Chapter – I
When human evolved on this earth, he traveled a long path of evolution until he acquired his form of Homo-Sapiens. It was the time of Neolithic when he started agriculture, grinding and polishing, construction of wheel and pot, animal husbandry in order to live a settled life. This phase gave him a complex and static life. The man not only understood the philosophy of nature and work culture of animals but also the whole function of his group which was transferred from generation to generation being beneficial for smooth living.
Advent of Neolithic period and an effort of discovery on this earth for better living made an atmosphere of understanding with different environment for human beings. This event developed an atmosphere for human beings to think about development of adoption in a different environment. Adoption with environment is not an instant event at physical level. It is a long process which results in the form of race after the spreading of homo-sapiens all over the word. Today after having a single family and species homo-sapiens is divided in many racial groups but it is clear that formation of a race is not the matter of one day. After spreading over in different parts of the world, the group of homo-sapiens used many artifacts according to concerned environment. These efforts were the first step towards the formation of culture. In such type of formation of culture, the whole world was wrapped with different cultures which in course of time made a base for Anthropology.
"Culture... is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by a man as a member of society" (Tylor, 1871:1). This "laundry list" of behaviours and the fact that we are characterized by them by virtue of being born as human being again suggests the universal nature of the concept. These are behaviours that we possess and that other primates do not. Culture is equated with all those human behaviors that are transmitted from generation to generation by learning.
Culture is a queer characteristic and special feature of human society. Kingsley Devis has defined Human society as a socio-cultural system while animal society as bio-social system. Sorokin has defined the integration of social system and cultural system. According to him, social system and cultural system can not be separated practically. Human society is an integrated socio-cultural system. He points out that cultural system is constituted by values and norms, meaning and all these regulate relation and inter personal action of social system of humans. So nobody can imagine without culture, and action and inter personal action can not be analyzed. Sorokin explains that human being (Human agents) learns culture and regulates his personal and social action by given pattern of culture and with the help of socialization and formal and non-formal education. Education, printing and communication are main carriers of culture which communicate culture, values and tradition of a specific time to new generation. Parsons has explained the role of cultural system around values, social system around role and status and personality system around "Need dispositions". All these three, act simultaneously and affect each other.
By culture as such we mean all the ways of life that have been evolved by in the society. By a particular culture we mean the total shared way of life of a given people. Comprising their modes of thinking, acting and feeling, which are expressed, for instance, in religion, law, language, art and custom, as well as in material products, such as houses, clothes, and tools. From another perspective we may regard a culture as the learned and shared behaviour (thoughts, acts and feeling) of a certain people together with their artifacts-learned in the sense that this behaviour is transmitted socially rather than genetically, shared in that it is practiced either by the whole population or by some part of it (Kneller, 1966:3).
Our culture is the way we eat and sleep, the way we wash and dress and go to work. It is the actions we perform at home and on the job. It is the language we speak and the values and beliefs we hold. It is the goods and services we buy and the way we buy them. It is the way we meet friends and strangers, the way we control our children and the way they respond. It is the transportation we use and the entertainment we enjoy.
How, then, is culture to be distinguished from society? A society is a localized population that cooperates over a period of time for certain ends; a culture is the society's way of life, or the things that its members think and feel and do. As felix Keesing says, "Put most simply, 'culture puts the focus on the customs of a people, 'society puts it on the people who are practicing the customs. Animals and insects, it is true, also live in societies; indeed, same, such as deer herds, have families and leaders. But such social behavior is instinctual rather then learned and, hence, it has not given rise to culture (Keesing, 1958:30).
The phenomena of culture can be ordered in a number of ways. They may, for instance, be classified as learned and shared activities such as belief in God and hostility to communism; and shared and socially acquired artifacts such as auto mobiles. Phenomena may also be classified as technology (the means by which a culture manipulates the material world), social organization (the activities and institution involved in the behaviour of its member with one another), and ideology (the cultre's knowledge, values and beliefs). One of the best known classifications is Ralph Linton's triad of universals, specialties and alternatives. Universals are whatever thoughts, acts, feeling and artifacts are common to all adults in a society. They include among other things language, housing, kinship relations, clothing and various beliefs and values.
To understand a culture we must grasp not only its parts but also the structure that hold them (Honigmann, 1959:288). According to anthropologists, this structure consists of certain basic configurations, generally corresponding to the culture's fundamental attitude and belief (Linton, 1936:272).
In every culture some subsystems are more important then others. The most important subsystems are known to anthropologists as foci. A focus is an area of great interest and concern to the culture's members. It is an assemblage of behaviour patterns that absorbs much of their time and energy. The more integrated the culture, the more its foci dominate its patterns of behaviour and the more these foci are related to one another. The converse is true of less integrated cultures.
No culture, however, is ever wholly integrated. Integration, as A.L. Kroebr says; "is an ideal condition invented by a few anthropologists not versed in history". Most areas of a culture possess a measure of autonomy, but precisely how much varies considerably from one culture to another and within the same culture from one area to another. For example even in the most flexible cultures grammar remains fairly constant whereas vocabulary is constantly changing (1952:130).
Culture is overt and covert. It is overt in those actions and artifacts such as houses, clothes and speech forms, that can be observed directly; and covert in those aspects such as its underlying attitude toward nature and the world of the spirit, that must be inferred from what its members say and do.
Culture is explicit and implicit. Explicit culture consists of all those mode of behaviour. Implicit culture comprises those things that people more or less take for granted and that they can't easily explain. For instance all sane adults can speak their culture's language but few can explain its grammer and syntax in any detail.
Culture is ideal and manifest. Ideal culture comprises the ways in which a people believe they ought to behave or in which they would like to behave, or in which they believe they do behave. Manifest culture consists of their actual behaviour (Herskovits, 1945:143-170).
The term socio-cultural, in contemporary British Social Anthropology and American Cultural Anthropology and Sociology are conflicting in nature. Without entering into any controversy it may be said that these terms in the present study have been used on the following basis: when the frame of reference is a group, the word used is social; when the frame of reference is ideas, values or customs shared by a group, the word cultural is used. However, there are situations where a clear cut use of either of these two terms is not possible and in such context the compound term socio-cultural has been used.
"All Socio-cultural anthropology is fundamentally based upon ethnographic data. It provides the raw material for theory building and testing of that which makes anthropology a science. It thus provides the facts with which both ethnology and social anthropology have to deal. Ethnography is defined as a descriptive account of the way of life of people, living at a time in a particular society. Ethnography is mainly concerned with description whereas socio-cultural profile or study is concerned with analysis which has a universal principle or conclusion.
Since education has been taken as a variable for the study of the subject under research, description regarding role of education in development and social-change also becomes important.
Education is concerned with learning. Learning is a process of acquiring knowledge or skills by instruction, study or experience, in this broad sense learning is a life long process. Education refers to the methods by which a society attempts to direct and accelerate the learning process of its members (Pater, 1984).
Education has been increasingly regarded as a major instrument of social change. The deep foundations of the inequality of the sexes are built in the minds of men and women through a socialization process which continues to be extremely powerful. The only institution which can counteract the effect of this process is the educational system. If education is to promote equality for women, it must make a deliberate, planned and sustained effort so that the new values of equality of the sexes can replace the traditional value system of inequality.
The role of education as means for development or social change in the desired directions has been expressed (Banks, 1968:201).
Functionalist have often viewed the educational system as offering opportunities for mobility for individuals; conflict theorists have generally stressed the role of structural inequality. Social class background of individuals is positively and strongly related to their educational and occupational aspirations/achievement. "It is the responsibility of the educational system to bring the different social classes and groups together and thus promote the emergence of an egalitarian and integrated society. But at present, instead of doing so, education itself is tending to increase social segregation and to perpetuate and widen class destructions. Scholars else where (for example Illich, 1973, Freire, 1972) have also expressed serious doubts about the effectiveness of education as a mechanism for equitable development.
Political, economic and social transformations come by education (Chitnis, 1978:242). Educational opportunities, as is now widely recognized, can't be equalized, nor can education equalize opportunity unless society is reasonably equal (Ahmad, 1978:72).
Education is facing the constraint of resources. State shall make effective provision for securing right to education within the limits of its economic capacity and development (Article, 41 of Indian constitution). It shows that economy plays a vital role in accessing education. Right to education flows directly from the right to life (Article, 21 of the Indian constitution) (Swami nadhan, 1992:102).
Education in India is the new caste and is even more effective then the old ones.
Education seems to provide the solution for all problems that arise on the social and individual level of a society.
It is particularly doubtful that it helps to improve the position of the poor and powerless, to increase equality and justice (Clemens, 1984:247).
It seems to be rather clear in India, that education is (together with caste and religion) of an utmost importance in partner selection within the arrangements of marriages by the families (Eckensberger et al. 2001).
Marriage pattern are only one example for the interwoven relations of education and social structure (Clemens, 1984:256 ).
Education is not listed in Anthropology today (Kroeber, 1953) as a field of application for anthropology. But most surprising is the fact that the relations between these two fields have a history extending back to at least 1904 when Hewtt wrote his first pieces on education for the American Anthropologist (1904-05).
Anthropological research offers, therefore a means of determining what may be expected of children of different ages and this knowledge is of considerable value for regulating educational method (Boas, 1928).
Mead's suggestive article on education in the perspective of primitive culture (1943) explains that education is not needed if an individual fulfils his/her desire by his own culture. Out of culture he/she needs education.
In the widest sense, education includes every process, except the solely genetic that helps to form a person's mind, character or physical capacity. It is life-long, for we must learn new ways of thought and action with every major change in our lives (Melinowski, 1947:141).
Every society, therefore, supervise the education of its members. At some point in his childhood, everyone is formally educated, though not necessarily in a school.
Education, then, belongs to the general process known as enculturation, by which the growing person is initiated into the way of life of his society. To understand the dynamics of enculturation as they affect education, we must turn to anthropology.
As one sector in the great network of culture, education reacts to events in other parts of the culture and may on occasion affect these events itself.
Education is a necessary condition of cultural continuity. It is also an important means of cooperating intelligently with cultural change. Education may in addition be an inadvertent source of cultural change. Each culture conditions its members to act, think, and perceive in what the anthropologist calls a "culturally delimited universe". Consisting of the world that the culture itself has created and those aspects of the physical universe that it has chosen to find significant (Henry, 1960:275).
Subject of study:-
This research attempts to delineate the problems faced by a small group of people, who find themselves in the midst of a dominant and alien culture and their reactions to this environment.
The subject of this study is a group of people called Dhankut residing in Dhankutty Pura of district Bahraich of U.P. it is a small, neglected, unobserved group by the academicians and researchers.
The proposed research work is concerned with socio-cultural profile of Dhankut-an endogamous group. Though Dhankut are living in Bahraich for a long time but no study has been done so far on them. The present study tries to put their socio-cultural life in an ethnographic manner.
The study of socio-cultural life of a group is important because through this we can know the basis of requirement of substance of human life in any group. We can inquire about their necessities of life and means of survival.
In this connection the present study of socio-cultural profile of Dhankut acquires a specific place. Almost whole population of the Dhankut is concentrated in a single place. This fact generates curiosity in an individual's mind. How do they perform their marriage while they are living in small place? Do they practice inbreeding? In every caste group, there is a long sphere of villages and lineages for marriage but in case of Dhankut it is not so. Dhankut is not well known for any big occupation. Before 1970 cereal selling was their main occupation but due to formation of market system, their traditional occupation got ruined. This fact again raises a question what is their present occupation status? Whether they have changed their occupation or they have adopted any other means for their survival?
Generally Dhankut are not in govt. jobs. Before starting the present research work researcher collected some information about them which shows that only three are fourth class govt. employee. They are not agriculturist. How do they survive in an urban setup without appropriate means? Whether they are becoming poorer day by day in the absence of appropriate path for survival or whether they have changed their lives depending on circumstances? If one asks about the marriage among them they reply flatly that as Hindus do but how is it possible within a small group which is concentrated only at one place?
Dhankut of district Bahraich is a good example of memory culture, because no literature is available about them any where, so it is very difficult to know anything about their cultural life.
In general practice, they are like urban people in light of their living and culture. So nothing looks specific from the outside, it is very difficult to decipher their reality from outside at first glance.
We distinguish a group from another group on the basis of their culture and this culture gives them original place in the society. For every group at least some literature is available and in the light of their literature, we can compare them with other culture. But in case of Dhankut the picture is totally skewed.
Dhankut, the group under study comes under the category of poor people. They suffer from many problems and their life is surrounded with difficult circumstances. They have no agricultural land and no government or non-government employment, there is a serious lack of education and scarcity of capital. Though they are living at one place surrounded by many other communities but largely unaffected by them, all this makes their living environment a different one. The population of the Bahraich district can be classified into many types. They are immigrants from other states of Bihar, Punjab, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The name of Dhankut is not given either in government records or in district gazetteer. Even this name is not given among the displaced persons, such as Bengalis, Burmese or Nepalese. The population of Dhankut as per census (1991) was 2687. They are listed in voter list with the name of Dhankut without any caste or sub caste description. Nothing is known about their history, origin or fore fathers.
The problem, that the Dhankut face today arises from the cultural and social situation in which they are placed. Briefly, it is one of seeking and getting acceptance in the surrounding caste system, in spite of the achieved cultural approximation with other castes, Dhankut have failed to find a place in the caste hierachy. Even after having every characteristics of caste Dhankut don't know their exact association with four folded castes. In order to achieve a status higher than that of the lowest or even lower castes, Dhankut claim to be Vaish and point to the fact of their sharing common traits with the Vaish community such as buying and selling of goods and grains but some factors are deemed essential as pre requisites before such a caste mobility can be achieved, like ownership of land, possession of wealth and status resources, but these in themselves are not enough to achieve a caste status unless their claim to higher caste status is accepted by the dominant group in question. So far as Dhankut are concerned they are very poor, they don't have any landed property nor any social status hence they are not accepted as vaish by other adjacent communities of the district.
Every society wants to make an advanced society by their efforts and their efforts are mainly depended on their children, but any one can see Dhankut children in the street of Bahraich where they sell boiled grams and peas. It is a natural question for an outsider to ask about their engagement in such work instead of going to school. Are Dhankut poor? Are they unable to provide education to their children? These natural questions become more important when one sees a Dhankut woman in the street of the city collecting cow dung. Why do they collect cow dung? What is the importance of this work in their socio-cultural life?
Physical traits and their dialect also attract an outsider because their body colour and dialect differentiate them from other adjacent communities of the city. Their dialect makes them culture specific? Their dialect is in Hindi but is spoken in a rhythmic way.
The role of "Gullabeer" (traditional God) and local Panchaat makes them special. A researcher finds it important to know why and in what matters Panchayat plays a vital role while civil court is so near to them. Is it poverty behind the continuance of panchayat system or the desire not to leave their culture?
A brief observation of Dhankut makes it clear that their houses are small, these are made of mud, they are deprived of basic facilities such as water supply, electricity and lavatory even though they are living in middle of the city. Do they want to avail these facilities or there exists any barrier, or any socio-cultural taboo acts in this regard?
Any individual or any group wants mobility for new changes. Dialect, physical traits, their name and living at one place form the identity of Dhankut. The basic aim of the present research work is to know how does a small population regulates its socio-cultural life by living in a pocket. How do they perform marriage? It is an attempt to see how does a group acquire a special status by living at one place? Does any taboo exist within a small population group? Why do they not move for any change? Is mobility necessary for a healthy society? Whether Dhankut have found any change in their political, religious and academic scenario?
Plan of the study:-
The present research is a participant observation work and interview technique has also been used to project the socio-cultural life of Dhankut. The respondents have been taken on the basis of their educational level. Education is a gate way of knowledge. It accelerates the probability of good living in urban and rural areas as well. In urban area, agriculture is absent and an individual has to survive according to his capability and efficiency which comes by education. Here education is not concerned with learning of way of life within a culture. It is beyond the cultural aspect where a man searches his/her livelihood or smooth survival by acquiring new knowledge and specialties. Such knowledge is given in school, college or university. In case of Dhankut, an attempt has been made to see the impact of education on their socio-cultural life. The work analyses the effect of education on their opinion and thinking as the level of education increases.
Proposed research work is classified into following chapters-
(1) Chapter one contains introduction which also explains the objectives of the research work.
(2) Chapter two encompasses research design and methodology and its relevance in the present study.
(3) Chapter three includes the area, people and history of the city. It also includes a brief of socio-cultural life of the district and Dhankut as well.
(4) Chapter four deals with socio-cultural structure of Dhankut under following heads-
(a) Marriage among Dhankut and what do they think about marriage.
(b) Family, its role among Dhankut.
(c) Kinship among Dhankut and their views towards kinship.
(d) Economy of Dhankut and their views regarding occupation.
(e) Political organization among Dhankut and their inclination towards this institution.
(f) Condition of health among Dhankut and their views.
(g) Religion, festival and ceremonies among Dhankut and their views.
In these chapters the real picture of socio-cultural life of Dhankut has been explained with the help of tables and collected information by participant observation.
(5) Chapter five explains change in the context of Dhankut's socio-cultural life.
(6) Last chapter consists of conclusion and suggestions.
The present study reveals the importance of studies on small groups in transition in order to understand the dynamics of change in small communities and utilize the knowledge so gained in a wider context of socio-cultural studies.