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  • 2022PreethiLolakshaNagaveniPhD

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Untouchability, A Unique Form of Violation of Human Rights: A Study of Practice of Untouchability in the form of Manual Scavenging and Caste-based Discrimination in Higher Educational Institutions in India

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2022
Number of pages305
Awarding Institution
Award date16/11/2022
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


““Untouchability” is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden in India. The enforcement of any disability arising out of “Untouchability” shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law”1 declares the Constitution of India. The principles of equality and nondiscrimination are woven to the fabric of progressive domestic legislation in India and international human rights conventions. Several of those conventions prohibit discrimination
based on birth, descent, and social origin. Despite India having ratified those conventions, and even after over 70 years of the adoption of the Constitution, which propounds the doctrine of equality, a significant section of the Indian populace are still subjected to discrimination arising by virtue of their birth in the lowered castes of the Hindu Social Order. They are subjugated,
humiliated, marginalised, and segregated. Their lives are cut short. The types and forms of untouchability have changed over time. Yet, it remains one of the most heinous forms of caste discrimination, prevalent in both urban and rural milieus, practised by both literate and illiterate privileged castes and suffered by both literate and illiterate Dalits. To understand this unique violation of human rights, two practices are taken into consideration in this thesis from seemingly opposite ends of the spectrum; manual scavenging, experienced mostly by illiterate Dalits, and caste-based discrimination in higher educational institutions, experienced by the literate Dalits. With a help of an in-depth qualitative analysis, it is found that even in the 21st century, untouchability stands on a distinctly different footing and walks in parallel to the modern industrialised India.