Caste in Modern India: And Other Essays

Caste in Modern India: And Other Essays

Caste in Modern India: And Other Essays

Caste in Modern India: And Other Essays

Excerpt

The essays included in this volume were written during the years 1952-60. Each one of them was written in response to a specific invitation to contribute to a seminar, symposium or learned publication. In each case there was a deadline, and as everyone knows, meeting the deadline frequently involves a compromise with one's conscience. But it is also true that, in many cases, the essay would not have been written but for the deadline.

The essays are on a wide variety of topics, and I would like to stress the fact that they were written over a period of eight years. My views have naturally undergone a certain amount of change during this time but I have refrained from making any except minor verbal alterations in the essays. An essay has a structural unity and it is not possible to add or delete paragraphs. I find the writing of a new essay less difficult than changing an old one. Apart from this, a few of the essays included in this volume have stimulated a fair amount of discussion and it would not be fair to my critics to alter them substantially.

II

Caste in Modern India : The first essay included in this book "Caste in Modern India", was read as the Presidential Address to the Anthropology and Archaeology Section of the Forty-fourth Session of the Indian Science Congress, which met in Calcutta in January 1957. In it I tried to highlight the part played by caste in the democratic processes of modern India, and in administration and education. I must confess that I was somewhat disturbed by what I felt was an increased activity of caste in certain areas of public life. In this connection I came across certain conflicting attitudes among the elite. On the one hand there seemed to be a touching faith in the efficacy of legislation to cure ancient and deep-seated social 'evils.' On the other hand, there was not only no determined effort on the part of the elite to fight these evils but there was also a tolerance of their practice.

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