b. Examine the criticisms on the concept of dominant caste. (2013, paper II Section A)
The concept of dominant caste has been used for the first time in the sociological literature by an eminent sociologist. Prof. M.N. Srinivas in his essay “The Social System of a Mysore Village”, which was written after his study of village Rampura.
“A caste to be dominant, it should own a sizable amount of the arable land locally available, have a strength of numbers and occupy a high place in the local hierarchy. When a caste has all the attributes of dominance, it may be said to enjoy a decisive dominance.” —M.N. Srinivas
(a) Adrian C. Mayer (1958) has questioned the stress on numerical dominance. He has also pointed out to the failure of the concept to deal with the fact that power and prestige are often in the hands of few individuals. He has also pointed out to the need to recognise that dominance is not simply a one-way affair since dominance is an object of emulation for the caste beneath it in the hierarchy.
(b) Louis Dumont has claimed that dominance should be considered as a purely secular phenomenon distinct from hierarchy which is purely ritual.
(c) Gardener reviewed that “dominance” should not be conceptualized in the form of caste only.
As there are four basic levels of dominant castes:
1. The ruler
2. The regionally dominant caste
3. The locally dominant caste
4. The village level landed pattern of dominant caste.
(d) David Pocock observes that Sanskritizatlon is outside the pale of pan-Indian culture and it is a manifestation of the highly localised process of cultural change. At the microstructural level of villages and other territorial groups, there were functional equivalents of the kingly role represented by what Srinivas called “dominant-castes”.
(e) With the land reforms, a big landowning class has ceased to be an important element of dominance. Andre Beteille observes that in place of big landowning class, the strength of numerical support has become a decisive factor in the formation of a dominant caste.
(f) Dominant caste is not always numerically a preponderant caste. D.N. Majumdar observes that the scheduled castes preponderate in many villages. But the people belonging to the upper caste exercise power and authority in such villages.