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March 22, 2012 Anthropology Untouchables In the article Untouchable, Tom O’Neil tells us what being an untouchable is all about. By interviewing those labeled as untouchable, O’Neil finds a way to truly express to us what it’s like to be an untouchable and the true underlying complications that the seeming unbreakable caste system has projected on its cultural members. What are untouchables? Untouchables, or achutta, are the lowest ranking members in the caste system – or pecking order. O’Neil states that “untouchables are outcasts – people considered too impure, too polluted, to rank as worthy beings,” (O'Neil, p. 1). Interestingly, untouchables are not deformed or distinctively different from other Indians in any way.…show more content…
Historians say that Gandhi deserves great credit for pushing the issue of Untouchability onto the national stage and for lending his moral stature to the campaign to abolish it. Yet he never actually renounced the Hindu caste system, and the concrete results of his actions were few. Many Untouchables, particularly the educated ones, would love to knock him off his pedestal. Even the Harijan label (given to those in place of Untouchable) invokes pity rather than respect. (O'Neil, p. 5). Not only did Gandhi’s lack of abandoning the Hindu caste system all together lead to few, if any, results his actions also lead many Untouchables to believe his efforts failed even farther. India’s “one true Untouchable hero” is a man name Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar and he came into play during Gandhi’s “greatest perceived sin”. (O'Neil, p. 5). Gandhi’s greatest perceived sin, however, was to undermine a man named Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar. Ambedkar pushed for a separate electorate. He feared that an assertive Untouchable could never win an election open to voters of all castes. He wanted Untouchable office-holders elected exclusively by Untouchables. Gandhi resisted Ambedkar’s position on religious principles, fearing that secular solutions to caste problems would destroy Hinduism. And in September 1932, when it appeared that the British would side with Ambedkar, Gandhi protested by entering a fast unto death. Ambedkar had little choice

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