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International Journal of English

and Literature (IJEL)

ISSN(P): 2249-6912; ISSN(E): 2249-8028
Vol. 6, Issue 2, Apr 2016, 47-50
TJPRC Pvt. Ltd


Research Scholar, Rai University, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India
The untouchability is one of the brutal features in the casteism and is considered as the strongest phenomenon in
the world. Mulk Raj Anands Untouchable is the story of a sweeper boy named Bakha who is wretched and humiliated in
the established social order. Bakha tackles the odious job with pride but he keeps the exemplary tolerance against the
social injustice and dehumanization done by the caste Hindu. But with the process of modernization, the ideology for
casteism has become more functional. Distinctions done on the basis of caste and creed are no longer today. The weaker
section of the society is introduced with the special avenues and concessions for elevation by the central government and
the common civil body. They are far more advanced than earlier at the time of independence. One can find the exemplar

them the protection against inequity, exploitation and deprivation. To any injustices, they can react strongly done to them.
KEYWORDS: Varna, Untouchability, Social Injustice, Humiliation, Transformation, Reform, Reservation, Secularism,

Received: Mar 07, 2016; Accepted: Mar 18, 2016; Published: Mar 23, 2016; Paper Id.: IJELAPR201609

Original Article

shift in their status. Even the Constitution of India gives the legal equality and affirmation of right to equality. It provides

The origin of the word caste system derives way back to the age of RgVeda. The religious word given to
the caste is Varna. The Varna frame of the Hindus is: Brahmanas, Kshtriyas, Vaisyas and Shudras.
Four orders of society were recognized based upon the four main goals of human beings and established
society accordingly. These were the Brahmins, the priests, the Kshatriya, the nobility, the Vaisyas, the merchants
and farmers and the Shudras, the servants the Varna has two meanings; first it means color and second
means a veil. As color it does not refer to the color of the skin of people, but to the qualities or energies of human
nature. As a veil it shows the four different ways in which the Divine Self is hidden in human beings. [1].
The two notions dharma (religion) and karma (work) are associated with the caste hierarchy. The
dharma of achoot (untouchable) for example, is to remain at the bottom end of the caste hierarchy, to adhere his
occupation and to follow the norms associated with his caste. This was applied to all caste groups but less subjected
to the higher levels of caste ranking. The theory of karma leads person to a belief that his caste indifference is due to
his past good or bad deeds. And he cannot do anything to assigned position. To improve his future, he has to
perform his duties well under the caste system. These made the caste system stagnant and rigid. Those with the
lowest position have to occupy the defiling occupations and were allowed living on the outskirts of the villages or
towns. The orthodox Hindus had harsh and strict attitude towards the untouchables. They were not allowed to touch
anything. They were bounded to sit at a distance. Some of the societies had to pass through from the religious
ceremonies to purify themselves from the pollution.
The social and economical rights were given to the first three castes which Shudras and the untouchables


Khushbu Soni

did not have. The first three castes are also seen as twice born. The intention in these two births is to the natural birth and
to the ceremonial entrance to the society at a much later age. [2]
Anands Untouchable presents the hard core reality of Indian society where the humans were not suffered by the
fate but by the fellows and other social surroundings. With the fictional character of Bakha the untouchable sweeper boy,
Anand has presented an endless journey of exploitation and humiliation done by the upper Indian society Mulk Raj Anand
was agitated with the social injustice and moral degradation done by man to man. He came with the theme of
Untouchability in order to bring the social awareness and humanity among the people. In Untouchable, the protagonist
Bakha is socially crushed and humiliated by caste Hindu. At each stage of his life, the tragedy deepens and intensifies
without any reprieve. The problem of untouchability was considered as curse. The physical distances were to be
maintained by the caste people to them and treated as socially backward. Bakhas duty was to clean the latrines which were
at the extreme end of the colony. In preface of Untouchable, E. M Forster states:
The sweeper is worse off than a slave, for the slave may change his master and his duties and may even become
free, but the sweeper and his duties is bound for ever, born into a state from which he cannot escape and where he is
excluded from social intercourse and the consolations of his religion. Unclean himself, he pollutes others when he touches
them. They have to purify themselves and to rearrange their plans for the day. Thus he is a disquieting as well as disgusting
object to the orthodox as he walks along the public roads, and it is his duty to call out and warn that he is coming. No
wonder dirt enters into his soul, and that he feels himself at moments to be what he is supposed to be. [3]
Through Bakha, Anand presents the grim realities of the society and displays the human attitude and their
thoughts. He projects the evil of casteism and the suffering, exploitation of the down trodden by the capitalists. The novel
begins with the out castes colony where the untouchables were dragged and marked out from the village Bulashah, in
Punjab by the Upper castes. The colony itself was filthy, unhygienic and without properly ventilated atmosphere which
indicates the social condition of subalterns. They were compelled by the upper castes for this separation because they dont
want to come in contact with untouchables. They thought that their presence defiled their colonies as well as their
environment. Anand explains:
The outcastes colony was a group of mud-walled houses that clustered together in two rows, under the shadow
both of the town and cantonment, but outside their boundaries and separate, from them. And altogether the ramparts
of human and animal refuse that lay on the outskirts of this little colony, and the ugliness, the squalor and the misery which
lay within it, made it an uncongenial place to live in. (Untouchable, p.1)
To understand the condition of subaltern community, vital evidence is the well episode where the evil motif of
Hindus is criticizes by Anand. The upper castes think they only have the privilege to use the basic requisites of life. The
lower castes have to wait at the platform of the well for the help of upper caste Hindus who pour some water on their dry
pitchers. The outcastes were not allowed to use the resources directly in order to make it polluted by mere touching. It
keeps untouchables thirsty, dirty and filthy. Here is description:
The outcastes were not allowed to mount the platform surrounding the well, because if they were ever to draw
water from it, the Hindus of the three upper castes would consider the water polluted. Nor were they allowed access to the
near-by brook as their use of it would contaminate the stream. (p.14)

Impact Factor (JCC): 4.4049

Index Copernicus Value (ICV): 6.1

Anands Bakha Vs The Modern Bakhas


Anand depicts one more incident of Bakhas exposure with Colonel Hutchinson, chief of the Christian Missionary
who persuades Bakha to join the Christianity. But Bakha had deep faith in Hindu gods and values. Also he had fear of
losing his caste and expulsion from his community. All these notions prevented him from replacing Hindu with Christian.
But he was extended with the strings of the questions:
[Bakha] didnt like the idea of being called a sinner. He had committed no sin that he could remember. How
could he confess his sins? Does the sahib want some secret knowledge? He wondered. Does he want to perform some
magic or get some illegal knowledge? He didnt want to go to heaven. As a Hindu he didnt believe in the judgment day.
He had never thought of that. He had seen people die. And he just accepted the fact. He had been told that people who died
were born in some form or other. He dreaded that he should be reborn as a donkey or a dog. [4] (P.121)
Anand was actively close with the underdogs which gave him an intimate quality of work Untouchable. He
presented the different human experiences to expose the social evils of the society. He wants to create humanity at large
perspective and harmony between the human beings. Anand believes that for the upliftment of the down trodden, the
democratic outlook would be more helpful. By choosing the protagonist Bakha, Anand disclosed all his agony, frustration,
compassion, aspiration and misery for the subaltern class. As Prof. K.R.S Iyengar states:
Untouchable strikes us as the picture of the place of a society, and the certain persons not easily to be forgotten; a
picture that is also an indictment of the evils of a decadent and perverted orthodoxy. As a novelist addressing himself to the
task of exposing certain evils, Anand has been as effective as Dickens himself. [4]
In 1947, Independent India was declared as democratic, socialist and secular country. According to this policy,
practicing untouchabiltiy and discrimination done to any person was legally forbidden and punishable offence. Dr.
Babasaheb Ambedkar along with Mahatma Phule started movement for the equality and rejected the notion that casteism is
made by God. Later, the word untouchable was transformed into Harijan by Gandhi. The word Harijan means
children of God and implies for the special treatment to them. Today the scene is different. Several reformative
movements have been launched that aimed to the life styles of the upper castes. The weaker section of the society is more
conscious than ever before not to bear inhuman and exploitative conditions. Even the Constitution of India provides the
extra protection for their safety and security. Similarly it provides the upliftment socially, economically, culturally
The untouchables who are known as Scheduled Castes should be treated equally just like the caste Hindu.
Provisions are made against the social discrimination and untouchability. The SCs are emerging with the secular values
and quest of equality. Enormous improvement is done in their socio-economic condition. They are given fair wages,
education, and access to temples, wells and public places. The severity for the untouchability and the pollution-purity is
now weakened. A policy is made for the reservation of jobs, education, positions for them.
It is further proposed that 25 percent of all available seats should be reserved for SC/ST in each university and in
any institution of higher learning; 15 percent should be reserved for minorities/OBCs and 10 percent for underprivileged
girls. The fees for these students will be reimbursed 100 percent (up to a max limit of say 40 thousand/annum) by the
center through states, as is being currently done as well, and this same scheme can be expanded to include other
disadvantaged groups and make provision for high access and equity. [5]


Khushbu Soni

Social mobility is also increasing in them. The main source for the social mobility is migration, education and
white-collar jobs and that has changed the perception regarding the status, pattern of interaction, lifestyle, awareness for
the women position etc. They also have the elites among them who have made place in Parliament, PRIs, and state
assemblies. The ample of educational opportunities are given to them. But the positive discrimination policies create new
tensions among the people. With the reservation policy done by government, the higher communities feel discriminated. In
many cases, the higher communities struggle for a few places reserve to them. Today, Many States like Gujarat, Haryana,
and Rajasthan in India fights for the reservation policy whereas the SCs do not have to compete as they have large number
of reserved places in compare to candidates. To fill the quota, sometimes they are accepted though they are not eligible for
the post. Anyway, Government is trying to control the situation. After all they want to:
Ensure equity, equal access for all sections of order to avoid segregation and thus mitigate the
build-up of prejudices, differences and barriers among different communities. ( Dawn of a New Vibrant India, pp.151)

In past, the caste was an encompassing system in India but now it has become more instrument of the mobility for
economic and political growth. Even the untouchables have also made several incorporeal efforts to come out from the
clutches of the caste Hindu Society. Many Dalit writers including Mulk Raj Anand have contributed their works to make
awareness among the people. The efforts were all for the quest of equality with the caste Hindus.

Anand, Madhulata: Indian Social Structure and Social Change: Jaipur, Vital Publications, 2011, pp.21-22.


Tripathi, Vishnu Kant: Caste, Society And Religion in India: New Delhi, G.S.Rawat for Cyber Tech Publications, 2012,


Anand, Mulk Raj: Untouchable: New Delhi: Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 2001 , p.VI


Iyengar, K.R.S: Indian Writing in English: Bombay, Asia Publishing House, 1984, pp.330.


Arora, Dr.Harbeen & Rai, Dr. Vinay: Dawn of a New Vibrant India: New Delhi, Perfect Publications Pvt. Ltd, 2014, pp.39

Impact Factor (JCC): 4.4049

Index Copernicus Value (ICV): 6.1