ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

Layers of Ranks

It is impossible to escape the often demeaning grip of hierarchy in Indian society, which grades individuals on the basis of their ritual purity.

It was the French sociologist Louis Dumont who said, rather dramatically, that while equality is the dominant governing principle of social life in the West, social life in the East is marked by hierarchy, a gradation of individuals on the basis of their ritual purity within the Hindu system. That was in the 1960s.

I was born in a tiny village called Lawibual in the southern part of Manipur. Community life was wholesome. I have now lived in Delhi for more than 10 years. And everything that I have experienced has testified to the verity of Dumont’s judgment regarding the pervasiveness of hierarchy in Indian society.

To read the full text Login

Get instant access

New 3 Month Subscription
to Digital Archives at

₹826for India

$50for overseas users


(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top