academic Contributions: Extensively written on diverse topics such as caste systems, urban sociology, and cultural studies.
  • Teaching and Research: Innovatively combined these aspects in the academic curriculum.
  • Integration of Disciplines: Successfully merged sociology with social anthropology at Bombay University.
  • Influence on Indian Sociology: Played a significant role in shaping sociology as a discipline that addresses specific Indian social contexts and issues.

Ghurye’s View on Indian Tribals:

G.S. Ghurye, a prominent Indian sociologist, approached the study of tribal communities in India through a nationalist lens, arguing that tribals were not culturally distinct groups but rather “backward Hindus.”
He believed that these tribal communities were simply at a different stage in the same assimilation process that other Indian communities had undergone. Ghurye opposed the view held by British administrator-anthropologists, who considered tribals as isolated and primitive, needing protection from the influences of mainstream Hindu culture which they thought would lead to exploitation and cultural degradation. Instead, Ghurye and like-minded nationalists felt that such protectionist attitudes kept tribals in a state of backwardness and insisted on their integration and modernization as part of the broader Indian society.

Short Pointers:

  • Ghurye viewed tribals as “backward Hindus” rather than distinct cultural entities.
  • He opposed the British view of tribals as primitives needing protection from mainstream Hindu culture.
  • Ghurye advocated for the assimilation and modernization of tribal communities, aligning with nationalist ideals.
  • He argued that tribals had long interacted with Hinduism and were part of a broader societal assimilation process.
  • Nationalists believed that preserving tribal culture in isolation kept them backward, similar to museums displaying primitive culture.
  • Ghurye’s work sparked debate on how to integrate tribal societies within the Indian nation-state, emphasising development and unity.

Ghurye’s Critique of the Racial Theory of Caste:

G.S. Ghurye, in his seminal work “Caste and Race in India” (1932), critiqued the prevailing theories that linked race to caste systems in India. He challenged Herbert Risley’s assertion that caste was a product of racial distinctions marked by physical traits such as skull circumference and nose length. While Risley argued that higher castes were of Indo-Aryan racial origin and lower castes were non-Aryan, Ghurye acknowledged this correlation only for Northern India.
He noted that across most of India, significant racial mixing over long periods invalidated the concept of ‘racial purity’. Ghurye’s work highlighted that the practice of endogamy in caste systems did not necessarily preserve racial distinctiveness, except possibly in the Indo-Gangetic plain.

Short Pointers:

  • Ghurye critiqued the theory that linked race to the caste system, primarily forwarded by Herbert Risley.
  • Risley believed caste originated from racial differences, observable through physical characteristics.
  • Ghurye agreed partially, noting that the correlation between caste and race was mainly noticeable in Northern India.
  • He highlighted widespread racial mixing in other parts of India, suggesting that racial purity was not maintained except possibly in the North.
  • Ghurye’s observations contributed to questioning the racial basis of caste, especially as he pointed out the limitations of using average physical measurements to define racial types.
  • His work was influential in Indian anthropology, particularly in challenging the racial interpretations of caste prevalent in early 20th-century scholarship.

Ghurye’s Definition of Caste:

G.S. Ghurye defined caste as a system with six essential features:

  • Segmental Division: Caste divides society into closed, mutually exclusive segments, where membership is determined by birth.
  • Hierarchical Division: Castes are ranked in a strict hierarchy, where no two castes are considered equal.
  • Social Interaction Restrictions: Caste imposes specific rules on social interactions, especially concerning the sharing of food, governed by notions of purity and pollution.
  • Differential Rights and Duties: Each caste has different rights and duties that extend beyond religious practices to everyday social interactions.
  • Occupational Restrictions: Caste dictates the occupation of individuals based on hereditary principles, creating a rigid division of labour.
  • Marriage Restrictions: Caste enforces strict rules on marriage within the same caste (endogamy) and prohibits marriage with certain groups (exogamy).

Short Pointers:

  • Caste is a system of social stratification where membership is determined at birth.
  • It divides society into closed segments with no possibility of movement between them.
  • Castes are hierarchically arranged, with each caste being superior or inferior to others.
  • Interactions and relationships between castes are heavily regulated by rules rooted in notions of purity.
  • Occupations are typically fixed by caste, perpetuating economic inequalities.
  • Marriages are restricted to within the same caste, reinforcing the system through generational continuity.
  • Ghurye’s definition helps understand the traditional structures of caste and their persistence in society.

Development of Sociology in India (1920s-1950s)

During the period from the 1920s to the 1950s, the development of sociology in India was primarily centred around two major academic departments: Bombay and Lucknow. Both departments initially combined sociology with economics. The Bombay department was led by G.S. Ghurye, and the Lucknow department was distinguished by its ‘trinity’ of scholars: Radhakamal Mukerjee, the founder, alongside D.P. Mukerji and D.N. Majumdar. D.P. Mukerji emerged as a particularly influential figure, not just in sociology but also in broader intellectual and public life. He engaged widely through his teaching, academic presentations, media contributions, and books, bringing a multi-disciplinary approach to his work influenced by history, economics, and Marxism.

Short Pointers:

  • Sociology in India from the 1920s to 1950s centred on major departments in Mumbai and Lucknow.
  • The Bombay department was led by G.S. Ghurye.
  • The Lucknow department featured Radhakamal Mukerjee, D.P. Mukerji, and D.N. Majumdar, with D.P. Mukerji being notably popular.
  • D.P. Mukerji was influential through his teaching, media work, and diverse scholarly interests including sociology, literature, music, and Marxism.
  • He wrote extensively in both English and Bengali, with notable works like ‘Introduction to Indian Music.’
  • Both departments began as joint sociology and economics units, reflecting a multi-disciplinary foundation in these early sociology programs.

D.P. Mukerji on Tradition and Change in Indian Sociology

D.P. Mukerji, a prominent Indian sociologist, emphasised the dominant role of the social system in shaping Indian society, distinguishing it from Western societies where history, politics, and economics play more central roles. He argued that the Indian social system, being “over-developed,” revolves around social traditions that are deeply rooted yet capable of adapting and evolving. Mukerji highlighted three principles of social change in Indian tradition: shruti (what is heard), smriti (what is remembered), and anubhava (personal experience).
He stressed that in the Indian context, anubhava often transforms into a collective experience, which becomes a crucial agent of change. This perspective leads to a cyclical pattern of social change, where tradition is continuously challenged and transformed but not discarded, reflecting the resilience of societal structures in India.

Short Pointers:

  • Social System Centrality: D.P. Mukerji viewed the social system as central to understanding Indian society, contrasting with less developed historical, political, and economic aspects.
  • Living Tradition: He perceived tradition as dynamic, linking past and present and evolving continuously.
  • Three Principles of Change: Identified shruti, smriti, and anubhava as key to understanding societal changes in India.
  • Collective Experience: Emphasised the transformation of personal experiences into collective ones, which drive societal change.
  • Cyclical Change: Described a process where societal challenges lead to changes within the framework of existing traditions rather than breaking them.
  • Cultural Sensitivity: Advocated for a deep understanding of both high and low cultures and languages to fully grasp the Indian social system.
  • Critique of Modernity: Warned against uncritical adoption of Western modernity, advocating for a balanced approach to embracing modern influences while respecting traditional values.

A.R. Desai and His Contributions to Indian Sociology

A.R. Desai, a notable Indian Marxist sociologist, significantly influenced the field of sociology with his political engagement and academic pursuits. He studied under G.S. Ghurye at the Bombay department of sociology and was an active member of the Communist Party of India before resigning. His doctoral dissertation, published as “The Social Background of Indian Nationalism,” provided a Marxist analysis of Indian nationalism, emphasising economic divisions and the context of British colonialism. This work, among others on peasant movements, modernization, and human rights, made Desai well-known, especially outside the traditional sociological circles due to the scant prominence of Marxism within Indian sociology at the time. Despite being an unusual figure in Indian sociology, Desai’s impact was profound, leading to numerous accolades including the presidency of the Indian Sociological Society.

Short Pointers:

  • Academic Background: A.R. Desai studied under G.S. Ghurye in Bombay and wrote his doctoral thesis on Indian nationalism.
  • Political Involvement: Initially involved in Marxist politics, he later resigned from the Communist Party of India.
  • Key Contributions: His major work, “The Social Background of Indian Nationalism,” analysed Indian nationalism through a Marxist lens, focusing on economic factors under British rule.
  • Broader Themes: Worked on peasant movements, rural sociology, modernization, urban issues, political sociology, forms of state, and human rights.
  • Recognition: Known more outside sociology due to his Marxist approach; elected President of the Indian Sociological Society.
  • Unusual Sociologist: Despite his significant contributions, he remained an atypical figure within Indian sociology.

A.R. Desai’s Critique of the Welfare State

A.R. Desai, a Marxist sociologist, provided a detailed critique of the welfare state in his essay, “The Myth of the Welfare State.” He described the welfare state as a ‘positive state’ that intervenes actively to design and implement social policies for societal betterment, contrasting sharply with the minimal intervention philosophy of classical liberal ‘laissez-faire.’ According to Desai, a welfare state also embodies democracy and a mixed economy, with both private and state-owned enterprises.
However, Desai argued that the welfare state often fails to meet its ideals, particularly in reducing income inequality, ensuring economic stability, and providing universal employment. He used specific criteria to measure the performance of welfare states and concluded that their claims of providing comprehensive economic and social security are largely mythical.

Short Pointers:

  • Positive State: The welfare state actively engages in societal betterment, unlike minimal state intervention in classical liberalism.
  • Democratic State: Democracy is essential for a welfare state, characterised by formal democratic institutions like multi-party elections.
  • Mixed Economy: Combines private capitalist and state-owned enterprises, with the state focusing on basic goods and social infrastructure.
  • Performance Criteria: Desai suggests measuring welfare state efficacy by its ability to eliminate poverty, reduce income inequality, transform the economy to serve community needs, stabilise economic development, and provide universal employment.
  • Critical Analysis: Despite their objectives, welfare states often fail to achieve these goals, leading Desai to challenge the effectiveness of such states in practice.
  • Marxist Perspective: Desai’s critique stems from a Marxist viewpoint, emphasising economic divisions and the limitations of capitalist structures within purported welfare states.

M.N. Srinivas: Contributions to Indian Sociology

Mysore Narasimhachar Srinivas, one of the most renowned Indian sociologists post-independence, profoundly impacted the field through both his academic work and institutional leadership. Holding doctoral degrees from Bombay University and Oxford, Srinivas was originally influenced by Ghurye in Bombay before his orientation was reshaped at Oxford, the then hub of British social anthropology. His work, especially “Religion and Society among the Coorgs of South India,” applied the structural-functional perspective and solidified his international reputation. Srinivas returned to India to establish and lead new sociology departments at Maharaja Sayajirao University in Baroda and later at the Delhi School of Economics, turning these institutions into leading centres for sociology in India. His career spanned significant research on caste, modernization, village society, and social change, placing Indian sociology prominently on the global academic map.

Short Pointers:

  • Academic Foundation: Earned two PhDs, one from Bombay University and another from Oxford.
  • Key Works: Known for “Religion and Society among the Coorgs of South India,” which applied structural-functional analysis.
  • Academic Positions: Initiated and led sociology departments in Baroda and Delhi, fostering new generations of sociologists.
  • Research Focus: Investigated caste dynamics, social modernization, and village society among other areas.
  • Global Influence: Bridged Indian sociology with global anthropology networks, particularly in Britain and America.
  • Legacy: Trained future leaders in sociology, significantly shaping the discipline in India post-independence.

M.N. Srinivas on the Significance of the Indian Village in Sociology

M.N. Srinivas, a prominent Indian sociologist, emphasised the importance of the village as a fundamental unit of social analysis in India. He argued that villages, contrary to being static and isolated ‘little republics’ as portrayed by British administrator-anthropologists, were dynamic entities deeply involved in socio-economic and political networks. Srinivas highlighted that villages underwent significant transformations and were never truly self-sufficient. His work involved detailed ethnographic fieldwork and historical analysis, showing how villages served as central to understanding broader social changes in India. He contested views like those of Louis Dumont, who downplayed the importance of villages by emphasising broader social institutions like caste. Srinivas maintained that villages played a crucial role in shaping rural social life and were integral in reflecting the rapid social changes during India’s post-independence period.

Short Pointers:

  • Fieldwork Foundation: Srinivas’s insights were grounded in extensive fieldwork in a village near Mysore, which shaped his academic path.
  • Village Studies: He spearheaded the ethnographic study of villages, making it a dominant field in Indian sociology during the 1950s and 1960s.
  • Ethnographic and Historical Approach: His writings included both ethnographic accounts and conceptual discussions on the village as a social unit.
  • Debate on Village Significance: Challenged views undermining the village’s relevance, arguing that villages were significant social entities with a unifying identity.
  • Critique of Static Views: Refuted the portrayal of Indian villages as unchanging and self-sufficient, using evidence of their socio-economic and political connections.
  • Sociology’s Role in Modern India: Advocated for the relevance of sociology in understanding and aiding India’s modernization, especially through village studies.

Indianisation of Sociology: Contributions by Pioneering Sociologists

The distinctiveness of Indian sociology was significantly shaped by four pioneering sociologists: Govind Sadashiv Ghurye, D.P. Mukerjee, A.R. Desai, and M.N. Srinivas. Each brought unique perspectives and methodologies that ‘Indianised’ sociology, integrating Western academic frameworks with deep insights into Indian social realities. Ghurye applied his understanding of classical texts to Western anthropological questions, while Mukherjee rediscovered and articulated the relevance of Indian traditions in modern intellectual discourse. Desai infused his Marxist perspective to provide a rare critical analysis of the Indian state, and Srinivas adapted his Western anthropological training to address the Indian context, helping to reshape the agenda for contemporary sociology in India. This integration by the four sociologists not only personalised the discipline but also set a platform for subsequent generations to build upon, ensuring the continuous evolution and relevance of sociology within India.

Short Pointers:

  • G.S. Ghurye: Began with Western anthropological questions, using his knowledge of Indian classical texts to add depth and context.
  • D.P. Mukerjee: A Western-educated intellectual who re-emphasized the significance of Indian tradition in modern sociology.
  • A.R. Desai: A Marxist who uniquely critiqued the Indian state, offering perspectives that were uncommon at the time.
  • M.N. Srinivas: Trained in Western social anthropology, he tailored his approach to suit the Indian sociological environment, influencing the future direction of the field.
  • Legacy: These pioneers set the stage for future sociologists to critique and expand upon their foundational work, demonstrating the dynamic and evolving nature of Indian sociology.

NCERT Solutions

NCERT Solutions for Class 11 Sociology – Chapter 5: Indian Sociologists

  • How did Ananthakrishna Iyer and Sarat Chandra Roy come to practise social anthropology?

Answer: Ananthakrishna Iyer and Sarat Chandra Roy were pioneering figures who contributed significantly to the development of social anthropology in India, even though they came to practise this discipline by accident rather than formal training.
Iyer initially worked as a clerk and later became a college teacher in Ernakulam. In 1902, he was asked by the Dewan of Cochin to assist with an ethnographic survey of the state, which sparked his interest in anthropology. Despite lacking formal qualifications, Iyer worked voluntarily as the unpaid Superintendent of Ethnography for the British government, conducting ethnographic surveys. His work was appreciated by British anthropologists and administrators, leading to academic appointments and recognition.
On the other hand, Sarat Chandra Roy was a lawyer who became interested in tribal society and customs while working as an interpreter in the Ranchi court. He extensively travelled and conducted fieldwork among tribal communities in the Chhotanagpur region, producing valuable monographs and research articles on their culture and society. Roy’s contributions were recognized by anthropologists in India and Britain, and he founded the journal ‘Man in India’.
Despite being amateurs without formal training, Iyer and Roy’s experiences, dedication, and keen observations led them to practise social anthropology and make significant contributions to the understanding of Indian society and cultures at a time when the discipline was non-existent in India.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

Ananthakrishna Iyer:

  • Initially a clerk and college teacher
  • Asked to assist with ethnographic survey in Cochin in 1902
  • Worked voluntarily as unpaid Superintendent of Ethnography
  • Work appreciated by British anthropologists and administrators
  • Became first self-taught anthropologist in India

Sarat Chandra Roy:

  • Lawyer by profession
  • Interested in tribal society while working as court interpreter
  • Extensive fieldwork and travel among tribal communities
  • Produced valuable monographs and research articles
  • Founded the journal ‘Man in India’

Key Points:

  • Pioneers of social anthropology in India
  • Came to the discipline by accident/experience
  • Lacked formal training but made significant contributions
  • Appreciated by British anthropologists and administrators
  • What were the main arguments on either side of the debate about how to relate to tribal communities?

Answer: The main arguments on either side of the debate about how to relate to tribal communities were presented by the British administrator-anthropologists and the Indian nationalists.
According to the British thinkers, the tribes of India were primitive people with a distinct culture from mainstream Hinduism. They believed that the simple tribal people would face exploitation and cultural degradation if assimilated into Hindu society. Hence, the British felt that the state had a duty to protect the tribes and help them sustain their way of life and culture from the perceived threats of Hindu cultural assimilation.
On the other hand, the Indian nationalists, represented prominently by G.S. Ghurye, argued that the tribes were not distinct cultural groups but rather “backward Hindus” who had been interacting and assimilating with Hindu society over a long period. They felt that attempts to preserve tribal culture in isolation would only contribute to their backwardness. The nationalists believed that, like many aspects of Hinduism itself, tribal societies also needed reform and development through assimilation into the mainstream.
The core difference between the two viewpoints was in how they perceived the impact of mainstream Hindu culture on tribal communities. The British saw it as a threat of exploitation and cultural extinction, while the nationalists viewed assimilation as a natural process of social evolution that all Indian communities had undergone, with tribals being only a step behind.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

British Viewpoint:

  • Tribes as primitive, distinct from Hindus
  • Need to protect tribes from Hindu cultural assimilation
  • Threat of exploitation and cultural degradation

Nationalist Viewpoint (G.S. Ghurye):

  • Tribes as “backward Hindus”, not distinct groups
  • Assimilation a natural process of social evolution
  • Tribal reform and development through mainstream integration

Key Difference:

  • Impact of mainstream Hindu culture on tribes
    • British: Threat of exploitation and extinction
    • Nationalists: Part of natural social evolution

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

Answer: The positions of Herbert Risley and G.S. Ghurye on the relationship between race and caste in India differed significantly.
Herbert Risley, a British colonial official, believed that human beings could be divided into distinct races based on physical characteristics like skull size and nose length. His main argument was that caste originated from race, with the higher castes belonging to the Indo-Aryan racial type and the lower castes belonging to non-Aryan, aboriginal or Mongoloid racial groups. Risley considered India a unique place to study racial evolution since inter-caste marriages were strictly prohibited, preserving racial purity over centuries.
On the other hand, G.S. Ghurye disagreed with Risley’s thesis, believing it was only partially correct. According to Ghurye, the idea of upper castes being Aryan and lower castes being non-Aryan was true only for North India. In other parts of the country, different racial groups had been mixing for a long time, and the practice of endogamy (marrying within one’s caste) was introduced into already racially varied groups. Ghurye argued that racial purity was preserved through the prohibition of inter-marriage only in North India or ‘Hindustan proper’, not in the rest of the country.
While Risley saw caste as originating from race, Ghurye believed that in most of India, endogamy was adopted after racial variations had occurred, not the other way around.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

Herbert Risley’s Position:

  • Divided humans into distinct races based on physical traits
  • Higher castes = Indo-Aryan race, Lower castes = Non-Aryan races
  • India as a ‘laboratory’ for studying racial evolution due to strict endogamy

G.S. Ghurye’s Position:

  • Risley’s thesis true only for North India
  • Rest of India had long history of racial mixing
  • Endogamy adopted after racial variations had occurred
  • Racial purity preserved only in North India through strict endogamy

Key Difference:

  • Risley: Caste originated from race
  • Ghurye: In most of India, endogamy came after racial variations
  • Summarise the social anthropological definition of caste.

Answer: G.S. Ghurye offered a comprehensive social anthropological definition of caste, emphasising six key features:

  1. Caste is based on segmental division into mutually exclusive and closed compartments, with each caste being one such unit. Caste is determined solely by birth, with no way to change or acquire it other than through birth itself.
  2. Caste involves a hierarchical division, where each caste is strictly unequal and either higher or lower than every other caste. No two castes are considered equal in theory.
  3. The institution of caste necessitates restrictions on social interaction, especially regarding sharing food. Elaborate rules governed by notions of purity and pollution prescribe what food can be shared between which groups. This extends to institutions like untouchability, where even touch with certain castes is polluting.
  4. Caste involves differential rights and duties across different castes, governing not just religious practices but also secular life, as ethnographic accounts have shown.
  5. Caste restricts occupational choice, which is hereditary and decided by birth, resulting in a rigid division of labour with specific occupations allocated to specific castes.
  6. Caste enforces strict endogamy rules, with marriage only allowed within one’s caste, often accompanied by exogamy rules about whom one cannot marry. This combination of rules helps reproduce the caste system.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

  • Ghurye’s 6 Features of Caste:
    • Segmental division into closed compartments
    • Hierarchical inequality across castes
    • Restrictions on social interaction and food sharing
    • Differential rights/duties across castes
    • Hereditary occupations and division of labour
    • Endogamy rules within caste, exogamy across castes
  • Key Points:
    • Comprehensive anthropological definition
    • Based on classical texts, but changing in practice
    • Governs social, religious and secular aspects of life
  • What does D.P. Mukerji means ‘living tradition’? Why did he insist that Indian sociologists be rooted in this tradition?

Answer: According to D.P. Mukerji, a ‘living tradition’ refers to traditions that are not merely rooted in the past but also continue to evolve and adapt to the present times while retaining core elements from the past. He insisted that Indian sociologists be deeply rooted in this living tradition because understanding one’s own social system, customs, and traditions is crucial for comprehending the distinct Indian context.
In Mukerji’s words, “It is not enough for the Indian sociologist to be a sociologist. He must be an Indian first, that is, he is to share in the folk-ways, mores, customs and traditions, for the purpose of understanding his social system and what lies beneath it and beyond it.” He believed sociologists should be familiar with both ‘high’ traditions like Sanskrit as well as ‘low’ traditions like local dialects to truly grasp the multifaceted Indian society.
Mukerji emphasised that Indian traditions have an inherent capacity for change and adaptation, constantly being reshaped by the collective experiences of different groups and sects. Thus, a living tradition is not static but a dynamic process of maintaining continuity with the past while simultaneously undergoing transformation through internal and external forces.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

Living Tradition (D.P. Mukerji):

  • Traditions rooted in the past but evolving with present
  • Retaining core elements while adapting to change
  • Shaped by collective experiences of groups/sects

Importance for Indian Sociologists:

  • Understand distinct Indian social system
  • Be familiar with ‘high’ and ‘low’ traditions
  • Grasp multifaceted nature of Indian society

Key Points:

  • Not static, but dynamic process
  • Maintaining continuity and undergoing transformation
  • Internal experiences as agents of change
  • What are the specificities of Indian culture and society, and how do they affect the pattern of change?

Answer: The Indian culture and society are marked by certain specificities that shape the pattern of social change in distinct ways, different from Western societies.
Firstly, Indian society is not individualistic like the West, but oriented towards groups, sects or castes. An individual’s behaviour and desires are largely fixed by their socio-cultural group norms, making voluntary individual action less prominent. This group-centric orientation makes Indian society less susceptible to changes stemming from individual motivations.
Secondly, traditions in India are strongly rooted in the past, maintained through constant retelling of stories and myths. While traditions adapt to the present, forming a ‘living tradition’, the resilience of tradition ensures that changes occur more in an adaptive form rather than radically breaking from the past.
Furthermore, the role of the economy as an internal driver of change is diluted in Indian society. Class conflict, which is a major source of change in the West, has been “smoothed and covered by caste traditions” in India, where new class relations have not emerged sharply.
Changes in Indian society tend to arise more from the collective experiences of groups, sects and the resulting social conflicts and resolutions. However, even such conflicts lead to changes within the overarching tradition, without completely overriding existing social institutions like caste.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

Specificities of Indian Society:

  • Group-oriented rather than individualistic
  • Traditions strongly rooted in the past
  • Role of economy as change driver diluted

Pattern of Change:

  • Adaptive changes within tradition, not radical breaks
  • Stemming from collective group experiences
  • Conflicts leading to changes within tradition
  • Caste system smoothing over class conflicts

Key Points:

  • Individual motivations less prominent
  • ‘Living tradition’ evolving but resilient
  • Non-economic, group-based causes of change
  • What is a welfare state? Why is A.R. Desai critical of the claims made on its behalf?

Answer: According to A.R. Desai, a welfare state has three key features:

  1. It is a positive and interventionist state that actively designs and implements social policies for the betterment of society, going beyond just maintaining law and order.
  2. Democracy and democratic institutions like multi-party elections are considered essential for the emergence of a welfare state. Liberal thinkers exclude communist or socialist states from this definition.
  3. A welfare state involves a mixed economy with the co-existence of private capitalist enterprises and state-owned enterprises, where the state focuses on basic goods and infrastructure while private industry dominates consumer goods production.

Desai is highly critical of the claims made by welfare states like Britain, USA and European nations. He argues that these states have failed to truly deliver on their promises, as assessed against the following criteria:

  • They have been unable to ensure freedom from poverty, social discrimination and security for all citizens.
  • Economic inequalities have not been reduced through income redistribution or preventing concentration of wealth.
  • The capitalist profit motive has not been made subservient to community needs in their economies.
  • They have failed to enable stable economic development free from market fluctuations and boom-bust cycles.
  • High levels of unemployment persist, despite excess economic capacity.

Based on this lack of performance, Desai concludes that the notion of a ‘welfare state’ is largely a myth and its claims are greatly exaggerated.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

Welfare State Features (Desai):

  • Positive, interventionist state for social policies
  • Democracy and multi-party elections essential
  • Mixed economy with state and private enterprises

Desai’s Criticism:

  • Failure to ensure economic/social security for all
  • Unable to reduce inequalities
  • Capitalist motives still dominate over community needs
  • Unstable development with market fluctuations
  • Persistent high unemployment


  • Welfare state claims are greatly exaggerated
  • Notion of welfare state itself is a myth
  • What arguments were given for and against the village as a subject of sociological research by M.N. Srinivas and Louis Dumont?

Answer: M.N. Srinivas argued in favour of the village as a relevant social entity and a useful subject for sociological research, while Louis Dumont was against giving much importance to the village as a unit of analysis.

Srinivas’s arguments for studying villages:

  • Historical evidence showed villages served as unifying identities, with village unity being significant in rural social life.
  • He criticised the British view of Indian villages as unchanging and self-sufficient ‘little republics’, showing through evidence that villages had undergone considerable change.
  • Villages were involved in various economic, social and political relationships at the regional level, not just self-contained units.
  • Village studies offered advantages like illustrating ethnographic research methods and providing eyewitness accounts of social change underway.

Dumont’s arguments against studying villages:

  • Social institutions like caste were more important than villages, which were simply collections of people living in one place.
  • As people moved between villages, their key institutions like caste and religion moved with them.
  • Hence, Dumont felt giving much importance to the village as a concept or unit of analysis would be misleading.

In essence, Srinivas saw the village as a relevant and dynamic social entity worthy of focused study, while Dumont considered caste and other institutions more fundamental than the transient village settlements.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

Srinivas – For Village Studies:

  • Historical unifying identity
  • Undergoing social change
  • Involved in regional relationships
  • Enabling ethnographic accounts

Dumont – Against Village Studies:

  • Caste/religion more fundamental than village settlements
  • People’s institutions not bound to any one village
  • Village an impermanent unit, not worthy of primacy

Key Difference: Srinivas – Village as relevant social entity Dumont – Caste/institutions more important than villages

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

Answer: Village studies held immense significance in the history of Indian sociology, especially in the post-independence era.

Their importance stems from:

  1. i) Providing an opportunity to emphasise the importance of ethnographic research methods.
  2. ii) Offering eyewitness accounts of the rapid social changes underway in rural India after independence and the adoption of planned development programmes.

iii) Enabling urban Indians and policymakers to understand the transformations occurring in the heartland of the country.

M.N. Srinivas played a pivotal role in promoting village studies in Indian sociology:

  • He focused his research on village areas, conducting extensive fieldwork and coordinating efforts to produce detailed ethnographic accounts of villages.
  • His writings featured rich ethnographic descriptions as well as historical and conceptual discussions about villages as units of analysis.
  • He critiqued the British view of Indian villages as unchanging and self-sufficient, using evidence to show they had undergone considerable social change.
  • He argued for the village’s relevance as a social entity, countering views that caste/religion were more fundamental than village settlements.
  • Through village studies, Srinivas illustrated the importance of ethnography and provided a new role for sociology in understanding India’s rural transformations.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

Significance of Village Studies:

  • Promoting ethnographic methods
  • Capturing rural social changes
  • Enabling policymaker understanding

Srinivas’s Role:

  • Fieldwork and ethnographic accounts
  • Critiquing British static village views
  • Arguing for village’s relevance as social entity
  • Providing new role for sociology in rural context

Key Points:

  • Capturing India’s rural transition post-independence
  • Srinivas promoting ethnography and village’s analytical value

MCQ Questions

Chapter 5: Indian Sociologists – MCQ Questions

  • Which Indian sociologist was instrumental in setting up India’s first post-graduate teaching department of Sociology at Bombay University?
(a) M.N. Srinivas(b) D.P. Mukerji
(c) G.S. Ghurye(d) A.R. Desai

Answer: (c) G.S. Ghurye

  • Sarat Chandra Roy, known for his work with tribal communities, was based in which Indian region?
(a) Kerala(b) Calcutta
(c) Chhotanagpur(d) Bombay

Answer: (c) Chhotanagpur

  • Which of the following was NOT a feature of the caste system as defined by G.S. Ghurye?
(a) Hierarchical division(b) Occupational mobility
(c) Restrictions on social interaction(d) Endogamy

Answer: (b) Occupational mobility

  • Who among the following sociologists founded the Indian Sociological Society and its journal ‘Sociological Bulletin’?
(a) D.P. Mukerji(b) M.N. Srinivas
(c) A.R. Desai(d) G.S. Ghurye

Answer: (d) G.S. Ghurye

  • The concept of ‘welfare state’ in Indian sociology was critically analysed by which sociologist?
(a) D.P. Mukerji(b) A.R. Desai
(c) M.N. Srinivas(d) G.S. Ghurye

Answer: (b) A.R. Desai

  • Which sociologist is known for their work on ‘Caste and Race in India’?
(a) M.N. Srinivas(b) A.R. Desai
(c) D.P. Mukerji(d) G.S. Ghurye

Answer: (d) G.S. Ghurye

  • Who was recognised for integrating sociology with anthropology within the educational framework of Bombay University?
(a) D.P. Mukerji(b) M.N. Srinivas
(c) G.S. Ghurye(d) A.R. Desai

Answer: (c) G.S. Ghurye


What unique perspective did D.P. Mukerji brings Indian sociology according to the textbook?

(a) Emphasis on traditional Indian music(b) Marxist analysis as a method of social analysis
(c) Focus on village studies(d) Integration of sociology with political science

Answer: (b) Marxist analysis as a method of social analysis

  • Ananthakrishna Iyer is recognised for his work in which field?
(a) Modern Indian history(b) Ethnography
(c) Indian economics(d) Political science

Answer: (b) Ethnography

  • Which sociologist was initially trained in law before becoming a leading authority on tribal societies in Chhotanagpur?
(a) D.P. Mukerji(b) M.N. Srinivas
(c) G.S. Ghurye(d) Sarat Chandra Roy

Answer: (d) Sarat Chandra Roy

  • M.N. Srinivas is best known for his work on which aspect of Indian society?
(a) Urbanisation(b) Village society
(c) Industrialization(d) Modernity

Answer: (b) Village society

  • Which concept did D.P. Mukerji emphasises as central to understanding Indian society?
(a) Economic reforms(b) Political dynamics
(c) Social traditions(d) Technological advancements

Answer: (c) Social traditions

  • The book ‘The Social Background of Indian Nationalism’ was authored by which Indian sociologist?
(a) M.N. Srinivas(b) A.R. Desai
(c) G.S. Ghurye(d) D.P. Mukerji

Answer: (b) A.R. Desai

  • Which sociologist critiqued the concept of the welfare state from a Marxist perspective?
(a) D.P. Mukerji(b) G.S. Ghurye
(c) A.R. Desai(d) M.N. Srinivas

Answer: (c) A.R. Desai

  • Who among the following was a pioneer in applying the structural-functional perspective to Indian anthropology?
(a) M.N. Srinivas(b) D.P. Mukerji
(c) A.R. Desai(d) G.S. Ghurye

Answer: (a) M.N. Srinivas


Very Short Answer Type Questions

Chapter 5: Indian Sociologists – Very Short Answer Type Questions

When did formal university teaching of sociology begin in India?

Answer: In India, formal university teaching of sociology began in 1919 at the University of Bombay.

Who was one of the earliest pioneers of social anthropology in India?

Answer: One of the earliest pioneers of social anthropology in India was L.K. Ananthakrishna Iyer (1861-1937).

What unique role did India’s colonial context play in the development of sociology?

Answer: India’s colonial context meant the first experience of modernity was intertwined with colonial subjugation.

Which sociologist was influential in the debate about tribal cultures in India?

Answer: G.S. Ghurye was the influential sociologist in the debate about tribal cultures in India.

What is G.S. Ghurye best known for his academic writings?

Answer: G.S. Ghurye is best known for his writings on caste and race.

Define the concept of ‘endogamy’ as discussed in the works of G.S. Ghurye.

Answer: Endogamy, as discussed in G.S. Ghurye’s works, refers to marriage only within the caste.

What key aspect did M.N. Srinivas focus on his sociological studies?

Answer: M.N. Srinivas focused on the Indian village and village society in his sociological studies.

What was the significance of the village in M.N. Srinivas’s research?

Answer: The village was significant in M.N. Srinivas’s research as a site to illustrate ethnographic methods and study social change.

How did D.P. Mukerji views the relationship between Indian society and tradition?

Answer: D.P. Mukerji viewed Indian society as being over-developed with regard to social dimensions compared to history, politics and economics.

Which sociologist analysed the state from a Marxist perspective and critiqued the concept of the welfare state?

Answer: The sociologist who analysed the state from a Marxist perspective and critiqued the concept of the welfare state was A.R. Desai.

What were the main themes of A.R. Desai’s sociological work?

Answer: The main themes of A.R. Desai’s sociological works were peasant movements, rural sociology, modernization, urban issues, political sociology, and state and human rights.

What role did the Indian Sociological Society play in the development of sociology in India?

Answer: G.S. Ghurye founded the Indian Sociological Society as well as its journal Sociological Bulletin, playing a key role in nurturing sociology as an Indian discipline.

How did the integration of social anthropology and sociology impact academic research according to G.S. Ghurye?

Answer: According to G.S. Ghurye, the merger of social anthropology and sociology into a composite discipline was enthusiastically endorsed by his successors.

In what way did D.P. Mukerji’s approach to sociology differs from traditional views?

Answer: Unlike traditional views that focused only on the past, D.P. Mukerji viewed tradition as a living tradition adapting to the present while maintaining links with the past.

What challenges did sociologists face when institutionalising sociology in India during the early 20th century?

Answer: When institutionalising sociology in India during the early 20th century, sociologists faced challenges like limited financial and institutional support for university research.

Short Answer Type Questions

Chapter 5: Indian Sociologists – Short Answer Type Questions

What year did formal university teaching of sociology begin at the University of Bombay?

Answer: Normal university teaching of sociology began at the University of Bombay in 1919. This marked the start of structured sociological education in India, which later expanded to other universities.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

  • Year: 1919
  • Location: University of Bombay
  • Significance: Beginning of formal sociology education in India
  • Expansion: Spread to Calcutta and Lucknow universities in the 1920s

Who are considered the pioneers of Indian sociology?

Answer: The pioneers of Indian sociology were individuals like L.K. Ananthakrishna Iyer and Sarat Chandra Roy, who began as accidental sociologists. G.S. Ghurye is considered the founder of institutionalised sociology in India, significantly influencing the discipline through his leadership at Bombay University.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

  • Key Figures: L.K. Ananthakrishna Iyer, Sarat Chandra Roy, G.S. Ghurye
  • Institutions: University of Bombay
  • Contributions: Established formal teaching, research in sociology
  • Impact: Shaped Indian sociology, adapted it to Indian context

How did the colonial context influence the development of sociology in India?

Answer: The colonial context significantly shaped Indian sociology, as the discipline emerged during a period of colonial subjugation, raising unique questions about its application and relevance in an Indian setting that was radically different from the West.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

  • Colonial Influence: Shaped questions and focus
  • Key Context: Subjugation, modernity in a colony
  • Adaptation: Tailored to Indian historical, social conditions
  • Outcome: Distinct Indian sociology developed
  • What was the role of Ghurye in the establishment of Indian sociology?

Answer: G.S. Ghurye played a foundational role in Indian sociology by leading Bombay University’s first postgraduate sociology department for 35 years, nurturing the discipline and influencing future sociologists.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

  • Key Figure: G.S. Ghurye
  • Roles: Head of department, mentor, writer
  • Contributions: Institutional development, academic proliferation
  • Impact: Shaped future of Indian sociology
  • What unique contributions did Sarat Chandra Roy make to the field of anthropology in India?

Answer: Sarat Chandra Roy, an ‘accidental anthropologist,’ became a leading authority on tribal societies in the Chhotanagpur region, contributing extensive fieldwork and scholarly articles. He also founded the journal Man in India, advancing the study of anthropology in India.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

  • Identity: ‘Accidental anthropologist’
  • Contributions: Extensive fieldwork, scholarly articles
  • Impact: Founded Man in India journal
  • Focus Area: Tribal societies in Chhotanagpur
  • Describe the academic significance of the journal ‘Man in India’.

Answer: The journal ‘Man in India’ is academically significant as it was the first of its kind in India, founded by Sarat Chandra Roy. It has greatly contributed to the documentation and understanding of India’s tribal societies and cultural anthropology.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

  • First of its kind: Pioneer journal in India
  • Founder: Sarat Chandra Roy
  • Focus: Tribal societies, cultural anthropology
  • Contribution: Enhances documentation and study of Indian anthropology
  • What impact did European colonialism have on the methodologies of Indian sociology?

Answer: European colonialism influenced Indian sociology by introducing Western methodologies that emphasised empirical research and ethnographic studies. This was often focused on understanding tribal and rural societies within the colonial context.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

  • Influence: Western methodologies
  • Focus: Tribal and rural societies
  • Methods: Empirical research, ethnographic studies
  • Context: Colonial influence
  • How did early Indian sociologists adapt Western sociological methods to the Indian context?

Answer: Early Indian sociologists adapted Western sociological methods to the Indian context by focusing on local social structures, such as caste and kinship, and integrating them into their research and teachings, making sociology relevant to Indian societal issues.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

  • Focus: Local social structures (caste, kinship)
  • Integration: Research and teaching
  • Relevance: Addressing Indian societal issues
  • Methodology: Adaptation of Western techniques
  • Discuss the relevance of ‘primitive’ societies in the formation of social anthropology in India.

Answer: The study of ‘primitive’ societies was crucial for developing social anthropology in India as it helped sociologists understand the diverse tribal cultures and integrate this knowledge into broader anthropological studies, thus enriching the discipline.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

  • Focus: Tribal cultures, diversity
  • Importance: Basis for broader studies
  • Contribution: Enriched social anthropology
  • Outcome: Integrated knowledge into anthropology
  • What were the main sociological concerns addressed by G.S. Ghurye?

Answer: G.S. Ghurye focused on the sociological issues of caste, race, tribes, and cultural integration, significantly influencing the foundational structure of Indian sociology.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

  • Main topics: Caste, race, tribes, culture
  • Impact: Shaped Indian sociology
  • Key Concerns: Integration, social structure
  • How did the concept of caste evolve in Ghurye’s work?

Answer: In Ghurye’s work, the concept of caste evolved through systematic study, emphasising its features like segmentation, hierarchy, and occupational restriction, reflecting Indian societal structures.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

  • Key Concepts: Segmentation, Hierarchy, and Occupational restriction
  • Focus: Systematic study, Indian societal structure
  • Outcome: Deeper understanding of caste dynamics in India
  • What principles of change did D.P. Mukerji identify in Indian society?

Answer: According to D.P. Mukerji, the three principles of change recognised in Indian traditions are shruti (sacred texts), smriti (remembered tradition), and anubhava (personal/collective experience), with anubhava being the most revolutionary force.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

Principles of change in Indian society (D.P. Mukerji):

  • Shruti (sacred texts)
  • Smriti (remembered tradition)
  • Anubhava (personal/collective experience)
    • most important principle
    • Challenges orthodoxy through collective experiences
    • Example: Bhakti movement
  • How did M.N. Srinivas contribute to the study of village societies in India?

Answer: M.N. Srinivas made significant contributions to the study of Indian village societies through detailed ethnographic accounts, conceptualising the village as a relevant social unit, and spearheading major efforts at village studies in the 1950s-60s.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

M.N. Srinivas on village studies:

  • Detailed ethnographic fieldwork in villages
  • Emphasised village as relevant social entity
  • Countered views undermining importance of village
  • Coordinated major efforts at village studies (1950s-60s)
  • Documented rapid social changes in villages
  • Provided new role for sociology in independent India
  • What role did A.R. Desai play in the integration of Marxist theory with Indian sociology?

Answer: A.R. Desai, a lifelong Marxist, played a pioneering role in integrating Marxist theory with Indian sociology by offering a Marxist analysis of issues like Indian nationalism, peasant movements, state forms and critiquing notions like the welfare state.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

A.R. Desai’s role:

  • Lifelong Marxist scholar
  • Marxist analysis of Indian nationalism (book)
  • Studied peasant movements from Marxist perspective
  • Critique of welfare state and capitalist state
  • Highlighted role of Marxist theory in Indian sociology
  • Rare voice of Marxism within Indian sociology
  • How have subsequent generations of sociologists built on the works of pioneers like Ghurye and Mukerji?

Answer: Subsequent generations of sociologists have built on the works of pioneers like Ghurye and Mukerji by subjecting them to constructive criticism, learning from them, and taking the discipline further with new perspectives and approaches.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

How later scholars built on pioneers:

  • Subjecting their work to constructive criticism
  • Learning from and going beyond pioneers’ contributions
  • Offering new perspectives, theories, methodologies
  • Continuing the process of ‘Indianizing’ sociology
  • Signs of critique and growth visible across Indian sociology

Case Based Questions

Chapter 5: Indian Sociologists – Case Based Questions

Case Study 1: “Ananthakrishna Iyer, despite having no formal qualifications in anthropology, made significant contributions to the field. Appointed as Reader at the University of Calcutta, he helped establish the first post-graduate anthropology department in India. He was recognized both nationally and internationally, receiving honorary titles and doctorates.”


  • Which university did Ananthakrishna Iyer help in setting up the first post-graduate anthropology department?

(a) University of Bombay

(b) University of Calcutta

(c) University of Madras

(d) None of the above

Answer: (b) University of Calcutta

  • What recognition did Ananthakrishna Iyer receive for his work in anthropology?

(a) Honorary doctorate from a German university

(b) President of the Ethnology section of the Indian Science Congress

(c) Both (a) and (b)

(d) Neither (a) nor (b)

Answer: (c) Both (a) and (b)

Case Study 2: “Sarat Chandra Roy, originally a lawyer, became deeply involved in anthropological research through his professional interactions with tribal societies in Ranchi. He authored over one hundred articles and several significant monographs on tribal cultures and founded the journal ‘Man in India,’ which is still published today.”


What was the primary profession of Sarat Chandra Roy before he became involved in anthropology?

(a) School teacher

(b) College professor

(c) Lawyer

(d) Government official

Answer: (c) Lawyer

Which journal, founded by Sarat Chandra Roy, is still published today?

(a) Anthropological Survey of India

(b) Tribal India

(c) Man in India

(d) Indian Anthropologist

Answer: (c) Man in India

Case Study 3: “During his tenure at Bombay University, G.S. Ghurye was noted for his comprehensive approach to sociology, blending teaching and research. He emphasised the integration of sociology with social anthropology and founded the Indian Sociological Society.”


  • Which of the following was established by G.S. Ghurye?

(a) Indian Science Congress

(b) Indian Sociological Society

(c) Sociological Bulletin

(d) Both (b) and (c)

Answer: (d) Both (b) and (c)

  • Ghurye’s approach at Bombay University included which of the following?

(a) Separating sociology from anthropology

(b) Combining teaching and research

(c) Focusing solely on theoretical sociology

(d) None of the above

Answer: (b) Combining teaching and research

Case Study 4: “D.P. Mukerji emphasised the importance of understanding Indian social traditions in the context of sociology. He believed that sociology in India should integrate the understanding of local traditions and customs, and his works spanned across various domains, including music and philosophy.”


  • What did D.P. Mukerji was central to Indian society, influencing his approach to sociology?

(a) Economic factors

(b) Political systems

(c) Social traditions

(d) Technological advancements

Answer: (c) Social traditions

  • D.P. Mukerji’s interdisciplinary approach included contributions to which field outside of sociology?

(a) Literature

(b) Music

(c) Both (a) and (b)

(d) None of the above

Answer: (c) Both (a) and (b)

Case Study 5: “M.N. Srinivas is renowned for his ethnographic work and theoretical contributions, particularly through his detailed studies of the Coorgs in South India. His work helped establish village studies as a significant area of Indian sociology, emphasising the dynamic nature of rural societies in India.”


  • What aspect of Indian society did M.N. Srinivas focuses his studies on, making significant contributions to its understanding?

(a) Urban development

(b) Tribal cultures

(c) Village societies

(d) Industrial growth

Answer: (c) Village societies

  • Which concept did M.N. Srinivas notably contribute to, discussing the interactions and assimilation processes within Indian communities?

(a) Sanskritization

(b) Westernization

(c) Modernization

(d) Globalisation

Answer: (a) Sanskritization

Long Answer Type Questions

Chapter 5: Indian Sociologists – Long Answer Type Questions

Discuss the historical origins and development of sociology in India. Include a detailed analysis of the sociological impacts of colonial rule and how Indian sociology differentiated itself from Western traditions.

Answer: Sociology in India developed during colonialism. Indian sociology pioneers had to adapt Western sociology to a colonial society that suppressed modernity. Indian society modernised under colonialism, which had major sociological effects.

Western sociology sought to understand modernity, but Indian sociology developed differently. Western social anthropology was influenced by ‘primitive’ cultures, but India used it differently. Ancient India had ‘primitive’ societies. Indian sociology was also questioned as a sovereign, independent nation pursuing planned development and democracy.

These contextual challenges distinguished Indian sociology from Western traditions. G.S. Ghurye and D.P. Mukerji examined how Indian traditions could adapt to modernity without being ignored. They opposed unthinking Western intellectual borrowing and advocated for a socially grounded Indian approach.

Colonialism shaped caste, tribal societies, and village roles. Caste research challenged British anthropologists’ racial theories and defined the institution. Colonial ‘protectionism’ and nationalist modernization and unity clashed in debates about tribal societies in independent India and the state’s response.

Indian sociology’s founders institutionalised and addressed colonial sociology. Their work created an Indian sociology that addressed its unique historical and social realities.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

  • Colonial rule and modernity
      • Subjugation under foreign domination
      • Adapting Western sociology to Indian context
  • Differentiation from Western traditions
      • Grappling with contextual challenges
      • Critiquing unthinking borrowing of Western ideas
      • Emphasis on Indian approach rooted in social realities
  • Sociological impacts of colonial rule
      • Caste and racial theories
      • Debates around tribal societies
      • Role of villages in independent India
  • Key figures
      • G.S. Ghurye
      • D.P. Mukerji
      • Shaping institutions and grappling with colonial legacy
  • Foundation for distinctively Indian sociology
    • Engaging with historical and social realities
    • Adapting to unique Indian context

Evaluate the contributions of G.S. Ghurye to the institutionalisation of sociology in India. Discuss his role in founding the Indian Sociological Society and how his academic works influenced the shape of Indian sociology.

Answer: G.S. Ghurye institutionalised Indian sociology. He directed the University of Bombay’s first post-graduate sociology department for 30 years. Several prominent research scholars were his students.

Ghurye’s most significant contribution was founding the Indian Sociological Society and Bulletin. These efforts expanded Indian sociological research. His extensive academic writings covered caste, race, tribes, kinship, culture, religion, and conflict and integration sociology.

Social anthropology and sociology were first taught and researched together at Ghurye’s University of Bombay. His field successors enthusiastically adopted these practices.

Ghurye’s caste and race critiques of dominant theories were noted. His comprehensive caste definition with segmental division, hierarchy, social interaction restrictions, differential rights and duties, occupational restrictions, and endogamy systematised the study of this institution.

Writings and debates by Ghurye shaped Indian tribal discourse. He called tribes ‘backward Hindus’ rather than cultural groups, reflecting nationalist views on modernization and unity.

G.S. Ghurye Indianized sociology. His academic work, institutional initiatives, and young scholar mentoring shaped Indian sociology.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

  • Institutionalisation of Sociology in India
      • Headed first post-graduate department at University of Bombay
      • Guided numerous research scholars
      • Founded Indian Sociological Society and Sociological Bulletin
  • Academic Works
      • Prolific writings on diverse subjects
      • Caste and race – critiques and comprehensive definition
      • Tribes and debates around their place in India
  • Pioneering Practices
      • Combined teaching and research
      • Merged social anthropology and sociology
  • Shaping Indian Sociology
    • Nurturing an Indian discipline
    • Influential works and institutional initiatives
    • Mentorship of future scholars

Analyse the role and impact of Ananthakrishna Iyer in the development of anthropology in India. Describe his journey from a school teacher to a recognized anthropologist and the significance of his ethnographic surveys.

Answer: Ananthakrishna Iyer pioneered Indian anthropology. Passion, hard work, and self-taught learning propelled him from teachers to anthropologists.

The Dewan of Cochin asked Iyer, a clerk and later a teacher in Cochin state (now Kerala), to help with an ethnographic survey in 1902. Britain requested surveys in all princely states and presidency areas under its control. Iyer taught college during the week and volunteered as the unpaid Superintendent of Ethnography on weekends.

Despite his untrained status, British anthropologists and administrators admired Iyer’s work. His academic achievements garnered national and international acclaim. Iyer was a Reader at Calcutta and lectured at Madras from 1917 to 1932, where he helped found India’s first post-graduate anthropology department.

Iyer aced anthropology. He was elected President of the Indian Science Congress Ethnology section and awarded an honorary doctorate by a German university during his lecture tour of European universities. His contributions earned him the titles Rai Bahadur and Dewan Bahadur from Cochin.

Ananthakrishna Iyer’s rise from self-taught enthusiast to pioneering anthropologist is remarkable. Indian anthropology grew from his ethnographic surveys and dedication. His national and international recognition encourages self-motivated learning and perseverance.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

  • Ananthakrishna Iyer’s Journey
      • School teacher in Cochin state
      • Assigned ethnographic survey by Dewan of Cochin
      • Voluntary work alongside teaching
  • Achievements in Anthropology
      • Set up first post-graduate department at University of Calcutta
      • Elected President of Ethnology section, Indian Science Congress
      • Honorary doctorate from German university
  • Recognition and Significance
    • Appreciation by British anthropologists and administrators
    • Titles of Rai Bahadur and Dewan Bahadur from Cochin state
    • Pioneering role in developing anthropology in India
    • Inspiration for self-taught learning and perseverance

Critically assess the impact of the British colonial administration on the evolution of tribal studies in India. Discuss the contrasting views of British administrators and Indian nationalists like G.S. Ghurye on the integration of tribal societies into mainstream Hindu culture.

Answer: The British colonial government shaped Indian tribal studies. Tribal Hindu integration divided British administrators and Indian nationalists like G.S. Ghurye.

British administrator-anthropologists were fascinated by primitive Indian tribes with a culture distinct from Hinduism. Hindu society would exploit and degrade innocent tribals, they believed. Therefore, they believed the state should protect tribal communities and help them resist Hindu assimilation.

Indian nationalists like G.S. Ghurye wanted cultural modernization and unity. They thought misguided tribal culture preservation stagnated tribals in primitive “museums.” Nationalist leader Ghurye called the tribes ‘backward Hindus’ (not distinct cultures).

Ghurye provided detailed evidence that tribal cultures had long interacted with Hinduism. Assimilation was a tribal conspiracy, he said. This argument challenged the colonial view of tribes as isolated, primitive communities in classical anthropology.

Tribes and mainstream culture assimilate, but its effects are debated. British protectors feared tribal exploitation and cultural extinction. The nationalists and Ghurye claimed that all low-class Indians faced these ills and development challenges.

Therefore, the British colonial administration sparked debates about tribal societies in India and state treatment. British administrators valued tribal cultures, while Indian nationalists like Ghurye valued assimilation and modernization for national unity.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

  • British colonial impact on tribal studies
      • British administrator-anthropologists’ views
        • Tribes as primitive, distinct from Hinduism
        • Need to protect tribal cultures from assimilation
      • Indian nationalist perspective (G.S. Ghurye)
        • Tribes as ‘backward Hindus,’ not distinct groups
        • Assimilation into mainstream for modernization and unity
  • Contrasting viewpoints
      • Interaction between tribes and mainstream culture
      • Evaluating impact of assimilation
        • Protectionists: Exploitation and cultural extinction
        • Nationalists: Inevitable difficulties in development
  • Shaping debates and perspectives
    • Place of tribal societies in India
    • State’s response to tribal communities
    • Preservation vs. assimilation

Examine D.P. Mukerji’s views on the relationship between tradition and modernity in Indian society. Discuss how he believed Indian sociology should respond to the unique social context of India, focusing on his interpretation of tradition as a dynamic rather than a static concept.

Answer: India’s central social system shaped his views on tradition and modernity. Indian sociology should study its modernising living traditions, he said.

Mukerji believes tradition is alive. He believed tradition evolved while retaining its roots. Tradition can change, according to Mukerji.

Mukerji criticised Indian sociology’s unthinking borrowing of Western intellectual traditions and stressed the need to understand and engage with Indian social traditions. He believed tradition should not be worshipped or ignored, nor modernity blindly adopted.

Shruti, smriti, and anubhava were important to Mukerji. He thought anubhava, or collective experience, was the most revolutionary Indian principle. This shared experience challenged and changed dominant orthodoxies, alternating rebellion and synthesis.

While the West studied economic factors, Mukerji believed Indian sociology should study internal, non-economic causes of change. He saw change in Indian society as rebellion within tradition, typical of caste societies with limited class consciousness.

Mukerji supported an Indian sociology that was sensitive to the country’s unique social context and engaged with living traditions adapting to modernity through collective experiences and internal change.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

  • D.P. Mukerji’s views
      • Centrality of social system in India
      • Tradition as a living, dynamic force
        • Adapting to present while maintaining past links
        • Capable of change and evolution
  • Indian sociology’s role
      • Rooted in India’s social context
      • Studying living traditions and their adaptation
      • Critiquing unthinking borrowing of Western traditions
  • Principles of change in Indian traditions
      • Shruti, smriti, anubhava (personal experience)
      • Anubhava as collective experience – key revolutionary force
      • Challenging orthodoxies, leading to rebellion and synthesis
  • Internal, non-economic causes of change
      • Distinct from Western emphasis on economic factors
      • Rebellion contained within limits of overarching tradition
      • Typical of caste society with inhibited class consciousness
  • Indian sociology sensitive to unique social context
    • Engaging with living, adapting traditions
    • Studying internal principles of change
    • Avoiding blind imitation of Western models
  • Discuss the unique features of the welfare state as proposed by A.R. Desai. Critically evaluate his critique of the welfare state concept and discuss the relevance of his analysis in understanding the role of the state in modern Indian society.

Answer:In his analysis, A.R. Desai identified three welfare state characteristics. A welfare state is an interventionist, positive state that actively designs and implements social policies to improve society beyond law and order. 2. Multi-party elections and other democratic institutions are needed. Thirdly, welfare states have private and state-owned businesses.

Desai proposed welfare state performance standards. These included ending poverty, social discrimination, and insecurity for all, redistributing income, subordinating the capitalist profit motive to community needs, enabling stable economic development without boom-bust cycles, and providing jobs for all.

The welfare states of Britain, the US, and much of Europe exaggerated their claims, she found. He claimed that most modern capitalist states failed to reduce inequality, provide minimum economic and social security, experience market fluctuations, and have high unemployment. After this critical analysis, Desai declared the welfare state a myth.

Desai, a Marxist, openly criticised capitalist welfare states and Communist states, emphasising the importance of democracy, political liberties, and the rule of law in truly socialist societies.

The welfare state’s ideals and reality differ, but Desai’s analysis helps explain the state’s role and limitations in addressing social and economic issues in modern India, where poverty, inequality, and development persist.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

  • Unique features of welfare state (per Desai)
    • Interventionist and positive state
    • Democratic state with multi-party elections
    • Mixed economy (private and public enterprises)
  • Criteria to assess welfare state performance
    • Freedom from poverty, discrimination, insecurity
    • Income redistribution and reducing inequalities
    • Subordinating profit motive to community needs
    • Stable economic development, no boom-bust cycles
    • Providing employment for all
  • Desai’s critique
    • Claims of welfare states greatly exaggerated
    • Failure to provide economic and social security
    • Unable to reduce inequalities and market fluctuations
    • High unemployment levels
  • Relevance in Indian context
    • Understanding state’s role in addressing poverty, inequality, development
    • Limitations of welfare state model in practice
    • Critique of capitalist and Communist states (upholding democracy, liberties)
  • Describe M.N. Srinivas’s contributions to the study of Indian villages and his role in establishing sociology departments in India. Analyse his concept of village studies and how it contributed to understanding the social dynamics of rural India.

Answer: M.N. Srinivas institutionalised sociology in India and studied villages. Srinivas spent his life studying Indian villages and society, and his fieldwork near Mysore gave him firsthand knowledge.

Srinivas guided a 1950s and 1960s collective effort to write ethnographic accounts of village societies. Along with S.C. Dube and D.N. Majumdar, he made village studies the dominant field in Indian sociology.

Srinivas wrote ethnographic fieldwork and historical and conceptual discussions about Indian villages. He advocated for village unity over caste.

Srinivas challenged colonial views of Indian villages as “little republics.” He used historical and sociological evidence to show that villages changed and participated in regional economic, social, and political relationships.

Indian sociology used villages to demonstrate ethnographic methods and provide eyewitness accounts of rural India’s rapid social changes during independence and planned development. Urban Indians and policymakers appreciated Srinivas’s vivid village life descriptions for showing the nation’s heartland.

Besides village studies, Srinivas founded sociology departments at the Maharaja Sayajirao University in Baroda and the Delhi School of Economics, leading Indian centres. His international connections and associations helped him train a new generation of sociologists who led the field, putting Indian sociology on the global map.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

  • M.N. Srinivas
      • Lifelong focus on Indian villages and rural society
      • Extensive fieldwork in a Mysore village
  • Contributions to Village Studies
      • Encouraged detailed ethnographic accounts (1950s-1960s)
      • Instrumental in making village studies dominant field
      • Defended village as a relevant social entity
      • Challenged colonial portrayal of unchanging “little republics”
  • Role in Indian Sociology
      • Established sociology departments (Baroda, Delhi School of Economics)
      • Trained new generation of sociologists
      • Helped establish Indian sociology globally
      • International connections and associations
  • Significance
    • Insights into rural social dynamics and change
    • Relevance of ethnographic methods
    • Appreciation of village life by urban Indians and policymakers
  • Evaluate the interdisciplinary approach of Indian sociologists like D.P. Mukerji and their contribution to integrating various social sciences. Discuss how Mukerji’s background in history and economics enriched his sociological insights and influenced his academic and public engagements.

Answer: D.P. Mukerji enriched Indian sociology with history and economics. These fields influenced his academic and public work.

After Indian history and economics failed him, Mukerji turned to sociology, realising India’s social system was vital. The “over-developed” social dimensions should inform each social science, he believed. He supported an Indian sociology that studied living traditions and modernization because of this belief.

Mukerji saw tradition as dynamic and present. He condemned unthinking Western intellectual borrowing and urged understanding and engaging with India’s unique social traditions. He saw tradition as a living, changing concept and focused on internal, non-economic causes of change due to multidisciplinary exposure.

His interdisciplinary background helped Mukerji transcend disciplines. In addition to his scholarship, he influenced others through teaching, public lectures, newspaper articles, and radio programmes. Writing about literature, music, film, philosophy, Marxism, political economy, and development planning showed his intellectual range.

Mukerji added history, economics, and other perspectives to Indian sociology. He advocated a sociology that was grounded in India’s social context, sensitive to tradition and modernity, and aware of its unique change processes. His interdisciplinary approach shaped Indian sociology.

Mindmap to remember this answer:

  • D.P. Mukerji’s Interdisciplinary Approach
      • Background in history and economics
      • Turned to sociology due to dissatisfaction with limitations
  • Enriching Indian Sociology
      • Centrality of India’s social system and traditions
      • Advocating for a distinctively Indian sociology
      • Integrating insights from multiple disciplines
  • Perspectives on Tradition and Modernity
      • Tradition as a living, dynamic force
      • Adapting to modernity while maintaining links to the past
      • Internal, non-economic causes of change
  • Academic and Public Engagement
      • Teaching, public lectures, media engagements
      • Broad interests spanning literature, arts, philosophy, Marxism
      • Contributing to interdisciplinary discourse
  • Shaping Indian Sociology
    • Rooted in social context and traditions
    • Sensitive to dynamics of tradition and modernity
    • Attuned to unique principles of change in Indian society

Sample Questions Paper

Chapter 5: Indian Sociologists – Sample Questions Paper

Time allowed: 2 hours Maximum Marks: 40

General Instructions:
(i) The question paper contains 14 questions.
(ii) All questions are compulsory.
(iii) Section A Questions number 1 and 2 are 1 mark source-based questions. Answers to these questions must not exceed 10-15 words.
(iv) Section B Questions number 3 to 9 are 2 marks questions. These are very short-answer type questions. Answers to these questions should not exceed 30 words.
(v) Section C Questions number 10 to 12 are 4 marks questions. These are short-answer type questions. Answers to these questions should not exceed 80 words.
(vi) Section D Questions number 13 and 14 are 6 marks questions. These are long-answer type questions. Answers to these questions should not exceed 200 words.

Section A

  1. When did formal university teaching of sociology begin in India?
  2. Who is considered the founder of institutionalised sociology in India?

Section B

  1. What does the term ‘informal economy’ refer to?
  2. What are the two concepts critical to understanding political institutions?
  3. What did Louis Dumont argue regarding village studies?
  4. What was the main argument put forward by Herbert Risley regarding the origin of caste?
  5. What were the two features that the Bombay University sociology department successfully implemented under G.S. Ghurye?
    8. According to D.P. Mukerji, what were the three principles of change recognized in Indian traditions? 9. What was A.R. Desai’s test criteria against which the performance of the welfare state can be measured?

Section C

  1. Discuss G.S. Ghurye’s views on the relationship between race and caste in India.
    Describe the six features of caste emphasised by G.S. Ghurye in his comprehensive definition.
  1. Analyse D.P. Mukerji’s perspective on tradition and social change in India.
    How did D.P. Mukerji views the role of personal and collective experience (anubhava) in bringing about social change in the Indian context?
  2. Explain A.R. Desai’s critique of the notion of the welfare state.
    What were the unique features of the welfare state identified by A.R. Desai?

Section D

  1. Elaborate on M.N. Srinivas’ work on village studies and the debate around treating the village as a unit of social analysis.
    Discuss M.N. Srinivas’ role in making village studies a dominant field of research in Indian sociology during the 1950s-60s.

Critically examine the ways in which the four thinkers – G.S. Ghurye, D.P. Mukerji, A.R. Desai and M.N. Srinivas – helped give a distinctive character to Indian sociology in the post-independence period.
Analyse how succeeding generations of Indian sociologists have built upon as well as critiqued the work of these pioneers to further the discipline.

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