ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Social Change in India

Reconsidering Ramkrishna Mukherjee

With Ramkrishna Mukherjee's study of social change in India, a scholar of his standing deserves to be read seriously, not ignored or praised without an engagement with his writings. An exposition of his formulations is followed by their critical examination, including his concept of "soft spots."

An earlier draft of this article was presented at a conference commemorating Ramkrishna Mukherjee that was organised by Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, 28–29 March 2016. The proceedings of the conference are due to appear as a book. For his personal communication, I am thankful to Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, and for comments on the article, my thanks go to Andre Beteille, Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, and T N Madan.

Ramkrishna Mukherjee provides many narratives of social change in India. It is useful to recognise them. Four such narratives are identified here. Two of these narratives belong to his early writings, and each of the remaining two narratives belongs to his later writings and his last writings, respectively. Together, they cover a working life of more than 50 years, from 1948–2006. They cover a long span of time in Indian society, from the appearance of the East India Company (henceforth, the Company) in 1608, to 2008, the year when the land issue in West Bengal became important and the partial implementation of the Mandal Commission report in India took place. This article presents briefly these narratives, followed by comments towards their critical evaluation.

East India Company

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