THE CHANCING TRENDS IN SOCIETY

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THE CHANCING TRENDS IN SOCIETY It is but inevitable to perceive that the alterations initiated by the Portuguese at the agrarian and non agrarian sectors of the Goan economy would have had a definite bearing
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THE CHANCING TRENDS IN SOCIETY It is but inevitable to perceive that the alterations initiated by the Portuguese at the agrarian and non agrarian sectors of the Goan economy would have had a definite bearing on its society. The extent to which societal patterns underwent a metamorphosis due to the intermingling of varied cultures and distinctive tastes forms the crux of the chapter. Transformation involving the entire gamut of the social fabric had taken place at two major levels : the lirst wfls at t11c basic flglflrifl11 stru~ture, flllcl the second were deviating trends in trade. A significant break in the long - established traditional pattern was the transfer of lands earlier owned by tlie temples to the churches and missionary&~s LQ meet the necessitating demands of the latter and the clergy. The influx of foreign merchants who were able to invest due to lucrative profits from trade also led to changes in the ownership of land holdings and a consequent enhancement in the, - overall p G -.Though the de&encc_on returns fro,m commerce was greater. thathat.o&b~~ especially in tliis century. the clergy I--' not being legally permitted to participate in trade, diverted their attention to - agriculture. The shilling and subsequent takeover of lands thus had far reaching economic repercussions. It is possible that the transfers could have had a concrete and profound impact on the social milieu of the city and initiated some level of change It has to be remembered that for the first time, these changes heralded the development of an entirely new social framework in Goa. As compared to I-- the earlier ruler8 who being natives of the country were concerned solely with it's political conquest to fulfill their ambitions and economic needs, the Portuguese were the first foreigners (Europeans) to conquer the port. Though Initially attracted due to its locational clignificance and conl~~rercial returns. their primrry $~~t~iy_e~.-wa?~ to develop the city and society on a pattern.- similar to Lisbon, capital of Portugal. Efforts were constantly made to ^ nurture this aim. One major step in this direction was the conversion of Goa C-- - into the headquarters of the Portuguese empire in India. While it was a , -- predominantly political decision, tlley endeavored to grall a proportion of the society which, in addition to its original characteristics, would acquire a peculiar distinct colonial naturc ovcr a period of tiii~u. 'l'l~cy fostered tllc growth of such a culture as it served their political needs. The following will explore the extent to which the above mentioned policies and trends could have had a bearing on the Goan society. A very broad outline of the trends in which,the social structure had evolved \ firstly, for the Portuguese and, later the&ndus, the local inhabitants, is -: ' 3' -'I elucidated below. The concept conversion 's analysed as it figured proniinently in the concept,& social ch611gd It is relevant to know the meaning of the \I concept of 's2w2tratification' since this was maintained aa a definite form of social hierarchy 'and was slso observed witti utliiosl rigidity --.-I To begin with, any society survives on the basis of a minimal degree of integration between the various components that constitute and contribute towards its existence. All the dinerent groups in entirety are interlinked together to enable the society to prevail and function in a particular fashion. The presence of some inherent arid clear cu~ din'cretices between the various social strata can lead to the inference that there is a certain depree of stratification. In fact, all societies are generally classified on the basis of three findmental distinctions, i.e., dther/cast 23 race r t. osit~on..-? of status Social stratification thus, is a specific form of social inequality referring to the presence of a social order which is composed of groups ranked one above the other usually in terms of the level of power, prestige and wealth possessed by its members. At every stratum, each particular group has developed a type of uniform common identity and interest that serves as a binding cohesive force which it always strives to preserve. The concept has attracted the attention of niany sociologists who have essayed to interpret it in a framework conducive to IIieir ideology. Punctionnlistu have defined it on the basis of the assumption that some fundamental needs that have to be fulfilled if a society to survive. They presume the union of various segments of society to form an integrated whole and examine the ways in which the system is unified with the other relevant sections of society 1'1. Talcott Parsons belonging to this school, contends that stratification is an inevitable concomitant of all human eocieties. It's existence is derived from the fact that within a society, tliere are solne general conlnlon vnlucs whuse presence facilitates the evaluation of individuals in a particular hierarchy. The people are thereby positioned in some form of gradation or symmetry. Stratified systems are therefore, according to him, an expression of shared values 131. The concept was redefined further in 1945 when Kingsley Davis and Wilbert Moore argued that all social systems share certain functional prerequisites md rolar must be undertaken only by c~tpable people who can rise up to the desired expectations. To ensure proper working and to create m environment 175 of sfficiency, necessary training should be imparted. Roles therefore have to be allotted to competent people who are capable of executing their tasks con~civntior~nlv Accnrdin~ to thcm, socinl rtrmtificmtion in R svnteln which attaches unequal rewards and privileges to different positions in society 14'. On the other hand, according to Karl Marx, forms of stratification are generally derived in terms of the relationship of social groups to the forces of production. In this context, the concept 'dass' refers to the basic strata infn.aptmns. It is a social group whose members share the satne quantum relationship to the factors of production. This is clearly evident even during the period of feudalism when the two main classes, firstly, the feudal lords who posseesed lands and secondly, the landless serfs, evolved in their respective roles due to their relationship to land. However, detailed din'erentiation of classes as such emerges only when their productive capacity extends beyond the level required for subsistence Is1. The concept of thus refers to the existence of a definite class hierarchy. Members of each stratum develop their own subculture with which they are identified. Every group is cognizant and identifiable on the basis of its imbued characteristics. The existence of avenues and possibility to transcend to a higher social level also prevails The liberty to ascend onto a superior ladder in society is denoted as 'social mobl!ilkt is-an integrj part of the phenomenon since /)S6nerally all societies provide adequate incentives to encourage people with I (*- t.!~ ri!. the social ladder through acquisition of status or wealth The extent to which a society provides a higlier level of flexibility in terms of greater mobility is in fact a natural corollary. _Stratification systems providing n minimum degree of opportunity for social niobility fro111 one rnnk.--.? ' of hierarchy to another are called 'closed'. Other societies that facilitate easy * access are 'open societies'. In the former, mobility is entirely absent, in such/ - I caael, m individual'r position in society is determined at the time of his birth itself. It ir irreversible and interpreted particularly in terms of a profession. This phenomenon is clearly exemplified in the case of the caste systeni that defines each individual's status on the basis of hie birth into a particular family md rocial group I . Biological differences could also be an indication of inequalities and form a component of a few social stratification systems. It is defined as racial inequality as members of this system define certain characteristics as important and evaluate them. As will be seen subsequently, it proved to be a widely practised phenomenon in Goa where the Portuguese attempted to preserve their identity. This concept has evolved in different societies over centuries. The feudal estates of the medieval period represented a broad division of labour having clear-cut -- * \\ functions and roles ('Land holdings) created the b distinctions between fie various social strata The yre the land an a y j d ~ l owned, the greater was his status in terms of wealth, power and prestige. --.C--_.-.- The possessions and the ultimate social position of the feudal nobility were based on a number of grants of land bestowed by the king And, as 4 mentioned in the first chapter, statu 9 cansegatrtly became hereditary Over a period of time, the practice created a definite degree of social schism. On the other hand, it is however dimcult to accept that feudal lords ultimately owed their position to biological superiority through inheritance of their father's status 17! -C_--- zjp While it is clearly evident that land or the extent of land one possessed was m indicator of his wealth and social prestige in Europe, it differed slightly in India The society had always been stratified in clearly defined castes 'I,Q~virion oflbouarhir: h-a confined -.- people to the castes they were born into b- the deciding factor The society was divided on the basis of the yylll system which exemplified the concept of division of labour. The caste system has had a very long lineage. The cam society can survive only if these are hereditary groups that decide marriage relationships. Tliese groups are hierarchiully organized in an inter beneficial manner. Ranks are decided on the basis of firstly, the vocati n, secondly, deeply entrenched attitudes 9 towards the concept of purity and thirdly,. germanent ~ccupatbn of a personal enhancement in status develops '''I unequal distribution of privileges which of mobility as against an individual's A few fundamental and distinctive features fostered and perpetuated the existence of the caste system. Clear cut distinctions were maintained. The hierarchy of prestige is based on notions of ritual purity as mirrored by the order of power. In other words, the inequalities of wealth were interlinked to those of prestige and power. In addition to these factors the system also survived due to the following issues : 1. Hereditary occupation: It is evident from the specialized vocations that are practised generation atter generation by certain classes. This role while creating a high degree of cpecinlization to its tnc~nbcrs. also irnlated and confined them to their castes without offering any scope for social mobility. 2. The desire of the brahmins to keep themselves pure. The brahmins were positioned at the apex of social hierarchy. These niembers of the highest carte personitied qualities like purity, sanctity and holiness which they sought to preserve over centuries. 3. The lack of unitary rigid State control. Throughout Indian history, there 178 have been clasher of races, color prejudices and political conquests. In an effort to safeguard local social practices and corresponding economic inlcranln, tlta nyalcm cnmc lo Iio 111oro ~lrntifiotl. Morrcivrr, or1 ~iciliticnl regulation or interference is possible since the very concept of stratification a rocial phenomenon. Being deeply entrenched it is beyond the purview of my form of administrative egalities. Each caste wan divided further into of the carpenters, the goldsmiths, the potters, etc. One main reason for the persistence of the concept of social stratification on the earlier defined levels was the perpetuation of the social practices by the converted people from all castes who continued to retain their original individuality and status. For instance, a major cause for the development of this phenomenon could be the conversion of a greater proportion of brahmins as compared to other castes l l. Despite the government's preventive orders their habits and distinctions were transported into their subsequently adopted religion. With this background, we will now analyse the social trends prevalent in the port town during the course of the sixteenth century. The community was stratified at both the levels: for the Portuguese and the Indians. The frame work of the former is discussed first. The society as defined by the Portuguese who had settled in Goa, either due to official designation or participation in - trade, was divided it1 n perticc~lrr I~iernrcliy --.-.c-c-- Their classification was mainly racial as it was ~lusively open only to the Portuguese. Indians or hindus were permitted to be included only through I_- - - significant issuer like matrimony. The Portuguese aspect was c a ~ o n the basis of three major factors. These were firstly. the pt ty of -- -.* i.c., tlic cxtc~it Iti wliicll llicrc 11ud been wcial intenningling in terms of marriage; secondly, Iran position); and thirdly, the marital status. d( status or A form of Iberian gradation persisted. The apex of the social hierarchy was occupied by the,/&nd dispatched from &&al their dencendants They had been olflcially to serve their motherland, it was to be in the form of occupying senior administrative positions to assist in the governance of Gor. They, the oriqnal -Portuguese, constituting of pure Portuguese blood were clarsified p- o! -he other category of descendants included those 'born in Asia with mixed parentage The group generally incorporated a mixture of descendants and local Portuguese blood It is t a clear indication that inter-racial marriages were conducted througho~~t the century. One can safely conclude that the phenomenon received government patronage as gifts were offered to the converts and a great proportion of people materially benefited from the practice. Interracial marriages had been encouraged since the inception of the Portuguese rule. Afonso de Albuquerque being very farsighted, was conscious of the exigency to create a class of people who could assist to sustain and administer Ooa and be loyal to tlic Portr~gucse ri~lc. It Itnd bcco~i~c all unavoidable necessity as the vast geographical distnl~ce between lndin and Portugal did not make migration either possible or feasible. Moreover, fundamentally, Portugal as such was an underpopulated country and migration would have been highly impractical especially with regard to the voyage between Portugal and India which was rather perilous and strenuous As a precedent in this direction, Albuquerque therefore proposed to protnote interracial marriages between the Portuguese soldiers in service and the local inhabiranlr. Preference was given to nluslin~ women who were to be converted at the time of marriage. A major cause for the bias was their comparatively fair complexion as it was surmised that even the offspring would be fair. The mou!icos wcrc cot~ridcted tltc t~cttutal ollbl,titry ol' tlic~c titarrinyes I '. The next in the locia1 ranking were the c~esias&)including the nobility and their loyal factions. The earlier chapters reflect that the tranlfer in ownerrhip of land holdings heralded an enhancement in the proportion of this clas8. Since lands were continuously being transferred to the church as a result of the State policies, the local people who were predominantly hindus got displaced from their original occupation. The third social group constituting --. the largest number were the * nd the '; - _ -A- The soldiers were not well paid; due to lapses in regular payment, they chose alternative occupations. Some of them deserted the official service and began to participate in trade. Others became artisans. Of the few who came as private subjects, they constituted a group of the larger traders in Goa were either self employed or worked as agents for Lisbon financiers. Aa in the case of trade, a new class of middlemen namely, to exist as an indispensable corollnry in all activities. There people served M intermediaries between the Portuguese authorities and the local population lt . They were in demand during any form of verbal communication between the Portuguese and the local people to overcome any oral hindrance and to comprehend issues in their right perspective. On the other hand, due to a juxtaposition of two varied cultures and the imposition of an alien social system on the prevailing society, the social norm8 had become so lenient that by 1534 when the viceroy Miguel Vu arrived, the bade fabric itrelf had undsr8one I drastic transformation. Liberty hrd been totally misused. Excessive independence or lack of control could have mlirted in the creation of a situation where total social laxity prevailed. The Portuguere who were already married were living with their mirtrerser. There was also widespread discontent among some sections of the population. Soldiers were highly antagonistic to the State control as they were not regularly paid. And 1s observed, these people constituted a very important segment participating in the private trade I '. While the Portuguese maintained the above mentioned social hierarchy, the hindus retained their class stratification as according to the caste system. The brahmins sustained their position at the social apex. They were involved and also participated in the administration of the State as well. Being proficient in languages, they became indispensable as translators or secretaries and occupied other similnr otlices. Some were involved as lease holders for the collection of taxes. A small proportion also owned land in Goa ' '. Other than the brahmins, the Qaraswa and the - b of Canlbay and Bombay also occupied prominent positions in society. In the city and the adjoining areas, the garaswats were comparatively more successful. The records in the years 1528 and contain nnmes of twellty three.- /& These included seven christians, seven hindus, eight Draswu and one muslim. The hindus held the majority of &. Although incipient trends suggest otherwise, the Draswatg could have become less powerful over a period of time Shins in social mobility within this hindu community is presumed to have occurred as they apparently were slowly edged out by a smaller group, the of Gujarat who nor only entered the market but also participated in local day lo day commerce. The society underwent such a radical degree of transformation that in the 1580's. the spice shops and groceries within the city of Goa were owned by the Gujarat community [I9'. These people were basically rich and contributed tremendously to the city's prosperity. They attained a high degree of amuence as they owned the m. They were socially very powerful and also operated on some local networks. In these port towns. similar patterns can be observed in the Portuguese colonies of Diu and Ormuz. The Gujarati had their own captains who acted both as authorities and middlemen for all the Gujarati merchants dealing with the Portuguese authorities. They were very preponderant. In some situations, the local people were compelled to bow to the economic dominance of a small section of population. In Diu for example, the most important port situated north of Goa, the local Gujarati merchant population was rich and authoritative. Their power had enhanced to such an extent that their influence permeated all sections. Their very presence was crucial for the survival of the fort. On occasions the elite were compelled to concede to their demands These two social groups within the hindu caste system were the major categories in the society having some degree of impact on the Portuguese. Regarding the other groups, mention has already been made about the evidence of documents to corroborate the existence of the various occupations practised by certain castes. These hereditary vocations included those of the goldsmiths, the gem-cutterc, the artisans, the barbers and the washer
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