ICSSR Journal of Abstracts and Reviews

13 Religion and Society
13.1 Sociology of Religion
Jharta, Mohan and Sneh: Religious Conversion of Dalits from Hinduism to Christianity: A Sociological Perspective. Guru Nanak Journal of Sociology 28, 1 & 2 (2007): 97-110. The second largest democratic country in the world, India is a secular nation where different religious groups have co-existed for centuries and the right to freedom of religion is provided in the Constitution. Since the Hindu religion is based in the caste system and the practice of untouchability, oppressed castes from the Hindu fold have always moved out of its fold in search of a religion which might give them security and better social status, embracing Islam, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, and also Christianity. While conversion to Christianity is observed to have brought about some changes in the social status of Dalit Christians, the author argues that there has not been much change in their economic status, and they remain economically more or less on par with their nonconverted Scheduled Caste brethren. The author therefore surmises that Dalits are embracing Christianity in order to improve their social status, and that it is not religion but the caste factor that provokes the decision to convert. While the government has provided many facilities to Dalits for their welfare and social uplift, they continue to be victims of caste atrocities by people of the higher castes. In conclusion the authors suggest that further efforts are required by the government and the upper castes to assure Dalits of a respected and dignified status in society, and thereby to retain them within the folds of the Hindu community.

Madan, T.N.: One From Many: Explorations in the Anthropology of Islam. The Eastern Anthropologist 60, 1 (2007): 1-25. The author contends that Islam is a social reality which resides in the dialectic of a particular Qur’anic tradition and a ‘lived’ tradition. For the same reason an anthropological study of its communities requires that the communities be studied from within their historical, regional, cultural, and linguistic settings. To make an impact Islam

based on fieldwork in Northern Pakistan. for instance. Chitralis. The rise and growth of Islam in these regions have been influenced to a large extent by the geographical. Marsden. Magnus : Islam. He urges the need to go beyond these models and recommends a model of ‘hierarchy’ such as has been propounded by Louis Dumont. whereby lived Islam and scriptural Islam can be seen to exist in a dialectic relation. gradient model. linear progression. Magnus Marsden explores local manifestations of ‘Islamism’ in the one-time princely kingdom of Chitral. as Clifford Geertz has shown with examples from Indonesia. ‘multivocal’ and ‘syncretistic’. many Chitrali ‘men of piety’ (dashmanan) are critical about the continued powers of the princes. oscillation. Morocco and also the Philippines. The author contends that the fundamental issue for the anthropology of Islam in India is the nature of the relationship of a single scriptural Islam and a variety of lived Islams. continue to hold a very wide range of opinions concerning the proper relationship between . Following a discussion of the history of Islam and its early development under the Prophet. and court-derived forms of status distinction are of central importance in Chitrali social life. etc. according to the author. Contributions to Indian Sociology 41. 1 (2007): 41-80. On the other hand. In this article. Despite the recent political successes of Islamist parties in their region. The author then discusses the various theoretical positions adopted by anthropologists studying Indian Islam. Bengal and Kashmir during the medieval period as a result of both coercive conversion as well as the appeal of Islam’s egalitarian social order and tolerant message. and claim that only they can deliver ‘simple’ Chitralis from the unIslamic legacies of their feudal past. Chitral’s former princely family continues to exert significant political influence in the region even today. the author then explores its spread all over South Asia and into Bangladesh. Political Authority and Emotion in Northern Pakistan. the equilibrium model. along with newer expressions of class difference. cyclical model.Sociology and Social Anthropology 99 has had to become ‘malleable’. linguistic and political context of the local Muslims. etc. syncretistic model.

Chitrali Muslims reflect upon and engage with the Islamising messages of the dashmanan in multidimensional ways that are not defined instrumentally by the region’s shifting status hierarchy alone. and the historical period of the migration. The author of this article looks at the varieties of diasporic migration. In particular.100 ICSSR Journal of Abstracts and Reviews religion and politics. a common binding force has been the Swaminarayan Movement. the relation of the diasporic communities to the host countries. These differentiations make the Indian diaspora a complex and heterogeneous phenomenon. and subsequently migration in search of opportunity. The . and their commitment to the Islamising messages of the region’s mullahs is a complex and deeply contested dimension of life in the region today. a modern form of Vaishnavite Hinduism formulated in 19th century Gujarat. The South Asian diaspora has had two distinct phases: in the first place. histories and destinations. the United Kingdom and North America. the vocal styles of Chitral’s politically active dashmanan are widely said by Chitrali Muslims to reflect their animalistic and unrefined emotional dispositions. Man in India 87. forced migration for indentured labour. The author looks specifically at the prominence of this movement among Britain’s Gujarati immigrants. Chitrali conceptions of the Muslim faith are rooted in local or vernacular traditions. Though the groups differ in their migration patterns. 1 & 2 (2007): 129-36. This is reflected in the array of different types of Muslim lifestyles they lead. the article challenges the widely held assumption that electoral support for Islamism in Pakistan today is the inevitable result of the process of Islamisation over the past twenty years. Farhaz: Swaminarayan Movement and Gujarati Diasporic Identity. In exploring the ways in which this dynamic and locally contested theory is deployed by Chitralis to evaluate the behaviour of the dashmanan. Both groups of migrants are further distinguished by the causes and patterns of migration. The author takes as a case study the Gujarati communities spread over East Africa. and the response of the host countries. Naz. It also challenges the idea that this process has gone uncontested or that it has led to the displacement of so-called ‘local’ forms of Muslim faith and self-understanding. depending on the historical circumstances of migration.

Politically. 13 (2007): 1089-94. These binaries. Sujata: Sociological Study of Religion. forming a powerful agent for the preservation of Gujarati ethnic identity. while the ‘minorities’ constitute the people practicing Islam and Christianity. Thus religion as tradition naturalized relationships of domination-subordination. Contemporary South Asian religious. ideas of India and Hinduism collapsed into one another. The most important aspect of the movement is the transmission of tradition through the global convergence of religious identity with social and cultural identity. communal and sectarian conflicts are deeply rooted in the political processes of modernity. The Swaminarayan cult’s rituals. This article weaves together the 19th century representation of Hindu majoritarianism with an analysis of earlier and contemporary writings on the sociology of religion in India. the writings of indigenous intellectuals created Hinduism as a majority religion. organizations and festivals provide for an exclusive Gujarati meeting place. defining the subcontinent by its relationship with Hinduism. This probably accounts for its success among the Gujarati diaspora. as a ‘great tradition’ and a timeless civilization. temples. and the fashioning of tradition according to ‘upper caste’ perceptions. typical of the era. the creation of majoritarianism or the idea of the ‘great tradition’ is part of the reaffirmation of tradition to interrogate the ‘modern’. Membership brings social advantage and attracts many wealthy followers. including all kinds of ideas and cultural practices. underpinned by a matrix of binaries. It is also a vehicle for Sanskritization. Castes and tribes directly related with Hinduism form the ‘majority’. developed in the nineteenth century. In conclusion the author underlines the relationship between the set of binaries and the acceptance. ethnic. form the core concepts of the sociological study of religion in India. Economic and Political Weekly 42. Furthermore.Sociology and Social Anthropology 101 prestigious Swaminarayan movement circuits the globe. generation and promotion of the process of structural domination. . Colonial Modernity and 19th Century Majoritarianism. During this process. its appearance of flexibility without the compromise of basic values appeals to the youth of the diaspora. In short. Patel. and various inequalities and exclusions. fashioning a discourse which is deeply imbricated with modernity theory.

Otherwise. The author concludes that the existing marginalization of Indian Muslims and their overall sense of insecurity need urgent solution.6). analysis of the 2001 Census indicates that Muslims are usually excluded from the available developmental resources. is exacerbated by the expectation of recurring communal violence adversely impacting on this minority group. educational infrastructure. The economic and political marginalization of Muslims is compounded by evidence of poor and discriminatory provisioning by the state. Indian Muslims are far below the national average except in some southern and western states. income and position in decision-making bodies. Muslims are poorly represented in defense and security-related activities. They have low asset accumulation and lack access to bank credit. they also have low representation in formal employment. villages with a high concentration of Muslims are not well-connected with ‘pucca’ roads and generally lack postal and telegraph services. Xavier (4. Moreover. Robinson. Social Action 57. Rowena: Marginalization and Violence: Concerns for India and its Muslims. Based on a critical analysis of secondary data and the author’s own research data on the Indian Muslim community. and live in the shadow of vulnerability. particularly in urban areas. Focusing on data on employment. In consequence. leaving them economically vulnerable and backward. the author observes that a very high share of Muslim workers are engaged in self-employment. in the form of street vending and smallscale trading. In sum. There are only 36 Muslims in the current Lok Sabha of 545 representatives.102 ICSSR Journal of Abstracts and Reviews She therefore stresses the importance of developing an alternative sociological language and sociology of religion that will be free from the language of colonial modernity. the author argues. the expanding gap between Muslims and others will surely create a big hiatus in the overall development process. the data show that Muslims experience relatively high levels of poverty and deprivation. With regard to literacy and education levels.2) . See also Nanda (10. For instance. Such a situation. 3 (2007): 233-43. this paper examines the issue of the social exclusion and marginalization of Muslims in India. and banking facilities.