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National law institute university, Bhopal

Project on
UNTOUCHABILITY IN INDIAN SOCIETY
Sociology- II

SUBMITTED BY-:
TO-:

SUBMITTED

DEEPAK KANERIYA

DR.BIR PAL

SINGH
2012 B.A.ALL.B.76
PROFESSOR
II TRIMESTER
Table of Contents

Introduction..........................................................

ASSISTANT

statement of problem...

Objectives
Hypothesis...
Who are untouchable..
Shudra in vedic period...
B.r.ambedkar

and

his

struggle

for

untouchables..
Rights provided by constitution
Conclusion..
Bibliography .

the

rights

of

ACKNOWLEDGEMNTS
I would like to thank my Sociology teacher Dr. Bir Pal Singh for allowing me to pick up such an
interesting topic. I would also like to thank my seniors as well as my friends for providing
valuable inputs during the course of this project.

STATEMENT OF PROBLAM:Studying and preparing a detailed project on the untouchables and their status in society .

OBJECTIVES:1. To understand who are untouchables .


2. To understand their position in Vedic period.
3. Struggle by Ambedkar.
4. Constitutional powers and rights.
HYPOTHESIS: Untouchables are generally engaged in profession which are treated as menial in
Indian society.
Scs are generally treated as untouchables.

Shudra s in vedic period

Basically the culture and tradition of a country depends on its historical background. Ancient Vedic
culture still continues in some aspects in India because the Indians are the successor of the Vedic
inhabitants. The culture was divided in two distinct groups; Dravidians and Aryans. Vedas and
Upanishads which had a thoughtful effect on the development of cultures, traditions and religious
conviction of India. Vedic culture has continued from 1500 BC to 500 BC in the north and northwestern
parts of India. This time period is divided into two parts - The Vedic Vedic Religion. Caste meaning
Varna or color originated in Vedic period. Through this distinction Aryans claimed supremacy over the
conquered (Dasas and Panis). It is a Portuguese word meaning clan. They mastered the art of cultivation
with it emerged greater division of labor and hence need for different occupations.Once the Aryans settled
as agriculturists the Aryan society developed into grouping what is known as the four-fold caste system.
Those who were fighting were known as Kshatriyas; those cultivating were known as Sudra;and, the
lowest class in the priestly community elevated themselves to the status of Brahmins. Significantly, with
the beginning of cultivation by the Aryans the earlier word "gavasthi" meaning search for cows came to
mean 'to fight', because fights between the various tribes of Aryans for fertile land and herds of cattle
were common. Soon, by 600 B.C. a new grouping emerged in the Aryan community, a group of people
dealing with trade and commerce. This led to emergence of new class Vaishyas, the Sudra community
moved up to form this new grouping, while the non-Aryans and mixed-Aryan became Sudras. The
concept of pollution also figured during this time as those who undertook unclean occupations like
cleaning of carcasses, fishing and other occupations came into existence.
In the beginning, the class system was not rigid. But in the later Vedic period it became rigid when the

Brahmins and the kshatriyas became powerful and the vaishyas were made to pay tributes. The sudras
became miserable and began to be treated as untouchables.
The Brahmins were specialized in creating the sacred texts and carrying out various types of rituals and
they also acted as a priest. The people of royal family were classified as Kshatriyas. They performed a
commanding role in society and helped to maintain law and order. In the Early Vedic Period all the three
upper classes Brahmins, Kshatriyas, and Vaishyas were considered as relatively equal Aryan, but in the
Later Vedic Age the Brahmins and Kshatriyas became upper class. The Vaishyas were traders and farmers
or any type of worker but the Shudras were the lower class; they were untouchable for upper-class and
were meant to serve the upper three classes.
The caste system, in those days had some advantages. It reduced friction within the society. Marriages
within the caste reduced maladjustments in family life. It ensured continuity of occupation as the sons
usually followed the fathers occupation. This reduced unemployment and brought about perfection of
several arts and crafts. Furthermore, since the caste system was based on the principle of division of labor,
the Aryans were able to establish and maintain a sound economy.But soon caste system became a social
evil. It suppressed an individual's talent and became an obstacle for his personal development. It gave rise
to untouchability and acted against the feeling of common brotherhood. Because of the mutual jealousies
among the various castes, the Hindu society disintegrated and fell an easy prey to foreign invaders .

Landmark struggle by Dr.B.R. ambedkar for Untouchables.


As the unquestioned leader of the depressedclasses and the principal architect of the
IndianConstitution, the name of Dr. Bhimrao RamjeeAmbedkar will always be remembered
in Indianhistory. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar isknown as the leader of the IndianUntouchables, as
modern Manufor his work in piloting theConstitution of Independent Indiathrough the
ConstituentAssembly, as well as a symbolof revolt against all oppressivefeatures of Hindu
society.Dr. B.R. Ambedkarplayed a vital role in shaping themodern Indian society. Hestrongly
denounced theoutrageous attitude of theBrahmanical Hinduism towardsthe untouchables and
worked for the liberationof the untouchables from the oppression of HighCaste Hindus. The
caste system that subjugatedmore than one fifth of the population to levelsworse than animals for
more than two thousandyears of inequality became the prime target ofhis life. He tried to
remove untouchability in orderto establish a new social order based on theprinciple of equality.
His entire life has been a sagaof relentless crusade for social justice. Opposition to Caste
SystemAccording to Ambedkar, the Hinduscheme of social structure based on the fourVarnas or
Chaturvarna breedsinequality and has been the parentof the caste-system anduntouchability
which are merelyforms of inequality. In Hinduism,everything is caste-oriented andcaste-bound.
Caste determinesones station and status in society.One is doomed if he is born in alower caste
or in an outcastefamily. Indian society is a gradationof castes forming an ascendingscale of
reverence and adescending scale of contempt, asystem which gave no scope forthe growth of the
sentiment ofequality and fraternity so essential for a democraticform of government. The caste
system is not justa division of labour, but a hierarchical division oflabourers which is not based
on natural aptitudeor spontaneity but on the caste of the parents. Ambedkar's Struggle for
Safeguarding

Rights of the Untouchables


In 1920, Ambedkar started a Marathiweekly paper called Mooknayak to champion the cause of
the depressed classes. He foundedthe Bahiskrit Hitkarini Sabha on July 20, 1924for the
upliftment of the depressed classes. Theaim of the Sabha was to educate, unite andagitate. He
was firmly convinced that without theright knowledge (education) no fruitful purposeis served.
Also, however well educated withoutunity of action (unity) the goal becomes distant.But with
knowledge and unity, strengthened byan agitation to demand what is rightfully ours,
amovement will be a definite success.Ambedkar embarked on three programmes: Encouraging
free hostels for the
depressed class. Establishment of the Peoples EducationSociety for the depressed classes.
Providing representation in the legislaturefor the depressed classes.Ambedkar also felt that the
bureaucracyshared the prejudices of the Caste Hindus againstthe depressed classes. He wanted
the publicservices to be made responsive to the needs ofthe weaker sections. This could be
ensuredthrough greater number of jobs to the scheduledcastes and tribes in the civil services and
othergovernmental services.In 1927 Ambedkar started Satyagrahaat Mahad, a place in Kolaba
district of presentMaharastra to secure to the untouchables the righto access to the Chavdar Tank.
He also startedSatyagraha at Kalram Temple, Nasik to securethe right to entry into the temple by
untouchablesin 1930. In 1937, he organized IndependentLabour Party. This party was
committed toeducation, industrialization and social equality.This party became the second
biggest oppositionparty in Bombay. Out of total 15 reserved seats11 seats went to Independent
Labour Party. Asa member of Viceroys Executive Council from.July 1942 he was
instrumental in bringing aboutseveral legislative measures to protect the rightsof labourers and
workers.
Poona Pact and Ambedkar
Ambedkar attended all three RoundTable Conferences held in London during 1930-32. In these
Conferences he emphasized theseparate identity of untouchables in India anddemanded the
status of separate electorate forthem. On this question, he had confrontation withGandhiji in the
Second Round Table Conferenceheld from September
toDecember1931.TheBritishGovernmentaccepted Ambedkarsdemand and granted Communal

Award in 1932 providing for separate electorate for the Depressed Classes. In protest, Gandhi
resorted to fasting unto death. Tremendous pressure wasmounted on Ambedkar to withdraw
this demandfor the status of separate electorate foruntouchables. Ambedkar was unperturbed
andsaid The Mahatma is not an immortal person,nor the Congress. Mahatmas have come
andMahatmas have gone. But untouchables haveremained as untouchables. But ultimately
herelented and signed the well-known Poona Pact on September 24, 1932 on behalf of
thedepressed classes ensuring reserved seats foruntouchables. The Pact was later embodied in
the Government of India Act, 1935.

Current position and rights provided by constitution.

Indian law does not recognize the age-old practice of untouchability. This practice is a form of
social discrimination against certain groups of persons, based on their caste.Even today, it is relevant
because there are honor killings conducted in the name of inter caste marriages. In real life,
untouchability is not talked about much because it is an ugly truth that people are discriminated against
based on their caste.
Although the history of untouchability goes back to the period of the Vedas and Puranas, the
implementation of it was based on mistaken interpretations of the people of that time. As we all know,
beliefs can be dangerous when people misuse it to gain positions of absolute power and prestige in
society. These blind beliefs plague the Indian society and get translated into illogical, cruel and intolerant
actions against specific communities such as the Dalits.
Indian Law: Legal Measures against Untouchability
Indian law does not permit the practice of untouchability. Article 17 of the Constitution of India bans the
practice. The government of India has passed the Untouchability Act, 1955, to eliminate any form of
caste based discrimination. To eradicate the caste based discrimination, the government introduced the
reservation system, meaning that it has reserved seats in educational institutes and government services
for Dalits. Political parties in India use this as the bait to get votes from the Dalit community too.
However, this is a highly debated issue because many Dalits oppose it, stating that merit should be given
preference over caste considerations.
Whether we practice or preach against untouchability, the truth is that it is still practiced in various parts
of India. Those who dared to question social discrimination faced physical and mental torment because
the social ground reality still remains the same for them.

Our contribution to Remove Untouchability :


We can do a lot to remove untouchability from our society. The most important way to prevent
exploitation of Harijans (Dalit) by the upper-castes is to take concrete steps to help the Harijans
improve their own financial conditions.
1. Educating them and providing vocational training and jobs can also achieve this purpose.
2. Assistance can also be given so that they can set-up their own small-scale or cottage industries.
3. Awareness can be created amongst the rest of the people with the use of films and theatre,
songs, bhajans, talks, and discussions. The evil effects of this practice can be highlighted through
these mediums.
4. This can be made more effective if we start right from the beginning, by informing children
that we are all equal. Much can be achieved by creating feelings of brotherhood and removing
caste biases from the minds of the future generations.
It is deeply unfortunate, that the practice of untouchability has still not been totally weeded out
from our country, despite all efforts. Many people still retain these age-old attitudes which are
harmful to the development of our society. But still there is hope that the children of today will
not accept this shameful practice and everyone will be considered equal.

Bibliography
Article Dr. B.R. Ambedkar : The Messiah of the Downtrodden by Siddharatha Dash.
NLIU sociology text book By Dr. Birpal singh sir

Soft data
http://www.lawisgreek.com/indian-law-what-is-untouchability.
http://www.preservearticles.com/201012271775/removinguntouchability.html.

Bibliography and soft data

Article Dr. B.R. Ambedkar : The Messiah of the Downtrodden by Siddharatha dash
http://www.lawisgreek.com/indian-law-what-is-untouchability.
Nliu sociology text book by Dr.Birpal singh sir
http://www.preservearticles.com/201012271775/removing-untouchability.html

Bibliography and soft data

Article Dr. B.R. Ambedkar : The Messiah of the Downtrodden by Siddharatha dash
http://www.lawisgreek.com/indian-law-what-is-untouchability.
Nliu sociology text book by Dr.Birpal singh sir
http://www.preservearticles.com/201012271775/removing-untouchability.html

Bibliography and soft data

Article Dr. B.R. Ambedkar : The Messiah of the Downtrodden by Siddharatha dash
http://www.lawisgreek.com/indian-law-what-is-untouchability.
Nliu sociology text book by Dr.Birpal singh sir
http://www.preservearticles.com/201012271775/removing-untouchability.html