NIOS Class 10 Indian Culture and Heritage Chapter 19 Indian Social Structure

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NIOS Class 10 Indian Culture and Heritage Chapter 19 Indian Social Structure

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Indian Social Structure

Chapter: 19


Intext Questions 19.1

Q. 1. Which is the earliest identifiable social organisation?

Ans. Tribe. 

Q.2. Name any two Tribes which existed during the Vedic period. 

Ans. Bharatas, Yadus, Purus etc. (any two).

Q. 3. What is the meaning of ‘dvijas’? 

Ans. Twice born.

Q.4. Who were the people whose arrival in India brought a lot of changes in the caste system?

Ans. Shakas, Kushanas, Parthians, Indo-Greeks etc.

Q. 5. When were the Shudras divided into pure and impure?

 Ans: Medieval times.


Fill in the blanks:

Q. 1. _______ are called the fifth Varna (Panchana).

Ans. Untouchables. 

Q. 2. Mahatma Gandhi initiated a campaign against the practice of untouchability and called them _______.

Ans: Harijan.

Q. 3. _______ could not find slaves in India though slavery existed in a different form.

Ans. Megasthenes.

Q. 4. “A man could be a slave either by birth, by voluntarily selling himself, by being captured in war, or as a result of a judicial punishment” is stated by ________

Ans. Arthashastra.

Q. 5. ‘Purushartha’ (aims of life) is divided into four ________.

Ans. Ashramas.

Q. 6. What is the reason behind the breaking up of the ‘Jajmani’ system?

Ans. Urbanisation and Industrialisation.


Q. 1. What is the basis of ‘anuloma’ and ‘pratiloma’ marriages?

Ans. They are based on an alliance between different varnas/castes.

Q.2. What is monogamous marriage?

Ans: A marriage in which a person is married to only one person at a time.

Q.3. Name the two schools of sacred law and custom which govern the traditional family in India.

Ans: ‘Mitakshara’ and ‘Dayabhaga’.

Q. 4. What was the personal property of women called in ancient India except which they did not have any other right to property?

Ans. ‘Stridhana’.


Q. 1. State two characteristics of tribal population.

Ans. (a) Tribes have their roots in the soil  date back to a very early period. 

(b) They live in relative isolation of hills and forests.

 2. Who are indigenous people?

Ans. Tribes.

Q. 3. What is the term used for Tribes in India?

Ans: Adivasis.

 Q. 4. How many communities have been given schedule tribe status in India?

Ans. 427 communities.

Q. 5. What percentage of tribal population is in India?

Ans. 8.2 percent.

Q. 6. What are the determinants of tribal population in India?

Ans. They are determined primarily by the political and administrative consideration of upliftment a section of the Indian people which has been relatively remotely situated in the hills and forests and which is backward in terms of indices of development.

Q. 7. What are two parameters for identification of the Scheduled Tribes?

 Ans. Relative isolation and backwardness.

Q. 8. What are the prominent tribes of North India?

Ans. Khasa, Tharu, Bhoksa, Bhotias, Gujjars and Jaunsaris. 

Q.9. What are the main problems of the tribals of eastern zone?

Ans. Economic backwardness, exploitation by forest officials and contractors, land alienation, prevalence of disease and displacement due to industrial projects.

Q. 10. Name some tribes which have a very small population.

Ans. Great Andamanese, Jarwas, Nicobars and Shampur.

Q.11. When was tribal sub plan strategy initiated?

Ans. During the fifth five year plan. 

Q.12. What is tribal sub plan and its objectives?

Ans. This is a comprehensive, well-knit and integrated programme. It’s objective is elemination of exploitation of tribals, socio-development, bridging gap in development vis-a-vis other areas, improvement of quality of life.


Q.1. Explain the origin of the multiple identities in India.

Ans. 1. India is a country of diversities. Here we find the people of various kinds. They follow diverse customs and traditions, perhaps more than in any other part of the world.

2. India is a country where people have come to acquire multiple identities based on region (e.g. North India, Deccan and South India, North-east and so on), language (e.g. Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, Telugu, Punjabi), religion (e.g. Hinduism Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikkim etc.). Each set of these and other identities correspond to a distinct set of social relations, i.e., a distinct social structure.

3. There are many tribes, varnas and jatis or castes and sub-castes. 

4. There are many social evils such as untouchability, slavery etc.

5. In society there are many concepts dominated the social life or structure. For example, the concepts of Purushartha, Ashrama and several Sanskaras dominate the life.

6. There are many types of marriages find in society.

 Q.2. Distinguish between the varna and jati system.

Ans. Varna:

1. Its word meaning is colour. The initial differentiation in Indian society was based on the colour of the skin which later developed into a complex varna system with tribes being divide into four varnas:

(i) Brahmana.

(ii) Kshatriya.

(iii) Vaishya. and

(iv) Shudra.

2. Later on four varnas were divided into many jatis. Jati system underwent further changes in the post-Vedic societies with the rise of Buddhism and Jainism.

3. Several new groups of the people came into India as invaders and they settled in subcontinent. These included the groups named as Shakas, Kushanas, Parthians, and Indo-Greeks. They were included in different jatis according to their traits or features.

Differences between Varnas and Jatis

1. Emergence of Varnas: Four categories of varnas (Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra) emerged principally because of frequent inter-tribal and intra-tribal wars, subjugation of the vanquished, appropriation of loot by the war leaders and unequal distribution of wealth.

2. Fixed works or jobs for four varnas:

(a) The Brahmanas: The members of the Brahman varna generally functioned as priests.

(b) The Kshatriyas were associated with the political function.

(c) The Vaishyas were mostly agriculturists.

 (d) The Shudras were the service class.

3. Exploitation by Upper Varnas: The first two Varnas (Brahmanas and Kshatriyas) exploited the most numerous and productive Vaishya Varna, whereas the three in unision exploited the Shudras.

4. Privileges: The three higher varnas were entitled to the sacred thread ceremony (Upanayana) and were known as dvijas (twice-born).

Jatis or Castes: As time passed the economy of India underwent changes. Growth of urbanisation, craft production, and trade resulted in the rise of guilds or shreni which in later times became castes (or jatis). The behaviour of guild members was controlled through a guild court. Customarily the guild (shreni-dharma) had the power of law. These guilds could act as bankers, financers and trustees as well. Generally, these functions were carried out by different category of merchants known as the shreshthins present day Sethas of North India and the Chettis and Chettiyars of South India.

Thus the period between 500 BC and 500 AD saw the crystallisation of the caste system.

Number of Jatis (or Castes): The number of Jatis increased manifold because of the growth of a number of crafts, arrival of new elements in the population, inter-caste marriages and inclusion of several tribes into caste hierarchy.

Q.3. Discuss the characteristics of the caste system in India.

Ans. The Characteristics of the Caste System in India:

 1. As time passed varna system of the Vedic period had certain changes, and due to it numerous castes emerged in India. Several factors contributed in the expansion of caste system such as development of new occupations, crafts etc. Secondly, due to arrival of several groups of people from other countries such as Shakas, Kushanas, Parthians, Indo-Greeks etc. 

2. Development of guilds or shrenis, their laws and checks also increased the number of caste and affected caste system. The Dharmashastras and Smritis tried to fix the duties of each caste.

3. The relations between castes were usually governed by the rules of endogamy, common-suality and craft exclusiveness.

4. Between the fifth and seventh centuries.

further changes occurred in the caste organisation.

(a) A creation of landlords through land grants resulted in the transformation of Vaishyas into servile peasants.

(b) Large number of tribal cultivators were enrolled as Shudras. Consequently the Shudras now emerged as farmers like the Vaishyas. 

(c) In Bengal, South India and other border areas mainly two castes emerged i.e. the Brahmanas and the Shudras. The Rajputs emerged a as an important factor in the society of Northern India from the seventh century onwards.

5. In this period (5th to 7th centuries) caste system became so entrenched in the psyche of the people that even the plants were divided on the basis of the caste system. One text prescribes varying sizes of houses according to the caste of the people.

6. A vital development during medieval times, particularly in South India, was the division of the Shudras into pure (sat) and impure (a sat) categories. Also typical of the south were the so called ‘left hand’ (i-dangai) and right-hand (velangai) castes.

7. Manu (an ancient famous writer and scholar) noted 61 castes whereas a later text counted hundreds of mixed castes (Varnasankara). Other than the Rajputs, another caste that developed during this period was the Kayastha. The Kayasthas were traditionally scribes who got transformed into separate caste as all types of scribes got clubbed together to form one endogamous group.

8. Very often a large number of these castes claim origin from highly respected ancestors and explain their current lower status in terms of economic or other factors.

9. The Khatris, an important caste in Northern India, claim that they were of Kshatriya origin, but took to commerce, which brought them the contempt of their caste fellows and they had to accept Vaishya status.

10. The Gurjaras, Jats and Ahirs all claim Kshatriya origin, the status they came to lose later for various reasons. This process of claiming high caste origin continued till the 1950s when Constitution provided for reservations for lower castes in most government jobs.

11. The caste system has its regional variations. The North Indian Brahmanas are divided not only on the basis of gotra but also on the basis of their residence. A large number of Rajput sub-castes carry their earlier tribal names such as Tomaras, Kacchavahas, Hadas and Chauhanas.

12. In modern time the caste system acquired some new features. Thus the idea of surnames was also added.

Q. 4. Explain how purushartha ashrama and samshara are related to each other.

 Ans. Retationship between Purusharatha, Ashrama and Samskar: 

1. The three concepts of Purusharatha, Ashrama and Samskara are inter-linked.

 2. Purusharatha means aims of life which is divided into four ashramas or stages of life. 

3. In each of the ashramas there are prescribed samskaras or sites that need to be performed.

4. We generally hear of varnashrama-dharma i.e. the dharma of Varna and stages of life. 

5. There are four aims of life-dharma (right conduct), artha (pursuits through which livelihood is earned), kama (worldly desires) and moksha i.e. salvation.

6. To enable a person to practise the four purusharthas the life of a person is divided into four ashramas or stages. Detailed rules of conduct to be observed in each ashramas is also laid down. The four ashramas are like the four steps of a ladder.

7. The first ashrama is known as brahmacharya, which a person enters after the Upanayana Samskara or the sacred thread ceremony. During the period of this ashrama he receives education and learns to discipline his will and emotions. He has to live with the guru at his ashrama in the forest and learn to obey and serve him. He begs alms for himself and his teacher and does odd jobs like fetching water and cleaning around the ashrama. He practices the ideals of simple living and high thinking.

8. Even a royal prince performed all these duties (referred for a general student). The brahmacharya stage thus prepared the individual to take the responsibilities of a householder.

9. The Grihastha ashram is the most important stage in a person’s life. In this stage he practises artha and kama in accordance with the dharma. He gets married, begets children and earns livelihood to support his family and discharge his obligations towards the society.

10. After discharging all the duties of householder he enters the Vanprastha Ashrama. During this stage he leaves the family and retires to the forest, where he practises detachment from all worldly pursuits and interests. He had to live only on fruits and vegetables and wear clothes made of deer-skin or barks of a tree.

11. He practises meditations and austerities as well, and if he dies in this stage, he attains moksha. Otherwise, he enters the Sanyasa Ashrama in which he practises complete renunciation. Breaking all bonds with the society, he lives like on ascetic striving constantly for the attainment of moksha.

12. According to the scheme, the four stages (ashramas) of life began not with physical birth, but with sacred thread ceremony. Thus the child could become the full member of the society only after investiture with the sacred thread. This was one of the important sanskaras (ceremonies) at all the stages of life of a man from his conception to death.

Q.5. Give an account of the different types of marriage that are prevalent in Indian society.

Ans. Different types of marriage prevalent in Indian society:

1. Marriage is of many types such as hypergamous (man of high caste and women of low caste).

2. The another type of marriage is called hypogamous (man of low caste and women of high caste).

3. Pratiloma marriage is based on an alliance between different varna/caste, monogamous, polygamous and polyandrous based on the number of spouses. Examples of all types of marriages can be found in the Indian society.

4. Traditionally speaking, marriages were arranged by parents of the couple who usually belong to the same caste, but of different gotras (persons having common ancestor) and pravaras (prohibited degree), if they were of deja category.

5. Gotra and pravara did not exist for the lower varna/caste categories. However a large number of communities have acquired gotra for themselves.

 6. Pravara relates to the “rules of prohibited degrees” which are very strict where marriage is forbidden between persons with a common paternal ancestor with seven generation or a maternal ancestor within five.

7. In the southern part of India however this rule was never been followed and there are records of marriage between cousins and cross-cousin marriage which are considered legal and socially approved.

Q.6. Critically examine the position of women in the history of Indian society. 

Ans. The Position of Women in Indian Society: The history of women in India is the story of progressive decline. We will discuss it in different points.

1. During the Vedic Age:

(a) During the early Vedic period even under patriarchy, women participated in all the affair of the tribe barring wars and battles.

 (b) They were composers of hymns, they could marry the men of their choice at a mature age.

2. During the post-Vedic Age: In the post-Vedic phase with the break-up of tribal institutions their position deteriorated.

(a) The early lawbooks reduced the women to the status of a Shudra.

(b) Except some personal property (stridhana) they were not entitled to any property.

 (c) Even Vedic knowledge was closed to women.

(d) At this time the heterodox sects gave them some place of respect. The tantric sects of the period (early medieval) gave women an important place in their cult and instituted orders of female ascetics.

3. During Medieval Period: In general throughout the early historical and early medieval periods women were not encouraged to take up any intellectual activity.

(a) Their true function was marriage and taking care of their families.

(b) Women belonging to upper castes received some education and a few of them are mentioned as poets and dramatists. The chief female characters of Sanskrit dramas are generally described as reading, writing and composing songs.

(c) In the medieval period and till very recent times the arts of music and dancing were looked on as unfit for high caste women and were practised only by low-caste women and prostitutes.

(d) But it was not the case in early periods (of Indian History). Barring the Rig Vedic period women seen to occupy very low status in society.

 (i) Marry at an early age became sanctified.

(ii) Sati system was quite common. The main idea behind burning the sonless widow was appropriation of her property by her husband’s family members. However, Ibn Battutah, a foreign traveller mentions that in the medieval period, permission from the Sultan had to be taken for the performance of sati.

(iii) Widow remarriage was not permissible but right to property of the widows in certain cases was recognised.

(e) In the medieval period the practice of keeping a veil on the faces for women became widespread among the upper class-women. The Arabs and the Turks adopted this custom from the Iranians and brought it to India with them.

4. During Colonial Period and Afterwards: Under the influence of modern or western education, a set of social reformers campaigned for legislation which would uplift the condition of women.

 (i) With the efforts of Ram Mohan Roy, Radhakanta Dev, Bhawani Charan Banerji the practice of sati was banned in 1829.

 (ii) In 1895, killing of female infants was declared a murder.

(iii) In independent India through the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, the minimum age limit for the bridegroom was fixed at eighteen years and for the bride at fifteen.

(iv) In 1856, through the efforts of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar the first widow remarriage took place.

(v) Pandit Vishnu Shastri founded Widow Marriage Association in 1860.

In short we can say that all above metioned efforts of the social reformers have resulted in a considerable upliftment of women.

Recently the Supreme Court of India has further recognised, the daughter’s share in her father’s property.

We hope that the condition of women is going

to improve in future with growing awareness in society as well as through legislation.

Q.7. What is Jajmani system? Why is it breaking up in recent times?

 Ans. I. Meaning of Jajmani System: An important institution that developed during the early medieval period and continued till modern times in the rural society was the Jajmani system.

It was a complementary relationship between the groups of dominant peasant castes on the one hand and service and artisan caste on the other.

In this system the service castes rendered services to the land-owning peasant castes as well as to the high and dominant castes and were entitled to traditionally fixed shares of the produce and in some cases to a small plot of land.

The leather-workers, the barbers, the priests the garland makers, the ploughmen and various kinds of smiths (black smiths, gold smiths, etc.), worked for the high castes or dominant land-owning groups and were paid in kind on certain occasions or in the form of a land allotment.

II. Causes of breaking up of Jajmani system: 

1. Service castes always retained some freedom to sell their goods and services. This system of service-relationship is now breaking up under the influence of monetisation, urbanisation and industrialisation.

2. During medieval period this system of relationships acted as a safeguard in times of distress and calamities. Thus it was noted that during famines the artisans who were not tied into the Jajmani system were harder hit than even the rural poor.



1. One of the earliest identifiable social organisations is called ……

(a) Tribe.

(b) Jati.

(c) Varna.

(d) Shreni.

Ans: Tribe.

2. Society was divided into ______ varnas during the Vedic period.

(a) Three.

(b) Two.

(c) Six.

(d) Four. 

Ans: Four. 

3. Shudra is a ________

(a) jati.

(b) Caste.

(c) Varna.

(d) Shreni.

Ans: Varna.

4. This is one of many new groups of people who entered India and settled during ancient time.

(a) Kushanas.

 (b) Jains. 

(c) Buddhists.

 (d) Brahmanas.

Ans: Kushanas.

5. They were categorised as the panchand.

(a) Shudras.

(b) Brahmanas.

(c) Kshatriyas.

(d) Chandalas.

Ans: Chandalas.

6. Mahatma Gandhi called all the untouchables as _______

(a) Doms. 

(b) Harijans.

(c) Dombs.

(d) Molecules.

Ans: Harijans.

7. The first ashram in the life of a man is called _______

(a) Grihastha.

(b) Sanyasa.

(c) Vanprastha.

(d) Brahmacharya.

Ans: Brahmacharya. 

8. How many samskaras are performed from a man’s birth to his death?

(a) Forty. 

(b) Sixty.

(c) Four.

(d) Six.

Ans: Forty.

9. Practice of sati was banned in the year ______

(a) 1829

(b) 1895

(c) 1955

(d) 1856

Ans: 1829.

10. This tribe belongs to western zone of India.

(a) Bhuinya.

(b) Gujjars.

(c) Karbi.

(d) Meenas.

Ans: Meenas

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