The Info List - Untouchability

is the practice of ostracising a 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. It could also be a group that did not accept change of customs enforced by a certain group. This exclusion was a method of punishing law-breakers and also protecting 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, and attempts have been continuously made to end the hostilities.[1]


1 Diverse ethnicities population in South Asia

1.1 Government action in India

2 Untouchable groups 3 See also 4 References

Diverse ethnicities population in South Asia[edit]

Untouchables of Malabar, Kerala

According to Sarah Pinto, an anthropologist, untouchability in India applies to people whose work relates to "death, bodies, meat, and bodily fluids".[2] In the name of untouchability, Dalits have faced work and descent-based discrimination at the hands of the dominant castes. Instances of caste discrimination at different places and times included:[3]

Prohibition from eating with other members Provision of separate cups in village tea stalls Separate seating arrangements and utensils in restaurants Segregation in seating and food arrangements in village functions and festivals Prohibition from entering into village temples Prohibition from wearing sandals or holding umbrellas in front of higher caste members Prohibition from entering other caste homes Prohibition from using common village path Separate burial grounds No access to village's common/public properties and resources (wells, ponds, temples, etc.) Segregation (separate seating area) of children in schools Bonded labour Social boycotts by other castes for refusing to perform their "duties"

According to Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, untouchability was born about 400 AD, due to the struggle for supremacy between Buddhism
and Brahmanism (an ancient term for Brahmanical Hinduism).[4] Government action in India[edit] During the time of Indian independence, Dalit
activists began calling for separate electorates for untouchables in India to allow for fair representation. Officially labeled the Minorities Act, it would guarantee representation for Sikhs, Muslims, Christian, and Untouchables in the newly formed Indian government. The Act was supported by British representatives such as Ramsay MacDonald. A separation within Hindu
society was opposed by national leaders at the time such as Mahatma Gandhi, although he took no exception with the demands of the other minorities. He began a hunger strike to protest this type of affirmative action, citing that it would create an unhealthy divide within the religion. At the Round Table Conferences (India), he provided this explanation for his reasoning:

I don't mind untouchables if they so desire, being converted to Islam or Christianity. I should tolerate that, but I cannot possibly tolerate what is in store for Hinduism if there are two divisions set forth in the villages. Those who speak of the political rights of the untouchables don't know their India, don't know how Indian society is today constituted and therefore I want to say with all the emphasis that I can command that if I was the only person to resist this thing that I would resist it with my life.[5]

Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi
achieved some success through his hunger strike. Dalit activists faced pressure from the Hindu
population at large to end his protest at the risk of his ailing health. The two sides eventually came to a compromise where the number of guaranteed seats for Untouchables would be reduced, but not totally eliminated. The 1950 national constitution of India legally abolished the practice of untouchability and provided measures for positive discrimination in both educational institutions and public services for Dalits and other social groups who lie within the caste system. These are supplemented by official bodies such as the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Despite this, instances of prejudice against Dalits still occur in some rural areas, as evidenced by events such as the Kherlanji massacre. Untouchable groups[edit]

Scheduled Caste
Scheduled Caste
in South Asia Cagots
in France and Spain.[6] Burakumin
in Japan Baekjeong in Korea Al-Akhdam
in Yemen Ragyabpa in Tibet (see Social classes of Tibet) Tanka (danhu) ("boat people") in Guangdong, Fuzhou Tanka
Fuzhou Tanka
in Fujian, si-min (small people) and mianhu in Jiangsu, Gaibu and Duomin (To min) 惰民 duò mín ("idle/lazy/fallen/indolent people") in Shijiazhuang, jinxing yum-in 九姓魚民 jiǔxìng yúmín ("nine name fishermen") in the Yangtze River
Yangtze River
region, yon-hoe ("music people") in Shani
in China Osus in Nigeria and Cameroon

See also[edit]

Affirmative action Underclass Outcast (person) Homo sacer


^ Peter Berger, Frank Heidemann. The Modern Anthropology of India: Ethnography, Themes and Theory. Routledge. p. 302. CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link) ^ Pinto, Sarah (2013). Where There Is No Midwife: Birth and Loss in Rural India. Berghahn Books. p. 47. ISBN 978-0-85745-448-5.  ^ Who are Dalits? & What is Untouchability? — Portal ^ However, these claims have never been verified by any historical evidence."Top RSS leader misquotes Ambedkar on untouchability".  ^ Kumar, Ravinder. "Gandhi, Ambedkar and the Poona pact, 1932." South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 8.1-2 (1985): 87-101. ^ https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/the-last-untouchable-in-europe-878705.html

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