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McGuire, John (1976) Political Leadership Among the Hindu in Calcutta: 1857-1885. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00033694

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Abstract

The subject of this thesis is political leadership among Hindus in Calcutta between 1857 and 1885. It is argued that political leadership in this context was characterised by an indigenous ideology, on the one hand, and a colonial ideology, on the other. It is suggested, moreover, that, although both ideologies operated at all levels of society, the former tended to prevail at the local level and the latter tended to prevail at the larger level. Within this general framework, an analysis is attempted of the social-organizational basis of political leadership, the structure and function of political leadership roles, the links that existed between the different levels of the system, and how all these characteristics changed between 1857 and 1885. This analysis is based on a wide range of unpublished and published Bengali and English sources, which include, among others, government and non-government documents, private papers, newspapers and periodicals, and the proceedings of organizations. Where possible, data have been gathered in a systematic manner and analysed according to a collective biographical approach in which content analysis, descriptive statistics, and computer techniques have all been employed. Where data did not lend themselves to such an approach, because of the nature of the question or the lack of information, case studies have been used. It is argued that at the local level an ideology based on the concept of hierarchy characterised the social structure which consisted of a cluster of overlapping kinship and jajmani ties. It is suggested that such ties provided the basis of a system of dais and, to a lesser extent, supra-dals, through which local political leadership was manifested. It is argued, on the other hand, that at the larger level an ideology based, in theory at least, on the concept of equality characterised the social structure which consisted of an emerging class system cross cut by nationalist ties. It is suggested that this system provided the basis of English education, the press, voluntary associations, political pressure groups, and legislative bodies through all of which political leadership was expressed. The norms and skills of political leadership roles are seen to vary according to the level of society. In 1857, individuals who filled such roles at the local level also filled these roles at the larger level, even though, in a number of cases, they were not equipped to handle the latter positions. By 1885, however, owing to the development of various colonial institutions among Hindus and the gradual diffusion of authority and power within the local system, class rather than local factors are seen as determining entry into political leadership roles at the larger level, and, as a result, the political system is seen as less elitist in structure.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00033694
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:19
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/33694

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