About the Book
From the time it was first published, Social Change in Modern India has been essential reading for students of the sociology of India. The concepts dealt with in the essays included here have had, and continue to have, considerable influence on the discussions on change in Indian society. While concepts like Sanskritization and Westernization have helped in the understanding of complex, often seemingly contradictory trends in society, the author's essay on the study of one's own society continues to engage scholars, opening the way to an understanding of sociological writing itself as a text.
This new edition includes those classic essays, as also an appendix where the author deals with the problem of changing values in Indian society today.
The Rabindranath Tagore Memorial lectureship, which was inaugurated at the University of Chicago in October, 1961, was continued at the University of California, Berkeley, by lectures delivered in May, 1963. The lectures formed the kernel of this volume.
Rabindranath Tagore is justly known as India's greatest modem poet and one of its greatest modem thinkers. In these aspects he is celebrated by other holders of the Lectureship. He is less widely thought of as a traveller to the West and an observer of the West which had already in his time made so great an impact on his beloved country. His comments on his American and European travels showed him intensely interested in the relationship of India to the rest of the world and in the inter-influences that modem contacts would produce. If such influences have taken forms that might have surprised and perhaps even shocked him, it is unthinkable that he would have failed to be interested in an analysis by an ethnologist, and an Indian ethnologist at that, of what has happened and is happening.
'This ethnologist, India's leading social anthropologist, is Mysore Narasimhachar Srinivas. In 1952 he first introduced the notion of Sanskritization as an underlying process of Indian social change, in his book Religions and Society Among the Coorgs. Since then there has been no more influential concept in the discussions on change in Indian society. In these lectures he has developed the idea both in itself and in its contrapuntal relations with that much more conspicuous process of change, Westernization. Both by training, as an Oxford social anthropologist, and by background, as a South Indian Brahmin, he is eminently fitted to give a sophisticated, yet intimate, expression to his themes, in a way that Tagore might well have appreciated highly. Not the least important part of the book, and an integral part of it by peculiarly intimate inner lines of connection, is Professor Srinivas' apologia for the anthropologist's role in the midst of the rapid change and "modern" development in his own society.
MN. Srinivas' position since 1959 as Professor of Sociology in the Delhi School of Economics of the University of Delhi only enhances the reputation which he has earned by his notable series of writings in Indian ethnology. His Coorg book followed the earlier Marriage and Family in Mysore (1942), and was joined in 1962 by the collection of his articles, Caste in Modern India, and Other Essays. Acknowledgement of his outstanding position as an interpreter of India is to be seen in his Simon Senior Research Fellowship, Manchester University (1953-1954), his Rockefeller Fellowship in Great Britain and the United States (1956-1957), and his Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford (1964-1965). He was awarded the Rivers Memorial Medal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland in 1955, and the Sarat Chandra Roy Memorial Gold Medal of the Asiatic Society (of Bengal) in 1958.
A great debt of gratitude must be acknowledged to the patrons who made the Lectureship possible, especially to Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Breit of New York and to the Asia Foundation. The administration of the Lectureship by the Committee for the Rabindranath Tagore Memorial Lectureship of the Association for Asian Studies has been immeasurably forwarded by the efficient and loving labours of Dean Richard L. Park of the Division of the Social Sciences, University of Pittsburgh. At the University of California, Berkeley, help was provided in connection with the lectures by the Committee for Arts and Lectures and, most especially, by the Center for South Asia Studies, Institute of International Studies.
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