Does untouchability still exist in India?Does untouchability still exist in India?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would say that untouchability is not as dominant now as it was in earlier times in India.  One of the premises of the Indian nation at the birth of independence in 1947 was that untouchability should be eradicated.  As part of his call for Indian autonomy, Gandhi was a vocal critic of the caste system that permitted untouchability.  There is little doubt that works like Anand's helped to bring the issue to a level of awareness where echoes to call for its end were present.  Hence, to a legal and theoretical standpoint, untouchability has been reduced in practice.  At the same time, the globalized setting that has catapulted India into being a world force has also changed the perception of untouchability.  With rapid urbanization and large scale migration, ensuing crowded living arrangements and public transport, and the broad-based mix of workplace colleagues, there has been a significant change in social attitudes, at least in the larger towns and certainly in the metros. Associations of occupations with caste have also been changing, especially as new occupations are developing.  Along these lines, the political and economic enfranchisement of more individuals has helped to reduce the stinging presence of the system of untouchability.  I don't think that anyone could firmly say that it is entirely absent or has been thoroughly eradicated because its presence in Indian society is one that spans centuries.  Yet, I think that untouchability does not occupy as central of a role in Indian life as it once did.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It would be interesting to see what people from India have to say about this.  From what is reported in the Western media, I would argue that "untouchability" still does exist in important ways.  For example, the following link

argues that 90% of all impoverished Indians and 95% of all illiterate Indians are Dalits.  There is also a great deal of violence against these people.

This would indicate to me that "untouchables" still exist in India and are still treated quite badly as a general rule.

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