Sunita Kamal, Associate Professor (History), SPCGC College Ajmer. & Sonakshi Pandey Assistant Professor (Law), Siddhartha Law College, Dehradun.
"The untouchability is the notion of defilement, pollution, contamination and the ways and means of getting rid of that defilement. It is a permanent hereditary stain which nothing can cleanse.”
- B.R. AMBEDKAR
Caste-based oppression in India lives today in an environment seemingly hostile to its presence: a nation-state that has long been labeled the “world’s largest democracy;” a progressive and protective constitution; a system of laws designed to proscribe and punish acts of discrimination on the basis of caste; broad-based programs of affirmative action that include constitutionally mandated reservations or quotas for Dalits,1 or so called “untouchables;” a plethora of caste- Conscious measures designed to ensure the economic “upliftment” of Dalits2 and an aggressive economic liberalization campaign to fuel India’s economic growth.
Of all the aspects reflected above, important to highlight and discuss is the practice of Untouchability is rooted in India in its varied forms and dimensions. The ethno-religious scheme and structure of Indian society offers a little hope for the people thriving on the lower rung of the social stratum that are coerced socially to swallow the poison of hostile discrimination day in and day out for no fault of theirs. Dr. Ambedkar famously said, “The factors like caste, sex, birth etc are not within human competence and control and, therefore Caste is an accident of birth.”
It is an embedded phenomenon that pervades through the Indian social structure and runs deeper in human behavior as to form a key role in managing social interactions with each other.