World: India: The Politics of Prejudice

MOHANDAS GANDHI called them "harijans" (children of God), but most Indians still treat the country's 84 million Untouchables more like his rejects. Nearly 38 years after Gandhi launched his campaign to erase Untouchability, God's children are still locked in bestial poverty and ignorance. "Even after two decades of independence," Prime Minister Indira Gandhi admitted last week at a Congress Party meeting in Dehra Dun, "Untouchability persists." India, she said, must "hang her head in shame."

The problem of the Untouchables is old, but the urgency is new—and openly political. Since she broke with...

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