Oriya - Sociopolitical Organization

Orissa is a state in the Republic of India, which has an elected president. The governor is the head of Orissa State, and the chief minister is the elected head of the government of Orissa.

Social Organization. Traditional Oriya society is Hierarchically organized primarily on the basis of caste (and subcaste) and occupations and secondarily on the basis of social class. The highest castes, Brahman, are priests and teachers of the Great Tradition. Below them in descending order of status are: the Kshatriya, warriors and rulers; the Vaisya, or traders; and the Sudra, or skilled and unskilled workers and service holders. The occupations involving manual and menial work are low in status, and polluting occupations like skinning dead animals or making shoes are associated with the lowest castes, the Untouchables. Ascriptive status in the caste system is sometimes checked now by acquired status in the class system. In rural Orissa patron-client relationships are common and social mobility is difficult.

Political Organization. Orissa is divided into thirteen Districts ( zilla ), and each district is divided into subdivisions ( tahsils ) for administrative purposes, into police stations ( thana ) for law-and-order purposes, and into community development blocs ( blok ) for development purposes. There are village-cluster committees ( panchayat ) with elected Members and a head ( sarpanch ) for the lowest level of self-administration and development. The community development bloc has a panchayat samiti or council of panchayats headed by the chairman, with all the sarpanch as members. Each caste or populous subcaste in a group of adjacent Villages also had a jati panchayat for enforcing values and institutional discipline. The traditional gram panchayat, consisting of the leaders of several important castes in a village, was for maintaining harmony and the ritual cycle.

Social Control and Conflict. Warfare between adjacent princedoms and villages came to a stop under British rule. The police stations (thana) maintain law and order in the rural areas.

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