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Sources of Social Change in India

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I P Desai Social Change in Modern India by M N Srinivas; University of California Press, Kerkeley, 1966; pp 194; $ 5.00.
PROFESSOR M N Srinivas was invited to deliver the Tagore Lectures for the academic year 1962- 63 at the University of California, Berkeley. He chose "Social change in Modern India" as his theme and delivered three lectures on it in May 1963. Srinivas' theme is the subject of experience of every Indian. Change is disapproved by some, approved by some others with the reservation that it should be at a slower pace; some others want more of it and more rapidly As a social scientist Srinivas takes the position of a detached observer and looks at change through the glasses of a sociologist or a social anthropologist, as he prefers to call himself. He attempts to answer the questions "what is the direction of change in modern India", "what is the orientation of this change?" and "what are the sources of this orientation?" Opposing Pulls On Indian society one pull is that of India's living past and the other that of contemporary western society. But social change is not just a matter of addition and subtraction and the opposing pulls do not produce a neat pattern. For the pull of contemporary western society Srinivas uses the term 'westernization'. The term refers to "the changes brought about in Indian society and culture as a result of over 150 years of British rule and subsumes changes occurring at different levels of technology, institutions, ideology or values". Srinivas is aware that the term is vague and omnibus, but he uses it because "there is need for such a term when analysing the changes that a non-western country undergoes as a result of prolonged contact with a western one". He discusses in this context why he prefers ' westernization' to 'modernization'. For India's living past he uses the term sanskritization and uses it in a rather limited sense. He writes, "Sanskritization is the process by which a low Hindu caste or tribal or other group changes its customs, ritual, ideology and way of life in the direction of a high and frequently twice born caste." "Occasionally a caste claims a position which its neighbours are not will- ing to concede and the claim is usually made over a period of time, a generation or two". Sanskritization is generally accompanied by and often results in upward mobility for the caste in question. Thus the structural referent of the process of Sanskritization is social stratification and mobility. This has advantages for observation and analysis, but it creates difficulty when it is used in relation to the direction of change. Srinivas says, "Sanskritization is generally accompanied by and often results in upward mobility for the caste in question; but mobility may also occur without sanskritization and vice versa. However, the mobility associated with sanskritization results only in positional changes in the system and does not lead to any structural change".

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