The intricate fabric of the caste system has long been a central focus of sociological inquiry, embodying the complexities of social stratification, identity, and power dynamics within the Indian societal framework. Within the ambit of the UPSC Mains examination, the optional subject of sociology has emphasized the critical understanding of the nuances that define the caste system. By delving into the UPSC Mains question papers spanning the years 2013 to 2023, this blog aims to unravel the multifaceted layers of the caste system in India. Analyzing the thematic patterns, historical context, and critical issues emphasized by the UPSC, this blog endeavors to provide a comprehensive guide for aspirants navigating the intricate terrain of the sociological implications of the caste system, enabling them to grasp the intricate relationship between caste-based hierarchies and the socio-cultural fabric of contemporary India.
Exploring the profound impact of the caste system on social identities, cultural practices, and power structures, this blog aims to offer valuable insights into the historical evolution and contemporary manifestations of caste in Indian society. By dissecting the thought-provoking questions posed in the UPSC Mains examinations, it seeks to shed light on the systemic inequalities, social injustices, and challenges posed by the caste system. Through this exploration, readers can gain a deeper understanding of the complexities inherent in the caste-based social stratification, fostering a comprehensive perspective on the historical significance and contemporary implications of the caste system in shaping the social dynamics and power relations within the Indian societal context.
Caste System – Previous Year Questions (UPSC CSE Mains Sociology Optional)
1. In the context of the changing Indian society, how do you view Andre Beteille’s conceptions of harmonic and disharmonic social structures? (2022)
2. Explain different forms of untouchability in India. (2022)
3. Caste System studies in India have been dominated by the “book -view” initially. How did the entry of “field- view” bring about a balance in the study of Indian caste system? Discuss. (2021)
4. What does Dr. B.R Ambedkar mean by the concept of “Annihilation of Caste”? (2021)
5. Caste-like formations are present in Non-Hindu religious communities as well. Discuss with examples. (2021)
6. Is Indian society moving from “hierarchy” towards “differentiation”? Illustrate your answer with suitable examples. (2021)
7. What are the various forms of untouchability in India? Critically examine. (2021)
8. How do you justify Dumont’s deliberate stress on ideology that produced intellectualized account of Indian society? (2020)
9. How do you justify Dumont’s deliberate stress on ideology that produced intellectualized account of Indian society? (2020)
10. Discuss Whitehead’s contention that caste has potential to displace clash and colonial contradiction. (2020)
11. Write a note on Ghurye’s conception of caste in India. (2019)
12. Write a note on Ghurye’s conception of caste in India. (2019)
13. What do you understand by discrete castes and muddled hierarchies? (2018)
14. Has caste system hindered democracy and adult franchise in India? Discuss. (2018)
15. Which is more significant, the principle of ‘hierarchy’ or the principle of ‘difference’, in intercaste relations in the present day? (2017)
16. How have the struggles against untouchability changed their forms and perspectives from Gandhian to Ambedkarite positions? (2017)
17. What are the changes in the cultural and structural aspects of the caste system since independence? (2017)
18. How has B.R. Ambedkar identified the features of caste system? How is it different from the mainstream treatment of caste features? (2016)
19. Discuss Andre Beteille’s account of the relationship between caste, class and power as a change from symmetrical to asymmetrical One. (2016)
20. Write short note with a sociological perspective: Louis Dumont’s perspective on Indian caste system. (2015)
21. Write short note with a sociological perspective: How far Gandhi was trusted by the untouchables. (2015)
22. Is caste system changing, weakening or disintegrating in India? (2015)
23. Write short note with a sociological Perspective: How far Srinivas’s Sanskritization is modernizing force or traditionalizing force in understanding the changes in caste system? (2015)
24. Discuss B.R. Ambedkar as a wise democrat. (2015)
25. Write short notes with a sociological perspective on the following in about 150 words : Features of caste system. (2014)
26. Write some of the important social reforms in India for the removal of untouchability. (2014)
27. How do caste and class come together in creating the category of extreme poor? (2014)
28. What are the main features of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s views on annihilation of caste? (2013)
29. Critically evaluate Louis Dumont’s Homo Hierarchicus. (2013)
30. What are the features of M.N. Srinivas’ concept of dominant caste ? How effective is it in understanding today’s reality (2013)
31. Write short note with a sociological perspective on the following in not more than 150 words : Perspectives on the study of caste by M.N. Srinivas and Andre Beteille. (2011)
32. Analyze the term ‘dalit’ and the evolution of the related concept as a reflection of the changing consciousness and self assertion of the dalit community. (2011)
33. ‘Casteism is the modern edition of the caste system.’ Do you agree with this statement ? Discuss with arguments. (2011)
34. Analyze the changing nexus between caste and tribe. (2011)
35. Comment critically on Dumont’s concept of Homohierarchicus. (2010)
36. Critically assess the forms in which untouchability continues to be practised. (2010)
37. Discuss the inter – relationships between caste, class and power. (2010)
38. In the context of the caste system, critically examine Louis Dumont’s concept of purity and pollution. (2009)
39. Write short note : Concept of Hierarchy in Louis Dumont’s writings (2008)
40. Discuss the social factors responsible for the emergence of Dalit consciousness in India. What have been the social consequences of this phenomenon? (2006)
41. Write short note : Racial Theories of origin of caste. (2005)
42. Write short note : Caste mobilisation in North india. (2004)
43. Write short note : Impact of Muslims on Indian Society. (2004)
44. Write short note : Caste among Muslims. (2003)
45. Describe the characteristics of dominant caste. Discuss its role in village politics in India. (2003)
46. Discuss the Louis Dumont’s concept of purity and pollution. How far these concepts are relevant in explaining the Hindu Caste system. (2002)
47. Write short note : Emergence of Dalit Consciousness. (2002)
48. Write short note : Caste and Indian Polity. (2001)
49. Which means of social mobility were available in the traditional caste system ? Describe the form of social mobility in contemporary Indian society. (2000)
50. Write short note : Caste among Indian Christians. (2000)
51. Write short note : Social Justice. (1999)
52. Write short note : Modes of contents of expression of Dalit consciousness. (1998)
53. Write short note : Role of caste associations. (1998)
54. ‘Caste is becoming weaker and stronger at the same time in present day India.’ Discuss the factors responsible for continuity and change. (1997)
55. Do you think that caste and democracy are compatible with each other? Discuss with reference to some studies conducted on this issue in India. (1996)
56. Write short note : Varna-asrama dharma. (1996)
57. Write short note : Avenues of caste mobility in traditional Indian society. (1996)
58. Write short note : Equality and social justice. (1995)
59. Write short note : Cultural and structural aspect of caste. (1995)
60. Write short note : Caste among Muslims in India. (1994)
61. Write short note : Caste and occupational mobility. (1994)
62. Write short note : Ritual purity and pollution in Hindu Society. (1991)
63. Discuss the changes in the structure of power relationships of various castes at the regional levels. (1991 )
64. ‘Institutionalized inequality in India has its cultural and economic coordinates’. Discuss. (1991)
65. Discuss the process of mobility that has taken place in the caste structure in India. In this context, explain the convergence of caste and class. (1990)
66. Write short note : Sociological perspectives of “Right to work” in India. (1990)
67. Write short note : Purushartha. (1989)
68. “The soil grows castes: the machines make classes’. Comment. (1989)
69. The organic solidarity of caste has given way to competitive solidarity. Discuss this statement in the context of the processes of fission and fusion in the Caste System. (1988)
70. Write short note : Industrialisation and Caste. (1988)
71. Is the caste system immobile ? Bring out the factors promoting intra-caste and intercaste mobility. (1987)
72. Write short note : Convergence of class and caste. (1987)
73. Write short note : The case for a uniform civil code. (1986)
74. ‘Despite all the fusion and fission that the caste system has undergone through the ages, it has binded to maintain the permanency of it form’. Comment. (1986)
75. Write short note : Kula, Vansa and Gotra. (1985)
76. Comment on the distinction between ‘hierarchy’ and ‘social stratification.’ Which of the two will be a more appropriate term to describe the caste system and why? (1985)
77. Discuss the process of social mobility in the caste system commonly describe as sanskritisation and westernisation. Have they effected any structural change in the system? (1985)
78. Write short note: Caste among the non-Hindu. (1984)
79. Write short note: Scheduled caste elites. (1984)
80. What is the structural perspective on the caste system? Is it not an oversimplification to describe the system as a hierarchy of statuses based on the opposition of the pure and impure? (1984)
81. Describe the main characteristics of the Jajmani system. Do you agree with the view that it is basically an institution of politicoeconomic dominance and dependence? (1984)
82. Discuss the social consequences of economic development in India. Do you share the view that it has increased economic inequality and failed to promote social justice? (1984)
83. Examine the role of caste as a pressure-group in contemporary Indian politics. (1984)
FAQs on Caste System
Q. What is the caste system, and how does it function in Indian society?
Ans. The caste system is a social hierarchy prevalent in Indian society, organizing individuals into distinct social groups based on inherited social and occupational roles. It operates through a set of rules and norms governing social interactions, marriage practices, and access to resources, thereby shaping the social, economic, and political dynamics within the community.
Q. What are the historical origins of the caste system in India?
Ans. The origins of the caste system can be traced back to ancient Indian society, where it evolved from the Varna system, a classification based on occupational roles. Over time, the caste system became more rigid, encompassing various social and religious practices that reinforced hierarchical divisions and discriminatory practices based on birth and social status.
Q. How does the caste system impact social mobility and opportunities in contemporary Indian society?
Ans. The caste system has a significant impact on social mobility and opportunities, often limiting access to education, employment, and political representation for individuals belonging to lower castes. It perpetuates social inequalities, hinders upward mobility, and fosters discrimination and marginalization within the Indian societal framework.
Q. What are the contemporary debates and challenges surrounding the caste system in India?
Ans. Contemporary debates surrounding the caste system revolve around issues such as affirmative action, reservations, social justice, and the persistence of caste-based discrimination. Addressing these challenges requires comprehensive social reforms, equitable opportunities, and the promotion of inclusive policies that safeguard the rights and dignity of all individuals, regardless of their caste or social background.
Q. How does the study of the caste system contribute to our understanding of social stratification and power dynamics within societies?
Ans. The study of the caste system contributes to our understanding of social stratification by examining the complexities of power dynamics, social hierarchies, and the interplay between identity and social structures within a society. It helps in analyzing the mechanisms that perpetuate inequality, the challenges of social justice, and the implications of caste-based divisions on individual well-being and societal development.
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