What is caste?

Foreigners of course know of the existence of untouchability. But not being next door to it, so to say they are unable to realize how oppressive it is in its actuality. It is difficult for them to understand how it is possible for a few untouchables to live on the edge of a village consisting of a large number  of Hindus, go through the village daily to free it from the most disagreeable of its errands of all the sundry, collect food at the doors of  the Hindus, by spices and oil at the shops  of the Hindu Banias from a distance, regard the village in every way as their home, and yet never touch nor be touched by any one belonging to the village. The problem is how best to give an idea of the way the untouchables are treated by the caste Hindus. A general description or a record of cases of the treatment accorded to them is the two methods by which this purpose could be achieved. I have felt that the later would be more effective than the former. In choosing these illustrations I have drawn partly upon my experience and partly upon the experience of others. I begin with events that have happened to me in my own life.

 

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