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End Untouchability

What is India's caste system?

India's caste system is among the world's oldest forms of surviving social stratification.
The system which divides Hindus into rigid hierarchical groups based on their karma (work) and dharma (the Hindi word for religion, but here it means duty) is generally accepted to be more than 3,000 years old.

Biggest caste survey: One in four Indians admit to practising untouchability
29 November 2014

Sixty-four years after caste untouchability was abolished by the Constitution, more than a fourth of Indians say they continue to practise it in some form in their homes, the biggest ever survey of its kind has revealed.

India: Article 17. Abolition of Untouchability

'Untouchability' is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden. The enforcement of any disability arising out of "Untouchability'' shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law." - Constitution of India

Untouchables of Malabar, Kerala (1906)
Untouchables of Malabar, Kerala (1906)

Sign this Petition: Petitioning National Commission for Scheduled Castes
National Commission for Scheduled Castes: To prosecute Untouchability offenses.

Untouchability is a direct product of the caste system. It is not merely the inability to touch a human being of a certain caste or sub-caste. It is an attitude on the part of a whole group of people that relates to a deeper psychological process of thought and belief, invisible to the naked eye, translated into various physical acts and behaviours, norms and practices.

- Wikipedia

is the socio-religious practice of ostracizing a minority group by segregating them from the mainstream by social custom or legal mandate. The excluded group could be one that did not accept the norms of the excluding group and historically included foreigners, nomadic tribes, law-breakers and criminals and those suffering from a contagious disease such as leprosy. This exclusion was a method of punishing law-breakers and also protected traditional societies against contagion from strangers and the infected. A member of the excluded group is known as an untouchable.

The term is commonly associated with treatment of the Dalit communities, who are considered "polluting" among the people of South Asia, but the term has been used for other groups as well, such as the Burakumin of Japan, Cagots in Europe, or the Al-Akhdam in Yemen. Untouchability has been made illegal in post-independence India, and Dalits substantially empowered, although some prejudice against them continues, especially in rural pockets dominated by certain other backward caste (OBC) groups.

Untouchability in practice

Untouchability is prompted by the spirit of social exclusion and the belief in purity, contagion and self-righteousness that characterise certain societies. It had, for instance, generally been taken for granted that Dalits pollute people and are at the lowest end of the South Asian society and many a times Dalits were known to have been prevented from engaging in any work other than handling corpses, removing human waste (see "manual scavenging"), dragging away and skinning animal carcasses, tanning leather, making and fixing shoes, washing clothes and execution of criminals. They were supposed to reside outside the village so that their physical presence did not pollute the "main" village. Not only had they been restricted in terms of space, but their houses were inferior in quality and devoid of any facilities like water and electricity.The government of independent India has, however, introduced many measures like low cost or free housing and free electricity for those below the poverty line, to address these problems. faced by poors.

In rural India, Dalits are sometimes barred from using wells used by non-Dalits, forbidden from going to the barber shop and entering temples, while at the level of job recruitment and employment many Dalits are known to be paid less, ordered to do the most menial work, and rarely promoted, except in the government jobs reserved for them. In schools, there have been instances of Dalit children being asked to clean toilets and to eat separately, although the government comes down heavily in these cases and punishes the offenders, as soon as these are highlighted.


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National Commission for Schedule Castes