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As stated in the title here is the Statement:

Caste was a major divisive force and element of disintegration in 18th century India.

can I rephrase this statement as

In 18th century India, caste was a major source of division.

& its meaning will remain the same, I tried searching online but various online resources were mentioning both(division and disintegration) as synonyms of one another.

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    Obviously the author intended to refer to two different processes; presumably 'creating divisions between groups' and 'causing [something] to disintegrate'. Sep 10, 2021 at 12:34
  • oh ok, I was essentially reading this as : caste was dividing India. I didn't understood the nuances of the statement. So can I paraphrase it as Caste created division among various groups of Indian society and caused society as a whole to disintegrate. Also thanks for repeatedly answering my questions you have been a great help in clearing my misunderstandings.
    – harsh garg
    Sep 10, 2021 at 12:42
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    As Kate says these are different. Dividing something refers to splitting it into smaller, but countable sub parts, while disintegrating something is reducing it to many uncountable parts (such as reducing it to atoms), effectively destroying it completely. Sep 10, 2021 at 13:27
  • Thanks for the explanation, Mark.
    – harsh garg
    Sep 10, 2021 at 15:33

1 Answer 1

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When people talk about countries disintegrating, they sometimes mean the country splits into smaller states. It's a different use of the word disintegrate. I don't know nearly enough about Indian history to know if that's what it means here. I could also read from the context that it means India lacked unity in the 18th century. Would need to get more historical context by learning more of the history, then come back and decide which definition of disintegrate is appropriate.

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  • Here is the context: The author starts with how during the 18th century, In India caste had become a rigid social institution, which became a central feature of social life,. Then he explains that it divided people into groups with a fixed social hierarchy . Finally, he highlights various disabilities and social inequities that the caste system perpetuates. He concluded the whole paragraph with "Caste was a major divisive force and element of disintegration in 18th century India. . It often split people living in the same village or region into many social atoms. ".
    – harsh garg
    Sep 10, 2021 at 21:30
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    @harshgarg That is context, and I think it's less likely that disintegrate means India separated into smaller states/was at risk of separating into smaller states. But it's not what I mean by historical context. Historical context would be looking at different sources about 18th century India, and finding out if there's anything from history that could be relevant to this. This is my first introduction to Indian history; I don't think 'element of disintegration' is very clear. So if it was me I would check somewhere else to get a better idea of what it could mean (ie what actually happened).
    – AnonFNV
    Sep 10, 2021 at 21:52
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    Because the rest of the paragraph is focused on social issues, it seems likely that author just means India was totally socially divided, as you originally said. But I wouldn't take that for granted because disintegrate can technically mean more than one thing.
    – AnonFNV
    Sep 10, 2021 at 21:58
  • yeah, actually that was the whole reason behind me asking the question because , In the para I was made to believe that caste was a major source of division and even in the succeeding statement author only says that people were divided into many social atoms, but, when I read this statement I felt that the author was trying to convey something more than a simple statement about caste being source of division, so I asked because on the internet I was getting confusing definitions of disintegration and division.
    – harsh garg
    Sep 10, 2021 at 22:01
  • Btw Thanks, for taking you time in discussing the problem, I think I understand the issue much better now than before I had this conversation.
    – harsh garg
    Sep 10, 2021 at 22:09

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