For centuries Indian society has been under the clutches of caste system. In ancient times there were four castes, the Brahmins, the Kshatrivas, the Vaishyas and the Sudras. Among these four castes the Brahmins held the upper position, and the Sudras the lowest. The people of upper classes came to treat those doing the manual work as untouchable.
The practice of untouchability is very old. The untouchables were kept at a distance by the people of upper class and they were not allowed to enter temples or draw water from the common well in a village. Even in cities they were not allowed to sit, eat and drink with the common people and they were looked down upon because of their work. They were given sub human treatment. There were some people who thought them even no better than animals. Although untouchability in some measure is everywhere but in the East and South India the problem is very acute.
Many religious and social reformers in India raised their voice against this problem. It was Mahatma Gandhi, who termed them as Harijans, meaning the offspring of God. Gandhiji was very much against this evil practice of untouchability and not only had he used to visit them, but also eat with them. He made every effort to raise their status in the society. Even Swami Dayanand preached vehemently against this evil practice. Raja Ram Mohan Roy also raised his voice against this practice.
Government has passed many laws against untouchability but all these laws have failed to bring the desired change, law alone is not enough. The initiative change should be in the minds of people. We must understand it our moral duty to eradicate this.