Modern India Behind Mud Walls Paper In order to understand India, one needs to understand its villages. Behind Mud Walls does a great job in providing a detailed background of an ordinary village life in India. Since seventy percent of Indians live in villages, it is important to learn about village lifestyle and the changes that take place in it. ivermectin dose for ducks Only then one can learn about the cities because one needs to understand the relationship between the two in India. Behind Mud Walls provides the opportunity to examine a north Indian village from a non-Indian point of view; in other words, a non-biased point of view.
Since the book is broken up into parts by years, it gives the reader a great way to examine the changes that take place in this village; it shows how it was then and how it is now. Karimpur in 1930 was very different from Karimpur in the 80’s and 90’s. Many changes were observed by Wisers and Susan Wadley, who writes the later chapters in the book. These changes were social, economic, educational, technological, political and cultural but most significant of these were social, and educational. The social changes with an emphasis on role of women, the slowing down of the Jajmani system and the rise in education will be the focus of this paper.
What was Karimpur like in 1930? Women in Karimpur in late 1920s were very traditional. They had a purdah (covering of the face) on at all times and were dependent on males (husbands, father or brothers). They were uneducated and illiterate. They had limited movement outside the house and were usually tied to raising children and doing household work. They worked almost entirely in mud enclosures. Their days were spent largely in menial labor, ensuring that their family could subside on a day-to-day basis. Their days began at dawn, when they gathered water for their family and their daily tasks of cooking, brushing, and cleaning.
They ground flour for bread. They milked the family’s cow or buffalo. They prepared the ovens or chulas for the day’s cooking. They swept. They collected dung for fuel. They gathered vegetables from the fields. It is safe to say that these women lived entirely behind “mud walls”. (144). They were also not allowed to go to the fields by themselves to relieve themselves. (46). Moreover, a system called Jajmani was widespread in Karimpur when the Wisers first visited. It was basically a system that bounded upper castes to lower castes in the villages.
There was exchange of goods and services between landowning higher castes and landless service castes. ivermectin vomiting The relationship was to be permanent, hereditary and lower castes generally received grains against rendered services. Dhobis (washers), chamars (tanners), faqirs (beggars) dhanuks (midwives), sudras (lower caste), and bhangis (sweepers) were all treated in a degrading manner. (47). The upper caste people, the Brahmins, would not like when the Wisers’ children played with those of bhangis. A touch of a bhangi would bring pollution to the upper caste Brahmins since they carry human waste and clean the courtyards.
The Brahmins dominated the village. They owned most of the land and also took part in religious rituals due to their priest roots. Therefore, the caste system was a major social structure in Karimpur. Every individual had to stay within their caste boundaries; everyone had a hereditary job to do. Two different castes could not marry and an upper caste could eat or drink anything offered by the lower caste. Even when the Wisers offered peanuts to the children, their parents refused to let them eat. Only food offered by Brahmins would be acceptable for other upper castes.
Therefore, caste system played a huge role in the lives of people in Karimpur. Furthermore, education was very low in Karimpur in 1925. Both males and females could barely read or write. As a result, there were no technological developments and therefore, agricultural production was low. Lower education rate also meant that people strictly followed the caste system to keep order in the society. Another observation made by the Wisers during their first was that most village houses were made of mud and were called “kaccha” houses. An interesting relationship noticed by the Wisers was that of newly wed girls and their mother-in-laws.
Mother-in-laws would keep an eye on their daughter-in-laws or “bahus. ” These bahus would have to please their mother-in-laws and take care of the household and everyone living in the family or in this case joint-family where brothers and their families live together with their parents under one roof. Therefore, one can see that Karimpur described by the Wisers in 1930 was quite backward and orthodox. The next half of the paper will be focused on the changes that took place over the decades in Karimpur. What were the changes in the second half of the century when Wisers and Susan Wadley visited Karimpur?
Firstly, the role of women had changed a little bit. Secondly, education had increased and more and more villagers had B. A. degrees and moved to cities to find work. Thirdly, technological changes had brought enormous agricultural growth in the farms. The rigid caste system had slowed down a little bit and the mutual relationship of Jajmani system had declined as well. Finally, the younger generation was more in touch with the world through cities and education, the lower castes had more access to land ownership and most of the mud houses were transformed into brick houses or “pakka” houses.
The roles of women had started to change in the 60s and later as observed by Susan Wadley. The purdah declined except during ritual occasions. The dress style also changed. Head was less covered. They started to show more head and face unlike before. When women went out in the fields to work still wore long sleeve blouses and had their head covered. The ones who worked in their own courtyards or left their house briefly started wearing dhotis which was something shorter than saris and other traditional long sleeve garments that they wore. (193).
This was a radical change. It really showed that times had changed and people were becoming a little more open-minded. The younger generation of women was far more educated than their mothers or sisters and also wore baggy pants (Panjabi suits) by 90s. At times they would refuse to help their female figures in preparing and collecting cow dung, calling it “dirty. ” They no longer had to collect water for their families since the introduction of hand pumps in their courtyards. This made their job a lot easier. Women also experienced change in their work.
Due to the decline in the jajmani system and male employment in the farms, women no longer worked on the farms. The decline in the jajmani system meant more opportunities for women. Female servants were more acceptable as household servants. The decline in the purdah also helped women since now they could get their own water without males, carry their own messages and pick their own flowers from the fields. (289). They also took part in Hindu rituals. At the same time, one can argue that the voice of women in a household declined. Females were excluded from farm work since men had moved to the cities for work.
They were replaced by machines and pumps on the fields and farms, and traditionally employed women in caste-based jobs through the jajmani system were no longer employed. Therefore, the changes in the lives of women were both negative and positive although the changes in the levels of education in Karimpur definitely helped women. Education was beneficial to both men and women. Better opportunities for jobs and marriage increased education rates among men and women. Women were expected to be educated to train their future generations. An educated girl was a likely girl for a marriage proposal.
In 1984, three schools were set up for both boys and girls. An astonishing forty nine percent of boys attended school. That is a big percentage for a backward village like Karimpur. (291). Fifty seven percent of girls attended primary schools. (291). All these numbers aside, education was still a luxury not a privilege in Karimpur. It was only accessible to upper castes that had money and the poor could not afford the cost of books and clothes. It is also important to note that it was extremely difficult to pass the sciences in schools without proper tutoring. As a result, the spread and benefit of education remained low. ivermectin covid malaysia
Still, it was a crucial change because it did make life better for some of the people. Many Brahmins obtained B. A. and M. A. degrees and most were literate including women. Increased education for men meant more opportunities in the cities for work which meant more money to provide for families back in village. Those who stayed in villages chose to be intermediates between the Brahmins and the government officials in matters of the village. Another reason why education was an important change for Karimpur was because it changed caste relationships. Education loosened the bonds of Brahmin dominance.
Education brought knowledge and knowledge brought changes in caste relationships. Different lower castes were no longer tied to their jajmans or patrons. They were able to deal with banks, lawyers, doctors and government officials. There was a decline in the traditional jajmani system due to abundance of labor. The farmers no longer needed to maintain their workers when they could hire labor for a cheaper price. Wealthy farmers in the 80s did not need that many laborers. They had machines that took care of their daily work. Hand pumps were a great tool for rich farmers. (285).
There were two new tractors in the village. As a result the whole relationship between the jajmans and their servants declined due to abundance of cheap labor and new technology in the farms. The jajmani system no longer provided services, wage labor was more focused and employment networks were more focused and laborers were in constant demand. (283). Some lower castes were also able to raise their status in the society by changing their caste names. Scheduled or backward castes like the chamars and telis became jatavs and rathors, both subcastes of the Kshatriya. (262).
This type of upward mobility shows that progress did take place and this is the type of mobility is portrayed in the sacred Hindu texts like the Vedas. The system of hereditary caste system was never propagated by any texts. Rather, a system based on meritocracy was promoted in ancient Sanskrit texts and it was good to see such changed in a small north Indian village. Thus, one can see many social changes in Karimpur starting in the 60s and lasting till the 90s. Other important changes that took place were the transformation of the kuccha houses into pakka houses. Pakka houses were no longer limited to Brahmins.
Even a sweeper had a pakka house. (248). Economic growth enabled people to buy bricks and build these new types of houses. Payments are done in rupees rather than grains due to cash economy. Jajmani system no longer controlled the exchange of goods. Agricultural production was booming due to technological changes and introduction of necessary materials by the government to increase production. Better seeds, more fertilizer and more irrigation were provided by the government. One can credit increased education for more interaction between the villagers and the government officials. 252). Crops other than grains were produced and more number of farmers from all castes planted more crops and vegetables unlike only the Brahmins forty years ago. Green revolution also brought tremendous change in agriculture along with introduction of pumped irrigation water. Family incomes increased for many castes and access to land ownership also increased for middle and lower castes. The dominant Brahmin influence declined over the years but they still had a huge presence in the village. Overall, Karimpur in 1920s was different from Karimpur in the second half of the century.
The reason why it was different was because of the changes in the roles of women over the years, the decline in the caste and jajmani system, and increased education. These changes were tied to each other and a change in one system brought a change in another. Finally, Karimpur serves as a model for modern India; it shows how a socially orthodox and economically backward place can experience changes at all levels in the society and improve the lives of its people. Works Cited Wiser, Charlotte, William Wiser. Behind Mud Walls. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California, 2000.