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Untouchability and societal changes

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  1. Introduction.
    1. Those marked as untouchables and to those equally stigmatized.
    2. Liberation of the outcastes.
  2. The origin of Japan's untouchable class.
    1. The creation of the Meiji government.
    2. Civic leaders at the beginning of the 1900's.
    3. The Suiheisha - the antecedent to the modern Buraku Liberation League.
  3. The birth of the caste system in India.
    1. India's castes - outnumber the four main castes.
    2. Reformation as a chance to legally end the discrimination.
    3. A look at recent events in India.
  4. Conclusion - Common history between the two untouchable communities.

How quickly can a prevailing attitude shift? What forces can bring about drastic changes in the structure of a society, and how quickly can that change be enacted? How long does it take for crippling stereotypes to disappear? These questions are central to those marked as untouchables, and to those equally stigmatized. The plight of the untouchable class is mostly known in context of the Indian caste system. Many people are unaware of the existence of similar classes in other countries. India's caste system finds logical extensions in other parts of the subcontinent. Thus, countries like Nepal and Pakistan have similar caste systems, with some accounts putting Nepal's untouchable class at about 20% of its population (

[...] Through a lack of governmental regulation and enforcement, untouchability was abolished in name only. Very little has changed. The Dalits are still heavily segregated from the other castes. When they break the rules of untouchability they are subjected to harsh punishments. They are murdered, attacked, raped, paraded naked through the streets or otherwise publicly humiliated, and their homes are destroyed. The atrocities were so common that the Indian government was forced to pass Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in 1989 as a means to combat this discrimination. [...]

[...] Gandhi had successfully led the country to nonviolent means of protest, and the country had willingly embraced it. In 1942, the Indian congress passed the Quit India resolution, calling for a wide scale nonviolent rebellion against the British. The reaction was immediate. Before the movement was started, the major leaders of the congress were arrested, and the congress itself was declared illegal. This resulted in popular revolts. In 1946, the British, shaken by the animosity pointed against them, announce their intention to grant India its independence, and work is begun on its constitution. [...]

[...] In another famous case, it has been reported that over 200 major companies obtained and keep a list of Buraku communities. Upon finding that a job applicant lives in one of those communities, he or she is not hired. While the Buraku movements have given rise to actual change, discrimination continues, and there is no clear end in sight. The birth of the caste system in India is not as clear cut as it was in Japan. In Hinduism, the caste system originates when Purush, the primal man, destroyed himself to create society. [...]

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