In such a diversity and heterogeneity, the definitions and meanings of social anthropology have become society-, nation- or continent-specific. In India, the definition has become all the more complex and confusing.
The Indian history, in terms of colonial rule, has defined it in a different way. Right from Sarat Chandra Roy to S.C. Dube and M.N. Srinivas social anthropology has been defined as a study of primitives and tribals.
What is particular about Indian social anthropology is that it is blended with the sociology and cultural anthropology of the US which renders it very difficult to define in precise terms. We have studies of tribals with a perspective of culture, with a perspective of social system and with a smaller dose of physical anthropology.
For instance, in the People of India, K.S. Singh writes a lengthy introduction on the status of Scheduled Tribes in India. In doing this exercise, willingly or unwillingly, he has become victim of all the three traditions of anthropology, namely, US culturalism, continental physical anthropology that is, racial composition, and British ethnology.
Thus, if one has to define social anthropology in terms of Indian social science, it could be said that social anthropology studies the social system, culture, ethnology and physiology of the tribals and the general weaker segments of society.
Despite the difficulties in defining social anthropology at a universal plane or global horizon one could very safely say that social anthropology makes a holistic study of the primitives, tribals and backward segments of society living in small scale, small size and small places with a comprehensive perspective including culture, ethnology, physiology and social system.