Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Article 17 of the Indian Constitution, abolishing Untouch-ability, is implicitly contravened by Articles 330-342 which guarantee political privileges to groups in the Indian population enumerated on the basis of Untouchability. These provisions were formulated during the Independence period as the result of a complex series of interactions primarily political in nature. From these interactions several different understandings of the status of the lowest stratum of the Hindu population emerged, of which three, the British, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar's, and Mahatma Gandhi's, were crucial. These understandings, or paradigms, pertain to ideas about Untouchability and Hindu social organization, and are reflected in the Constitutional provisions.
The thesis examines,this interplay of ideas behind the Constitutional clauses. Each of the three paradigms is abstracted and analyzed to determine the strategic assessment of the social situation of the lowest caste Hindus it presents. The analysis was done through an examination of the terminology used in reference to the lowest caste Hindus. A specific term is embodied in each paradigm: "Scheduled Caste" for the British, "Untouchable" for Ambedkar, and "Harijan" for Gandhi. Each term encodes a conceptual model of the reference group and a strategy to deal with that group. The study breaks down into discussions of the meaning and history of each term as used by its representative thinkers, or group of thinkers, in the context of the Independence struggle. These discussions provide the means to decode and analyze the different ideas about Untouchability.
In addition, a fourth term, "Depressed Classes" is discussed, both as a part of the British paradigm, as it was the precursor to the term "Scheduled Castes", and as a part of the history of the Independence struggle. By examining the conversations about the "Depressed Classes", which took place during the negotiations for the transfer of power, the interactions of the British government officials, Ambedkar, and Gandhi become clearer and the logical complexity of the ensuing government policy is demonstrated.
Koppedrayer, K.I., "The Interplay of Ideas Behind the Question of Untouchability: The Interaction of the British, Ambedkar and Gandhi" (1982). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 2861.