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Indian society

15 Solved Questions with Answers
  • 2018

    8. “Caste system is assuming new identities and associational forms. Hence, caste system cannot be eradicated in India”. Comment. (2018)


    • Caste refers to a broad hierarchical institutional arrangement along which basic social factors like birth, marriage, food-sharing etc are arranged in a hierarchy of rank and status. These sub-divisions are traditionally linked to occupations and decide the social relations with respect to other upper and lower castes.
    • The traditional hierarchical ordering of castes was based on the distinction between ‘purity’ and ‘pollution’. While the manifestation of the order has changed to a large extent in the recent times, the system itself has not changed much.
      • For example- even though untouchability and caste-based discrimination is barred under the Constitution of India, occupations like manual scavenging have the majority of workers from lower castes.

    New identities and associational forms

    • Political: In contrast to the older structure, various caste communities have asserted themselves by forming political parties based on caste identities. For example-
      • Bahujan Samaj Party. Political mobilization based on caste has been rising.
      • Lingayats’ demand to be considered as a minority community.
    • Economic: Development policies targeting the backward castes and scheduled have benefitted only a section of the population. These sections have emerged as the elite and this has created a division within the backward castes. Also, the welfare policies have led to social stigma among the castes which are not included. These policies have strengthened the caste-based mobilization. For example:
      • Dominant castes like Marathas, kapus and patidars have been demanding reservation.
      • Socially empowered and landholding communities like Jats have also mobilized themselves and have demanded reservation.
    • Social: Under the impact of globalization and technological advancement, the strict codes of marriage and inheritance have diluted with more inter-caste marriages taking place. Caste groups like Khap Panchayats have been brought under the scrutiny of the judiciary. The expression of social exclusion and maintaining the caste-based division by the communities has however not vanished but has changed to become more subtle. For example-
      • The matrimonial advertisements are frequent in the newspapers that especially demand brides and grooms from particular communities.
      • Even religions that do not follow caste systems like Muslims and Christianity have observed caste-like discrimination. Dalits who have converted to Christianity have separate graveyards in States like Kerala.


    • Considering that these divisions offer solidarity and psychological strength to various marginalized groups, even if the caste-based discrimination is diffused through the legislative enforcement the divisions of identity will be difficult to erase.

  • 2016

    8. To what extent globalisation has influenced the core of cultural diversity in India? Explain. (2016)

    Globalisation refers to the increased interconnectedness across the countries of the world whether economically, culturally or technologically. It has a particularly profound effect on the cultural diversity of a country. For India, its influence can be explained as following:

    • Family structure — Increasing urbanization as a consequence of globalization has resulted in migration of people from rural areas, resulting in the disintegration of the joint family system. A new trend of nuclear families with one or maximum two children has emerged in India.
    • Role of Women — As a result of globalization, women in India have become more aware of their rights and are now stepping out of homes to pursue not only schooling but higher education and jobs. With patriarchy’s influence decreasing, women are taking leading roles in various walks of life.
    • Role of caste is decreasing — with increasing urbanization as a result of globalisation, not only are caste barriers breaking at workplace but also at areas of living-people belonging to all caste work and live together. On the other hand, class discrimination is increasing.
    • Lifestyle — Whether it be in attire, food habits or taste in music, there has been an attempt to imitate the West. Sarees, Salwar-Kameez for women has given way to skirts and pant, jeans and shirts. Similarly for men, traditional dhoti-kurta has been replaced by shirts and trousers. Even in food habits, junk food like pizzas, burgers, pasta are the preferred choices of the youth today in India.
    • Language — English today is becoming the favoured mode of communication among the people of India over their mother tongues.

  • 2018

    9. ‘Despite implementation of various programmes for eradication of poverty by the government in India, poverty is still existing’. Explain by giving reasons. (2018)

    Poverty is a social and economic condition in which a part of the society is unable to fulfill its basic requirements. Reducing poverty has become an international concern as SDG 1 targets to end poverty in all its forms everywhere.

    Removal of poverty has been a prime focus of Indian policy makers. Integrated Rural Development Program (IRDP) initiated in early 1980s was one of the early poverty alleviation programmes. Since then a large number of programmes and schemes have been launched, but they have not been able to give the desired results. Reasons for existence of poverty in India are:

    • Numerous already functional poverty alleviation programmes work in silos.
    • There is no systematic attempt to identify people who are below poverty line; to determine and address their needs; and enable them to move above the poverty line.
    • There are cases of corruption in identification of beneficiaries, and there is also a lack of authentic data at every level.
    • A typically low administrative capacity, coupled with problems of implementation at State level has often resulted in the under utilization of funds.
    • Leakage at different levels has led to diversion of resources meant for deprived ones.
    • These programmes have focused on top to bottom approach, but such approach lacks coordination in decision making and causes clogging of funds and asymmetry in distribution.

    Poverty eradication in a country with a huge population like India needs to involve programmes and policies with bottom up approach, technological interventions, and a mix of innovative ideas like Universal Basic Income.

  • 2016

    9. "An essential condition to eradicate poverty is to liberate the poor from the process of deprivation." Substantiate this statement with suitable examples. (2016)

    Poverty is a state of being where a section of the society is unable to fulfill even its basic necessities of life. They are deprived of food, clothing, shelter and income. This is rooted in the underlying structural inequities in the economy and the inherent disadvantages arising out of social impediments such as lack of education, poor health etc. Therefore, to eradicate poverty, it is essential to liberate the poor from the process of deprivation. This can be done by providing them education, equipping them with skills to sustain a livelihood and providing them health care services to make them physically fit also to work. At the same time, to absorb them into the labour force, there has to be adequate number of job opportunities—without which all the efforts will be a waste.

    Recognising this, the government policies have shifted away from traditional poverty alleviation schemes to a more multipronged approach to end this process of deprivation. There have been programmes and policies like—

    • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act — it aims to enhance the livelihood security of people in rural areas by guaranteeing hundred days of wage-employment in a year to adult members of a rural household.
    • Right to Education Act — to provide free and compulsory education to all children in the age group of 6-14 years.
    • Skill India Mission — to rapidly implement and scale up skill development efforts across India.
    • National Health Mission — to provide universal access to equitable, affordable and quality health care service across rural and urban areas.
    • Make in India initiative, attracting FDI, promoting entrepreneurship through start-up India to create jobs in the country.

    The steps taken by the government are in the right direction and will go a long way in ending the process of deprivation if implemented effectively.

  • 2017

    9. In the context of the diversity of India, can it be said that the regions form cultural units rather than the States? Give reasons with examples for your view point. (2017)

    India has been a country of multiple diversities like linguistic, religious, and cultural diversities since ancient times. After independence, various demands of reorganization of states on the basis of various aspirations comprising of cultural similarity, linguistic identity and others emerged from different parts of India. Though the government reorganized various states and also formed new states but cultural units have been intact in India till this day.

    • Recently Chhath parv has been celebrated in Purvanchal region, which comprises the eastern end of Uttar Pradesh and western end of Bihar, where Hindi-Urdu and its dialects Awadhi and Bhojpuri are the predominant language.
    • Population living in green revolution area that comprises Punjab, Haryana and west Uttar Pradesh practices nearly same traditions and represents a single cultural unit.
    • Influence of Dravidian culture can be seen across all South Indian states, food habit of people living in these states is similar, wedding rituals are same.
    • North eastern region comprising 8 states represents as a single cultural unit in terms of their traditions.
    • Rice fish culture has also been practiced across all coastal regions in different states.

    It shows that cultural units in India are not necessarily concurrent with states and beyond the boundaries of formal division of states.

  • 2018

    10. How the Indian concept of secularism is different from the western model of secularism? Discuss. (2018)

    The term ‘secular’ literally means ‘worldly’ rather than ‘spiritual’, not relating to religion or bound by monastic restrictions. It means that the spheres of secularism and religion are distinct, independent, exclusive and separate without overlapping zones.

    The Indian concept of secularism differs from western model of secularism as secularism emerged in the Western Europe as an opposite ideology to the church hegemony and as a protest against the wars and massacres in the name of religion. Secularism thus originated as an anti-religious principle. On the other hand, the Indian concept of secularism is not a rejection of religious practices. In Indian context, secularism means equal respect for all faiths and the state keeping itself impartial in not preferring one religion over other.

    Secularism in India does not stand for the abolition of religion, unlike in the West, but only for the separation of state from religion. While accepting the identities of various religious groups and their freedom to propagate, the Indian concept of secularism limits all those practices to the private life and negates every idea of mixing religion in the public life.

    The uniqueness of Indian secularism is that it admits the freedom of religion, unlike its western counterpart that avoids religion. This religious freedom granted in the secular concept, makes the consolidation of religious people under one umbrella a reality in India.

  • 2016

    10. Why are the tribals in India referred to as ‘the Scheduled Tribes’? Indicate the major provisions enshrined in the Constitution of India for their upliftment. (2016)

    The framers of the Constitution took note of the fact that tribal communities in the country were suffering from extreme social, educational and economic backwardness arising out of colonial practice of isolation and certain others. On account of these primitive agricultural practices, lack of infrastructure facilities and geographical isolation. These communities needed special consideration for safeguarding their interests and for their accelerated socio-economic development. So these communities were notified as Scheduled Tribes as per provisions of THE CONSTITUTION (SCHEDULED TRIBES) ORDER, 1950 passed by President compliant with Articles 342 of the Constitution.

    For the Socio-economic and overall development of the Tribal people, special provisions and safeguards have been provided in the Constitution of India under following provisions.

    • Art. 15(4): Special provisions for advancement of other backward classes (which includes STs);
    • Art. 46: The State shall promote the educational and economic interests of the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.
    • Art.244: Clause(1) Provisions of Fifth Schedule shall apply to the administration & control of the Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes in any State other than the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura which are covered under Sixth Schedule, under Clause (2) of this Article.
    • Art. 275: Grants in-Aid to specified States (STs & SAs) covered under Fifth and Sixth Schedules of the Constitution.
    • Art.164 (1): Provides for Tribal Affairs Ministers in Bihar, MP and Orissa.
    • Art. 330: Reservation of seats for STs in Lok Sabha.
    • Art. 337: Reservation of seats for STs in State Legislatures.
    • Art. 334: 10 years period for reservation (Amended several times to extend the period.).
    • Art. 243: Reservation of seats in Panchayats.
    • Art. 371: Special provisions in respect of NE States and Sikkim.

    Apart from these provisions, 73rd Amendment Act, Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA) have also been introduced in constitution which have various provisions for upliftment of tribal people.

  • 2017

    10. What are the two major legal initiatives by the State since Independence addressing discrimination against Scheduled Tribes (STs)? (2017)

    Scheduled tribes of India, due to developmental displacement, and in absence of proper rehabilitation initiatives, have faced cultural discrimination and socio-political and economic exploitation. Due to lack of education and skills, for decades these tribes continued to be oppressed at the hands of the larger society.

    To undo these injustices and to safeguard tribal rights, the government undertook several constitutional and legal initiatives, significant among which have been Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities), 2015 and Panchayat (Extension to the Scheduled Areas), Act, 1996.

    The SC & ST PoA, 2015 prohibits the commission of offences against members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SCs and STs) and establishes special courts for the trial of such offences and the rehabilitation of victims, thereby preventing any potential social discrimination faced by the SCs and STs.

    PESA empowers the scheduled tribes to safeguard and preserve their traditions and customs, their cultural identity, community resources and also their customary modes of dispute resolution, thereby helping them from being vulnerable at the hands of larger society and also protecting their identity and culture from the onslaught of dominant culture.

    These two legal initiatives have perhaps played the greatest role in addressing the concerns and in protecting the rights and cultures of various tribal groups in India.

  • 2017

    11. The spirit of tolerance and love is not only an interesting feature of Indian society from very early times, but it is also playing an important part at the present. Elaborate. (2017)

    Spirit of tolerance and love in Indian society can be defined as that harmony and assimilation which can be observed among the diverse communities of the country. This spirit can clearly be seen in the ancient world where king Ashoka renounced all violence and war, and took to preaching Dhamma, the special religion of love and peace.

    Then we can see that continuously throughout history, India has been home to people as diverse as the Hunas, Parthians, Greeks, Scythians, Turks and later on the Mughals. Though some of them may have come to the country as invaders, they did not or rather could not, see India as an enemy. The result has been a tremendous assimilation or races, languages and cultures - a process that is continuing still. In fact, something similar had already taken place a thousand years earlier when the Aryan-speaking people had migrated into the country, forever shaping the destiny of the country and its post-Harappan people. It was in this spirit of tolerance and love, that perhaps was created some of the world’s most majestic works of art (eg. the Taj Mahal), the most original of interpretations on the meaning and philosophy of life (eg. the Upanishads), and created the most simple and honest forms of devotion to the almighty (eg. Bhakti and Sufism).

    Thankfully, due to the presence of this spirit in our society so far we have been able to reflect rationally and peacefully to most of the problems that we are currently facing. Then on the global front, India exerts on citizens of this world a great unifying force. This is in the form of non-violence (Ahimsa), peaceful co-existence (NAM); in pledging protection to the global commons (Paris Climate Pact), to the rights of man (democracy, human rights), and to universal nuclear disarmament etc. If one day India has to shine in the comity of nations, if Indians have to truly get involved in the making of a better world, and if someday we have to get rid of tragic things like poverty, pollution, crime and terrorism etc, we will have to share this spirit of love and tolerance and spread it to all human societies across the world.

  • 2016

    12. What is the basis of regionalism? Is it that unequal distribution of benefits of development on regional basis eventually promotes regionalism? Substantiate your answer. (2016)

    Regionalism can be defined as a phenomenon in which people’s political loyalties become focused upon a region. In other words, it implies people’s love of a particular region in preference to the country. Thus the phenomenon of regionalism is centered on the concept of region. Some of the most important the causes of regionalism in India are as follows: (i) Geographical Factor (ii) Historical and Cultural Factors (iii) Caste and Region (iv)Economic Factors (v) Political-Administrative Factors.

    In the present times, uneven developments in different parts of the country may be construed as the prime reason for regionalism. There are certain regions in the country where industries and factories have been concentrated, educational and health facilities are sufficiently provided, communication network has been developed, rapid agricultural development has been made possible. But there are also certain areas where the worth of independence is yet to be realized in terms of socio-economic development.

    The British administration may be held responsible for causing such wide regional variations due to their need that suited case of administration, trade and commerce. But in the post-Independence era, efforts should have been made for regional balance in matters of industrial, agricultural and above all, economic development. This disparity has caused the feeling of relative deprivation among the inhabitants of economically neglected regions. It has manifested itself in the demand for separate states such as Bodoland or Jharkhand land, Uttarakhand, etc.

    Successful demand of separate Telangana state is the manifestation of growing regionalism in India.

    In a country as diverse as India, regionalism is inevitable. However, Through regionally balanced policy making, it can be accommodated as an enabler in the larger goals of national integration.

  • 2018

    18. ‘Women’s movement in India has not addressed the issues of women of lower social strata.’ Substantiate your view. (2018)

    Though efforts were made to uplift the status of women prior to independence, the women’s movement in India gained prominence in 1970s and 80s. These movements have tried to bring the women specific issues in the public domain.

    However, it is found that these have not been able to address the issues of the women of lower social strata, belonging to SC, ST, minorities, and BPL families.

    • It is being seen that activists within the movements are urban, western, and middle class. Therefore, the movement is being considered a Western product. It has little to do with the lives of thousands of poor, rural, underprivileged women all over India.
    • Women continue to have unequal access to land and other resources. Compensation policies in case of displacement are inevitably discriminatory towards women of lower strata due to multiple reasons such as lack of awareness, education etc. Women from these sections also find it more difficult to get loans.
    • Recently, several movements have raised the gender issues through temple entry movement, triple talaq, etc. But temple entry movements are restricted to the specified places only, and triple talaq especially in hinterland or rural areas, go unnoticed.
    • Sexual and domestic violence is mainly perpetrated against the women from lower caste and poor women but this issue has not acquired centre-stage in the discourse of women movements.

    Issues of women agricultural labourers (e.g. fair wages etc.), women domestic workers and women manual scavengers has not been raised by the women movement prominently.

    However, there is also a counter view that the urban, middle-class women are one of the participants in the movement. It is rather the poor women which are the backbone of the movements, exemplified the presence of poor women in the anti-alcohol agitation in Andhra Pradesh, and other parts of India. Similarly, the movement to protect the environment was started by poor women in Reni village of Uttarakhand and thereafter, it spread to other parts of the country.

    But there are substantial evidences to prove that women movements have neglected the lower strata women. The National Federation of Dalit Women (NFDW), formed in 1995, has forced women’s movements in India to address the caste question seriously. Thus there is an urgent need of women movements to be more inclusive and just, embracing the cause of poor and vulnerable women.

  • 2017

    18. The women’s questions arose in modern India as a part of the 19th century social reform movement. What were the major issues and debates concerning women in that period?  (2017)

    In the 19th century, the problems of women in India invited the attention of Western humanitarian thinkers, Christian missionaries and Indian socio-religious philosophers. Many issues related to women prevalent during 19th century were discussed thoroughly.

    • The socio-religious philosophers protested evil practices such as Sati, child marriage, prohibition of widow remarriage, polygamy, dowry and the Devadasi system.
    • Their views were strengthened when Christian missionaries exposed the evils of such social customs.
    • Further, some of the enlightened British officials in India and England also initiated measures to remove these social evils.
    • Pandita Rama Bai, Savitribai Phule, Tarabai Shinde, Anandibai Joshi and Sarojini Naidu and many other enlightened women came forward to liberate the rest of women.
    • The practice of Sati was prohibited officially in 1829 in Bengal with the active participation of Raja Ram Mohan Roy and then in Madras in 1830.
    • Reformers reinterpreted the Sashtras in favor of widow remarriage. In 1855 Ishwar Chandra Vidhyasagar started a vigorous campaign in favor of widow remarriage.

    To summarize, the issues of women in the 19th century are mainly related to the social upliftment of women in Indian society. Efforts were on to empower women that included social reforms and economic self-reliance.

  • 2018

    19. ‘Globalization is generally said to promote cultural homogenization but due to this cultural specificities appear to be strengthened in the Indian Society.’ Elucidate. (2018)

    Globalization is a process in which the world becomes a global village as national and regional economies, societies, and cultures get integrated through the network of trade, communication, migration and transportation. The pace of globalization has accelerated in India after the adoption of the policies of liberalization, privatization & globalization in the 1990s.

    Globalization is leaving its footprints on almost every aspect of Indian society such as language (English), cuisine, clothing, etc., and thus leading to homogenization in many respects. There is an increasing tendency towards ‘glocalisation’ of culture which refers to the mixing of the global with the local culture.

    Liberal ideas of individualism are permeating the Indian society; joint families are giving way to nuclear families; live-in relationships are proliferating; celebration of Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day; consumption of pizza, burger, chowmein etc.; wearing jeans and tops; cropping up of MNCs; popularity of Hollywood movies, Bhangra pop, Indi pop, etc. are some of the homogenizing influences of globalization on Indian society.

    However, globalization is not simply about homogenization, but it is also strengthening cultural specifities in India.

    • A large segment of populace feels insecure by the inroads of globalization and are trying to preserve their cultural traditions and practices.
    • Indian classical dance and music has got fillip in the recent years with the efforts of organization like SPIC MACAY and others.
    • Local customs, and festivals are being observed by some tribal groups, especially in North-east India more zealously than before.
    • The Indian culture has also spread its impact globally. Yoga traditions and practices are not only being practiced by Indians, but people across the globe are embracing them.
    • Indian system of Ayurveda is being promoted by a large section of society in the backdrop of the ills of western system of medicine and cure. For example profuse use of ‘Patanjali’ products by the middle and lower middle classes of India.

    However, there are also negative reactions to the process of globalization. Revival of caste, race and cultural identity at times leads to chauvinistic tendencies and may hurt the peace and harmony of the society. Excessive emphasis on cultural specifities, as a reaction to globalization may lead to protectionism, proliferation of orthodox ideas, and fundamentalism.

  • 2017

    19. Distinguish between religiousness/religiosity and communalism giving one example of how the former has got transformed into the latter in independent India. (2017)

    Religiousness/religiosity is the quality of being religious, pious and devout. In other words it is known as having strong religious feeling or belief.

    Through the ages India society has been spiritual and religious and its Indian connotation Dharma has been the guiding force of Indian civilization by setting the standards for personal and social life.

    However communalism is a negative connotation which indicates political trade in religion. It is an ideology on which communal politics is based and consists of three elements:

    • A belief that people of same religion have common secular interests i.e. they have same political, economic and social interests. So, they can be segregated as a distinct socio-political community.
    • It indicates that in a multi-religious society like India, the common secular interests of one religion are dissimilar and divergent from the interests of another religion.
    • The interests of the follower of the different religion or of different ‘communities’ are seen to be completely incompatible, antagonist and hostile.

    In independent India the Ayodhya issue where construction of a temple or masjid has been constantly evoked to reap political mileage in a country where deep religious sentiments of different communities are attached. Year after year and election after election this issue has been evoked to polarize the communities on religious line for electoral gain at the cost of delicate social fabric of a multi-religious and multicultural India.

  • 2018

    20. ‘Communalism arises either due to power struggle or relative deprivation’. Argue by giving suitable illustrations. (2018)

    According to historian Bipan Chandra “communalism is the belief that because a group of people follow a particular religion, they have as a result, common social political and economic interests.” The majority community alleges that minorities have an anti-national approach while the minority points to the insecurity they are facing which often collides and trigger tensions.

    Communalism is a modern phenomenon which took its origin in the British colonial period and gained momentum at the time of freedom struggle and reached its heights at the time of partition. Its fundamental causes are secular like competition for share in political power or government jobs and a feeling of relative deprivation. Religion is not its fundamental cause but becomes an instrumental cause because it has great mobilizing power.

    Example – The Bhiwandi communal riot (1970)

    The struggle for political power and a sense of relative deprivation creates communal problems. Bhiwandi in Maharashtra was a centre of powerloom industry with minority community’s domination in ownership and labourers. Some members of minority community having amassed much wealth wanted to get a hold in the political set up of Bhiwandi, challenging the traditional leadership in Municipal administration. This led to a major riot in 1970.

    The practice of mixing up religion with politics or using religion for the sake of political and economic gains is a reason for conflict between communities.

    The progress of one community is viewed with unpleasantness and the economic collapse of the opposite side is gladly welcomed in a communally charged atmosphere. The vested interest groups having economic and other anti-social motives trigger communal conflicts in order to gain through a riot.

    Religion, when deliberately used as a tool for attaining power, both political and over resources, leads to the growth of communalism. The rising trend of communalism and the violent aftermath that follows it is a major threat to the integrity of India. So, efficient and effective measures must be adopted against the evil of communalism and checking its spread on the social fabric of India.

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