ATTITUDES OF SANTAL STUDENTS: AN EMPIRICAL ANALYSIS LAL BAHADUR SINGH...
ATTITUDES OF SANTAL STUDENTS: AN EMPIRICAL ANALYSIS
LAL BAHADUR SINGH AND BALANAND SINHA
A matched group of 100 Santal and 100 non-Santal undergraduate students was given
a five-point Likert Type Social Attitude Scale, The study was undertaken to examine the
difference between Santal and non-Santal students, if any, in terms of their attitude towards
family, caste, women, social customs, religion and politics. It was found that the Santal
students as compared to their non-Santal counterparts were significantly more traditional
in their attitude towards family, caste, women, religion and politics. However, insignificant
difference was observed in their social customs attitude. Reasons behind traditionality of
attitudes on the part of the Santal students have been suggested.
Dr. Lal Bahadur Singh and Mr. Balanand Sinha are Lecturers in Post Graduate De-
partment of Psychology, Bhagalpur University, Bhagalpur-812007 (Bihar).
Santals, the most important and nume-
but they have also enabled them to come
rically the largest tribe of the Santal Par-
out of their isolation and change their
gana district of Bihar, are passing through self-image and sense of identity. Supersti-
a period of transition. Different forces of tions as well as traditional beliefs and values
importance are accelerating the pace of primarily responsible for guiding the San-
socio-psychological changes happening at tals' socio-psychological life are gradually
different levels of their life. A considerable vanishing. They are now finding themselves
influence of Hinduism on Santal culture in in a new light which has remarkably streng-
recent times as well as in the distant past thened their consciousness. Eventually, new
is apparent. Majumdar (1956) has rightly cultural transformation initiated by diffe-
remarked that interaction with Hindu cul-
rent sources of change has destroyed some
ture has affected all aspects of Santal life of the important traditions and customs
(material, economic, social, linguistic and frequently practised in Santal culture. San-
religious) to a great extent. Jha (1968) also tals are losing the characteristics of primi-
notes a significant influence of the non-tri-
tive tribal societies and are, hence, no more
bal Hindu castes on the Adivasi of Bihar. isolated. By and large, they are now gene-
He opines that owing to the cultural con-
rally advancing towards a point of integra-
tact with non-tribal groups tribal people tion with the non-Santal section of the peo-
have considerably followed the local ways ple. However, there are studies (Kochar,
of Hindu life in many respects. Similarly, 1964a; Mukherjee, 1960) which have posit-
Prasad (1971) stresses the impact of Chris-
ed a view that the Santals still adhere to
tianity on Santals. Further there are studies their traditional culture. They are well
(Das and Banerjee, 1962; Das and Banerjee, known for the orthodoxy and traditionality
1964; Orans, 1959, 1965) which have re-
in their attitudes and behaviour. Of course,
ported considerable changes in Santals as a they have not lost the essential core of their
result of industrialization and urbanization. social and cultural traditions. Thus it ap-
Moreover, political awareness combined pears that the studies meant to see the
with increasing education as well as the effects of change in Santals are rather con-
spread of the means of transport and com-
flicting. They do not seem to be clearly
munication (the radio, cinema, newspaper, pointing out whether the Santals are tradi-
magazines) and freedom of expression have tional in their attitudes and behaviour or
not only opened up new vistas, new hori-
they have given them the go by. In such a
zons and new outlook on life to the Santals situation of conflicting data a further in-

12
LAL BAHADUR SINGH AND BALANAND SINHA
vestigation into the attitudes of Santals Attitude towards Family
from a psychological angle appears justified.
It will not only help to present a compre-
Significant difference in the mean fami-
hensive picture of Santals' attitudes but will lial attitude scores of Santal and non-Santal
also be helpful to link them with the main-
students was hypothesized. A comparison
stream of Indian national life. The hypo-
of mean familial attitude scores of the two
thesis framed for verification in the present groups is given in Table 1.
study was that the Santal and non-Santal
students will differ significantly between
T A B L E 1
themselves in terms of their respective atti-
FAMILIAL A T T I T U D E SCORES
tudes towards family, caste, women, social
customs, religion and politics.
METHOD
Sample: A randomly selected group of
100 Santal and 100 non-Santal students
studying in the colleges of the Santal Par-
gana district of Bihar constituted the sam-
Comparison of the mean familial attitude
ple of the present investigation. The two scores of Santal (M = 57.81 ± 7.46) and
groups were comparable in terms of their non-Santal (M = 62.05 + 8.21) students
age, sex, education and socio-economic reveals that the Santal students being signi-
status.
ficantly lower on the scale are more tradi-
tional and orthodox in their attitude towards
Test Used: The subjects attitude towards family as compared to the non-Santal
family, caste, women, social customs, reli-
students.
gion and politics was measured with the
It may be observed that despite the trans-
help of a Five-Point Likert Type Social mission of significant social, political, eco-
Attitude Scale prepared and developed by nomic, religious and technological changes,
Singh (1978) in Hindi. The scale consisted the Santals firmly believe in the traditional
of 120 statements equally divided into six family system i.e., the 'joint family system'.
sub-scales. The test-retest and split-half The Santals, as far as is possible, desire
reliabilities of the different sub-scales were that a family should remain united. There-
ranging from .77 to .84. Lower scores on fore, in some cases, a family includes more
each of the sub-scales were indicative of remote relations such as parents, parental
traditionality and orthodoxy in attitudes uncles and the first cousins living in the
concerned and vice-versa.
same house. They discharge their kinship
obligations sincerely and by and large be-
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
lieve in traditional modes of marriage cere-
The mean scores of familial, caste, wo-
mony (polygamy). They, however, do not
men, social customs, religious and political believe in family planning and are of the
attitudes of Santal and non-Santal students view that increase in the size of the family
were compared by the application of t-test. will increase its earning (working) capacity
The summary of the statistical comparison (Verma, 1970). Thus, it seems that their
and discussion thereof are presented below faith in joint-family not only co-exists with
in that order.
their agriculture based economy but is also

ATTITUDES OF SANTAL STUDENTS: AN EMPIRICAL ANALYSIS
13
strengthened by it. Therefore, in spite of change in attitude occur through contact
changes accelerated by socio-eco-technologi-
and commerce of ideas. It is well-known
cal forces the Santals' belief in the joint that caste was unknown among the Santals.
family system with all kinship obligations They believed in different clan and subclan
is continuing. However, Das and Banerjee systems and there was no idea of superior
(1962) have observed that the tribals work-
and inferior clan among them. However,
ing in industrial sectors are gradually adopt-
the concept of clan system in Santal com-
ing nuclear family and showing their de-
munity life is now no more in practice and
tachment from the extended one. Neverthe-
it appears that owing to the extended con-
less, it is more or less apparent that the tact with the non-Santal section of the peo-
changes have only touched the industrial ple (Hindus) the Santals are openly accept-
community and not the entire Santal com-
ing and following the caste hierarchy pre-
munity. Hence, it is natural that the Santal vailing in the orthodox Hindu society.
students in comparison with non-Santal Griffiths (1946) has also observed that the
students have more orthodox and traditional tribals are apparently forming a miniature
attitude towards the family.
caste system within the tribe, modelled
somewhat after the Hindu caste system.
Attitude towards Caste System
Acceptance of the caste-hierarchy of the
Hindu social order provides them not only
It was hypothesized that there will be a with an opportunity to identify themselves
significant difference in the mean caste atti-
with Hindu subcastes but also breeds the
tude scores of Santal and non-Santal feeling of status enhancement in them. This
students. Table 2 presents the distribution process of cultural and social mobility has
of the mean caste attitude scores of Santal been referred to as Sanskritization (Srinivas,
and non-Santal students.
1962), which is used as a means of vertical
mobility of groups. On the other hand re-
TABLE 2
ference or a fidelity to caste hierarchy is
C A S T E ATTITUDE SCORE
gradually abating and apparently becoming
a source of embarrassment and nettling
among the non-Santals (Hindus). They are
developing ambivalent attitudes towards
caste as it is considered detrimental to
social upliftment and the principle of social
equality and justice. Inter-caste and inter-
religious marriages are now not considered
A look at Table 2 shows that the mean as deviation from existing norms in Hindu
caste attitude score (M = 64.41 ± 11.56) society, however, they are getting con-
of Santal students is significantly lower as siderable support even from the non-inter-
compared to the mean caste attitude score fering section of society. Of course, caste
(M = 71.29 ± 12.82) of the non-Santal has gradually become more or less an un-
students. Thus, it was confirmed that the stable means of determining inferior and
Santal as compared to their non-Santal superior social status by the Hindus. Thus,
counterparts are more traditional and ortho-
it appears clearly that whereas the Santals
dox in their attitude towards the caste are moving towards accepting the caste-
system.
hierarchy prevailing in the Hindu society,
It may be seen that development and non-Santals are reflecting aversion to it.

14
LAL BAHADUR SINGH AND BALANAND SINHA
Attitude towards Women
tal family is concerned the females are also
free to work outside their homes to supple-
Further significant difference in the mean ment the earnings of their family and thus
women attitude scores of Santal and non-
to some extent both men and women in the
Santal students was presumed. The sum-
Santal community enjoy equal rights as far
mary of the results is presented in Table 3. as jobs are concerned. However, the males
are generally dominant in social life owing
to patrilineal society where emphasis is on
TABLE 3
"pleasure" and on the maintenance of reci-
W O M E N ATTITUDE SCORES
procal and obligatory relationship (Sinha,
1957). It may be clearly seen that despite
the impact of different Socio-cultural move-
ments following women's lives at different
levels, the Santals strictly like to follow the
above mentioned principles generally pres-
cribed for the status of women by their
ancestors. Hence, it is not surprising that
the Santal students in comparison to non-
Santals are significantly more traditional
An inspection of Table 3 indicates that the and orthodox in their attitude towards
mean women attitude score (57.86 ± 14.07) women.
of the Santals is significantly lesser than
that of the mean women attitude score Attitude towards Social Customs
(62.24 ± 12.41) of the non-Santals. Hence,
Another hypothesis framed for verifica-
the present result reveals that owing to tion was that there will be a significant di-
lower score on social attitude scale the fference in the mean social customs attitude
Santal students as compared to the non-
scores of Santal and non-Santal students.
Santals are significantly more traditional Table 4 presents the comparison of Santal
and orthodox in their attitude towards and non-Santal students with regard to their
women.
social customs attitude.
The type of Santal family is patrilineal
and patrimonial. The female does not in-
T A B L E 4
herit property in actuality. They can at
most acquire a maintenance allowance or
SOCIAL C U S T O M S ATTITUDE SCORES
may act as custodians of property on behalf
of their minor male offspring who are real
inheritors. A piece of the father's land is
kept in reserve to finance the marriage cere-
mony of the unmarried girls if the father
is not alive. Thus it seems that women are
considered intrinsically inferior to men in
the Santal community. Such a concept is
only the hangover of their tradition with its
The comparison of the mean social cus-
emphasis on the docile, faithful wife, her toms attitude scores of Santal (M = 65.18
life centred around her husband and home. ± 9.56) and non-Santal (M = 65.94 ±
So far as the division of labour in the San-
11.27) students demonstrates insignificant

ATTITUDES OF SANTAL STUDENTS: AN EMPIRICAL ANALYSIS
15
difference (t = .51) between them in terms observe different religious festivals; and
of their attitude towards social customs. fasting on those occasions is more common
Thus the hypothesis of significant difference among them. Singh (1979) has characteriz-
in the social customs attitude of the two ed them as more orthodox and fatalistic in
group was not substantiated.
their outlook. In an earlier study Majum-
dar (1956) has noted that despite the cul-
Attitude towards Religion
tural contact with the alien people (known
as Dekoos among the Santals) the basic
It was expected that there will be a signi-
character of Santal religion i.e., the belief
ficant difference in the mean religious atti-
in Bongas or spirits is still intact. Similarly,
tude scores of Santal and non-Santal Das and Banerjee (1962) have also observed
students. Table 5 presents the summary of a slight change in the religion of Santal
results.
inspite of the considerable impact of diffe-
rent forces. Besides, in the studies of Pandey
TABLE 5
and Singh (1971) and Singh (1969) it has
been reported that the tribals are more re-
RELIGIOUS ATTITUDE SCORES
ligious than the non-tribals. Thus it seems
abundantly clear why the Santal students
are considerably more traditional and
orthodox in their religious attitude as com-
pared to the non-Santal students. Further-
more, several facts of interest mentioned
below are also important in indicating the
traditionality and orthodoxy of Santals in
their religious attitude. Bhowmik (1971)
From the perusal of Table 5 it is appo-
and Kochar (1964b) have posited a view
rent that the mean religious attitude score that despite their belief in different Bongas
(54.42 ± 8.17) of the Santal students is or Subbongas the blind faith of Santals
significantly lower as compared to the mean in numerous evil spirits, locally known as
religious attitude score (65.16 ± 10.36) of Bhut, Rakas (ghosts) etc., is well known.
the non-Santal students. Thus it appears The importance of the concept of Ojha or
that Santals being lower on the scale are medicineman and witchcraft has not yet
more traditional and orthodox in their atti-
diminished in the general life of the Santal
tude towards religion as compared with the people. They even have faith in amulets
non-Santals.
and magical formulae which are not based
The present finding may be comprehend-
on any scientific principle. In addition to
ed on the basis of the Santals' religious life the above Sachidananda (1965) and Sinha
and activities which are commonly consider-
(1957) have recorded their blind faith in
ed as the axis of their life. Eventually, their many of the religious ideas like immorta-
convictions and beliefs in religion shape lity of the soul, its transmigration, concept
their lives from the cradle to the grave. The of heaven and hell and reincarnation which
religion of the Santals is centred around the are not within the value of contemporary
worship and ceremonies of numerous gods, Hindu community life. In describing the
deities and spirits whom they propitiate on present result it is also interesting to note
different occasions and festivals (Kochar, here that a look at the literature organized
1963, 1966; Prasad, 1972b). They sincerely by Archer (1975), Culshaw (1949) and

16
LAL BAHADUR SINGH AND BALANAND SINHA
Guha (1958) confirms the notion that the and innovations appearing in political
Santal's tradition about the creation of the spheres. Nevertheless, like in other spheres
world and the origin of mankind is no of life, their orthodoxy in political life too
more than a figment of the imagination con-
may be verified. This idea is well supported
sidered in the light of current knowledge. by the study of Sachidananda (1972) who is
Thus from the analysis of the Santal's reli-
of the opinion that the tribes of Bihar have
gious thought and activities it appears still a well-developed pattern of traditional
clearly that the Santals, in general, still leadership consisting of secular (Manjhi)
foster their deep inclination to traditional and Sacerdotal (Jok-manjhi) village head-
modes of thinking and behaviour related men who are known by different names
to religion and hence, it is evident why in among the different tribes. The office of the
comparison with non-Santal students the secular headman is hereditary while the
Santal students have a significantly more sacerdotal headman is chosen from a parti-
religious attitude.
cular family by a method of divination from
the dominant clan of the village. They
Attitude towards Politics
wield enormous influence among the vil-
lagers and guide the deliberations of the
Lastly, a significant difference in the village Panchayat. It is another facet of im-
mean political attitude scores of Santal and portance touching on modern political life
non-Santal students was expected, A statis-
that the Santals are pacifists and believe in
tical comparison of political attitude score democracy, socialism and the value of civic
of the two groups is presented in Table 6. liberty. They hardly try to come in conflict
and interfere with others' business unless
T A B L E 6
they themselves are deprived of their rights
and recompense. Speaking about the village
POLITICAL ATTITUDE SCORES
administration of Santal Biswas (1951) and
Prasad (1972a) have mentioned that the
village administration or Panchayat system
of Santals is akin to that of the modern
democratic institutions and Panchayati Raj
'Three Tier System'. However, it is evident
that they do not like to follow the new ad-
ministrative policies imposed by the govern-
It appears from the inspection of Table 6 ment and want to maintain and carry on
that the Santal students have obtained sig-
their separate entity. It may be vividly
nificantly lower scores (71.26 ± 10.44) on observed that the organization of village
political attitude scale as against the scores administration and emergence and selection
(75.22 ± 11.02) obtained by the non-Santal of leadership in Santal community life
students. Hence, it was concluded that the almost follow the traditional rules and re-
Santals as compared with their non-Santal gulations primarily determined at the time
counterparts have more traditional and of the settlement of a new village. Thus
orthodox attitude towards politics.
the significantly more traditional and ortho-
It has been frequently said that the tri-
dox attitude of Santal as compared to the
bals, in general, are now more politically non-Santal students towards politics may be
aware and conscious than they were before clearly comprehended in the light of the
and are openly accepting the new challenges above depicted arguments and observations.

ATTITUDES OF SANTAL STUDENTS: AN EMPIRICAL ANALYSIS
17
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LAL BAHADUR SINGH AND BALANAND SINHA
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