Struggle against the Caste System and the related Legislation
Next to the issue of women emancipation, the caste system became the second most important issue of social reforms. In fact, the system of caste had become the bane of Indian society.
The caste system was primarily based on the fourfold division of society viz. Brahmins, Kshatriya, Vaishyas and Shudras. On account of their degradation in their social status, the Shudras were subjected to all kinds of social discrimination. In the beginning of the 19th century the castes of India had been split into innumerable sub-castes on the basis of birth.
In the meantime, a new social consciousness also dawned among the Indians. Abolition of' untouchability became a major issue of the 19th century social and religious reform movements in the country. Mahatma Gandhi made the removal of untouchability a part of his constructive programme. He brought out a paper, The Harijan, and also organised the Harijan Sevak Sangh.
Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar dedicated his entire life for the welfare of the downtrodden. In Bombay, he formed a Bahiskrit Hitkarini Sabha in July 1924 for this purpose. Later, he also organised the Akhil Bharatiya Dalit Varg Sabha to fight against caste oppression. Jyotirao Phule in Western India and Shri Narayana Guru in Kerala respectively established the Satya Sadhak Samaj and the Shri Narayana Dharma Partipalana Yogam to include self-esteem among the downtrodden.
the Madras Presidency also the beginning of 20th century witnessed the rise of
Self-respect Movement of Periyar E.V.R. In order to eradicate this evil
practice many other individual and institutional efforts were also made. These
movements were directed mainly in removing the disabilities suffered by
Harijans in regard to drawing of water from public NARAYANA GURU wells, getting
entry into temples and admission into schools.