Addressed mainly to young readers, this book draws upon various sources in looking at the present of Indian society. The growth of India's diversities and unities is traced through its complex history. The functioning, over the centuries, of Varnaand Jati and of family and kinship are examined in urban and rural contexts; and gender relations are similarly treated. Naturally enough, this account of the creation of today's India is followed by a brief assessment of ongoing and likely changes. A useful guide to further reading is also provided, together with a glossary.
Professor Shayama Charan Dube, who died in early 1996, was an internationally known social scientist. His Indian Village, first published in 1955, was a milestone in the study of Indian society. Professor Dube had taught social anthropology and sociology at universities in India and in Hindi, has been mainly but not exclusively on matters related to social development.
This book is addressed to young readers who want to know something about the historical roots, ideological foundations, and social organization of Indian society. The last chapter discusses the major trends of change. For its date and interpretations, the book draws upon such diverse sources as history, Indology, anthropology, and sociology. The insights provided by these disciplines are, I believe, necessary to illuminated the social realities of India.
India has a long history, and its social structure is very complex. Its variegated patterns cannot easily be rendered into a capsule summary. In a book of size, it is clearly impossible to deal with the minutiae of local and regional customs and social forms: an attempt has been made, nonetheless, to present some of the diversities that characterize Indian society. Integrative aspects have also been examined. I hope the book will not end up by confusing or befuddling the reader.
A word about language. Over the decades, sociology has developed a jargon that puts off even the intelligent lay reader. In this book an effort has been made to adopt a simple and uncluttered style. Of necessity, some technical terms have had to be used, but they have all been explained either where they first occur or in the glossary.
In some measure all history and sociology is reconstruction. The ideological predilections of even the most objective writers are reflected in them. Subjective biases may have crept into this book, but I have not twisted facts to suit any ideological stance. The short reading list provided at the end is intended to introduce the reader to perspective that may differ from mine.
One of the major functions of knowledge is to enlarge mental horizons, and this book has been written with that aim. I hope that it will generate some critical awareness of India’s social self and stimulate thinking about our country’s past and present. History and traditions are something better understood by being demystified.
I wish to record my appreciation of Shri Ravi Dayal’s careful and constructive editorial advice on this book.
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