A look at India with a sociological approach

Most of the septuagenarians lead a life sans work pressure and spend time with their loved ones. For Patna-based sociologist Hetukar Jha (71) life has been a different ball game. Having committed himself to sociology after leaving an engineering course midway in 1963, the man even today spends most of his day reading documents, collecting facts to enrich the subject, which is close to his heart. He retired from service, as head of department and professor of sociology at Patna University, in 2004. The retirement, however, never dampened his spirit of enriching the subject, which he started to study in 1963 as an undergraduate student of Patna College. His latest book titled Historical Sociology in India was recently released globally by Routledge, one of the leading academic publishers in the world. Jha spoke to Sanjeev Kumar Verma about the book, which is the first of its kind in the country, and his future plans. Excerpts:

  • Published 12.12.15
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Hetukar Jha

Most of the septuagenarians lead a life sans work pressure and spend time with their loved ones. For Patna-based sociologist Hetukar Jha (71) life has been a different ball game. Having committed himself to sociology after leaving an engineering course midway in 1963, the man even today spends most of his day reading documents, collecting facts to enrich the subject, which is close to his heart. He retired from service, as head of department and professor of sociology at Patna University, in 2004. The retirement, however, never dampened his spirit of enriching the subject, which he started to study in 1963 as an undergraduate student of Patna College. His latest book titled Historical Sociology in India was recently released globally by Routledge, one of the leading academic publishers in the world. Jha spoke to Sanjeev Kumar Verma about the book, which is the first of its kind in the country, and his future plans. Excerpts:

 

TT: What does your latest book deal with?

Jha: The book talks about the sociological history of India and covers a period starting from 1775 and up to 2010. Unlike traditional view of looking at history, the book delves into sociological aspect of the period. This is for the first time that a book detailing sociological history of the country has been published. Prior to this, one had only one paper presented on sociological history of India way back in 1974 by noted sociologist A.M. Shah.

TT: What did it take to compile facts relating to a vast country like India, which is known for its diversities, for this book?

Jha: It was a tough ask but I dedicated two years of my life in collecting facts and analysing them from a sociological point of view. I referred to around 350 books for writing this book. After completing the manuscript I stood exhausted and relieved as well for being able to meet the challenge.

TT: What made you to take up this challenge and that too at this juncture of life?

Jha: During one of the meetings of the Indian Council of Social Science Research, Yogendra Singh (a renowned sociologist) asked me to prepare a report on the sociological history of India as it was found that the field had remained virtually unexplored. This led to beginning of the process and finally it took the shape of a book. An edited version of my findings had earlier appeared as a report on the same subject.

TT: What is the utility of the book?

Jha: Sociology as a subject cannot blossom unless one links it with history. From this point of view, the book is going to be of great help for sociologists who want to enrich the subject through their research work.

TT: How would the book interest a person who is not into sociology?

Jha: Anyone who is interested to have a better understanding of India would find this book very useful. I agree that there are some technical aspects of sociology, which have found place in the book but overall one would find the book very interesting because it looks at the history of Indian society from a sociological point of view. I strongly believe that people who understand their history in the right perspective are better placed to take forward their country otherwise things become difficult for a society or a country.

TT: Having written 26 books so far and enriched sociology by your works, do you intend to take some rest now?

Jha: There is no time to take rest. Right now I am busy writing my book on the village world of colonial period in Bihar. I have collected facts related to about 6,000 villages of the state. The village notes, prepared between 1894 and 1916 by the then colonial government, have vivid details of the villages of Bihar of that period. I had to visit record rooms of several districts to copy these facts. Weaving these facts into a book is a Herculean task but I am more than willing to take up this challenge.

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