'Indian Sociology': A Rejoinder
The pitfalls of a non-sociologist trying to take stock of 'an overview of the last half a century of Indian sociology' (p.64) are immediately evident from Kristoffel Leiten's review of Yogendra Singh's Indian Sociology.1 The point is not to quibble about disciplinary orientations but to explicate the shoddiness of a review which is ill-informed and even ignores the information that is presented in the book under review.
To begin with the book hardly deals with 'half a century of Indian sociology' as Leiten makes out, but focuses primarily 'on the developments in Indian sociology during the period 1970-85'.2 It considers the contributions of earlier sociologists as setting the perspectives of the contemporary phase of Indian sociology. The antecedents of the present developments constitute the context of the substantive discussion in the book. Appropriately, Singh does not dwell long on the context, for this was elaborately dealt with in Ramakrishna Mukherjee's earlier trend report on Indian sociology originally published in 1977,3 to which Singh's book is a sequel.
Leiten also seems unaware of the fact that Singh's Modernization of Indian Tradition was originally published in 1973, as he writes of it being 'published around the same time' (p.65) as the book he is reviewing (i.e., in 1986). Awareness of this would have dispelled his doubts about the veracity of Singh's disposition. Even if he had only checked with the bibliography of the book he was reviewing he would have been aware of his own discrepancy.
But more important are some of Leiten's sweeping, generalizations about sociology in India which are misleading. He writes, 'Much of the weakness of Marxist sociology in India, it is fair to add, is due to the fact that, with the notable exception of A.R. Desai, it was practically non-existent till the mid-seventies' (p. 65). This is an unhistorical assertion. Marxist sociology before the mid-1970s, though never a dominant tradition, comprised a significant and innovative trend in Indian sociology. The contributions of B.N. Dutta, D.P. Mukherjee, K.B. Krishna, R.K. Mukherjee, P.C. Joshi and others can hardly be ignored if one is to understand later developments in Indian sociology. The Marxist sociological trend is not a sui generis phenomenon in India.