The changing intercaste attitudes in North India: A follow-up after four years


  • Santokh Singh Anant

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Lethbridge
    • Department of Psychology, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, T1K 3M4
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Since independence, the government of India, through various constitutional and legislative measures, has tried to root out the evils of the caste system. In order to study the effect of these measures and of various socioeconomic changes on intercaste attitudes, a study of intercaste attitudes conducted by the author in 1968 is used as a baseline to study the changes over the four-year period. The responses to the 15 items compared deal with general caste attitudes, attitudes toward special privileges for the scheduled castes and, the caste Hindus' attitudes toward Harijans (former ‘untouchables’). The comparison of the responses to these items in 1968 and 1972 (the follow-up study) indicates that a higher percentage of respondents gave liberal responses in 1972 than in 1968 to the questions dealing with public and peripheral areas of interaction. However, very little change was found in those spheres of interaction which are relatively personal and central or involve intimate interaction, e.g., the theory of Karma, attitude toward the caste system as such and attitudes toward dining with or acceptance of food from Harijans. The results lend further support to the ‘cognitive imbalance’ theory of attitude change.