State PCS

Edit Template
Edit Template

Salient Features of Indian Society

Caste is a hereditary, endogamous group with a common name, occupation, culture, mobility, and ....Salient Features of Indian Society

1. Caste System

  • Caste is a hereditary, endogamous group with a common name, occupation, culture, mobility, and status, relatively rigid in matters of mobility, the distinctiveness of status, and forming a single homogenous community.
  • The word refers to a broad institutional arrangement that in Indian languages is referred to by two distinct terms:
    • Varna is the four-fold division of society into Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra, while Jati is a generic term referring to species.

2. Religious Pluralism

  • Indian society is a land of diverse cultures, peoples, languages and religions, home to four world religions: Hinduism,
    Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism.
  • “Every citizen has the right to freely practice, preach, profess and propagate any religion or faith”, protected by the Constitution.

Different Religious Groups in India

  • India is a secular country comprising various religions of the world, which are further subdivided into several sects and cults.
  • Religion in India is characterized by a diversity of religious beliefs and practices. The Indian subcontinent is the birthplace of four world religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism.
  • Further, variants of Hinduism such as Vaishnavism, Shaivism, etc is practiced. Even in Islam, multiple variants such as Shia, Sunni tenets are followed. Animistic and naturistic religions are also followed by tribal groups. Thus, there is a plurality of multiple religions and each religion has individual salient tenets and associated festivals and customs.

3. Kinship

Types of Kinship

  • Sociologists and anthropologists disagree over the many types of kinship. Most social scientists agree that kinship is defined by two factors: birth and marriage; however, some argue that a third factor is social ties. These are the three categories of kinship.
  • Consanguineal kinship: this kinship is based on blood, the relationship meaning the relationship between parents and children also among immediate siblings. It is said to be the basic and universal in relationships.
  • Affinal kinship: this kinship is based on marriage. The relationship between partner is the basic kin relations.
Regional differences regarding kinship systems and marriage in North and South India:
  • North India: In North India, there are mostly patrilineal groups, with descent traced in the male line from father to son. Members of a patri-lineage cooperate in in ritual and economic activities. Caste endogamy is strictly practiced. Further, marriage is prohibited within the same gotra or clan and village exogamy is commonly Thus, marriage prohibitions tend to bar marriage over a wide area in terms of kinship as well as space.
  • South India: The Southern zone presents a very complicated pattern of kinship system and family While there is dominance of patrilineal and patrilocal system, but simultaneously matrilineal (descent from maternal line) and matrilocal systems also exist. Rules of marriage also vary in South India.

4. Marriage

Structural and functional changes in the marriage system

The marriage system had undergone radical changes especially after independence. Even though the basic religious beliefs associated with marriage have not crumbled down, many of the practices, customs, and forms have changed. The recent changes in the marriage system are as follows:

  • Changes in the aim and purpose of marriage: In traditional societies the primary objective of marriage is ‘dharma’ or duty; especially among But today the modern objective of marriage is more related to ‘life-long companionship’ between partner.
  • Changes in the form of marriage: Traditional forms of marriages like polygamy, polygyny are legally prohibited in India. Nowadays, mostly monogamous marriages are practiced.
  • Change in the age of marriage: According to legal standards, the marriageable age for boy and girl stands at 21 and 18 respectively. Average age of marriage has gone up and pre-puberty marriages have given place to post-puberty
  • Increase in divorce and desertion rates: Relaxed legislative provisions for divorce have virtually affected the stability of the marriage, particularly in the urban . It is mainly due to economic prosperity and internet connectivity. Internet has exposed people to the different social trends prevalent across the world and has revolutionized the institution in an otherwise conservative Indian society.
  • Live in relationships: They are on a steady growth rate in India especially among the youth in metropolitan cities. The institution also has legal recognition as a three judge bench of SC in 2010 observed that a man and a woman living together without marriage cannot be construed as an offence and held that living together is a Right to Life and Liberty (Article 21). SC has also acknowledged that children born out of such relations are legitimate and have property rights of their parents under Section 16 of Hindu Marriage Act,

5. Family

  • The family forms the basic unit of social organization.
  • It is the most immediate group a child is exposed It is in the family a child learns language, the behavioural patterns, and social norms in his childhood.
  • In some way or the other, a family is a universal group. It exists in tribal, rural, and urban communities and among the followers of all religions and cultures.
  • It provides the most enduring relationship in one form or another.

Characteristics of Family

  • Family is a basicdefinite, and enduring
  • Family is formed by the companionship of the husband, the wife who procreate children.
  • The family may be limited to the husband, wife, or only the father and his children or only the mother and her children.
  • Family is generally smaller in size compared to other social groups, organizations, and associations.
  • Family can also be large in which persons belonging to several generations may live together.

On the basis of size and structure:


  • Nuclear Family
  • Joint or Extended Family

Based on marriage:


  • Polygamous families
  • Monogamous families

Based on residence:


  • Patrilocal family
  • Matrilocal family
  • Bilocal family
  • Neolocal family

Based on Authority:


  • Patriarchal Family
  • Matriarchal family

Based on the descent:

  • Family
    • Patrilineal Family
    • Matrilineal family

Changes in Family System in India

  • Changes in the family: Family which was a principal unit of production has been transformed in the consumption unit. Instead of all members working together in an integrated economic enterprise, a few male members go out of the home to earn the family’s living. These affected family relations.
  • Factory employment: It has freed young adults from direct dependence upon their families. This functional independence of the youngsters has weakened the authority of the head of the household over those earning members. In many cities, even women too joined men in working outside the families on a salary basis.
  • Influence of urbanization: Various sociologists have revealed that city life is more favourable to small nuclear families than to big joint families. Thus, urban living weakens joint family pattern and strengthens nuclear family patterns.
  • Legislative measures: Prohibition of early marriage and fixing the minimum age of marriage by the child marriage Restraint Act, 1929, and the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 have lengthened the period of education. Even other legislations such as the Widow Remarriage Act, 1856, Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, Hindu succession Act, 1956, all have modified interpersonal relations within the family, the composition of the family and the stability of the joint family.
  • Changes in the marriage system: Changes in the age of marriage, freedom in mate-selection and change in the attitude towards marriage has diminished marriage is not very much considered a religious affair but only a social ceremony. Modern marriage does not symbolize the superior authority of the family head over other members.
  • Influence of western values: Values relating to modern science, rationalism, individualism, equality, free life, democracy, freedom of women etc. have exerted a tremendous change on the joint family system in India.
  • Changes in the position of women: Main factor causing changes in the position of women in our society to lie in her changing economic role. The new economic role provided a new position in society and especially with respect to men.
  • Over the years, various sociologists have affirmed in their studies that the rise of nuclear families — consisting of a couple and their unmarried children — is consistent with rapid urbanization

Read also: Salient Features of Indian Society

Demo Class/Enquiries

blog form

More Links
What's New
IAS NEXT is a topmost Coaching Institute offering guidance for Civil & Judicial services like UPSC, State PCS, PCS-J exams since more than 10 years.
Contact Us
Social Icon

Copyright ©  C S NEXT EDUCATION. All Rights Reserved