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1. How was Indian civilization seen through the cultural essence approach 

Ans. India is one of the oldest societies in the world and home to half a billion people. It’s known for its artistic diversity and plurality. It’s beyond the compass of one discipline to capture all the diversity as they’re in every dimension of life, in the population, in the terrain, terrain, modes of livelihood and over all in its societies. There are four broad approaches to study Indian civilization. The first section of the unit focuses on these approaches. How was Indian civilization seen as a distinct type in comparison to other cultures.

Indian population represents a variety of literal migrations that has redounded in ethnical, ethnical, and religious diversity. The populations concentrated in different regions, speak different languages and have a distinct way of life that sets them piecemeal from each other. The ecological and physiographic variations of different regions of India explain its uproariousness and diversity. How was Indian civilization seen as a distinct type in comparison to other cultures.

The social structure and artistic diversity of Indian civilization is examined. The religious and socio-political literal history are significant to understand the elaboration of Indian society. It highlights the fact that no society can be duly understood without reference to its history. reflects on the significant rudiments that contribute to the concinnity of Indian civilization. It highlights that regionalism was noway a significant trouble to Indian civilization’s unified identity in malignancy of internal conflicts and nearly nonstop warfare.

The term civilisation comes from the Latin word civis, meaning “ citizen” or “ citizen.” Therefore a semblance of complexity is apparent in the description of civilisation. The term assumes some agrarian practices, trade, some substantiation of planned residences, multiple societies, art, religion and some executive and political structures. Civilization is a complex of mortal grouping/ society with artistic- material and non- material/ theoretical traits and a defined polity.

How was Indian civilization seen as a distinct type in comparison to other cultures. Therefore the Indus Valley Civilization whose society is revealed to us through its artefacts and monuments is considered a civilisation. India is considered one of oldest continuing societies because its origin is traced back to the Harappan civilization. How was Indian civilization seen as a distinct type in comparison to other cultures.

There have been innumerous scholarly accounts fastening on the Indian civilization devoted to understanding of the nature of Indian society and culture. How was Indian civilization seen as a distinct type in comparison to other cultures. In doing so, these accounts illuminate diversity and uproariousness of India as a civilization and give multiple abstract tools/ methodology used to study it. How was Indian civilization seen as a distinct type in comparison to other cultures.

How was Indian civilization seen as a distinct type in comparison to other cultures. Cohn (1971) points out that four broad approaches/ directions to understand Indian civilization can be deduced from these accounts. They are : How was Indian civilization seen as a distinct type in comparison to other cultures.

  • Catalogue Approach
  • Cultural Essence Approach
  • Cultural Communication Approach
  • Approaching India as a Type

The precedingsub-sections give their elaborate account.

The Cataloguing of Traits

This approach entails recording of traits, institutions and rates that are assumed to be basically Indian. The variations and diversions that India may represent are examined in terms of statistical measures of mean or mode. India and its population reflect diversity which may be soluble in terms of geographical, ecological, indigenous, class or religious differences. How was Indian civilization seen as a distinct type in comparison to other cultures. Still, the emphasis of the approach is to list out traits or rates that are distinctly Indian or contribute to Indianness. This, of course, is primarily grounded on assuming the notion of what it means to be Indian and these may vary from scholar to scholar. How was Indian civilization seen as a distinct type in comparison to other cultures.  

The Reading of Cultural Essence

This approach entails discovery of essential style and process — the artistic essenceas truly representative of Indian civilization since its commencement, but not particularity or content. The artistic substance reflects India in its true spirit, which it has imbibed over the times in the wake of literal and colorful other extremities.

How was Indian civilization seen as a distinct type in comparison to other cultures. It indicates India isn’t statistically measurable. Rather, its substance may be understood in terms of generalities like‘ concinnity in diversity’, forbearance and brotherhood, respect for the spiritual and godly. The conception of morality is basically abstract and deducible in nature. It again is largely private as a conception. How was Indian civilization seen as a distinct type in comparison to other cultures.

The Study of Cultural Communication

The artistic communication approach entails fastening on the ways and processes through which the content of the civilizational system are transmitted and communicated through different situations of society. It draws attention towards the structural integration of the Indian civilization. How was Indian civilization seen as a distinct type in comparison to other cultures.

How was Indian civilization seen as a distinct type in comparison to other cultures. The workshop of social anthropologists, McKim Marriott (1955) and Robert Redfield (1956) give a significant base to understand the concinnity and interdependence of colorful corridor of a civilizational reality. Marriott highlights artistic conflation and commerce between‘ Great Tradition’and‘ Little Tradition’while fastening on carnivals celebrated in a small north Indian vill.


Indian civilization has complex and deeply embedded literal traditions, with a wide variation in custom and geste regionally and with the social structure of a particular region (Cohn 19717). Important of the diversity and indigenous variations in India may be explained on the grounds of variations in her terrain. Further, it’s the introductory physiography of India that has handed a broad frame for a patient literal, artistic and political pattern. It thus, becomes significant to take an account of its ( literal) terrain. How was Indian civilization seen as a distinct type in comparison to other cultures.

Cohn lists out three zones into which India may be divided in a broad geographical way. These are

  • The Imperishable or Nuclear Zones
  • The Route Zones
  • The Zones of Relative Insulation

The Imperishable/ Nuclear Zones

The imperishable zones are the rich swash basins, plains and delta. Historically, they’ve been centres nexus of mortal agreement, high population viscosity, political exertion and a stable state system. They’ve settled husbandry practices. They’re known for being trade centres of agrarian and craft goods. Colorful pre-modern and ultramodern metropolises have surfaced in nuclear zones. India is marked by similar zones both in north and south India. Historically, the swash basins and plains around Peshawar led to the emergence of first nuclear zone in northern India which is Gandhara, a city that’s now in Pakistan. This region played a vital part in spreading the influences from western and central Asia to India.

The Sutlej-Jamuna doab and the Gangese Jamuna doab formed the major nuclear zones of north. These comprised of metropolises like Kurukshetra-Panchala, Kanauj, Panipat, Delhi, Agra, which have had a vibrant politico-literal history. Kosala, the present day Central Uttar Pradesh, Bengal and Saurahastra, the contemporary Gujarat are other exemplifications of nuclear zones of north. Each of these zones have distinct verbal traditions and owing to topographical and climatic variations have evolved a distinctive cropping pattern.

There are five major nuclear zones in south India. These are – Andhra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra and Mysore. Andhra is the home of Telugu speaking people. It’s constituted by the rich agrarian delta areas of Godavari and Krishna swash. Tamil Nadu is the point of the Chola and Pandyan area, and inhabits Tamil speaking people. It comprises of rich plains of Pennar swash and Kaveri delta and is densely peopled. Maharashtra is the Marathi speaking area. It bears similarity with Mysore, the home of Kannada speaking population in agrarian practices. Both the zones are known for dry husbandry with millet, sludge and gram being prominent crops.

Also, unlike Tamil Nadu the two zones display a dispersed agreement pattern. Kerala/ Malabar forms the south western part of India. It stands distinct from other zones in the south owing to its height due to the Niligiri ranges and the rain it receives.

How was Indian civilization seen as a distinct type in comparison to other cultures. The Western Ghats insulate it from other zones in south and render it a distinct culture and social structure, visible in the practice of matriliny by the Nayar community. Still, analogous to Andhra and Tamil Nadu, Kerala displays husbandry grounded on wet rice civilization.

The Route Zones

Malwa provides a typical illustration of a route zone. It connects north India with the western seacoast and Deccan. It acts as a passage for raiders and dealers to reach nuclear zones of magnet. It’s a distinct artistic region, lying towards south of Aravali ranges. It’s asemi-arid region.

The route zones have no unified and patient political tradition. Socially and culturally, they’re mosaics rather than having distinctive culture and social structure (Cohn 1971 26). They’re areas of agreement of migratory population.  

The Zones of Relative Insulation

The zones of relative insulation are fairly inapproachable and geographically lower conducive areas for mortal agreement. Ladakh for case isn’t only icy deep freeze but fairly cut off due to high mountains ranges. And thus has meager agreements.

2. Critically examine the Indological view of India 

Ans. Indology: As one of the most diverse places on the planet, there have been numerous attempts at examining the history and culture of India. The study of Indology uses an academic approach to dive deeper into the complex structural framework within which the people of India live, and which creates the base of their history. This article provides a compact breakdown of what the subject matter of Indology encompasses. The article tries to define Indology, explores its history and development, defines how Indology varies from Orientalism and explores the schools of Indological thought as well as scholars and their works which focus on Indology.

A subgroup under the more overarching topic of Asian Studies or Oriental Studies, Indology, otherwise known as ‘Indian Studies’, is the scholarly examination of the Indian society, its culture, languages, history, philosophy, and literature. In other words, an inquiry into the current and past details of the Indian society – its people, traditions, values, background, etc. – which is sustained and corroborated by the exploration of written work of Indian languages is called Indology. It is often mistaken for South Asian studies, which includes the study of the broader Indian subcontinent, consisting of Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka alongside India, rather than the singular country of India.

As a branch of knowledge, Indology assimilates self-evaluative assessment and introspection, de-localization and redistribution of social practices (disembedding), increased global interaction and interdependence, and engagement with the reconstruction of socio-cultural knowledge from sources. The scholarship of Indology takes account of the study of literature in the Sanskrit and Pali languages, and the cultures of the religions believed to have originated in the Indian subcontinent (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, etc.). Academics engaged with the discipline of Indology often divide the field into Classical – with a focus on old India and ancient languages of Sanskrit and Pali, and Modern – attending to the political and sociological aspects of contemporary India.

Indology, or Indian Studies, has helped to highlight the rich cultural heritage of the people of India, and the country’s history and diversity. It has also allowed for the creation of a space where literature and knowledge on the country can be appreciated, discussed and debated, thereby spreading an understanding of India’s culture to the rest of the world.

Indology (or Indian studies) emerged as a field of academic investigation during the time of British rule in India. However, Indian culture, languages, and literature were taken up by scholars even before that. Several ancient literary texts, recorded material, and documents can be called upon to trace and understand how far back in time engagement with the Indian society reaches. People of all cultural backgrounds and from all over the world have immersed themselves into understanding and analyzing the vibrant and vivacious culture and people of India. Turkish people, Arabs, Persians, and Afghans (beginning from around 1000 AD and beyond), and, even earlier than that, the Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Byzantine, Jews, etc., all have enquired into the rich cultural structure of India.

Perhaps the earliest records of efforts to study Indian society can be traced back to Megasthenes (c. 350 BCE to c. 290 BCE). He was an ancient Greek historian, explorer, and, more importantly, an Indian ethnographer (a person who studies and describes the culture of a particular society or group is called an ethnographer). He was the military attaché to India on behalf of the Seleucid Empire, which existed during the Hellenistic period, in the court of Chandragupta Maurya (ruling period: 322 to 298 BCE), the founder of the ancient Maurya Empire. In accordance with the duration of his stay in India and his experiences during that period, Megasthenes composed the famous work, ‘Indica’, a four-volume account of India as he saw then. In the books, Megasthenes explored the existence of the caste system, which he accorded to illiteracy prevailing in the country. Although a large part of the books no longer exists now, a few remnants have been restored. Classical geographers Diodorus of Sicily, Strabo, and Arrian of Nicomedia have been highly influenced by these works.

As an academic discipline, Indology began to be practiced during the eighteenth century marked by the establishment of associations such as the Asiatic Society of Bengal (Calcutta, 1784), and journals including Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute and Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society.

Indology vs. Orientalism:

Most scholars agree on examining India and its society, cultures, languages, and people from a historical and documented point of view and using mainly a comparative approach. Most scholars of Indology engage in the analysis of literary publications such as books, articles, etc., in the languages of Sanskrit and Persian, and develop their understanding of the Indian society from them. Indology is also somewhat different from the Orientalist view of Indian society. On one hand, Indology focuses on bringing out a more positive and appreciative understanding of the Indian society, while Orientalism shifts towards a more adverse and critical view of the same.

Indology stems from a general admiration of the Indian life by Non-Indian people, whereas Orientalism originates from a theoretical need of the British Empire. In general, Indology highlights the merits and good characteristics of the culture of India, almost always in an exaggerated manner, while Orientalism, in an agenda to promote the positive effects of British rule and as a way of justifying colonialism in the country. Among Orientalists are Max Mueller, James Mill, etc.

Principles of Indology:

By identifying the differences between Indology and Orientalism, we can arrive at the few basic postulates in Indology:

  1. India’s past was filled with grandiose. In order to be able to fully comprehend it, it is important to refer to the literature written in the early times. These texts are imbibed with the philosophical and cultural traditions of India.
  2. The books of ancient India reveal the real nature of the Indian culture and society to a large extent. To get an understanding of the future development of India, these books hold an important position as a repertoire of knowledge.
  3. To ensure that the study of Indian texts from the older periods of time (mostly those written in Sanskrit and Persian languages), the establishment of institutions and associations must be arranged.
  • The Indian School of Indology: This school of thought aims at incorporating the perspective of non-Indian people as well as people from within India into the study of Indian culture, and maintaining a good balance between the two. A majority of the academic undertakings, training, research and financial backing are supported by Western countries (mainly from Europe and America). As a result, renouncing or dissociating the Western views has been a difficult job. Rejecting Western perspectives means to incorporate a greater focus on the culture as has been and is being encountered by the people living within the country instead of simply putting all the vitality and essence of examining the culture into text analysis.
  • The Diasporic School of Indology: This school has developed from a necessity of Indian diasporas living in Western countries. People who had migrated as first or second-generation members from Indian families due to economic reasons have to make teaching their children the culture of India an important point as a response to any judgments people of other cultures may enforce on them. Yet another reason is the need to feel connected to their motherland and their cultural and traditional roots. Within this school, there are both those who put the Indian culture on a high pedestal and those who analyze the culture, traditions, history, and practices of India critically.
  • The American School of Indology: Emerging as a criticism of and against the European understanding of Indology, the American school focused a great deal more on the section of people subordinated in the Indian society, such as the tribal people or Adivasis, women, people belonging from the transgender community, and Dalits. The American school was extremely critical of India, especially of Hinduism in the practices and rituals of which emerge problems such as caste discrimination. In a contrast, Buddhism and its principles were applauded as being less bigoted. Such critical examination allowed for a broadening of the understanding of Indian society.
  • The European School of Indology: This school was one of the oldest (and most probably the first) schools of Indology. Focusing mainly on Hinduism, and on making a comparative analysis of the religion with Christianity whereby the latter was shown as superior, the main aim of the scholars under this school was to legitimize British rule over Indians by showing the people of the country as undeveloped ‘savages’ who required to be controlled to be able to evolve. Almost all British Indologists found a negative aspect to the art, literature, architecture, languages, practices, and other cultural aspects of the people of India.

3. Explain the nature of political unification brought about by the British in India 

Ans. The British rule in India for about 200 years left behind it some permanent imprint in the socio-economic, political and cultural life of Indians.

Whatever developments political, administrative economic, social or intellectual-India witnessed during two centuries of British rule here were not planned by the colonial rulers out of any philanthropic mission for the welfare of Indians but were merely outcomes of the imperial rulers’ larger aim of keeping their hold over India and for promoting the political, economic or material interests of their own country.

Jawaharlal Nehru has rightly commented that “Changes came to India because of the impact of the west but these came almost in spite of the British in India.

They succeeded in slowing down the pace of those changes.” He further said that the most obvious fact is the sterility of British rule in India and twirling of Indian life by it.

Scholars expressed divergent views about the legacy of the British Rule to India which was started in 19th century and is still continuing. The British scholars and the Indian scholars hold different views relating to the contribution and legacy of the English to India. The English scholars like Alfred Loyal, J.F. Stephen, and W.W. Hunter opined that the modernization of India, growth of nationalism, efficient administration, modern education, Law and order was the Legacy of the English to the Indians. They even showered lavish praise on the British for converting India into a civilized nation. They did not pay any head to the economic exploitation of the British.

But the Indian Scholars like Dadabhai Nauroji, R.C. Dutta and many others do not accept the views of the British Scholars. They evaluated the Legacy of the British from the nationalistic point of view. They criticized the English as they disturbed the economic life of India. They destroyed the flourishing handicraft, trade and commerce. They put obstacles in the way of modernization by exploiting the rich economic resources of the country. They also spread the feeling of communalism among the Hindus and Muslims which ultimately led to the partition of India.

Of course both of these opinions are not true and the real truth lies between both of them. In fact, without the British rule, the modernization would have been impossible. So the contribution of the British towards the modernization of the country cannot be ignored. The Indian scholars do not accept this theory only because of the economic policy of British, their encouragement to the feeling of communalism and regionalism among the people. So we shall have to pick out some reliable solid facts to trace out the truth.

No doubt, India achieved her political unification under the British rule. Prior to the rule of the British, India was divided into a number of states and there was no unity among the rulers of different states. The rulers always fight against one another in order to establish their power. They lacked political unity which was the chief reason of their defeat against the British.

The British conquered all these states one after another and established an empire in India. The British had introduced a uniform system of administration throughout the country. Furthermore, introduction of the railways, telegraphs and unified postal system promoted mutual contact among the people. Undoubtedly, the British Liberated India from the medieval traditions and laid the foundations of modern administrative system in the country.

The credit of origin of administrative machinery also goes to the British rule. The post mutiny period witnessed the growth and development of this administrative system. The Indian Civil Service, the Indian Police Service, the Indian Audit and Account Service, the Indian Medical Service, the Indian Education Service, the Revenue and Judicial Service created an administrative machinery that not only shouldered the responsibility of the work of Government on a large scale but also dealt with the famine, plague, means of transport and communication, agricultural projects etc.

Credit goes to the British Government for the establishment of popular institutions. The Legislative Council was set up in 1853 and later enlarged in 1861 to induct some nominated members. With the Morley Minto reforms the provincial legislative councils began to reflect popular opinion. The principle of direct election for democracy was introduced in the Montague Chelmsford Act, The Government of India Act of 1935 made Provinces autonomous. Besides this, the local-self Government of Lord Ripon provided training for democratic and self governing institutions in higher level.

The credit of emergence of middle class also goes to the spread of English education during the British rule. Due to the English education, intellectual awakening took place among the middle class people. The intellectual middle class led the national movement and demanded self-rule for India.

The Indian Renaissance and several socio-religious movements of 19th century were the outcome of the reactions against the British rule and their atrocities. Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Dayananda Saraswati, Swami Rama Krishna Paramahansa, Swami Vivekananda worked a lot for the progress of Hindu religion, culture and society. Similarly, the Aligarh movement started by Sir Saiyad Ahmand Khan worked for the good of the Muslims and their progress.

All these movements paved the way for the modernisation of India. Many social evils were eradicated because of these movements European scholars like Max Muller William Jones, James prince and Indian scholars like R.G. Bhandarkar, Haraprasad Shastri, Rajendra Lal Mitra made the Indians conscious about the rich cultural heritage of India and their efforts injected new life and vigour into the benumbed limbs of the Indians thus their efforts also led the nation towards modernisation.

Another notable gift of the British to India is universal peace or freedom from external aggression and internal disorder.’ For the first time India witnessed such type of place which is very valuable for national growth. Thus we conclude that British rule contributed a lot for the progress of the Indians. The impact of western civilization was quite clear in Indian life, thought, dress, food and education etc. In the light of the above discussion, it is clear that British rule is responsible for the modernisation of the Indian civilization.

However, the people of India suffered a great loss in economic field. The economic policies adopted by the British transformed India’s economy into a colonial economy whose nature and structure were determined by the needs of the British economy.

They totally disrupted the basic economic pattern of India, i.e. self sufficient village economy. The economic policy of the British was subservient to their mother land, England. They followed the policy of economic exploitation towards India. With the outbreak of Industrial Revolution in England, the economic exploitation reached its climax.

Different kinds of raw materials were supplied from India to England. Ultimately India became a supplier of raw materials to England and the buyer of manufactured goods of England. It adversely affected the trade and commerce of the country.

The condition of the peasants became miserable. The ruin of rural artisan industries proceeded more rapidly once the railways were built. As D.H. Buchanan writes, “The armour of the isolated self sufficient village was pierced by the steel rail, and its life blood ebbed away.” Agriculture, trade, and industry of India were ruined badly and India became a poor country as at had never been.

Moreover, the British rule created the feeling of communalism, regionalism among the people of India, which led to the partition of the country. Partition of India is one of the worst results of the policy of the English. There is still tug of war between India and Pakistan for supremacy.

Thus, the British rule in India proved both beneficial and harmful in different spheres. In-fact whatever harm the British had done to India was only to safeguard their own interest and whatever advantage the Indians received from the British rule was the outcome of the efforts made by the leaders of national movement.

4. Discuss the Indian village as an economic unit 

Ans. Villages play an important part in Indian life. From the prehistoric times, the village has been enjoying an important place as the unit of Indian social structure. India can rightly be called a land of villages. The bulk of her population lives in the villages. According to the census of 1991, about 75 per cent of the total population lives in villages.

There are 5, 75, 721 villages in the country, 26.5 per cent of the total rural population lives in small villages (under 500 persons). 48.8 per cent in medium sized villages (between 500 and 2,000 persons), 19.4 per cent in large villages (between 2,000 and 5,000 persons), and 5.3 per cent in large villages (over 5,000 persons).

(i) Isolation and Self-Sufficiency:

Almost till the middle of the 19th century, the villages in India were more or less self-contained, isolated and self-sufficient units. The inhabitants of the village had very little to do with the people outside. All of their essential needs were satisfied in the village itself. This feature of the Indian village is described graphically as follows:

Each village tends to be self-contained, in each will be found persons with permanent rights in the lands as owners or tenants with hereditary occupancy rights; of these some cultivate all they hold, others with large areas at their disposal rent out to tenants on a yearly agreement a part or whole of their lands; below these in the scale are agricultural labourers some have a field or two on rent, some work in the fields only at times of pressure and are mainly engaged in crafts, such as leather work, or in tasks regarded as menial.

In all but the smallest village, there are one or two skilled artisans, carpenters or blacksmiths who provide and repair the simple agricultural implements, bullock gear and water-lifts. The household requirements are supplied by a shop or two whose Owners usually provide the first market for the village produce and add to their earnings in money-lending.” In short, it was more of a society within itself.

However, changing political and economic conditions are putting an end to the isolation and self-sufficiency of the Indian village. The rapid development of the means of transport and communication has broken the barriers between the village and city. The former is now socially and even economically connected with the neighbour-hood city or town. Political parties have made village the centre of their activities as much as die city.

(ii) Peace and Simplicity:

The second feature of an Indian village is the atmosphere of simplicity, calmness and peace prevailing therein. In the village there is no noise and little sophistication. The humdrum activities of modern civilisation are rarely seen there. Though occasionally a car or a bus rolling along the kutcha road enveloped in thick clouds of dust may be seen there, but, on the whole, life in the village moves with traditional quietude and peace. The villagers lead a simple life, eat frugally, dress simply, and live in mud-walled houses completely lacking in the trappings of modern civilisation.

But here also the old order is yielding place to a new one. The mud-walled houses are giving place to well designed buildings. Fashion is making its inroads in the life of young men and women of the village. Here and there notes of music issue from radio. However, this change is gradual and slow.

(iii) Conservatism:

The inhabitants of the village are strongly attached to old customs and traditions. Their outlook is primarily conservative and they accept changes with extreme reluctance. They love old ways and are less eager to follow the advice of zealous social reformers regarding their marriage and other customs. Writing on Indian villages, Sir Charles Met-calfe wrote, “they seem to last where nothing else lasts. Dynasties tumble down; revolution succeeds revolution. Hindu, Pathan, Moghul, Marathe, Sikh, English all the masters change in turn, but the village communities remain the same.”

(iv) Poverty and Illiteracy:

Probably the most glaring and also depressing features of Indian villages are the poverty and illiteracy of the village people. They are generally poor with a very low income. They take coarse food and put on rough clothes. The pressure on land is high resulting in fragmentation of holdings and poor productivity.

Besides poverty the village people are steeped in ignorance and illiteracy. The opportunities for education are meagre in the villages. The village school is generally in a dilapidated condition. Facilities for higher education are practically nil. Due to poverty the villagers cannot send their sons to city for education. Due to illiteracy they cannot improve upon their agriculture or supplement their income by other means. Poverty is thus the cause and effect of illiteracy and the backwardness of the villagers.

However, recently the need has been realised for rural reconstruction. An all India organisation under the name of All India Kissan Sammelan’ has been formed to focus the attention of the government on the problems of peasantry class. There is greater realisation now that the country can march ahead only if its villages are prosperous.

The governments, both at the centre and states, have launched numerous schemes like total literacy programme, fertilizer subsidy, crop insurance, free power, concessional water-rate, minimum procurement price and low- interest loans for liquidating illiteracy and removing poverty of the people living in the villages. Agricultural production is becoming more and more mechanized and agricultural products are fetching high prices.

(v) Local Self-government:

The villages in ancient India enjoyed a considerable measure of autonomy or self-government. The villagers managed their own affairs through the traditional institution of Panchayat. The central government had neither the inclination nor the means for interfering with the self-government of villages.

With the advent of Britishers in India and their introduction of a highly centralised system of administration the importance of Panchayats began to decline. Their judicial powers were taken over by the British courts and the officers were appointed to look after the administrative affairs of the villages.

This change produced unpleasant results. Since the times of Lord Ripon attempts were made to revive the old system of village local self-government, but the progress was very slow in this direction. With the attainment of freedom now fresh efforts are being made to strengthen the panchayat system and make Panchayats play a better part in the work of national reconstruction. The 73rd Amendment Act, 1993 has laid the foundation of strong and vibrant Panchayati Raj institutions in the country.

Change in Village Community:

Change is the law of nature. It is the need of life. Change is but natural in human communities. The village community is less susceptible to change than the urban community; but it does not imply that village community undergoes no change. It is also undergoing change though the speed of change as compared to urban community is slow.

The change in village community may be seen in different spheres:

(i) Caste System:

The British rule in India gave a serious blow to the caste system in the villages. The economic policy and the laws of British rulers induced the different castes to adopt occupations other than the traditional ones. The hold of caste panchayat was loosened.

The status of a village man was determined on the basis of his economic position and personal attainments. The restrictions on food, dress, mode of living and other matters imposed under caste system were removed. Even untouchability was weakened. Thus caste system has now lost its traditional hold in the villages, however, casteism is getting strengthened on account of selfish political interests.

(ii) Jajmani System:

‘Social Stratification in India’ the “Jajmani” system, a feature of village community in India has now weakened due to the governmental efforts to raise the status of the lower castes and impact of urbanisation. The occupations adopted by the village people are not entirely hereditary or based on caste system, nor the payment for services rendered by the lower caste is in kind; it is now mostly cash payment.

(iii) Family System:

The joint family system is no longer the peculiar characteristic of the village community. Nuclear families have taken its place. The family control over its members in matters of diet, dress and marriage has weakened. The family is no longer an economic unit. Several activities which once were carried within the family are now performed by outside agencies. The education of village girls has raised the status of rural women.

(iv) Marriage System:

Change can also be seen in the institution of marriage. Although inter-caste marriages are rare and parents continue to dominate the mate-choice, yet the boys and girls are consulted by the parents in the matter of mate- choice. Love marriages and divorces are almost non-existent. The individual qualities like education, economic pursuit, beauty and appearance of the marriage partners are given preference over the old family status. There is now less expenditure on marriages. The marriage rites also have been minimised. The custom of child marriage is being abolished.

(v) Living Standards:

The standard of living in the village community is gradually going higher. The rural diet no more consists of coarse food only. It now includes vegetables, milk, bread, tea and vegetable ghee. The dress is getting urbanized. The youths put on pants and the girls put on frocks and Bell Bottoms.

Even the old ladies put on blouses instead of shirts. The mill cloth is used in place of handloom cloth. Gold ornaments have replaced the old heavy silver ornaments. The young boys live bare-headed with well combed long hair while the girls use cosmetics. There are now ‘pucca’ houses to live. These are now better ventilated, well furnished, and in some cases electrified too. The ceiling fans can also be seen in some houses. Lanterns have replaced the earthen lamps in most houses. Gobar gas plants have also been installed in some houses. The sanitary habits of the people have improved.

They now use soap for bath and washing the clothes. The safety razors are used for shaving. The drainage system is also better one. The primary health centres have made the villages people health conscious. The threat of epidemics has lessened due to the vaccination and other preventive measures taken to the villages.

The family planning program has been understood by the village people who now adopt measures to limit the family size. Schools have been opened. In some villages degree and post degree colleges can also be found. Agriculture Institutes and other Rural Institutes have also been opened in some villages.

(vi) Economic System:

Change has also taken place in the economic field. The educated rural youth seeks jobs in the cities rather than settle on the land. The demand for new scientific instruments of agriculture is increasing. The farmers have been taught new methods to raise their production. The rural cooperative societies have lessened the woes and miseries of the village people in getting seeds, fertilizers and credit.

The ‘Sahukara’ system is on the wane. More and more banks are being opened in the villages. The Government gives financial assistance and other facilities for setting up industries in the villages. The per capita income has increased. Economic exploitation has decreased and the farmers get good price for their products.

(vii) Political System:

The setting up of ‘panchayats’ has led to the growth of political consciousness among the village people. The newspapers, radio and television in some areas have added to the political knowledge of the villagers. However, the political parties have divided the people into groups and led to groupism among them. Caste conflicts and. group rivalries have increased. The community feeling has decreased. Selfishness and individualism are growing.

It is thus evident that the Indian village is not a static community. It is dynamic. Sir Charles Metcalfe was wrong to hold that the village communities in India seem to last where nothing else lasts.

The villages in India are at present passing through a transitional period. From the sociological point of view the old social relations, bonds and ties have disappeared. The community consciousness is steadily decreasing. Politics of the country has made deep in roads into the peaceful life of the village people and has divided them into political and sub-caste groups. The joint family system is fast disintegrating and morality has gone down. The only feature of the village community now left is agriculture.

In India the task of rural reconstruction is a big and complicated affair not to be accomplished easily. As we have seen above, 75 per cent of population lives in villages. To raise the standard of living of 64 crores of people is no easy task. However, the trends show that considerable progress is under way despite great difficulties.

A Ministry of Rural Development has been formed at the centre to look after the overall task of rural development and co-ordinate the different schemes in this direction. Agricultural development along with irrigation and generation of electric power had the highest priority in the First Plan.

Both the short term and long term objectives of the First Plan were by and large achieved. In the Second Plan new targets of agricultural production were laid down which have been more than achieved. In the Third and Fourth Plans also adequate importance was given to the task of rural reconstruction.

The successive plans also have given due attention to the programme of rural development. Various schemes like Small Farmers Development Project (SFDP), Marginal Farmers and Agricultural Labourers Project (MFAL), Drought Prone Areas Programme (DPAP), Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP), Applied Nutrition Programme (ANP) and finally Jawahar Rozgar Yojna Programme have been in vogue for the upliftment of rural masses.

The rural school is undergoing transformations under the impact of Operation Blackboard. It is now better equipped and adequately staffed. The introduction of labour-saving machinery has shortened farm hours, decreased the difficulty of labour and increased the amount of leisure time. Link roads are being constructed in the villages, electricity provided, sanitary conditions improved, health facilities provided and well-equipped hospitals with qualified doctors opened.

Many of the conveniences and comforts of the city are being introduced into rural homes. The 73rd Amendment Act, 1993 has sought to make the Panchyati Raj System more effective and role playing in the field of rural development. With the passing of the unattractive, barren and drudgery features of village home, it is hoped, there would come a new appreciation of the deeper rural values so that the young men would not flee to the cities, depriving the village of energetic and educated rural leadership.

5. How does the Constitution of India safeguard the linguistic diversity of India? 

Ans. The Constitution of India (Article 350 A) provides that every state must provide primary education in a mother tongue and also provide for the appointment of a ‘Special Officer’ for linguistic minorities (Article 350 B), who is responsible to investigate matters relating to linguistic minorities and report them to the President. Neither the constitution nor any piece of legislation however defines linguistic minority. It was in 1971, in the case of DAV College etc. v/s State of Punjab, and other cases, that the Supreme Court of India defined a linguistic minority as a minority that at least has a spoken language, regardless of having a script or not. In the case of TA Pai Foundation and Others vs State of Karnataka, it further held that the status of linguistic minority is to be determined in the context of states and not India as a whole.

The protection of linguistic minorities: commissions

According to the Report of the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities however linguistic minority status of a community is determined by numerical inferiority, non-dominant status in a state, and possessing a distinct identity. The report states that “exclusive adherence to a minority language is a leading factor that contributes to socio-economic backwardness, and that this backwardness can be addressed only by teaching the majority language”.

The Commission should have rather emphasised the need to develop mechanisms and institutional structures to accommodate linguistic minorities so that they do not fall into the traps of socio-economic backwardness merely because of the language they speak. Instead of addressing the gaps in the education system which makes invisible the language of the linguistic minorities, the commission recommends that such individuals and communities learn the majority language to survive. This is a clear acknowledgement of systematic state discrimination emanating on the basis of the language that an individual and community speaks. The state is responsible to create equal opportunities for everyone regardless of whether they belong to the majority or the minority but is clearly fails to do so.

A workshop on linguistic minorities, held in 2006 by the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities, lead to the recommendations that the term linguistic minority must be defined properly and that such a definition should then be used while framing a law to provide affirmative action based on socio-economic backwardness. Even though the criteria suggested for identifying socio-economic backwardness among linguistic minorities is the same as that applied while identifying backward communities in India, to be regarded as more backward, the individuals among the linguistic minority must not have the knowledge of the majority language. This again is problematic as the additional criteria to determine the backwardness of a linguistic minority group should not be the lack of knowledge of the majority language. Instead it should be the vulnerability of the particular language to extinction, lack of institutional support to develop, sustain and promote a language.

It is necessary to emphasise that the mere knowledge of the majority language does not alleviate the backwardness of the linguistic minorities and that it can only be achieved by integrating the minority languages into the education system. This will help in preserving such languages and the associated knowledge systems while also easing the process of learning for students belonging to linguistic minorities. The recommendations of the workshop can only be aptly referred to as half-hearted attempts to integrate the minority languages into the education system. While it does provide that the teachers in schools with sizable linguistic minority must know the minority language, it does not suggest any steps to ensure that the medium of education should be in the minority language for students belonging to the particular linguistic minority. It only means that the state is trying to impose assimilation on linguistic minorities by not providing them adequate support to integrate their language in the education system.

Affirmative action and language

The most vulnerable among linguistic minorities are those belonging to tribes. Despite the vulnerability of their languages, there are hardly any government schemes or mechanisms that try and integrate these languages into the education system. Most of the linguistic minorities in India belong to indigenous groups and hence, they can avail reservation in Institutions for Higher Education under the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category. This, in essence, amounts to linguistic discrimination to impose assimilation on such students through the primary and secondary education system by instructing them in a majority language. It even paves the path to disappearance of languages as the individuals belonging to the linguistic minorities are assimilated into the majority language and culture at the cost of their own language. Especially in a scenario where the government itself promotes assimilation into the majority regional language or English by offering it as a means of alleviation from backwardness, it creates a strong dichotomy between retaining one’s own language and upward social mobility. Since the medium of instruction is alien to the students belonging to the linguistic minorities, most of them discontinue their studies and the ones who continue with their studies, do it at the cost of their own language.

High Level Committee on Socio-economic, Health and Educational Status of Tribal Communities in India rightly points out that the reasons for extremely low literacy rates among the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups are poor educational infrastructure, poorly trained teachers, lack of teaching in the tribal languages and completely irrelevant curriculum. Even the Draft National Policy on Tribal Groups acknowledges that the changing educational scenario can push many of the tribal languages into extinction and provides that education in mother tongue in the primary level of education needs to be encouraged. As many of the schools for Tribal Groups are witnessing a sudden shift to English medium of instruction, students belonging to the indigenous linguistic minorities are facing the blunt of it as they cannot understand their curriculum and are also losing their own language. Based on the above analysis, it is evident that most of students belonging to such indigenous linguistic minorities fail to utilize the benefits of affirmative action in the sphere of higher education.

It is high time that the government understands these gaps in the education system for the indigenous linguistic minorities and take the necessary steps to integrate the languages of the linguistic minorities into the education system. The available affirmative action can only be effectively utilised by the students of indigenous linguistic minorities if their medium of instruction is their own language and English/majority regional language is taught comprehensively as a second language. Therefore, paving the path towards “real education” of such students while also equipping them with a resourceful second language.

Language is a crucial and defining aspect in the life of every individual. Not only a medium of effective communication, it is a harbour of culture and systems of knowledge. Various activities and elements of life stem from ones’ own mother tongue. Language acclimatises the individual and the community to the surrounding environment by equipping them with the necessary knowledge, which has been accumulating and evolving together for centuries. In India, the data collected about mother tongues through the 2011 census showed 19,569 languages, which after linguistic scrutiny and categorisation resulted in 1,369 ‘rationalised’ mother tongues. Nearly 400 of these languages however are facing the threat of extinction in the coming 50 years. While this data speaks volumes about the linguistic diversity in India, it also highlights the continued need to protect and nurture the languages spoken by the minorities.

The protection of linguistic minorities: the constitution

Article 30 (1) of the Constitution of India provides a fundamental right to linguistic minorities to establish and administer educational institutes of their choice. The Constitution however, under Article 351, provides a directive to the Union to promote the usage of Hindi across India, so that it can serve as a medium of expression among the diverse population. This provision has an imperialising effect on the speakers of languages other than Hindi, and linguistic minorities are the ones who face the blunt of it, especially when English is also promoted across the country at the cost of local and regional languages.



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