Disadvantaged Groups: Scheduled Castes Scheduled Tribes
1. Social Problem:
These problems pertained to the concept of purity and pollution. The untouchables were given a very low position in the society.
2. Religious Problems:
These pertained to the denial of the right of entering temples which were exclusively served by the high-caste Brahmins. The untouchables were neither allowed to enter the temples nor served by the Brahmins. They had no right to worship the Gods and Goddesses in the temple.
3. Economic Problems:
They suffered from many economic problems. They had to face many economic hardships and they were not given proper reward for their service. Traditionally, untouchables were deprived of landed property of their own. They were not allowed to carry on any business. They were not permitted to engage themselves in the professions which were being carried out by the people of other castes.
The untouchables were not free to choose any occupation according to their own ability they had to clean the streets, remove dead cattle and to undertake heavy agricultural work. Mostly they were landless labourers. They worked in the fields of high- caste Hindus as labourers.
4. Public Disabilities:
Harijans had to face many public indignities because they were denied the right to use the services of public utilities like wells, public transport as well as educational institutions.
5. Educational Problems:
Traditionally the untouchables were deprived of getting education. They were not allowed to use public educational institutions. Even today most of the illiterates are untouchables.
Describing the conditions of Harijans, K.M. Pannikar has remarked, their position, when the system functioned in its pristine glory, was in many ways worse than that of slavery. The slave at least was a chattel of the master and therefore, he stood in an individual relation to his owner. Considerations of economic self -interest and even human feeling modified the barbarism of personal slavery.
But these mitigating factors did not apply to the system of untouchability, which was mostly perceived as a system of communal slave holding. Instead of an individual owning slave, each village held the untouchable families attached to it in a kind of slavery. No individual of the higher castes was supposed to have any personal relations with an untouchable.