untouchables


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untouchables:

see HarijansHarijans
[children of God], in India, individuals who are at the bottom of or outside the Hindu caste system. They were traditionally sweepers, washers of clothes, leatherworkers, and those whose occupation it was to kill animals.
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untouchables

See CASTE.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Untouchables

 

persons belonging to castes occupying the lowest levels of the caste hierarchy in India.

According to Hindu dogma, untouchables are outside the traditional division of Hindu society into four varna (hence, the Hindu designation panchama, that is, members of the fifth varna). During the Middle Ages untouchables in India included community slaves, serfs, and people engaged in “unclean” occupations, such as leatherworking, removal of human feces, laundering, and fishing. In recent and modern times the majority of untouchables have served as enserfed farmhands, unskilled workers, washermen and washerwomen, tanners, and lavatory attendants. In Hinduism, association with untouchables is considered to be polluting for individuals belonging to higher castes. In southern India restrictions on associating with untouchables are even stricter; there “untouchability” becomes “unapproachability.” In contemporary India untouchables make up about 20 percent of all Hindus. After India gained independence (1947), discrimination against untouchables was prohibited by law (1955). However, even now certain traditional restrictions remain—in many areas untouchables cannot use community wells, for example.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Untouchables

lowest caste in India; social outcasts. [Ind. Culture: Brewer Dictionary, 1118]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Collins dictionary describes 'untouchable' as someone who cannot be affected or punished in any way.
"Players who have almost made themselves untouchable. It's semantics, but we don't talk that way."
To escape the persecution around 10,000 untouchables converted to Buddhism in October2003 at a mass conversion rally in Ahmedabad.
The scholarship displayed in Scarface and the Untouchable is extraordinary, probing deeply into the activities, interrelationships and mindsets of the many principal characters.
Sujatha Gidla's family memoir, Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India, details the history of social and political activism among the untouchable caste as well the many injustices suffered by her family.
AN ALLEGED big-time drug personality in Caloocan City-long considered untouchable because of his blood ties to former and current politicians-has surrendered to authorities and vowed to stay away from illegal drugs.
Born into a poor Mahar (considered an untouchable caste) family, Ambedkar campaigned against social discrimination, the system of Chaturvarna - the categorization of Hindu society into four varnas - and the Hindu caste system.
During the formative phase of the Hindu caste system, they were forced into untouchable status by the fair-skinned Aryan higher castes.
Either they are lying through their teeth or they've no idea how bad things really are.""Probably the latter," she said."Well, there in for a big surprise, 'cos there's no way they'll get out of this mess with just six billion." "Do you mean our untouchables?" "Yes, your government civil servants, SGOs, bankers and the Church!""But our government seeks a package offering growth.""And just what did they do with that growth this past 10 years when they had it?"Do you number among the sacred untouchables?
As the founder of an offshore oil-rig company, Khade is an example of a tiny but growing group: wealthy Dalits--the people once known as untouchables.
Don't miss in Friday's ECHO THE STORY OF THE UNTOUCHABLES AS Kenny Dalglish sets about rebuilding his Liverpool squad this summer, he may take inspiration from an Anfield example set nearly 100 years ago, when the Reds had slipped from top of the First Division in 1906 to a lowly 17th.