The country which tolerates the scourge of untouchability cannot claim to be civilized, Untouchability is the greatest social evil in India. In other countries, there is a distinction of the high and the low because of birth. Certain castes in India are considered so low that the water touched by them is considered unholy. When a high caste-man is touched by a low caste-man, he considers himself to have been made impure and purifies himself by bath. From time to time, social reformers have come into existence and they tried to eradicate this evil. To our great anxiety untouchability exists in the Indian society in spite of all the steps taken against it.
The origin of untouchability
The class untouchables was created by the race conscious Aryans who came and settled in India. The proud Aryans looked upon the earlier inhabitants as unclean and divided themselves into four classes-the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Sudras, leaving out the Non-Aryans who came to have no class at all. Sudras were considered as impure and unclean and so they developed into a separate class of untouchables. They were segregated and kept away from the other three castes. It is a social prejudice not religious which is responsible for segregating this class. Our holy books, in general and Bhagvadagita in particular, does not recognise such segregation. Social prejudice had denied the untouchables many civil liberties. In the south, this prejudice is very strong. Some years ago, there were separate roads and wells for the untouchables and they were not permitted to enter into temples. They were once treated like human chattels.
Untouchability resulted into conversion
The social evil of untouchability has caused a great damage to the Indian religion and culture. The discarded Hindus who were disowned by the upper class people embraced another religion which granted them social liberties. The majority of the Christians living in India at present, were originally Hindus but were considered as untouchables. In con sequence they embraced Christianity and got the social authority to mix with the others freely. Thousands of Christian missionaries have been working in India for the last so many years and converting the innocent and poor untouchables into Christians. In this way. they are polluting the Hindu culture and religion. India is a Secular State where Christians have got every right to call themselves Christians and to spread their religion by fair and foul methods.
On the contrary, the Hindus are not permitted to check this religious corruption and if they make any effort to counteract these missionaries they are branded as communalists and are emphatically asked to behave decency, like the citizens of a Secular State. At present, there are five thousand registered missionaries working in India for spreading Christianity. The Government is blind to this hard reality. Being conscious of this, Swami Dayanand Saraswati started a social movement called Arya Samaj to save the untouchables from the clutches of the Christians. Mahatma Gandhi throughout his life lived and worked for the welfare of the untouchables whom he lovingly and respectfully called Harijans. He edited a periodical Harijan’ to create public opinion against untouchability.
Brahmins and Kshatriyas are responsible for untouchability
The problem of untouchability is the result of the atrocities committed by the Brahmins and the Kshatriyas upon the Sudras or the untouchables. It seems to be unbelievable that a pot touched by a fellow human being became permanently unholy but touched and spoiled by a dog could be purified again. We are responsible for the creation of this evil and for the great social and cultural loss which it has caused to our nation.
Measures against untouchability
In free India the Rights of the Measures have been recognised in the Constitution Now, untouchability is considered as a legal offence It is said that there are nearly seventy million of untouchable in india, who are sometimes described as depressed classes. Our National Government is very eager to bring about an overall regeneration of the Harijans. For this, various methods have been adopted. Untouchability has been abolished by law. Separate seats have been allotted to the Harijans in all services of the Government departments and granted con cessions in age and academic qualifications at the time of the selection in Government services. The State Government has set up a department, the Harijan Welfare Department to safeguard the interests of the untouchables. Special schools for the general and technical education of the Harijan have been set up. Special scholarships are awarded to the Harijan students by the State Governments. To establish a classless society by eliminating untouchability, intercaste dinners and marriages are encouraged an arranged. Mere legislation cannot eradicate the age-old evil of untouchability. Public consciousness is very essential to achieve the goal.
We have to shake off conservatism and have to understand the pulse of time. Our own narrow-mindedness has result ted in the widespread conversion of countless Hindus. If the present state is allowed to continue, the Secular State will be changes into a Christian State by the end of the current century.