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Untouchable in Asia

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UNTOUCHABLE ETHNONYMS: Adi-Dravida, depressed caste, external caste, Harijan, Panchama, Pariah, Scheduled Caste The word "Untouchable" was first applied to this category of Hindus by the Maharaja Sayaji Rao III of Baroda in a lecture he gave in 1909, to describe their most essential characteristic vis-à-vis higher-ranking castes. Some twenty years later Mahatma Gandhi named them "Harijans," which means roughly "children of God." Later still the government of India drew up a list of the most disadvantaged castes, hence generating a new euphemism, "Scheduled Castes." Drawing on Sanskrit, Untouchables have called themselves "Panchama," or the "fifth varna," a term that is not often heard today; or, in South India, they are "Adi-Dravidas," meaning "original Dravidians." The British have long called them "Pariahs," in reference to a major Untouchable group of Tamil Nadu. The Untouchables are collectively…