TODAY -

Marking 100 years of sociology teaching and research in India

Dr Kamei Aphun *

Sociology Department : GP Women's College, Imphal
Sociology Department : GP Women's College, Imphal :: Pix - Deepak Oinam



Sociology as an independent course for teaching and research has completed 100 years in India. As a subject that studies man and society, it was first introduced in 1914 at the Bombay University under a grant from the Government of India, though discussing social issues/ questions started much earlier in India. Mention can be made particularly of Patrick Geddes, the first Chairperson of the Department of Sociology and Civics at Bombay University, who was a city planner and human geographer. G. S. Ghurye succeeded Geddes in 1924, who in his thirty-five year of teaching career at Bombay University produces scholars such as M. N. Srinivas, K. M. Kapadia, I. P. Desai, Y. B. Damle, A. R. Desai, and M. S. A. Rao who were instrumental in shaping Indian Sociology.

The seeds of sociological thought can be traced from a very long tradition of social thoughts that India had experienced from various aspects of society such as family, marriage, varna ashram, gotra, morality and religion. Though one could not easily separate religion, philosophy and empirical knowledge in the ancient times, today one can see a clearer boundary of what constitutes 'social thought' and 'sociology' in particular. It can be argued that the tradition of sociological thinking in India began only after the First Word war and scholars such as V.K. Sarkar (1937), H.E.Barns (1948), P.N. Prabhu (1954), Max Weber (1960), and H.C. Malik (1977) were instrumental in grasping the Indian social thought.

On the sociological thought, mention can be made of Radhakamal Mukerjee and Haridas Majumdar (1952), Loius Dumont (1957), D.P.Mukerji (1958), T.K.Unnithan (1967), B.D. Gupta (1972), Ramakrishna Mukerjee (1979) and Yogendra Singh (1979). Today the list goes on and on one cannot ignore the contributions made by Andre Beteille, T.N. Madan, A.M. Shah, JPS Uberoi, Dipankar Gupta, Satish Deshpande etc. It was during the Vedic period that the four pillars of the Indian social structure were erected:
1. Caste system
2. Rural communities (village)
3. Agrarian economy
4. Joint family system

Today, tribe is added to the list.

However due to the western influence of social thought, a new trend of thinking emerged especially in the pre-independence India. Broadly speaking, one can divide the study of Indian society in four areas in this period:
1. Indian Philosophy
2. Orientology and Indology
3. Ethnic and Social Survey
4. History

Scholars such as Ghurye and Yogendra Singh who studied Indian culture and caste have contributed remarkably in this field.

The post-independent India saw increase in the openings of departments and universities of sociology. During this period, many scholars went to American universities for study and research. The period is also marked by the influenced of the British Anthropologists in the country. Owing to this mixed influence during the period 1950-60 emphasis was laid on factual, empirical and surveying field studies in place of theoretical and traditional issues. This led to series of rural and urban studies in India.

Initially, no rigid distinction was made between social anthropology and sociology, but they separated as teaching disciplines in the 1950s. In the field of research, however, the distinction between social anthropology and sociology continues to be blurred. Ghurye, Srinivas, S. C. Dube, and Andre Beteille, among others, have argued that sociologists in the Indian context cannot afford to make any artificial distinction between the study of tribal and folk society on the one hand and advanced sections of the population on the other; nor can they confine themselves to any single set of techniques. Even the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) treats both these disciplines together in its surveys of research, the first covering the period upto 1969 ; the second from 1969 to 1979 and the third, for the period 1979 to 1987.

All the more there have been continuous debates regarding the need for indigenization of sociology, or "sociology for India" and the relevance of Indian sociology. However, although most sociologists are not hostile to using Western concepts, models, and analytical categories, they want their adaptations to suit the Indian socio-cultural setting. This was clearly reflected when the Five Year Plan initiated by the Government of India in 1952 challenges social scientists, particularly economists, sociologists, and demographers, to involved in conducting diagnostic, monitoring, and evaluative studies concerning a variety of developmental programs at micro as well as macro levels.

During the 1970s and 1980s, several social research institutes were established in different parts of India. This has added the very scope of Sociology in India. Today, the growth of Sociology is felt in almost all Indian central universities. New fields of enquiry as a part of Sociology have emerged. Besides crucial issues on caste system, questions on Nation-building, regionalism, communalism, environment and health issues, ethnicity and identity, development and gender, new social theories, we have new fields on science, medicine, food, sports or sociology of colours etc.

The origin of Sociology in Europe has a different story. Today the discipline is 175 years old (since Auguste Comte independently developed the subject in 1839, though the term Sociology was coined in 1780 by Emmanual-Joseph Sieyes). This discipline laid its foundation on the European socio-economical, political and the intellectual background of the 18th century. As someone who is fascinated by the rapid expansion of the discipline, I would like to lay stress on how this new science had emerged to analyze the change in the social structure that were brought about by many external forces like scientific inventions, industrial revolution and political upheavals that Saint Simon and Auguste Comte developed and to me it was typically a continuity of human thought that the subject is fast realizing.

Likewise, the growth of sociology as a profession in England is thought to be the result of the three factors- political economy, ameliorism, and social evolution according to Philip Abrams in his "The Origins of British Sociology", published in 1968.

However, one of the basic problems of Indian Sociology is related with the aspect of theory and methodology. Beteille noted that Indian sociologists have not been able to be 'innovative both theoretically and methodologically because of their passive dependence on the work of western scholars'. This is one of the reasons Indian sociology has not been able to develop a theory and methodology of its own. Most of such works do not provide sufficient data which could lead to generalization or the basis of theoretical formulation.

The case of the North East is that the discipline of Sociology in the region started ?rst in Assam at Dibrugarh University in the mid- 1960s. This is the ?rst University that taught post-graduate level course in Sociology in the region. The second department of Sociology started at the North-Eastern Hill University in 1976 at Shillong.

Subsequently, with creation of universities in Nagaland, Silchar (Assam) and Tezpur (Assam), the number of post-graduate departments in Sociology offering PG courses and research programmes has increased to ?ve. Today, Manipur University is proud to have a department of Sociology, though several colleges such as D.M. College and Imphal College had been offering Sociology in its undergraduate for many years.

Today, Indian Sociology occupies an important position in analyzing social structures and systems but in the production of new social theories and concepts in the contemporary world it still lacks far behind. The changes that occurs in family and many social institutions, not only challenges the traditional ones but rapidly poses a complex whole to address.

The live-in relationships, surrogacy, new reproduction technologies, the third sex, gay rights, politics of culture, minority rights and majority hegemony, global markets and globalization intertwine taking different shapes and size consistently. However, the strength lies in the production of greater knowledge and this accentuates bridging of diverse culture and practices.

Again, in this process of production of knowledge what is generally seen and witnessed is the presence of regionalism and area based learning which does not allow scholars to arrive at generalization so easily. Those scholars who have experienced caste and its power tends to focus on the issue and those from the North east tends to define their works on the region as it allows to master their judgments of ideas and field on inquiry.

What ultimately transpires the contemporary sociologists is the orientation of focusing social realities and diversities. Today, the greater task for India or Indian Sociologists, for that matter is the challenge that faces country on 'Nation building'. Is Pluralism in India, a boon or bane? How does one define 'Indianess'? Who is a real Indian?

These questions though appear simple but the answers may be difficult to address as it requires some common theorizations or foundations to hold and that is, the development model that India adopts must include social fabrics from all region, culture, history and identity.

The political inquisition and vision should be based on the foundation of democracy and social equality. The cultural representation of the country should include the most segregated ones. Religion should be allowed to function as 'mere private affairs' and not assert on political grounds. Racism should not be tolerated and so do casteism. This realization will make a difference.


* Dr Kamei Aphun wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is a recipient of Tokyo Foundation Young Leaders Fellowship, Japan; Visiting Fellow of Peking University, China and currently teaches Sociology at the Delhi School of Economics in Delhi University.
This article was posted on October 30, 2014.


* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.


LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Sangai Fest: Maibi Jagoi : Gallery
  • NEROCA FC Vs Indian Arrows : Gallery
  • Nupi Lan : Women Agitation, 1939-40 #1
  • Promoting Human Rights: A Perspective
  • Khongji :: Poem
  • Surveying tigers: A big challenge in Manipur
  • Terrorism & Technology - II
  • Silencing significance of Human Right Day
  • Trun up to Parliamentary polls: Issues
  • Deteriorating Tumukhong Village road
  • Sangai Fest: Chareng Len : Gallery
  • International Mountain Day, 2018
  • Loudness not ok please
  • A wounded Pine Tree :: Poem
  • Natural remedies for hair growth
  • BEHS office inaugurated at Motbung
  • Tattooed With Taboos :: Review
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Stone Forest @Yunnan, China : Gallery
  • Eerie, Eerier, Eeriest :: Review
  • Sangai Fest: Muay Thai : Gallery
  • ..that made me fall in love with Naga
  • Research Support Officer wanted
  • Condemns arrest of Journalist Wangkhem
  • The Killing Fields 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • Programs at Public Health Foundation
  • Fixing the broken window
  • Head count of dogs !!
  • Pari Imom (Film) #2 :: eRang
  • Matheous Thingbaijam Cycling NE: Gallery
  • Chumthang Nganbi, Ulen :: eMing
  • Chengni Khujai: Insurgency Chronicle #1
  • Gwangju Prize for Human Rights 2019
  • Tests for allergies
  • Cycling across NE: Matheous Thingbaijam
  • Site Officer/ Manager @R-Square Design
  • Armed Forces Flag Day celebrated
  • A lasting legacy
  • 'Stray dogs' as predators
  • Sangai Day 3: Pung Chollom #2: Gallery
  • Thai Princess @Imphal Airport: Gallery
  • Fashion Show @Sangai Fest #1: Gallery
  • Mysterious Animal Attack of Manipur
  • Khelen Thokchom Media Fellowships
  • Career option in Purchase Management
  • Terrorism & Technology - I
  • Intimidation to media person
  • Ban on hunting migratory birds
  • Manipuri Diaspora in Myanmar #3
  • Sangai Day 3: Pena: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 1: Inauguration #3 : Gallery
  • I am a beautiful HIV Virus :: Poem
  • Teacher & Student: Stop eroding education
  • Diaspora unites at Thadou Nampi, USA
  • Deciding Mary's title :: WJ
  • A good man perspective
  • Now people need to extend co-operation
  • Day 3: Kabi Burnan : Gallery
  • Art meets Fashion : Gallery
  • Sangai Day 5: @ BOAT #3: Gallery
  • NAF announces Annual Scholarship
  • Preventing methods to save livestock
  • How Do You Do ? :: Poem
  • Competitiveness of Manipur
  • Shattered dream - "The Smart city"
  • Arrest, release & re-arrest of young man
  • Ningol Chakouba @ MBC #3 : Gallery
  • Sangai Day 3: Thang Ta #3: Gallery
  • Stalls at Hapta Kangjeibung #1: Gallery
  • How do you see 'disability' today ?
  • I don't exist without polo: Rafael Secco
  • The Road :: Poem
  • Students needed for cultural revolution?
  • Hard stand, hard decision
  • Cong rolling up sleeves ahead of LS polls
  • Day 8 : Arambai Langba : Gallery
  • Sangai Day 2: Evening Program #3: Gallery
  • The Midnight Hunter : Analysis
  • Art exhibition "Art meets Fashion"
  • The Haipi Lho-lhun Kut
  • Gaudiya Vaishnavism in Meitei Nation #3
  • Sangai Day 9: Thadou Dance: Gallery
  • Sangai Chef: Cooking Final : Gallery
  • Han Kang's The White Book
  • Sangai Day 4: Yubi Lakpi : Gallery
  • Sangai Chef: Season 1 Cooking Final
  • Disaster Management Course at NEHU
  • Training on Online Fact Checking
  • Clarify : Impact of Act East Policy
  • On the series of Killing of Livestock..
  • Today is World AIDS Day
  • From entrails to body now
  • NESO : abolish Citizenship Bill
  • NEC building cultural centre at Delhi
  • 12th Manipur Polo Intl #1 : Gallery
  • Sangai Day 9: Kabui Dance : Gallery
  • Day 5: Stalls @Keibul Lamjao: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 2: Holi Pala #1: Gallery
  • Importance of TESOL in Government School
  • Farewell to Lt Gen LN Singh, VSM**
  • Waphong Inthan - A failed village
  • On the arrest of Kishorchand
  • Blank Editorial
  • Predator or predators on the prowl
  • Thai Princess visit Kangla #1: Gallery
  • December Calendar for Year 2018 :: Tools
  • Sangai Day 8: Mukna Kangjei #1: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 2: Evening Program #2: Gallery
  • Polo grows on you: Col Tarsem
  • Rediscovery of Gangmumei Kamei: Review
  • For whom does she cry ? :: Poem
  • DG Assam Rifles visits Manipur
  • Detention of TV journalist not fair
  • Arrest of 8 mountaineers from Manipur
  • Sangai Day 4: Lai Haraoba #1: Gallery
  • Bangladesh Manipuri Students : Gallery
  • Sangai Day 3: Pung Chollom #1: Gallery
  • We have a balanced team: George Shelton
  • Cry of a Dying River - 56 :: Poem
  • Sangai with Sumo & Samba ?
  • Morphing : An innocent loses her life
  • Bangladesh Manipuri students at Sylhet
  • Thai princess visits Kangla Fort
  • Olympics gold my dream : Mary Kom
  • Exploring the beaten path
  • Opening up Manipur: Visa office assurance
  • Thai Princess Sirindhorn @Sangai : Gallery
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2018 #5: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 6: Pherzawl Dance : Gallery
  • Manipuri Maichou 7 :: Book Review
  • Chandon :: Poem
  • Conservation of biodiversity
  • Defers proposed indefinite highway bandh
  • 19th Hornbill Festival at Kisama
  • Sangai stops dancing
  • Mary Kom: Epitome of sporting excellence
  • Sangai Day 5: Evening Prog #1 : Gallery
  • Sangai Day 5: Thailand Dance : Gallery
  • Sangai Day 2: Imphal Art Camp : Gallery
  • Edward Armstrong - USA Polo Team
  • An abrupt journey to an oasis of blue bull
  • Winter Blues :: Poem
  • Technical Internship Training for Japan
  • NPF on Nagaland Deputy Chief Minister
  • A ditch to Technology
  • Border row: India Myanmar, sacrificial lamb
  • Sangai Day 4: Pena Esei :Gallery
  • Day 5: Sangai Chef: Season 1 : Gallery
  • Sangai Day 2: Evening Program #1: Gallery
  • Sangai Festival 2018: Turning into a Mela?
  • Sumo Wrestling: popular event in Sangai
  • Sangai Chef: Season 1: Cooking : Day 5
  • Truths in rumours & humours
  • PANE Conference organized at AUDC
  • Sangai Day 2: Dance from Kamjong: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 3: Thang Ta #1: Gallery
  • Can we have the Sangai festival daily?
  • Platonic love :: Poem
  • IGAR(s) congratulates Mary Kom
  • WPW Syndrome operated and cured
  • NSUD clarification on Nagas' Meet
  • National Highway bandh from Nov 27
  • Prospective candidates of Cong, BJP
  • Sangai Day 2: Sumo Wrestling #1: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 2: Myanmar : Gallery
  • Sangai Day 2: Geet Govinda: Gallery
  • 2017- a watershed year for Manipur Polo
  • Faculties (PG) at Gauhati University
  • Biodiversity for economic development #2
  • Mera Kongchat Mass Rally #4: Gallery
  • Sangai Chef: Season 1 : Day 1
  • GC Tongbra's 'Chengni Khujai'
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Thy name :: Poem
  • Bartending as a career option #2
  • Legal Awareness Programme
  • Tribute to Bhupen Hazarika at London
  • Blessing for Manipur
  • Cherry Blossom & Sangai: beyond Imphal
  • Sangai Fest: Inauguration #2 : Gallery
  • Sangai Fest: Inauguration #1 : Gallery
  • Natural Resources Management in Manipur
  • Leishemba Takhellambam : Polo Player
  • Robert Naorem at Eco Friendly Australia
  • Cry of a Dying River - 55 :: Poem
  • Jobs at ICERT, MeitY
  • NHPC Raising Day at Loktak Power Station
  • Where have all the city buses gone ?
  • Back to politics: Man from Langthabal AC
  • Mera Wayungba #2 : Gallery
  • Ningol Chakouba @Pune : Gallery
  • State Level Basketball : Gallery
  • Combating drug abuse in Manipur
  • Ningol Chakkouba celebrated at Pune
  • Glamour at 55th Naga's Meet 2018, Delhi
  • Myanmarese greeted at Khudengthabi
  • Rejoinder to PRO IGAR(s) statement
  • Quami Ekta Divas
  • Subsuming a smaller tribe
  • Kwatha Festival #2 : Gallery
  • ChingTam Ningol Chakouba @Goa: Gallery
  • Thoudam Kaoba :: Profile of Polo Player
  • The festival of the Inpui Nagas
  • Hazari/Tombi Polo Tournament : Gallery
  • Ashok Veilou (Purul) award in Kolkata fest
  • Ningol Chakouba @ Mysore #2 : Gallery
  • Scaramouche, Fandango, Galileo, Figaro..
  • Laija (Film Scenes) #1 :: eRang
  • Ningol Chakouba @ Dubai #2 : Gallery
  • Lamklai Kummoi Maring Fest #2: Gallery
  • Ningol Chakouba Nga Mela #2 : Gallery
  • Rajkumar Jhaljit : Sahityaratna 2017
  • Ningol Chakouba :: Poem
  • Kut festival @ Chandel : Gallery
  • Ningol - mapam lamdam : Gallery
  • Mera Houchongba @Konung #3: Gallery
  • Fabrics of Bangladeshi Manipuri: Download
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Mera Houchongba @Konung #1: Gallery
  • Eepan Thaba #1: Gallery
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2018 : Download
  • mtM :: Seireng
  • Front Page Photo 2018 #4: Gallery
  • Manglandasu Nang - OST :: e-pao Radio
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic
  • SPONSORED ADS