Indian society maintains continuity with her remote past. The social institutions such as varnashram, caste, joint family system and village communities emerged in the early phase of India society which are also responsible for several of the social problems in the modern period.
In contemporary India, there are several social problems. Though, they are called as social problems, yet, in some problems socio-cultural overtones are more prominent, whereas in some others, the economic and legal overtones are conspicuous. Thus, the contemporary social problems may be classified in the following categories:
They are closely interrelated with each other. Poverty is an economic as well as a social problem. Communalism is closely linked with economic factors. The crime and delinquency are having legal overtones but they are closely related to the social and economic factors.
Several attempts have been made to understand Indian social problems in terms of structural transformation. In the Indian context, three patterns of transformation are visible. Sanskritization is a process through which lower castes achieved upward social mobility either by adventure or by emulating the customs and rituals of the upper castes. It is a cultural process but changes in social status and occupations as a consequence of the upward mobility brought about by sanskritization makes it also a structural process.
The contact with the West, particularly with England, set in motion another process of transformation in India known as Westernization. It is characterized by Western patterns of administration, legal system and education through the medium of the English language. Under the impact of the Western way of life, a sizeable section of educated and urbanized Indian adopted Western style of dress, food, drink, speech and manners. They received an impetus in the post-independence period. The independent India adopted a modern constitution, founded a secular democratic state and followed the policy of planned socio-economic development, democratic decentralization and the policy of protective discrimination for the weaker sections.
In the Third World Countries, there is a growing urge for modernization in the post-independence period. These countries borrowed parliamentary democracy, adult franchise, and modern constitution without the supporting structural base of economy, industrialization, modern technology, literacy and normative base of rationality, civic culture and secular values. As a result, in several of the ex-colonial societies – democracy could not function successfully. The ethnic, communal, tribal, caste and regional aspirations have become so strong that they are eroding even the basic structures of democracy, modern state and civic society.
In the Indian context, structural inconsistencies are also visible. They are symptoms as well as the cause of social disorganization and social problems. By structural inconsistencies is meant the existence of two opposite sub- structures within the same structure that are not consistent with each other. In India, on the one hand, there are highly sophisticated modern metropolitan upper and upper middle classes influenced by consumerism. On the other hand, there are large numbers of the Indian people who live in inaccessible tribal and rural areas and who might have not seen even a train
This situation is the clear indicator of the gap between the rich and the poor, the rural and the urban creating a gulf between the different groups and strata. These structural inconsistencies are the indicators of poverty, inequality, inaccessibility and deprivation existing in Indian society.