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Social Institutions Continuity And Change NCERT Textbook With Solutions PDF Free Download
Chapter 3: Social Institutions Continuity And Change
Caste is an institution uniquely associated with the Indian sub-continent. While social arrangements producing similar effects have existed in other parts of the world, the exact form has not been found elsewhere.
Although it is an institution characteristic of Hindu society, caste has spread to the major non-Hindu communities of the Indian sub-continent.
This is especially true of Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs. As is well-known, the English word ‘caste’ is actually borrowed from the Portuguese Casta, meaning pure breed.
The word refers to a broad institutional arrangement that in Indian languages (beginning with the ancient Sanskrit) is referred to by two distinct terms, varna and jati.
Varna, literally ‘color’, is the name given to a four-fold division of society into brahmana, Kshatriya, vaishya, and shudra, though this excludes a significant section of the population
composed of the ‘outcastes’, foreigners, slaves, conquered peoples, and others, sometimes referred to as the panchamas or fifth category.
Jati is a generic term referring to species or kinds of anything, ranging from inanimate objects to plants, animals, and human beings.
Jati is the word most commonly used to refer to the institution of caste in Indian languages, though it is interesting to note that, increasingly, Indian language speakers are beginning to use the English word ‘caste’.
The precise relationship between varna and jati has been the subject of much speculation and debate among scholars.
The most common interpretation is to treat varna as a broad all-India aggregative classification, while jati is taken to be a regional or local sub-classification involving a much more complex system consisting of hundreds or even thousands of castes and sub-castes.
This means that while the four varna classification is common to all of India, the jati hierarchy has more local classifications that vary from region to region.
Opinions also differ on the exact age of the caste system. It is generally agreed, though, that the four varna classification is roughly three thousand years old.
However, the ‘caste system’ stood for different things in different time periods, so it is misleading to think of the same system continuing for three thousand years. In its earliest phase,
in the late Vedic period roughly between 900 — 500 BC, the caste system was really a varna system and consisted of only four major divisions.
These divisions were not very elaborate or very rigid, and they were not determined by
Movement across the categories seems to have been not only possible but quite common. It is only in the post-Vedic period that caste became the rigid institution that is familiar to us from well-known definitions.
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NCERT Solutions Class 12 Sociology Chapter 3 Social Institutions Continuity And Change
1. What is the role of the ideas of separation and hierarchy in the caste system?
Ans. The caste system can be understood as the combination of two sets of principles, one based on difference and separation and the other on wholism and hierarchy.
Each caste is different and strictly separated from every other caste on the basis of restrictions. These restrictions are related to marriage, food sharing, and social interaction to occupation.
Different and separated castes do not have an individual existence. They exist in relation to a larger whole. This societal whole or system is a hierarchical rather than egalitarian system.
Each individual caste follows an ordered rank—a particular position in a ladder-like arrangement going from highest to lowest.
The hierarchical ordering of castes is based on the distinction between purity and pollution.
Castes that are considered ritually pure have high status, while those considered less pure or impure have low status.
Historians believe that those who were defeated in wars were often assigned low caste status.
Castes are not only unequal in ritual terms.
They are complementary and noncompeting groups. It means each caste has its own place in the system which cannot be taken by any other caste.
Caste is also linked with occupation, the system functions as a social division of labor. It allows no mobility.
This idea of separation and hierarchy has inculcated discrimination, inequality, and prejudices in Indian society.
2. What are some of the rules that the caste system imposes?
Ans. The most commonly cited rules that the caste system has imposed are as follows:
•Caste is determined by birth-a child inherits the “born information” of the caste of its parents. One can never change one’s caste, leave it, or choose not to join it. Caste is never a matter of choice.
•Membership in a caste involves strict rules about marriage. Caste groups are “endogamous” i.e. marriage is restricted to members of the group.
•Members of a particular caste have to follow rules about food and food sharing.
•An individual born into a caste could only practice the occupation associated with that caste so that occupations were hereditary.
•Caste involves a hierarchy of rank and status. Every person has a caste. Every caste has a caste. Every caste has a specified place in the hierarchy of all castes.
•Castes involve sub-division within themselves. Sometimes sub-castes may also have sub-caste i.e. segmental organization.
3. What changes did colonialism bring about in the caste system?
Ans. The institution of caste underwent major changes during the colonial period.
The present status of caste in India is more a product of colonialism than of ancient Indian tradition.
The British administrators tried to understand the complexities of caste in an effort to leam how to govern the country efficiently.
The most important official effort to collect information on caste was through the census. It began in the 1860s.
The 1901 census under the direction of Herbert Risley was particularly important as it sought to collect information on the social hierarchy of caste i.e. the social order of precedence in particular regions, as to the position of each caste in the rank order.
The counting of caste and official recording of caste made this institution of caste identity become more rigid in India.
The land revenue settlements and laws gave legal recognition to the caste-based rights of the upper caste.
Large-scale irrigation schemes were accompanied by efforts to settle the population there, and these also had caste dimensions.
So colonialism brought about major changes in the institution of caste. In short, the Britishers took initiative in the following areas:
(i) Census-to make sure of the number and sizes of the castes and sub-castes.
(ii) To understand the values, beliefs, and customs of different sections of society.
(iii) Land settlement.
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NCERT Class 12 Sociology Textbook Chapter 3 Social Institutions Continuity And Change With Answer PDF Free Download