STUDIES IN LEADERSHIP; A CRITIQUE M. F. ABRAHAM* ON EMPIRICAL AND...
STUDIES IN LEADERSHIP; A CRITIQUE
M. F. ABRAHAM*
ON EMPIRICAL AND CONCEPTUAL ANALYSES
There appear to be two phases in the media, technological progress, educational
study of rural leadership in India. The revolution, impact of community develop-
first phase may be called the conventional ment, evolution of Panchayati Raj and the
phase and the second the progressive phase. growth of representative democracy were
Studies in the conventional phase have conducive to the development of new
been primarily concerned with the dyna-
patterns of leadership. Recent studies,
mics of leadership as evidenced in village therefore, have evolved some modern
factions, economic status, caste hierarchy, criteria of leadership based on the changes
gerontocracy and family prestige. Their and challenges perpetrated by the forces
universe has often been the self-contained of modernization.
little communities, their autonomous cul-
Dhillon, Epstein, Majumdar, Lewis,
tural systems, the restricted spheres of Mandelbaum, Ranga Rao, Harjindar
social influence confined to narrowly de-
Singh and many others have explained
fined social networks and extended kinship traditional leadership in terms of cha-
ties. Their criteria of leadership were con-
racteristics unique and most germane to
ventional and the characteristics they un-
Indian rural social system. According to
earthed largely traditional. T h e forces of these authors the most important attributes
modernization did not upset the continuity of leadership in villages of India are: posi-
of tradition; the consequences of moderni-
tion in the local caste hierarchy, wealth,
zation were only peripheral. As such, social especially ownership of land, reputation
change served as a remote background to, and size of the family, age, connections and
rather than an integral part of, leadership influence outside the village, leisure time
studies in the first phase. The investigators available, elaborate performance of cere-
hinted at the challenges of change in pas-
monies, knowledge of court affairs, and
sing, but seldom took the challenge hospitality. Prodipto Roy, Lalit K. Sen,
seriously.
Fliegel, Vidyarthi, Loomis, Narain, Bhat,
Kumar, Abraham and others, have in their
Studies of leadership in the progressive efforts to highlight leadership in the pro-
phase took into consideration the processes gressive phase, relegated many of the tra-
and dynamics of modernization. They ditional attributes to the background and
dealt with actual as well as potential ascribed high predictive validity to several
challenges to traditional authority and modern variables in identifying progress-
documented the emergence of new patterns sive leadership. Some of the new deter-
of leadership. They discovered the 'young minants of leadership so unearthed are:
Turks', the progressive, innovative and education, literacy, exposure to mass
cosmopolite community actors. Their media, cos-mopoliteness, social participa-
universe was the changing rural com-
tion, innovativeness, secular orientation,
munities caught up, in the mainstream of political knowledgeability, achievement
national progress. They no longer looked motivation and empathy.
for isolated small communities cut off from
the rest of the nation. The spread of mass
T h e conventional and progressive phases
* Dr. M. F. Abraham, Gandhigram Rural Institute, Madurai Dist., Tamilnadu.

222
M. F. ABRAHAM
do not necessarily represent two chrono-
"Yajman Veelya" (ceremonial offering of
logical sequences and cannot be classified betel leaf and areca nuts to respected per-
as earlier and recent studies in leadership. sons) are the ones which reveal who are
Their difference is based on the mode of the most important and influential per-
inquiry, selection of variables and, above sons in the village. The information
all, the radius of their explanatory shell. obtained by this indirect method of study-
There are social scientists today, espe-
ing such situations was supplemented and
cially among anthropologists, who observe checked by direct questioning of the
autonomous cultural systems of small com-
selected 30 respondents. Each of these
munities fostering traditional leadership was asked to name the persons who took
and there are anthropologists in the guise an active interest in village affairs, were
of sociologists who delineate patterns of invited to attend panchayat meetings and
rural leadership solely in terms of inter-
were honoured during ceremonies and
caste relations. Their investigations delve festivals."1 Dhillon also studied the func-
into the cultural systems of rural social tioning of the traditional village panchayat
organization but their treatment of the and the statutory panchayat with special
forces of change is superficial.
emphasis on the role played by village
leaders in these organizations.
Having differentiated between conven-
ventional and progressive phases in the
The study revealed three categories of
study of leadership, let us examine the leaders: (1) primary or major leaders (2)
principal findings of various studies.
secondary leaders and (3) tertiary or
One of the earliest investigations is that minor leaders. T h e primary leaders are
of H. S. Dhillon who studied leadership those whose presence is considered essential
and groups in a Mysore village during in all important meetings of the village
1953-54. Dhillon developed a socio-econo-
panchayat, whether held for settling dis-
mic scale for classifying the village families putes, arranging festivals or for any other
on the basis of seven socio-economic fac-
matter of village-wide importance. They
tors: land owned, land mortgaged, amount may be entrusted with Panchayat funds
of credit and debt, type of house structure, and called upon to attend meetings of
income from non-agricultural occupations, neighbouring panchayats. Secondary lead-
and ownership of live-stock and bullock ers are persons who dominate their res-
carts. He made a detailed study of the kin-
pective factions and whose presence is
ship and marital ties as well as the social, considered essential for all important
economic and ceremonial relations between meetings of their own faction panchayats
the village families. His technique for and of the village panchayat when matters,
identifying village leaders was "to observe concerning their faction are discussed.
and analyze the situation in which the Though active and influential in the vil-
'leaders' are expected to play their leader-
lage, they are seldom invited to panchayat
ship roles. Occasions like court quarrels, meetings in the neighbouring villages.
meetings of panchayats held to settle im-
Minor leaders represent small kinship units
portant disputes or to settle arrangements of four or five families. They are not very
for village-wide festivals and ceremonies influential in village affairs and are leaders
like marriage and betrothal at which only in the sense that they represent their
1 H. S. Dhillon (1955) : 12.

STUDIES IN LEADERSHIP; A CRITIQUE ON EMPIRICAL AND CONCEPTUAL ANALYSES 223
own small groups who are not otherwise ceive or distribute ritual offerings on
represented.
ceremonial occasions. This is a crude form
of reputational method but Dhillon com-
According to Dhillon, factors contribut-
bined it with positional approach as he
ing to leadership can be classified into made inquiries of members of the village
three categories: Social Status of the as well as faction panchayats. But even the
family, economic status of the family and best combination of reputational and posi-
individual personality traits. The inherit-
tional approaches cannot identify effective
ed social position and reputation of the community leaders since the said ap-
family, size of the family, elaborate per-
proaches fail to examine instances in which
formance of ritualistic ceremonies, espe-
power is actually employed by individuals
cially at the time of marriage or death, or groups to sway the outcome of a deci-
and wealth, especially ownership of land, sion one way or the other. And Dhillon
contribute to leadership. Other factors made the erroneous assumption that
that improve leadership chances are age, reality and appearance are equivalent since
leisure, time available, inclination to he decided that leaders could be identified
attend social and ceremonial matters, hos-
by observing which persons were shown
pitality, influence outside the village either respect on ceremonial occasions and were
through marital relations with important invited to participate in panchayat meet-
families or contact with officials, knowledge ings. Now, there is no plausible reason to
of court affairs and education.
assume that these are the effective com-
munity leaders who are active in the deci-
Dhillon identified 14 primary, 11 second-
sion-making process and who can sway the
ary and 10 minor leaders and thus con-
balance of power in the village community.
cluded that the leadership pattern is diffus-
Thus to be reputed and respected is mis-
ed with as many as 25 primary or secondary
taken for being influential. Above all,
leaders out of 135 families in the village. Dhillon's choice of independent variables
This enormous figure is particularly per-
is totally inadequate and he has missed
plexing when we consider the fact that altogether most of the social-psychological
only a small representative sample of 30 attributes of leadership which are of great
families was selected for intensive in-
conceptual significance as well as empirical
quiries. Obviously Dhillon's definition of relevance.
a 'leader' is at once vague and broad. "The
village leaders are to be understood to be
In his anthropological study of "Village
respectable and influential persons who Life in Northern India", Oscar Lewis
are shown respect at ceremonies and touched on the dynamics of rural leader-
festivals and are invited to take part in ship. He concludes: "An analysis of the
panchayat meetings to settle village dis-
personal and socio-economic characteristics
putes and issues."2 And Dhillon did not of Jat leaders reveals that leadership de-
ask his respondents to name their leaders, pends upon the following factors in order
instead respondents were asked to name of importance: wealth, family reputation,
persons who took an active interest in vil-
age, and genealogical position, personality
lage affairs, who were invited to panchayat
traits, state of retirement, education, con-
meetings and who were requested to re-
nections and influence with outsiders and
2 H. S. Dhillon (1955): 115.

224
M. F. ABRAHAM
finally numerical strength of the family and criterion for leadership. Although leaders
lineage."3
are found among all three socio-economic
On the attributes of rural leadership, classes, they clearly come from the upper
Lewis and Dhillon have reached strikingly levels of each and the correlation between
similar conclusions. Lewis's study of the wealth and leadership is highest as we
North Indian village brought out: "Signi-
move up the scale."6 Similarly, Dhillon re-
ficant correlation between leadership and ports: "Wealth is one of the most import-
family size. Seventeen out of the 20 ant criteria for leadership. Some of the
families of Rampur's leaders have the persons who are not from families with
largest families in their respective factions. inherited claims to yajamanship have
Moreover, the families of the primary attained leadership status by virtue of their
leaders are generally larger than those of wealth which has generally been acquired
secondary leaders. There are only four in trade."7
families among the Jats which are as large
In 1961-62 Andre Beteille studied the
as the leaders' families but do not have a distribution of social power in a Tanjore
leadership role. In the case of the three village. According to him, upto the 1940s
leaders with small families we find that power in the village was based on conven-
they have the support of very large line-
tional factors like ownership of land, high
ages."4
social and ritual status and superior edu-
cation. Brahmins dominated the system of
And the findings that emerged from social stratification and enjoyed an almost
Dhillon's study of a South Indian village exclusive monopoly of conventional re-
suggest: "All of the 6 families having 12 sources of power. But all this began to
members or more are families of leaders; change gradually, and with increasing
5 being families of primary leaders. On the momentum after the freedom struggle in
other hand, none of the 55 families with 1942. Numerical strength emerged as a
less than 5 members have any leadership decisive determinant of leadership and the
status. It may be mentioned that 4 out of inherited social status was relegated to the
the five leaders coming from the lowest background. Beteille concluded: "The
socio-economic class (group IVa on the emerging leaders of the village are, thus,
socio-economic scale) and 3 out of the 5 not members of the old landowning class.
from group Mb although poor, are con-
They generally belong to the class of small
sidered as important yajmans (leaders) owner-cultivators. Their power is, to a
because of the large size of their families large extent, based upon numerical support
and extensive network of their marital re-
within the village and political contacts
lations within the village."5
outside it. These two factors as we have
Again, both Lewis and Dhillon have seen, tend to reinforce each other."8
pointed out a positive relationship bet-
ween family income and leadership.
Punit has viewed rural leadership as a
According to Lewis: "Wealth is a basic nexus of social pressures analytically se-
3 Oscar Lewis (1958) : 127.
4 Oscar Lewis (1958): 129-130.
5 H. S. Dhillon (1955) : 120.
6 Oscar Lewis (1958) : 16.
7 H. S. Dhillon (1955) : 120.
8 Andre Beteille (1966) : 202.

STUDIES IN LEADERSHIP; A CRITIQUE ON EMPIRICAL AND CONCEPTUAL ANALYSES 225
parable from power and personal influence.
Mandelbaum's observations on rural
Such a nexus of "Social pressures" cannot leadership lend support to the findings of
be "completely engulfed by the limiting Dhillon and Lewis. Wealth, reputation
factors of community life, like power, and unity of one's family, the extent of
wealth and status."8 The attributes of leisure time at one's disposal and willing-
community leadership and the specific ness to keep abreast of what goes on in the
attributes of individual members of the community are major determinants of
community are mutually irreducible, for leadership. The ability to switch personal
leadership" approximates more and more styles of conduct, readiness to sacrifice per-
to the consensus of the community."10 sonal and partisan interests in the larger
Punit implies that there are two types of interest of the collectivity and esteem for
leaders: natural and progressive. Natural high moral conduct enhance chances of
leaders are generally respected by the entire leadership. "Age alone is not sufficient to
community but are resistant to change. qualify a man for leadership but youth is
"These leaders are respected because they a disqualification and a reasonable matu-
rigidly adhere to the local customs and rity as father and manager is necessary.
usages and thereby become symbolic of the "Similarly, wealth is necessary but is not
established social order. T h e more privileg-
in itself sufficient. To be an effective
ed classes will be supporting such leader-
leader, a man must use his wealth properly
ship because it is only through such in extending hospitality, in entertaining
allegiance that their prerogatives may be many visitors, and, as we have noted
sustained. The less privileged groups will above, in staging generous family and jati
be supporting it, because it is only through rites. A wide network of connections with
allegiance to it that a certain sense of secu-
powerful people is an advantage, so too is
rity could be obtained."11 The progressives some education, which presumably gives
usually emerge from the less privileged entry to holders of power. Because an
sections of the community, and are recep-
effective leader must communicate effec-
tive to change but are less influential and tively, fluency and cogency in public
cannot lead the entire community.
speech are great assets. In addition, the
Ranga Rao's Andhra village is also rising leader of a jati should demonstrate
dominated by one or two primary leaders, that he intends to use these assets for the
though, of course, a gradual growth of general good before he is regularly, widely
multiple secondary leadership is in the and spontaneously invited to help main-
offing. The old authoritative leadership is tain the whole jati."13
still fighting the new democratic leader-
ship. However, in the wake of Panchayati
The studies we have examined so far
raj elections, "the present-day leadership is portray the characteristic patterns of con-
concentrated in the numerically and also ventional authority, though, here and
economically important caste group. This there, they give an inkling of the new and
supports Professor Srinivas's theory of the emerging patterns of leadership. Their
"Dominant Caste."12
frame of reference was undoubtedly the
9 A. E. Punit, p. 48.
10 Ibid., p. 48.
11 Ibid., p. 47.
12 K. Ranga Rao, p. 59.
13 David, G. Mandelbaum (1970) : 273;

226
M. F. ABRAHAM
past, of which the present is a symbolic
likely to become leaders in the
manifestation. Trends of change are some-
new organizations of the vil-
where in the horizon but not clearly visi-
lage.
ble. However, it is now generally conceded
(2) People with more education
that new generations of progressive leader-
will participate more in these
ship are systematically churning the dyna-
social organizations.
mics of India's rural social system since
the inception of Community Development
(3) Members of large families are
and Panchayati Raj, which has led to a
likely to emerge as leaders.
decentralization of governmental authority
(4) Age and caste do not seem to
and delegation of substantive power to
determine who will be leaders
statutory local bodies, entrusted with the
and who will not.
task of planning and implementing pro-
(5) The new leaders seem to have a
grammes of rural development at the in-
higher level of contact with ex-
itiative of and with the fullest possible
tension agencies.
reliance upon community resources. As
(6) The new leaders are generally a
Nagpaul observes: "The new social and
little more secular-oriented than
economic forces generated by the large
most village people but they
scale development plans have shaken up
are not extremely secular.15
the social structure and are beginning to
alter the old values and attitudes as well.
Similarly, Barnabas's study of the Cha-
The traditional leadership is also under-
racteristics of Lay Leaders in Extension
going a change and new patterns of Work' (1958) also indicates that leaders,
leadership are emerging on the scene. In as compared to non-leaders, have high so-
this context, the introduction of com-
cial status, own more land and are better
munity projects, land reforms, decentraliz-
educated. In his study of the 'Emerging
ed local adminstration and adult franchise Patterns of Leadership in Panchayati Raj
which aim at the reconstruction of rural Set-up in Mysore State,' Bhat found that,
society, have brought forth the importance in addition to the variables already men-
of leadership."
tioned, contact with banks, proficiency in
14 And in recent years social
scientists have been particularly interested languages and political affiliation were
in the emerging patterns of leadership in significantly related to leadership. Accord-
modernizing India, and several studies ing to Bhat: "Though there is no sudden
have attempted to determine the charact-
change in the emerging pattern of rural
eristics of influentials who dominate the leadership the gradual transformation to
Indian rural scene. Prodipto Roy, using modernity is remarkably clear."16 He has
Maurice Sill's data from a few North also highlighted the influence of political
Indian villages, analyzed the characteristics parties over village leadership in the con-
of emergent leaders. He arrived at the fol-
text of democratic decentralization. "The
lowing conclusions:
ruling party is increasingly gaining its
hold over the village leaders and thereby
(1) Individuals with a high income strengthening its position in rural areas.
and a high level of living are As these rural institutions are linked with
14 L, P. Vidyarthi (1967) : 58.
15 Ibid., p. 224.
16 K. S. Bhat (1967) : 143.

STUDIES IN LEADERSHIP; A CRITIQUE ON EMPIRICAL AND CONCEPTUAL ANALYSES 227
the state, this hold of the ruling party may
of them were either Brahmins or high caste
ultimately result in the dominance of non-Brahmins; 33.6 per cent had finished
'politics over society".17 Reports of the middle school or more; 63.5 per cent had
diffusion studies done in India clearly finished primary school; 23.7 per cent
show that leaders have a higher caste were illiterates; 87.2 per cent were culti-
status, higher level of living, greater vators and only 0.9 per cent were agricul-
political awareness of the national scene tural labourers.
and are on the whole more progressive
Fliegel and others studied the relation-
than non-leaders. The UNESCO-sponsored ship between selected characteristics of
study on 'Status Images in Changing India' leaders and village-level adoption of agri-
done in 1965-66 sought to determine the cultural innovations. In their selection of
characteristics associated with social status leaders, they combined positional and
as perceived by rural as well as urban in-
personal influence approaches. Five formal
dustrial informants. T h e study revealed leaders who held official positions in vari-
that education, character, social service ous village organizations were selected.
and income are the four most important These leaders were then asked to name
attributes that determine social status persons whom they contacted for authentic
according to both rural and urban res-
information on farming. The three people
pondents. ,
who received the highest sociometric scores
In 1965, National Institute of Com-
in each village were interviewed. This
munity Development launched a nation-
method produced a representative sample
wide survey on the awareness of community
of eight leaders in each village, five formal
development in village India covering 365 and three informal leaders.
villages and interviewing 7224 persons in-
T h e study revealed that extension
cluding 1414 leaders and a random sample agency contact and caste position of leaders
of 3375 men and 2435 women. It was one were the most influential variables in vil-
of the most ambitious social surveys con-
lage level adoption of improved agricul-
ducted in India and gathered a whole tural practices. Other characteristics of
mass of data on leaders and non-leaders leaders which were found significantly re-
from all over the country. In their pre-
lated to village level adoption in the order
liminary report on the data, Sen and Roy of importance were: secular orientation,
observed that the percentage of leaders is urban contact, credit-risk orientation and
higher at about every positive score point level of living. The researchers argue:
than the non-leaders. About 54 per cent "Caste positions of leaders play an im-
of the leaders read newspapers whereas portant role in village modernization. As
only 20 per cent of the randomly chosen a bridge between the traditional past and
males and 5.7 per cent of the females did the new, caste still guarantees a higher so-
that. The urban linkage of the leaders is cial status to the leaders, which helps them
higher than that of non-leaders, and on the to be modern (high extension agency con-
sacred-secular scale, the scores of leaders tact, high urban contact, secular orienta-
consistently fell toward the secular end of tion and credit-risk orientation), and to
the continuum. An analysis of the back-
influence the whole village in that direc-
ground of leaders reveals that 55.4 per cent tion. Some of the so-called modern cha-
17 Ibid., pp. 143-44.

228
M. F. ABRAHAM
racteristics, such as empathy, and favoura-
Sen's major findings may be summarized
ble opinion of extension programmes, were as follows:
found to be dependent on the caste
status."
(1) Leaders are much more in touch
18 Fliegel and others are emphatic
that modernization in Indian villages can-
with the outside world through
not be explained only by the presence of
visits to urban centres, educa-
the so-called "modern" characteristics of
tion, political knowledgeability,
leaders and that only a configuration of
exposure to mass media and
traditional and modern characteristics of
contact with extension agency
leaders can effectively account for the
than non-leaders. They are also
matrix of social power in India.
more progressive than non-
leaders in farming as indicated
Whereas most of the studies considered
by their higher scores on adop-
above are concerned with rural leadership
tion of improved agricultural
in general, Lalit Sen has undertaken the
practices, farm commercializa-
most thorough-going study of opinion
tion and farm labour efficiency.
leadership in India. Using the data gather-
Leaders are older than non-
ed as part of the larger project entitled
leaders and they hold important
'Diffusion of Innovations in Rural So-
positions in a variety of com-
cieties' directed by Everett M. Rogers, Sen
munity organizations in the vil-
sought to identify the determinants as
lage. They have a higher caste
well as the characteristic pattern of opinion
status and a higher level of liv-
leadership. His sample consisted of 680
ing than non-leaders. "Belong-
farmers from eight Indian villages.
ing to a higher caste immediate-
Opinion leaders were selected on the
ly establishes a power advantage
basis of four sociometric questions. Res-
for the leader over the non-
pondents were asked to name one person
leader, an advantage which is
whom they sought first for advice and in-
ritualized and legitimized by
formation on (1) Technical problems
custom."19
associated with farming, (2) Obtaining
Credit, (3) Health and (4) How to get
(2) Polymorphic leadership is the
the maximum return for farm products.
predominant type in the eight
The index of the degree of opinion leader-
Indian villages, although there
ship was calculated first by counting the
is an appreciable incidence of
total number of nominations received
monomorphic leadership also.
across the four sociometric items and then
Generally speaking, leaders in
by standardizing the score for the differ-
rural India dominate not only
ences in village sample size. In determin-
the political life of the village
ing the attributes of opinion leaders Sen
but other walks of life as well.
considered 31 independent variables which
However, polymorphism in
were grouped under four categories of cha-
more modern villages is rela-
racteristics — socio-demographic, economic,
tively less important than in the
systemic linkage and social-psychological.
more traditional villages.
18 Frederick, C. Fliegel and Others (March 1968) : 85.
19 Lalit K. Sen, p. 56.

STUDIES IN LEADERSHIP; A CRITIQUE ON EMPIRICAL AND CONCEPTUAL ANALYSES 229
(3) In the Indian villages, formal Lalit Sen for his study of opinion leader-
leadership and opinion leader-
ship and Abraham for his study of com-
ship considerably overlap. It munity leadership used the same data
means that the power advant-
gathered in the second phase of the diffu-
age of opinion leaders over non-
sion project in India. These authors locat-
leaders sanctioned by custom ed opinion leaders in the same manner.
also manifests itself in their Whereas opinion leadership was the focus
higher status in the secular of Sen's study, Abraham was more interest-
power hierarchy.
ed in community leadership which was
identified by asking the respondents to
(4) "Status and authority in Indian name not more than three persons who
villages are still ascribed, and could go and talk with the district ad-
the fact is recognized and ministrative officer about a major problem
accepted by all. With changing in the village and take general charge of
times, the leaders have sought contacting officials and handling financial
for other secular forms of matters.
power such as holding elective
and nominated offices, but the
Abraham's study revealed that six varia-
overall effect of their position bles, namely, farm size, extension agency
is the same as before."20 Yet contact, newspaper exposure, social parti-
leaders in more modern villages cipation, secular orientation and empathy
are more innovative than leaders explain 25 per cent of the variance in com-
in more traditional villages.
munity leadership. Among the socio-econo-
mic variables, farm size is the only signifi-
(5) Communication flows vertically cant attribute of community leadership
from leaders who are at the top which lends support to the general assump-
of the village hierarchy to the tion that leaders in village India emerge
lower strata and status hete-
from the land-owning, economically ad-
rophily is the determinant fac-
vantaged classes. The finding that family
tor in this communication pro-
size, age and caste rank are in no way re-
cess.
lated to leadership is in sharp contrast to
These studies represent some of the that of previous studies none of which had
major attempts at delineating the salient eliminated caste as a determinant of social
characteristics of emergent leaders in vil-
power. In modernizing the rural India of
lage India. And they have been concerned today the relevance of economic dominance
with rural leaders in general, having failed seems to have largely overshadowed the
to make any distinction between different futile exercise of ritual superiority. And
types of leaders. However, in his recent the finding that social participation is the
study of the 'Dynamics of Leadership in most important attribute of leadership
village India' the present author has made supports Katz's contention that accessibi-
a clear distinction between community lity is an essential prerequisite to leader-
leadership and opinion leadership, which ship. That is, the community leader is one
according to him, represent two analy-
who is actively involved in the affairs of
tically separable faces of social power. the community, who is a member of dif-
20 Ibid., p. 56.

230
M. F. ABRAHAM
ferent voluntary associations and who, of other variables is partialled out. Instead,
above all, is willing to place his services social participation and farm size have
at the disposal of the community. The emerged as the most significant correlates
study also reveals that community leaders of leadership. This suggests that a distinc-
deviate from the sacred norms associated tion could be made between the source of
with caste and cow, and have developed a power and the exercise of power. Most of
secular world view.
these variables conventionally associated
with leadership (Dhillon, Lewis, Mandel-
On the other hand, age, farm size, social baum, Sen, Fliegel, etc.) still contribute
participation and innovativeness have to the source of power but do not neces-
turned out to be the major determinants sarily lead to the exercise of power. For
of agricultural opinion leadership. It is example, Abraham's findings clearly show
only natural that small farmers seek advice
that age and caste rank are sources of com-
on agriculture from people who cultivate munity power but they fade out as cor-
more land and have many years of experi-
relates of emergent leadership. Accord-
ence in farming. The very high correlation ingly, Abraham has classified leaders into
between social participation and agricul-
two basic categories: the potential leader
tural opinion leadership suggests that and the dynamic leader. A potential leader
membership in the various village volunt-
is one who has access to the sources of
ary organizations is an important asset. power and who possesses those character-
Secular orientation is in no way related to istics which are traditionally associated
agricultural opinion leadership, the impli-
with leadership. A dynamic leader is one
cation being that opinion leaders conform who actually exercises power and is
to the most sacred norms of the com-
nominated to places of responsibility by
munity, whereas innovativeness is posi-
other actors in the social system. T h e very
tively and significantly related to opinion fact that social participation is the most
leadership. It is no wonder that the flow significant correlate of leadership implies
of interpersonal influence emanates from that people tend to choose as their leaders
those who have successfully tried scientific those individuals who are actively involv-
farming methods, improved seeds, modern ed in the affairs of the community rather
implements, fertilizers and pesticides and than those who possess all the parapher-
are reputed as progressive farmers, whether nalia of leadership but are only passive
or not they subscribe to the community's spectators of on-going community activities.
sacred norms concerning cow and the caste
system which have no relevance for com-
This interesting phenomenon could be
petence in agriculture.
explained by means of a new theory which
Abraham showed that most character-
Abraham calls the theory of the structural
istics ordinarily associated with leadership devolution of power. The theory postu-
in village India namely, age, caste rank, lates that in modernizing village India
farm size, education, literacy, farm spe-
there is a gradual transfer of power from
cialization, extension agency contact, news-
potential leaders to dynamic leaders — from
paper exposure, cosmopoliteness and those who only own the conventional
political knowledge-ability are still relevant resources of power to those who also
one way or the other. However, they lack dominate the functional spheres of the
predictive validity and fail to explain community. The theory of the structural
leadership adequately when the influence devolution of power is further supported

STUDIES IN LEADERSHIP; A CRITIQUE ON EMPIRICAL AND CONCEPTUAL ANALYSES 231
by the fact that the most significant cor-
and have rejected many of the sacred
relates of community leadership are mea-
norms based on tradition. Whereas opinion
sures of systemic linkage — extension leaders are self-oriented in their accept-
agency contact, newspaper exposure, and ance of technical norms for their utilitarian
social participation. Abraham also hypo-
value, community leaders are collectivity-
thesizes that the process of structural oriented in their rejection of sacred norms
devolution of community power varies which discriminate man against man on
directly with the process of modernization. the basis of untouchability. The com-
That is, as the pace and degree of moderni-
munity leader, for instance is the one who
zation increase, more and more power is is responsible for initiating and imple-
devolved and delegated to active com-
menting programs for the benefit of the
munity influentials.
community as a whole and therefore, has
to be oriented to the collectivity. The
These findings lead to the definite con-
opinion leader, on the other hand, has
clusion that leadership is not an innate adopted improved agricultural practices in
trait common to all types of leaders but a order to increase his own crop yield, to
functional relationship specific to group fortify his economic position and also to
situations. Leadership is not determined maintain his leadership status even under
by cultural certification based on religious the rapidly changing circumstances by
tradition or strategic social location attri-
adopting the most expedient norms of
buted to caste; nor is the emergence of modernity which do not "hurt" his religi-
leadership a sheer chance occurrence. On ous feelings: he is essentially self-oriented.
the other hand, leaders are picked by That is, the opinion leader is conservative,
people on the basis of valuable services cautious and expedient and slowly emerg-
rendered to the community, and their com-
ing out of the cocoon of tradition by
petence and public interest. Above all, it accepting the most convenient and utili-
is not conformity to conventional norms tarian norms of modernity. The com-
but sensitivity to collective expectancy that munity leader, however, is liberal, open-
weighs heavily in the determination of minded and enthusiastic about the secular
leaders. How, then, does a community law. Whereas opinion leaders tend to be
leader differ from an opinion leader?
older in age and tradition-oriented, com-
The differences between community munity leaders tend to be younger, pro-
leaders and opinion leaders can be brought gressive and change-oriented. Opinion
into focus in terms of the functional pre-
leaders are progressive in their technolo-
gical orientation but conventional in their
requisites of the Indian rural social sys-
value orientation; they are rational in
tem, adopting Parsons' pattern variables, their self-orientation but traditional in
especially ascription vs. achievement (or their religious orientation.
quality vs. performance) and collectivity-
orientations vs. self-orientation as a theo-
Having reviewed a large number of
retical frame of reference. Although studies in rural leadership, certain con-
opinion leaders have accepted the technical cluding remarks seem as appropriate as
norms governing agricultural practices, inevitable. The most fundamental question
they have not abandoned the sacred norms concerns the most appropriate method that
centred on holy values. But community can delineate the emerging patterns of
leaders are more liberal in their outlook leadership in village India. Literature on

232
M. F. ABRAHAM
the subject mentions five approaches to buting factors or predictive variables which
the study of leadership: (1) Positional or can explain these two types of leadership
formal leadership approach, (2) Reputa-
are also different. These observations are
tional or nominal leadership approach, (3) only intended to show that any single
Social participation approach, (4) Opinion approach to leadership can at best bring
leadership or personal influence, and (5) forth a distinct phase of social power and
Event Analysis or decision-making.
that even the most judicious combination
of various approaches can only be a serious
(1) Diffusion studies done in India approximation in picturizing the power-
have used formal and personal influence matrix of the rural society; any single
approaches to explain the structure of method of leader-selection, whether per-
rural leadership. The study on the aware-
sonal influence, formal or sociometric, is
ness of community development done by only a part-answer to the many-pronged
the National Institute of Community question of predicting new patterns of
Development combined formal approach leadership in modernizing village India.
with sociometric nomination. And the And it takes us automatically to the
several community studies cited above situational requirements of leadership.
have relied heavily on reputational method.
Event analysis or decision-making approach
(2) If different methods are likely to
is yet to be used in a systematic study of identify different types of leaders, it neces-
social power in India. Social participation sarily follows that leadership is not some-
has been treated as an independent varia-
thing that can be haphazardly transferred
ble in several recent studies but no from one situation to another with uniform
attempt has yet been made to develop a success. This functional perspective pro-
comprehensive index of social participa-
vides a conceptual framework for the ex-
tion in the selection of community leaders. planation of the dynamics of leadership.
And even where opinion leadership has The functional perspective suggests that a
been studied, the scope of the flow of inter-
leader is a leader not because of certain
personal influence has been restricted to personal or magical qualities inherent in
agricultural information. Fliegel and others him but because he performs certain func-
in their study of 'Agricultural Innovations tions relative to tasks which are positively
in Indian Villages' combined positional and
evaluated by the group and are highly
agricultural opinion leadership approaches functional — or even indispensable — for
in determining leader characteristics con-
the maintenance of the system. In other
ducive to the adoption of improved farm words, leadership is exhibited by different
practices. Sen in his study of opinion people at different times, depending on the
leadership failed to make any distinction task to be done and upon the composition
between community leadership and opinion of the group. As Paterson observes: "In
leadership and allowed himself to be this quest for effective leadership, the find-
carried away by the high correlation bet-
ings of research tend to point more and
ween them. However, Abraham's study has more to the importance of sensitivity and
established beyond doubt that community insight into the needs of the total situation
leadership and opinion leadership repre-
in which the leadership is to function.
sent two different faces of social power, The identification of essential leadership
that they are analytically separable and qualities per se will not insure effective
mutually irreducible and that the contri-
results unless these qualities are determin-

STUDIES IN LEADERSHIP; A CRITIQUE ON EMPIRICAL AND CONCEPTUAL ANALYSES 233
ed in relation to a specific group situation tional attributes contribute to the source
and unless their functioning becomes an of power and thereby builds up potential
integral part of group behaviour."21 The leaders. But mere ownership of certain
essential idea, therefore, is that leadership conventional resources of power does not
is a function of situation, that every leader give them the leverage required to exer-
in every case has arisen through perform-
cise power over the community. Rather, it
ing certain functions relative to some group is the people who are actively involved in
somewhere, sometime. The implication of the various village organizations, and thus
this approach in terms of both methodo-
accessible to most members of the com-
logy of leadership studies and changing munity, that are acknowledged as leaders,
leadership functions in the context of irrespective of whether they belong to a
modernization need to be looked into in high caste or not, and irrespective of
greater detail.
whether or not they have the support of a
large and reputed family. Therefore, the
(3) 'Traditional' as well as 'modern' theory of the structural devolution of
variables are equally important in the power which postulates that active power
general framework of leadership studies. in India's rural communities tends to
The tendency of investigators in the con-
gravitate into the hands of dynamic leaders
ventional phase of leadership studies to suggests a potential problem for further
give prominence to traditional variables research.
like caste, reputation and size of family,
performance of elaborate ritualistic cere-
(5) In recent years so much is being
monies, etc. and the tendency of 'progres-
said and written about the emerging pat-
sive' researchers to over-emphasise such terns of leadership in village India but
abstract notions of modernity as achieve-
precious little has been done to predict
ment motivation, empathy, cosmopolite-
and explain the phenomena. Sen has, of
ness, farm labour efficiency, etc. at the ex-
course, sought to identify the determinants
pense of village factions, kinship ties and of opinion leadership with a measure of
caste norms are equally regrettable. Tradi-
their predictive validity. And Abraham has
tion is not all static and change is not found social participation and the size of
synonymous with revolution; and the new the farm one operates as the best indices
generations of leaders are not made of stuff of leadership. It is particularly significant
alien to the local community; they spring to note that the former — membership and
from yesterday and not from tomorrow. offices held in various village organizations
Therefore, change and continuity, tradition
(or what Katz would call accessibility) —
is the single most important determinant
and modernity, must be built into our of community leadership. This finding
methodological framework for the analysis also points to the immediate need for
of rural leadership.
developing a comprehensive index of so-
(4) The present author is convinced cial participation which might provide the
that the distinction between source of 'open sesame' to the newly emerging pat-
power and exercise of power is of more terns of leadership in rural India. More-
than semantic interest. His recent study over, it is imperative to draw a distinction
has given rise to the conclusion that tradi-
between community leadership and opin-
21 National Education Association (1961) : 26.

234
M. F. A B R A H A M
ion leadership a n d probably other types m u n i t y contexts a n d since the factors t h a t
of leadership, since different leaders are c o n t r i b u t e to their emergence are also like-
k n o w n to be influential in different com-
ly to be different.
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