Behind Mud Walls Paper

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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. 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. 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...
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