Meaning of UNTOUCHABLE in English


Former classification of various low-status persons and those outside the Hindu caste system in Indian society.

The term Dalit is now used for such people (in preference to Mohandas K. Gandhi 's term, Harijan, which was considered condescending by the Dalit themselves), and their plight is recognized by the Indian constitution and by legislation. The groups traditionally considered untouchable included people whose occupations or habits of life involved activities considered to be polluting, such as taking life for a living (e.g., fishermen); killing or disposing of dead cattle or working with their hides; coming into contact with human waste (e.g., sweepers); and eating flesh of cattle, pigs, or chickens. Many untouchables converted to other religions to escape discrimination. Indian law now categorizes the Dalit under the term scheduled castes and accords them certain special privileges.

Britannica Concise Encyclopedia.      Краткая энциклопедия Британика.