A study of the interactions between the caste system and political democracy in India rejects the familiar theory that there is a dichotomy between a traditional society and a modern polity. On the contrary, it underlines the functional relevance of indigenous patterns of communication and differentiation to the process of modernizing. Where a relatively open society, by an act of conscious preference, resolves to undertake the task of building a modern nation through a democratic polity, the result is a progressive fusion of various elements. In India, under the impacts of Western education, nationalist movement, and adult franchise, the traditional community structure has continuously changed and adapted. What is important is the mutual exposure and adaptation of traditional and modern authority structures, communication media, and identification symbols. The new institutions establish their hegemony precisely by taking into their confidence the pluralities of the antecedent culture. Caste has been politicized, but in the process it has provided Indian politics with processes and symbols of political articulation.

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