Over the years we have seen Indian society grow, fall and prosper again. Our history books taught us well about the impacts of westernization, and how India opened its arms to absorb the western culture. Although nobody taught us about the concept of Sanskritization.
It is a theory of social change. A process by which the lower caste groups of Indian society attempt to inculcate norms of the upper caste groups. In simple words, it is a process where a lower caste is ready to replace its traditions, beliefs, and way of life with that of the upper class.
This process is inculcated to claim a higher hierarchy in the caste system. These changes do not happen in a day or two, it takes generations. The lower castes aim for mobility not just in the areas of social and religious beliefs but in all sectors of society. When the higher classes of our Indian society come under the influence of western culture, it is ready to give up some of their vernacular belief, way of living, and thought process. Which in turn are adopted by the lower classes of our society. This is how we slowly move towards development. It happens every day but we don’t notice it.
Movie time- Lagaan
Let’s roll back a little, have you seen the movie, “Lagaan”, starring Aamir Khan? The movie showed how the lower class of a village has to fight not just against the British but also against their ruler to get their “Lagaan” relief. The scenes of this movie and our history books portrayed one picture, where we see how the nobles of British India brought in new technologies and ideologies and gave up parts of culture associated with their class, which were then adopted by the lower classes.
You might think, situations have changed now, since the government continuously supports the lower class and try to give them the same exposure as the higher class. Think again.
Sanskritization and Division
The majority of students from rural backgrounds go to metropolitan cities of India to get higher education and the majority of students from these metropolitan cities go to the West to get their higher education. For the lower-class sleeper class trains are a reality and airplanes are a dream. For the higher class, trains are a nightmare, and airplanes are a necessity for travel. We all remember how happy Neeraj Chopra and his parents were when he took them on their first airplane ride.
When Apple launches a product who do you think gets the first access to it? Whereas when Jio launches free sims, who do you think stands in the line?
This divide between exposure and flow of technology is not just between urban and rural. But also between the various classes which exist in rural areas. The division of villages based on class is not the past but the horrible present. Take a very simple cloth donation, a good practice, which also depicts one thing, the people who donate get access to newer sections of fashion, and the people who get these donations access the older trend as their new style.
Somehow society is quick in accessing western technologies and high-level standards of living and changing their whole cultural outlook, but when it comes to changing their thought process, they lack most of the time.
Even when the higher class changes its outlook the previous rigidity first runs down to the lower class and after a few more years comes down to the liberal point of view. These things happen every day around us. And we are also a part of it, which is why it goes unnoticed so easily.
Take the example of Covid 19. We all heard the news that the rural area of the country is still safe from Covid 19. Why? Lack of exposure. Ride a metro in Delhi one day, and observe how people from Rural backgrounds decipher it as some new ride. They get astonished at every little thing whereas Delhiites see it as a part of their boring routine.
We see Sanskritization rolling up in our culture, but it goes unnoticed because every person tries their best to imitate their superior.
By adapting and trying to attain higher societal status, Indian society tries to widen its lifestyle. Some sections can also widen their thought process in some areas but lack in some major areas. We need positive development. But it’s a fact now that any change can never impact society as a whole in one go. It will seep, and flow slowly down the divisions of the caste, be it positive or negative. By the time a 2-year-back trend reaches the lowest decision, something new comes up. When Elon Musk prepares to start a life in space, the higher class gets ready for the bullet train while the lower class still struggles to fight the floods.