The definition of untouchability can be stated as the discrimination done to a specific group of people based on their caste and sub-caste minority. Through India has been Asia’s emerging powerhouse the practice of untouchability here has raised questions about its image all across the world. The practice of untouchability has been followed for centuries and it violates basic human rights. It is based on the caste system and the untouchables are treated badly because they are from the lower caste.
In every place, the untouchables also known as Dalits face a lot of discrimination. Everyone must know what is untouchability, its history, and how it violates basic human rights. So this essay on untouchability will try to answer all the questions, which are mentioned above also will give solutions that could help in fighting this crime.
Here we have provided a few lines about the essay on untouchability along with that we have also provided frequently asked questions about the untouchability essay in English.
Long Essay on Untouchability
Untouchability is a practice, in which some lower-caste people are denied social equality and are kept at a distance, and are made to suffer from some disabilities for their touch. Untouchables by few people are considered to be contaminating or polluting the higher-caste people. The word “untouchable” refers to the rejected and degraded section of the Hindu population. India has emerged as the fastest growing economy and the biggest democratic country, but despite that untouchability practice in the country has put a dark stain on the image of the most democratic country.
The issue of untouchability is the oldest one and is considered to be the most discussed one. Despite the large population of Dalits that counts up to 164 million in our country, even to this date many of them face discrimination by many non-Dalits. The daily life of Dalits remains unchanged where they faced discrimination despite the presence of international human rights.
Untouchability is the oldest form of discrimination even dating back to the ancient days, which is based upon caste, which is considered to be a complex and pervasive problem in India. For many years the practice of untouchability has terrorized, marginalized, and has assigned an inferior status to an Indian society to a life marked by inhumane treatment, indignity, and violence. The discrimination done on Dalits has made them believe that they are responsible for their suffering. The Dalits are made to believe that as they were born in that caste, it is their destiny to be treated in a bad way in society. Just like shameful secret untouchability remains a sensitive issue in India. The practise of untouchability is never completely defined, explored, and is never completely understood. This essay on untouchability will make an attempt to understand the issues and the problems associated with the practice of untouchability in India.
What is Untouchability?
Untouchability is the practice of discriminating against individuals and groups of people based on their caste and the jobs done by them. Untouchability is practised for a long time in India and it is considered to be the direct product of the Indian caste system. Untouchability just does not only mean the restriction of a person to touch someone based on their caste or subcaste but it is the attitude that is shown towards the group of people because of their caste. This shows the mindset of people in society on how humans are treated just based on their caste or subcaste.
Untouchability is the direct product of casteism and its only belief in the purity of the so-called upper caste. When it comes to the order of the caste system, the Dalits are considered to be at the lowest order in the caste order and are also considered to be the most polluted people. The tasks that lack prestige are done by the lower caste like the removal of human waste, skinning animals, making and fixing shoes, animal slaughtering, etc. It is believed that the physical presence of the Dalits will pollute the pure environment of the village so they were kept outside the village. They were restricted in terms of the spaces and the houses' small and basic facilities such as drinking water and electricity was also now provided to them.
History of Untouchability in India
To understand the practice of Untouchability it is important to understand its origin and most importantly the caste system of India. The caste system which we see today is not pronounced in only one book but in fact, it has been mentioned in many texts. The first mention of the caste system was mentioned in the Rig Veda which is believed to be developed between 1500-800 BC, where the caste system was called the Varna system. It had classified the society into four varnas: The Brahmins who have the profession of a teacher, scholar, and priest. The Kshatriyas were the rulers, administrators, and warriors. The Vaishyas were merchants, artisans, and agricultural labourers, and lastly, the Shudras were considered to be labourers and service providers.
People were respected based on their caste and as time passed a particular caste was placed even below the Shudras and they were called Avarnas which means not belonging to any class. They were given jobs that had no dignity such as gutter cleaners, scavengers, watchmen, sweepers, farm labourers, cleaning animals such as pigs and cows, etc. People of the caste Avarnas are now called Dalits in modern times and although many of them have different professions yet the perception of people towards them has remained the same which is full of hatred and disgust.
Who are Dalits?
The word Dalit is derived from a Sanskrit word called dal which means “broken, oppressed, or ground-down”.Throughout history, they were known by many names such as Harijans, Depressed class, and untouchables but now they have adopted the term “Dalit” as a name for themselves. Dalit is considered to be outcastes as they fall outside the traditional four-fold varna system which consists of Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra classes. By many people in the society, Dalits are considered to be members of the menial caste which are born with the mark of “untouchability”.They are considered to be untouchable as it is believed that they are born impure and they spread impurity because of their traditional occupations.
Dalits are socially and physically excluded from the rest of society in many villages. Dalits constitute up to 17% of the population in India and Dalits represent a community of 170 million in India. Despite these numbers, Dalits regularly face discrimination and violence which prevent them from enjoying basic human rights. Caste-based discrimination is not only followed in India but also in many countries such as Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, etc. It is reported that more than 260 people worldwide face discrimination based on their caste, religion, and sub caste.
Practices Associated With Untouchability
Untouchables are those who are suffering from a disability that has been imposed by upper caste people. The disease Practicing untouchability has been carried from one generation to another and it is present in every sphere of life. Even though one out of every five Indians is a Dalit, still, people are discriminated against and judged based on their caste. Untouchability is mostly followed in villages where the Dalits are barred from using well by non-Dalits. The Dalits are not allowed to enter a temple or use the facilities provided to the general public. At the school level, the Dalit students are asked to sit and eat separately, and also in the worst case, they are ordered by non-Dalits to clean the toilets. The caste system is imposed as soon as a new Dalit child is born. The names given to Dalit children are different in every state as in Gujarat they are called Kachro which means filth or dirt, other names are Dhudiyo which means dusty, and Ghelo which means stupid.
This is done by people so that the child becomes aware of his caste or the sub-caste identity in society. A child who is treated as an untouchable from an early age submits himself to the practice of untouchability and accepts the identity that is given to him by the people of society. Untouchability is directly related to the caste system which has changed the mindset of people and has caused so much discrimination among people and the only way to get rid of untouchability is to get rid of the caste system. The Dalits are prevented from entering any public place or a temple that is opened for other people following the same religion. Dalits are not allowed to offer prayers or perform any religious services in any public place. They are not allowed to bathe or drink water from public places due to the practice of untouchability. The condition gets worse as they’re not even allowed to eat in a public place.
Laws Against Untouchability
Dr B R Ambedkar had fought for years against the practice of untouchability and discrimination which exercises dominance over the oppressed class. Though various laws to fight the practice of untouchability were formed still it is been practised in many societies. Even educated people follow these practices. Leaders like Dr B R Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi had fought against these practices and Gandhi even said that “untouchability is the hateful expression of the caste system and it is a crime against God and man.”He even called the Dalits Harijans, the children of God.
After many movements and the struggle to abolish untouchability, laws were made to eliminate the practice of untouchability. Article 17 of the Indian constitution declared the practice of untouchability a criminal act and its practice in any form is forbidden. According to the act of article 17, no one can restrict a Dalit to enter the temple, perform rituals, drink water in public, bath, or eat food and beverages in the public. The enforcement of any disability which would arise out of untouchability shall be an offensive punishment in accordance with the law. The Dalits are free to all the public services with respect and dignity like the nondalits and no one can refuse them to sell anything to the Dalit people.
The protection of the Civil Rights Act, 1955 will punish anyone who practices and preaches Untouchability. Scheduled caste and Scheduled tribes act of 1989 criminalizes certain acts against the Scheduled caste and Scheduled Tribes such as free labour or the forced labour of any kind. The government has also given reservations for the Scheduled caste and scheduled tribes in various government colleges and jobs. This step is taken to make sure that the oppression in the past does not affect their progress in the future and the present.
Today’s Scenario of Untouchability in India
Compared to ancient India, Today the view of untouchability has changed. People are accepting and adapting rational thinking which is required to maintain peace in society. Despite the introduction of many acts and laws that condemns the practice of untouchability, many places in India still commit this crime and get unnoticed. Untouchability and caste discrimination still prevails in society and is followed by a few orthodox people who follow a few religious believes more than the law. These people are boosted by the corrupt politicians who just care about increasing the vote banks by supporting them. The politician does boost them to follow such beliefs which will help them to gain power in the government. The Dalits living in the cities are less vulnerable to the practice of untouchability when compared to the Dalits living in rural areas. The Dalits living in the ruler area follow these beliefs and customs which are imposed on them to just be saved and because if they stand up and fight against these customs in any rural areas, their lives will be in danger.
Short Essay on Untouchability
The definition of Untouchability has varied from period to period. Untouchability has been practised from ancient times dating back to 1500-800 BC. Untouchability is an old concept that has been practised throughout history. It could be defined as the segregation of the group of people from the mainstream based on their caste and subcaste.
The untouchables were called by different names in different times such as in the Vedic period they were called ‘Chandala’.In Medieval times they were known as the ‘Achhuta’ and during British rule, they were called “Exterior Caste” or “Depressed Castes”.
The practise of untouchability is based on the caste system in which the untouchables come under the last varna known as Avarnas which means not belonging to any caste. people belonging to Avarna were given jobs that had no dignity such as gutter cleaners, scavengers, watchmen, sweepers, cleaning animals such as pigs and cows, etc. People of the caste Avarnas are now called Dalits in modern times. They are also known as the “Scheduled Castes”, the name given by the Indian Constitution for their upliftment and development.
Seeing the oppression the Dalits have faced from society the government has passed acts that protect them from future violence. Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955 was passed to protect those subjected to untouchability and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act 1955 was also passed to provide financial and legal help to the lower caste. Despite the constitutional amendments and the acts passed by the government, untouchability, and discrimination based on caste are still followed in many parts of the country. The Dalits living in the cities are less vulnerable compared to those living in rural areas. The Dalits living in rural areas are not allowed to enter the village as they are believed to pollute the healthy environment of the village. Basic requirements such as drinking water, electricity, etc are not provided as they are considered to be not good enough. The Dalits living in rural areas have accepted their faith written by such orthodox people because of the fear for their lives and there is no one to help them. The politicians are corrupt who just care about increasing their vote count and gaining power in the government even if it requires sacrificing innocent people who just want to live their life with dignity.
Everyone in the eyes of law is equal and discrimination in the name of caste and subcaste cannot be tolerated. The government has introduced laws that will help in uplifting the Dalits in society. The constant effort has been made to educate people living in rural areas about basic human rights and how practising untouchability directly violates them. Strict action is taken towards people who don’t allow Dalits in religious places, no permission to drink water or eat food and beverages. It is important to educate the new generation about these evil practices as that would help in planting a seed that would grow and change the perspective of society.
Everyone should remember that all people are equal in the eyes of law and discrimination and intolerance of others based on their caste is not entertained. There is no denying the fact that though the caste system has shaped the Indian society for a longer time and possibly it is still doing it. This led to widespread persecution and genetic rights which continue to this day. We must ensure that the measures taken to remedy the damage caused by such medieval practices will be more effective and will not create further inequality in society.