ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles By Untouchability

Caste and Race: Discrimination Based on Descent

In 2001, Dalit non-governmental organisations pushed for the inclusion of caste-based discrimination in the United Nations conference on racism and other forms of descent-based discriminations. How did the Government of India respond to the internationalisation of casteism? Why did Dalits want casteism to be treated on par with racism in the first place? Did they succeed? And above all, is caste the same as race?

Untouchability in India: A Reading List

Although constitutionally banned, untouchability is still practised in both rural and urban India, by upper castes and lower castes. But how was the untouchability question answered in colonial India? Did attitudes change during the fight for independence? And despite the ban, why is the practice still prevalent in India today? 

Delhi’s Mohalla Clinics Hold the Potential to Significantly Improve Access to Quality Healthcare

In 2015, the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government introduced “Aam Aadmi Mohalla Clinics” to provide affordable basic healthcare to marginalised sections of society at their “doorsteps.” This paper evaluates the effectiveness of the programme based on a survey of 493 respondents. We found that while AAMCs partially meet their stated objectives, several areas need urgent attention including lack of information about clinics, casteism by doctors and property owners, and availability of services. 

From Balmikis to Bengalis

The reorganisation of informal household garbage collection work in Delhi is analysed, as migrants from eastern states like West Bengal have begun doing manual waste work, even as their Balmikis deal only with monthly cash payments. Drawing on fieldwork, the effect on the Balmiki jamadars is noted, and the Bengali Muslims, who newly contend with the practices of untouchability in their neighbourhoods of work, are focused on. These newer migrants come to justify the shame they experience by focusing on the equivalence of scrap with money, which has redemptive potential. This reveals a dynamic process through which caste differences are being remade—”casteification”—in relation to economic life.

Touch, Untouch, and the Depositions of Ucchishta

Complex sensory and linguistic underpinnings of caste come into play when touchables, with all their senses, touch objects made by untouchables. Here, ethnographic insights have been used about the devotional percussion instrument, khol, which is made by untouchables, but touched, heard, relished, and understood, by all castes.