World: Untouchable with a Touch

IAGJIVAN RAM has a lumpy, 5-ft. 5-in. frame, thick features and ears that fairly bristle with hair. He is an Untouchable, with roots in the lowly chamar (leatherworkers) caste. Yet, as Congress Party president, Minister for Food and Agriculture, and Indira Gandhi's chief ally, Ram at 61 is one of India's most powerful politicians. He is also one of the very few harijans ever to rise above the ceilings dictated by the caste system.

Ram had several advantages. His father, though an outcaste farmer, owned a spread of 40 or 50 acres in a...

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