Untouchability and Article 17: Understand in simple words 

To eliminate the practice of untouchability, Article 17 was framed

For the abolition of social evils like caste system and untouchability, the framers of the Indian constitution included articles 17 in the Indian constitution. Untouchability is a part of Indian society for very long. Despite the strict laws, still many events of untouchability can be seen even today.


The practice of Untouchability can be simply defined as a practice of discrimination where a particular class or caste are discriminated on the basis of belonging to a particular class, caste or being members of social groups involved in menial jobs. The discrimination can take many forms from social boycott to physical discrimination. Same is faced by the Dalit community in India in the past as well as in present. Despite the efforts of social reformers and incline of abolition in the Indian constitution, the practice is still being practised in the country.

Ambedkar on Untouchability

Considering B.R. Ambedkar’s claim regarding the history of untouchability in India, the evil practice originated in 400 AD and the reason was a struggle for supremacy between Buddhism and Brahmanism. However, most of the philanthropists believe that the practice is being practised since time immemorial. Ambedkar further claims that the term has been commonly used for the Dalit community, who is considered polluting among the people in South Asia. He further says that the term has been used for other people in other places as well like Brukimin of Japan and Cagotes of Europe.

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Who was Ambedkar? 

B.R. Ambedkar the prolific social reformer and India’s first minister of law and justice, and one of the main architects of the Indian constitution, who inspired the Dalit Buddhist movement and campaigned against the social discrimination towards the untouchables in India.

Indian constitution and Untouchability? 

During the formation of the constitution, the makers aimed at the abolition of social evils and upliftment of down-trodden castes and social groups etc.  Article 17 was added to the Indian constitution. The act talks about the abolishment of untouchability. The act abolishes the practice of untouchability in its any form and terms it an offence punishable accordance with the law under the untouchability (offences) Act, 1955 formed by the parliament. The act made several discriminatory practices punishable as offences, although the punishment provided were mild in nature.

Declaration of Article 17

The article has two declarations, firstly the abolishment of practice as discussed above and secondly the declaration of enforcement of any disability arising out of untouchability shall be a punishable offence.
Due to this mall practice in Indian communities, Dalits have faced a tough time in the past and some of the philanthropists believe that despite the constitutional declaration of it as an offence, the practice is still present in India especially in rural India.

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