Which of the following articles of Indian Constitution Prohibits Untouchability? | Sociology for CUET by Vikash Ranjan | Sociology Guru

Indian Constitution

Question: Which of the following articles of Indian Constitution Prohibits Untouchability?

  1. Art. 14
  2. Art. 15
  3. Art. 16
  4. Art. 17

Answer: (4)

Article 17 of the Indian Constitution: Prohibition of Untouchability

The Indian Constitution, a monumental document that serves as the supreme law of the land, embodies the ideals of justice, equality, and fraternity. Among its many provisions, Article 17 stands out as a testament to the nation’s commitment to eradicating a deeply entrenched social evil – untouchability. In the context of the MA CUET exam, understanding the significance of Article 17 and its historical context is essential for candidates seeking to grasp the complexities of social justice within the Indian constitutional framework.

Untouchability: A Historical Peril

Untouchability, rooted in the caste system, was a dehumanizing practice that relegated certain communities to the margins of society. Members of these communities, termed “untouchables” or Dalits, faced systemic discrimination based solely on their birth. The practice extended beyond mere social ostracization; it permeated every aspect of daily life, from access to public spaces to participation in religious activities.

The stigma associated with untouchability was so profound that physical contact with Dalits was deemed polluting by the higher castes. Consequently, Dalits were subjected to a web of restrictions – denied access to communal resources, forbidden from entering temples, and relegated to menial occupations. The Constituent Assembly recognized the urgency of addressing this social malaise and incorporated Article 17 as a potent instrument for its abolition.

Article 17: The Constitutional Prohibition

Article 17 of the Indian Constitution reads, “Untouchability is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden. The enforcement of any disability arising out of Untouchability shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.”

This concise yet powerful article unequivocally declares the abolition of untouchability and criminalizes its practice. Let’s delve into the key components of Article 17:

  1. Abolition of Untouchability:

The opening clause serves as a categorical declaration – untouchability is abolished. This proclamation reflects the constitutional resolve to dismantle a practice that dehumanized a significant section of the population.

  1. Prohibition of Practice:

The subsequent phrase, “its practice in any form is forbidden,” reinforces the commitment to eliminating not just the theoretical concept but also the tangible manifestations of untouchability. This prohibition extends to all facets of public and private life where discrimination on the basis of caste might persist.

  1. Criminalization of Enforcement:

Article 17 doesn’t stop at abolition and prohibition; it goes a step further by criminalizing the enforcement of any disability arising from untouchability. This underscores the severity with which the constitutional framers viewed any attempt to perpetuate discriminatory practices.

  1. Punishment in Accordance with Law:

The concluding phrase, “punishable in accordance with law,” empowers the legal system to mete out consequences for those who violate the prohibition. This reflects the constitutional intent to ensure accountability and deterrence through the legal apparatus.

Significance of Article 17:

  1. Constitutional Commitment to Social Justice:

Article 17 embodies the commitment of the Indian Constitution to social justice. By expressly addressing untouchability, it acknowledges the historical injustices faced by Dalits and seeks to rectify the entrenched inequalities perpetuated by this practice.

  1. Dignity and Equality:

The provision is not merely a legal directive; it is a profound statement on human dignity and equality. It asserts that no individual should be subjugated or marginalized on account of their caste or birth.

  1. Transformative Role:

Article 17 serves as a catalyst for societal transformation. It challenges ingrained beliefs and practices, pushing for a more inclusive and egalitarian social order. Its impact extends beyond legal realms, shaping societal attitudes towards caste-based discrimination.

  1. Legal Safeguard:

By criminalizing the enforcement of untouchability, Article 17 provides a legal safeguard against attempts to perpetuate discriminatory practices. It empowers the legal system to intervene and punish those who defy the constitutional mandate.

Relevance to the MA CUET Exam:

For MA CUET exam candidates, a nuanced understanding of Article 17 is imperative. Questions related to this provision may examine:

  1. Historical Context:

Candidates may be asked to contextualize Article 17 within the historical backdrop of untouchability in India. Understanding the societal implications and the plight of Dalits during this period is crucial.

  1. Constitutional Significance:

Exam questions might seek an analysis of the constitutional significance of Article 17, emphasizing its role in promoting social justice, equality, and human dignity.

  1. Legal Implications:

Candidates could be tasked with exploring the legal implications of Article 17, including the mechanisms for enforcement, the nature of offenses, and the penalties prescribed by law.

  1. Contemporary Relevance:

Questions may require candidates to assess the contemporary relevance of Article 17. This could involve analyzing the progress made in eradicating untouchability and evaluating the challenges that persist.

In conclusion, Article 17 of the Indian Constitution stands as a beacon of hope and justice, signaling a transformative commitment to dismantling the social shackles of untouchability. Its inclusion reflects the visionary outlook of the constitutional framers, who sought to build a nation founded on principles of equality, justice, and human dignity. As aspirants prepare for the MA CUET exam, a comprehensive grasp of Article 17 and its implications will equip them to navigate questions that probe the intersection of constitutional law, social justice, and historical realities in the Indian context.


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Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Question: Define the term “ethnic movement” and provide an example from India.

Answer: An ethnic movement refers to a collective effort by a group sharing common cultural, linguistic, or religious traits, seeking to assert their identity and rights; an example from India is the Khalistan Movement in Punjab.

2. Question: Identify the main objectives behind the Gorkhaland ethnic movement.

Answer: The Gorkhaland ethnic movement primarily seeks to establish a separate state for India’s Nepali-speaking population in the Darjeeling region, advocating for linguistic and cultural recognition and political autonomy.

3. Question: What was the Operation Blue Star, and which ethnic movement was it related to?
Answer: Operation Blue Star was a military action in 1984, aiming to remove Sikh militants hiding in the Golden Temple in Amritsar; it is related to the Khalistan movement, which sought a separate Sikh country.

4. Question: Mention a critical factor that triggered the emergence of ethnic movements in India, as discussed by Dipankar Gupta.
Answer: Dipankar Gupta emphasized that ethnicity is fundamentally a political process, wherein caste and religion, the key components of identity formation, are politicized by leaders for vested interests.

5. Question: What were the primary reasons for the Assam Ethnicity conflicts involving Bodo tribals and Bengali Muslim settlers?
Answer: The Assam Ethnicity conflicts primarily stemmed from issues related to immigration, land rights, and resource allocation, leading to clashes, riots, and evolving relationships among indigenous communities to address challenges.

6. Question: Briefly describe the role of the Dravidian Movement in terms of caste and societal structure.
Answer: The Dravidian Movement, led notably by E.V. Ramasamy, aimed to establish an egalitarian society, focusing on anti-Brahmanism and advocating for equal rights for backward castes, while also introducing reforms like self-respect marriages.

7. Question: Name the prominent ethnic movements in North-East India and specify one common objective.
Answer: Prominent ethnic movements in North-East India include the Nagas’ and Mizos’ struggles; a common objective was to gain autonomy and recognition for their distinct tribal identities and cultural uniqueness.

8. Question: What is the key argument of Gail Omveldt regarding traditional Indian society and multiculturalism?
Answer: Gail Omveldt opposed romanticizing traditional Indian society, arguing that hierarchy has always dominated it and dismissing the notion that multiculturalism is an intrinsic feature of Indian society as a myth.

9. Question: Briefly explain the social hierarchy factor as a contributing element to ethnic movements as suggested by Olzak.
Answer: Olzak suggests that the construction of hierarchies among ethnic communities, which often leads to the suppression of one group by another, is a key factor that can instigate social and ethnic movements.

10. Question: Identify one consequence of the unequal economic development factor within the context of ethnic movements in India.
Answer: One consequence of unequal economic development is the marginalization and underdevelopment of certain groups, leading to feelings of alienation and sometimes initiating ethnic movements as these groups strive for equality and recognition.

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