4 Different Views of Eminent Scholars Regarding the “Role of Caste System” in Indian Politics

(i) Views of Pranjpe:

Caste has been played a significant role in Indian politics. Pranjpe has observed, “since majorities make a government in democracies, many small groups must join to form a majority in a constituency. Certain caste groups comprise a sizeable proportion of voters in a constituency so that these castes can gain a working majority by compromising with some other caste groups.

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Furthermore, it is observed that in many constituencies, the sub-castes, or endogamous jati groups, are too small to form an effective majority, whereas the Varna groups of caste are large enough to do this. This might explain the apparent paradox that politics is weakening sub-caste while it is strenghening caste (Varna groups).

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(ii) Views of Rajni Kothari:


Rajni Kothari holds the view that by drawing the caste system into its web of organisation, politics finds material for its articulation and moulds it into its own design. In making politics their sphere of activity, caste and kin-groups, on the other hand, get a chance to assert their identity and to strive for positions. Drawing upon both, the interacting structures are the real actors, the new contestants for power.

Politicians mobilise caste groupings and identities in order to organise their power. They find in it an extremely well-articulated and flexible basis for organisation, something that may have been structured in terms of a status hierarchy, but something that is also available for political manipulation, and one that has a basis in consciousness.

Where there are other types of groups and other basis of association, politicians approach them as well, and as they every there change the form of such organisations, they change the form of caste as well.

(iii) Views of Rudolphus:

Prof. Rudolphus says that within the new context of political democracy, caste remains a central element of India’s society even while adapting itself to the values and methods of democratic politics. Indeed, it has become one of the chief means by which the Indian masses have been attached to the process of democratic politics.

(iv) Views of Morris Jones:


Prof. Morris Jones offers the view that, “politics is more important to castes and castes are more important to politics than before”. Emphasising this point, he says that the top leaders may proclaim the goal of a casteless society but “the newly enfranchised rural masses know only the language of traditional politics which so largely turns about caste. Behind the formal life of party candidates nominated for the contests, there is probably an inside story of careful calculation in terms of caste appeal.”

Caste has also exercised some liberating influence. “Apart from the divisive and factional aspects of the system, there is a cohesive element of caste that should be looked into. When a nation is changing so fast and when tensions are generated at a very high pitch, when we face problems that cannot be solved, when the lag between performance and expectation is increasing, when all this is happening, there is a great need for social structures which would absorb a lot of these tensions for the individual.

The caste system does precisely this. This should not be taken as a plea for the justification or revival of the caste system. The objective is only to emphasise that it is a unique feature of India, that the prevailing social structure allows us to proceed with mass programmes without creating the usual feature of an amorphous mass upon which some adventurist or demagogue can work.”


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