Caste is the most dominant single aspect of Indian society and no study of Indian society can be complete without getting into the ramifications of the Hindu caste system. Caste and Race in India, since its first publication in History of Civilization series, edited by C K. Ogden in 1932, has remained a basic work for students of Indian sociology and anthropology, and has been acclaimed by teachers and reviewers as a sociological classic.
The present edition is an expanded version with five new chapters, comprehensive enough for a separate volume. Answering his critics, the author elaborates his arguments on the evolution of sub- castes and examines caste, sub-caste and kinship in its proper perspective.
The relationship between caste and politics, which he had briefly dealt with in the 1932 edition, is developed in the present edition, with a provocative and thorough-going analysis of caste and politics in Tamil Nadu from early times to the present day.
The concluding chapter is an incisive analysis of contemporary india the author apprehends that India will develop into a plural society and not a casteless one which was the dream of the architects of her Constitution.
Govind Sada Shiv Ghurye was professor Emeritus, University of Bombay. A brilliant scholar in Sanskrit, Indology, Anthropology and History, his in valuable and original contributions to the sociological literature on a wide range of subjects both Indian and foreign, are based on profound scholarship, painstaking research and lucid analysis. Apart from his important contributions to Indian sociology he has initiated and trained a number of front ranking sociologists in India. He has rightly earned a place with world famous social scientists like Rivers, Morgan and Maine.
This is the fifth edition of the book Caste and Race in India published in 1932 in C. K. Ogden’s History of Civilization Series. It has been possible for me, while engaged on this edition, to measure up an amount of material made available during the past thirty years and more touching on three aspects of the institution. Two of them were left untouched then for lack of data which could enable one to pronounce an opinion with some degree of confidence and fair amount of logic. They are now dealt with for the first time in Chapters eight and nine.
The third aspect, that of political development of the institution was touched upon thirty-six years ago for the first time in this book but was positively ignored by the critical public of the day. Slowly but surely during the last two decades, however, students of caste have been forced into the study of this aspect. This development and the political aspect of caste in Tamil Nadu, which has clamoured for special notice during the last two decades, are laid out in Chapters twelve and thirteen. As they were more or less ready in September-October 1967, they came in handy for me when on 14th October, 1967 I had to inaugurate the Conference of Indian Sociologists in Bombay. Their substance was made known then through the observations I made by way of inaugurating the Conference.
“History has to be rewritten because History is the selection of those threads of causes or antecedents that we are interested in—and the interest changes in fifty years,” observed the great American Jurist, Oliver Wendell Holmes (Holmes-Laski Correspondence). I have endeavoured to recast the book with that end in view. Successful performance of the task imposes the duty of projecting into the future, which I have attempted to accomplish in the last Chapter. Questioning its appropriate heading I have invited the reader to decide whether the trend is not towards a ‘Plural Society’ whose central operative will is distracted by sectional selfish appropriations and raucous demands!
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