Modernization and Social Change:
The process of modernization has brought forth some significant changes in the structural and cultural spheres of the Indian society. These changes can be discussed under the following heads:
A. Structural Change:
Modernization has introduced typical forms of social change in the structure of Indian society. By structural change we mean the growth of new roles and group structures. It analyzed at two levels: the macro-structures and micro-structures. Micro-structures are autonomous in nature. They provide a social space for primary relationships. Their organization is less formal; the relationships are more affective and particularistic. The network relationship is limited. Family, community, clan, tribe, caste or sub-castes are examples of the micro-structures of the Indian society.
Macro-structures refer to those organized roles and relationships which are more extensive, more formal and which are organized on universalistic principles and which have to do with the integration or regulation of the larger system of society and involve secondary and higher orders of relationships. Some examples of macro-structures are:
political and other types of elite, administration and bureaucracy, industrial workers and other urban and industrial groups and social classes.
Modernization has also brought forth eye-catching changes in the micro structural phenomena such as caste, family, and village communities. Under the impact of modernization, caste has given up its traditional occupation and dissociated itself from traditional obligation, for example, jajmani relation. Caste endogamy has crumbled down and the incidences of inter-caste marriages are on the increase. Caste activities are gradually expanding. The power structure of caste is also changing.
As the modernization proceeds, the transition from the extended or joint families to conjugal forms or nuclear families has become much more accelerated. Consequently, the
socialization of children in the family takes on a new direction. The child grows an independent, imaginative and innovative personality. In the Indian society joint families break up into nuclear families. There is not only a structural change in the family system but also a change in its functions.
Village communities are another important micro-structure of the Indian society. Villages are changing in respect of economic institutions and power structures and inter-caste
relationships. The jajmani system is disintegrating. The introduction of statutory panchayats has transformed the structure of village leadership. The emerging leadership consists of young people. It has to face the factions and opposite interest groups. There has been a break in the world-view of the castes and classes. There is a rising motivation for education, status mobility and share in local, regional and national power structures.
B. Cultural Change:
Modernization has initiated a profound change in the Indian cultural tradition. Broadly, we can categorize the Indian cultural tradition into two: the Great Tradition and the Little Tradition. The Great Traditions refer to those traditions which grow because of outside contact and are found at national level whereas the little traditions are local in origin and are found at the folk or peasant level. Some examples of the Great traditions are industrialization, urbanization, expansion of modern education, growth of universalistic legal system, transportation and mass communication, mass politicization and science and technology.
Industrialization in India has been the cause and consequence of modernization. Though the process of modern machine based industrial model of production started during the British rule, its volume was hopelessly less. It could not have any significant effect on India’s age-old socio-cultural institutions. After independence the real process of industrialization has started. The process of industrialization has changed the whole social system based on the principle of ascription and a subsistence agricultural economy.
As a result, the economy, the polities, the social institutions, the system of stratification of the country and the way of life of people and their standard of living have changed appreciably. Industrialism has fostered rational and secular attitudes. Traditional thoughts
and actions gradually lose their hold.
Modernization leads to urbanization and urbanization also leads to modernization of culture. The higher is the degree of modernization in a society, the higher is its degree of
urbanization. Urban centres are the centres for the diffusion of modern values to the villages. Urban returnees carry the ways of life and habits from the cities to the villages.
Urbanization brings about transformation in various social institutions such as the family,
social stratification, patterns of social interactions, value preference of the people etc. the interrelationship among urban people is directed towards meeting some specific needs.
Secondary group relationships always predominate in the urbanized societies. In the context of Indian society urbanization not only fosters modern values but also reinforces traditional values and institutions.
3. Expansion of Modern Education:
Modernization in Indian society brings about a radical change in the orientation and organization of education. Contrary to the traditional education, its content becomes liberal and it propagates modern scientific world-views. It imbibes modern themes like humanism, liberalism and secularism. It incorporates the courses in sciences, medicines and engineering. The organizational structure of education also has undergone a significant change. Teachers are being recruited on the basis of educational achievement irrespective of their caste creed and religion. Education is also imparted to all without caste bar. By educating the people, a sense of unity, the feeling of nationalism, liberalism and freedom and an urge for effective political participation have been created in the mind of people.
4. Change in Legal Structure:
Modernization also brings changes in the customs and laws of the Indian society. It leads to the emergence of a universalistic legal system based on the principle of universalism, rationalism and individualism. Through law many forms of cultural changes, such as the abolition of Sati, the introduction of widow remarriage etc. were brought out. New legal system challenged the traditional system of hierarchy and holism. It contributes to the growth of multiple legal professions and establishment of rule of law.
5. Spread of Transportation and Communication:
Modernization has led to the growth and expansion of nationwide net-work of transport and communication. As a result of transportation and communication, the barriers between regions have broken down. People become both physically and mentally mobile. The large-scale circulation of newspapers and periodicals and other easy means of communication have a double edged impact on the Indian society. On one side, it has modernizing effects on the other, traditionalizing effect. Mass communication has accelerated the process of industrialization and urbanization and the same time it has strengthened primordial ties like caste, religion, race etc. Cheap printing presses and easy means of communication have contributed to the intensification of caste solidarity.
6. Mass Politicization:
Only due to the process of modernization in India, the enlightened Indian elites could
think of introducing political institutions based on values of democracy, equality, liberty,
freedom and justice. As a result, the government of India could set up a constitution based on the democratic system. In a democratic system, the Government is responsible to people and people normally express their preference for a party through elections. The decision making, no more, remains an elite affair, but masses also become politicized.
They are politically very much conscious; they participate in political gatherings, hold political discussion and evaluate the decisions of authority.
7. Change in Little Tradition:
Besides, change in the little tradition i.e. daily life, customs, and habits of people at the grass-root level also takes place. Especially changes in Dress, food habits, rituals, vocabulary, material culture, mode of travel and types of conveyance and customs become manifested. Home-made clothes have been replaced by factory-made clothes.
Observation of rules relating to eating of food and drink has been abandoned. Meat eating and use of eggs have been popular among the high castes. The coat-suit, dining table, spoon eating is rapidly coming into the Indian way of life. English language, western food and dress habits are considered to be status symbols. All these changes resulted from the introduction of a fluid political structure, adult franchise and a decentralized process of decision making.
8. Technological Changes:
With the process of modernization, the Indian society has experienced tremendous changes in the technological sphere which involve development of new techniques, new
inventions, new modes of production and new standards of living. These changes have resulted in the decay of old traditional craftsmanship, and diversification of occupations
and it has brought men and women to factory and office. New industrialism also brought in modern value patterns. Similarly, mechanization of agriculture in India has resulted in increased agricultural production and has affected farm economy and farmer’s household life. Technological advancement resulted in greater functional inter-dependence and
differentiation between parts and greater mobility of the members with respect to location and occupation.