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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Untouchables ~ by Andrea Hampton

In traditional India, there is a structured caste system. The members of the lowest caste are called the untouchables. These untouchables live a life of poverty, are discriminated against, and are outsiders in their own home land. In the caste system there is four varnas: the Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and the Shudras. The untouchables were not even included in the varnas which is the different groups of the caste, instead the untouchables were avarna or out castes. A person is born into their caste which means that what ever caste a persons parents are in is the caste that they are in. As Milton Singer and Bernard Cohn explain in their book, Structure and Change in Indian Society, "In India when parents belong to the same caste, children almost invariably bilaterally inherit their caste affiliation (1968:60). They are called the untouchables because if a member of another caste touches one of them they will become polluted. As Santokh Singh Anant explains, "The word �untouchable� refers to the practice of avoidance of contact with them by other caste (1972:22). The untouchables had the lowest status possible and were discriminated against by all other caste. Living at the bottom of the hierarchy, "The �untouchable� in India was not only low in occupational and other privileges, but was considered unclean in the eyes of the intermediate and higher caste...(Anant 1972:22) They could not change their status. They were stuck in a life of poverty (...)

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