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IAS Foundation 2023-24, Batch Starts: 27th July

Sociology Optional Paper I and Paper II by Smriti Rao

  • Category
  • Test Date
    2022-06-18 07:00:00
  • Evaluated


  • Attempt both questions
  • The test carries 30 marks.
  • Write Each answer in 150 words.
  • Any page left blank in the answer-book must be crossed out clearly.
  • Evaluated Copy will be re-uploaded on the same thread after 2 days of uploading the copy.
  • Discussion of the question and one to one answer improvement session of evaluated copies will be conducted through Google Meet with concerned faculty. You will be informed via mail or SMS for the discussion.

Question #1. Pressure Groups play an important role in a vibrant democracy. Critically Analyze.

Question #2. Critically analyze Ghurye’s perspective on the study of Indian Society.

(Examiner will pay special attention to the candidate's grasp of his/her material, its relevance to the subject chosen, and to his/ her ability to think constructively and to present his/her ideas concisely, logically and effectively).

Model Answer

Question #1. Pressure Groups play an important role in a vibrant democracy. Critically Analyze.

Democratic values translate to active inclusion of citizen participation, collective decision making, and striving for a world based on the principles of equality and justice. The Indian constitution is the bedrock of Indian democracy. The preamble to the constitution brings to fore the ideal of economic freedom, social justice and equality of rights coupled with political freedom.

 Upholding the democratic values, a plurality of groups has come to espouse the principle of political, social and economic justice. It is in this light that pressure groups are particularly significant. Pressure groups can be understood as forms of organizations consisting of active citizenry that exert pressure on the state apparatus in order to bring about or resist change. Pressure groups are differentiated from political parties as they do not contest elections or aim for political power.

Robert Mckenzie define pressure groups of 2 types:

A) Protective groups : Those that defend the interests of particular sections in the society.

For example:

B) Promotional groups : Those that champion a social cause.

For Examples

(You may insert a diagram for this)

Gabriel Almond Classifies them into

  • Institutional – Organized groups that consist of professionally employed persons. These groups resort to institutional means to voice their concerns. Eg: FICCI, ASSOCHAM, IAS Association etc.  
  • Non Institutional – These groups are marked by informal structure and they voice their interests through loose collectivities. Eg: Bhartiya Kisan Union,
  • Associational – These are organized groups that pursue specific and limited goals. Eg: AITUC, CII etc.
  • Anomic – These groups exert undue pressure through non-institutional means. They often engage in rioting, prolonged demonstrations, and even lead to attacks. Eg: ULFA, Naxalites etc.

Function of pressure groups :

Policy feedback – Pressure groups keep a close watch on the government’s movements and engage in active policy feedback.

Grievance redressal - Often act as medium for the most underprivileged, disadvantaged sections to articulate their concerns to the ruling government.

Accountability – By exposing the lacunae in governance, the pressure groups hold political parties accountable to the nation.

Active intervention – Pressure groups are credited with mobilizing people, educating and empowering different sections of the society.

Conduit between public and government – They shape the dialogue and debate between the people and their chosen leaders.


Vested interests – Many a times, they share a covert intention to grab power. This may cause further mistrust and instability.

Backdoor funding – Since the pressure groups voice concerns, they are often not under the radar for speculation, however backdoor funding seems to be prevalent.

Mouthpiece of political parties – Although defined to be independent and egalitarian, often pressure groups become an appendage to political parties, thereby furthering propaganda.

Block progressive changes – It has been noted that in the bid to extend woes, sometimes, they block progressive changes in the good of larger public interest.

Nonetheless, pressure groups play a vital role in a vibrant democracy. It is only through parallel channels of grievance redressal, articulation, and debate discussion that a participative democracy like India can stay true to being the largest and effective democracy in the world.   

Question #2. Critically analyze Ghurye’s perspective on the study of Indian Society.

Indian society was seen to be unmoving, fixed, and microcosmic by various western sociologists. In response to this contention, Indian sociologists rose to the occasion and produced important insight into the nature and culture of Indian society, this time with much more nuance. GS Ghurye is one such early Indian sociologist who produced a corpus of significant work and has been rightly termed, the ‘Father of Indian Sociology’.

 Ghurye espoused the indological perspective which is characteristed by systematic evaluation of ancient texts such as upanishads, purans, smritis to understand the complex and unique nature of India. He believed that Indian society is unique and study needs to be contextualized. For this reason, this perspective can be called the ‘Textbook’ view.

According to Pramanick, the following broad categories of groups, institutions, processes, and practices were studied in great detail by Ghurye: 

  • Caste
  • Tribes
  • Religion
  • Kinship, family, marriage
  • Culture and Civilization (Rural-Urbanization)
  • Sociology of conflict and integration

Caste : (You may insert a diagram here)

 The Caste system is understood as a salient feature of the Indian society which is based on the following characteristics :

 Segmental Division, Hierarchy, Hereditary Occupations, Endogamy, Restrictions on Commensality and other privileges and disabilities.

It is rooted in the concept of purity and pollution, and provides an integrative framework  in the kinship structure. Keeping the process of continuity and change in mind, Ghurye also spoke about new castes such as Khammas and Reddys in the Andhra region with specific reference to ‘Caste patriotism’ an elevated sense of class consciousness and solidarity and their relevance in the political system of India.


Ghurye opined that tribal groups are nothing more than an extension of backward Hindus. He quoted the likes of Santhal, Bhils and Gonds to drive him to his observation. He was criticized by Verrier Elvin who regarded the tribal communities to have a distinct identity and vehemently opposed the assimilationist stand.  Furthermore, his work on the Kolis in Maharashtra, locates the historical moorings, administrative and social dimensions.

Ghurye’s work has been criticized for being a textbook view, more so, a Hindu sociology. It has been argued that his work could be rooted in bias as he relied on scriptural and textual data. Additionally, he failed to recognize the qualitative changes that occurred in modern India. Even though he was criticized for relying solely on the past, Ghurye believed that the past is an important conjunction to understand the present.

Despite shortcomings, Ghurye contributed significantly to the evolution of Indian sociology and even introduced empiricism in social anthropology. His work initiated enquiry into unexplored dimensions of Indian society, for which he was regarded as a pioneer.   

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