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4) Examine the role British played in aiding Sanskritization and how the situation has changed in post independence India?(250 words)

Topic – Part of static series under the heading – “Salient features of Indian society and diversity”

4) Examine the role British played in aiding Sanskritization and how the situation has changed in post independence India?(250 words)


Key demand of the question

The question expects us to explain what is meant by Sanskritization. Next, we need to explain the role played by British in aiding and abetting the process of Sankritization in India. Finally, we need to examine how the situation reversed with the affirmative action policies in the constitution and political developments in post independence India i.e. how we moved towards desanskritization.

Directive word

Examine – When you are asked to examine, you have to probe deeper into the topic,  get into details, and find out the causes or implications if any .

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Explain Sanskritization and desanskritization. Sanskritization is a term coined by the famous Sociologist, Dr M.N. Srinivas. It refers to the process by which castes lower in the hierarchy emulate the rituals and practices of upper castes, thereby seeking upward mobility. The basic premise of Dr Srinivas was to show that the caste system was not rigid but rather very fluid.


  • Explain that British did not ‘invent’ the caste system but what they did do was to make it the primary basis of social classification. When the British started taking the census, from 1882 onwards, caste was the basic unit of organizing society that they considered. When caste is your identity then you have an incentive in figuring out ‘how many’ people belong to your caste and when you organize politically or economically you do so along these lines.
  • Also highlight that for the British officers under the East India Company and even later under the Crown the caste system was an ideal way to control society. Mention that according to some sociologists the British aided the process of Sanskritization during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as it served their interests.
  • Highlight the changes brought about in the process of Sanskritization with the introduction of reservation and the result of Mandal Commission. Discuss how green revolution led to political mobilization of intermediate caste which led to them climbing up the social ladder. Discuss the rise of caste-based parties which claimed to speak on behalf of one or all backward castes which led  to de-Sanskritization’: it was no longer beneficial to be an upper caste and so attempts were made to re-claim any lower or backward caste roots.

Conclusion – Discuss about the situation in India at present.