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Untouchability is the social-religious practice of ostracizing a minority group by segregating them from the mainstream by social custom or legal mandate. The excluded group could be one that did not accept the norms of the excluding group and historically included foreigners, house workers, nomadic tribes, law-breakers and criminals and those suffering from a contagious disease. This exclusion was a method of punishing law-breakers and also protected traditional societies against contagion from strangers and the infected. A member of the excluded group is known as an Untouchable.
The term is commonly associated with treatment of the Dalit communities, who are considered "polluting" among the people of South Asia, but the term has been used for other groups as well, such as the Burakumin of Japan, Cagots in Europe, or the Al-Akhdam in Yemen. Untouchability has been made illegal in post-independence India, and Dalits substantially empowered, although some prejudice against them continues, especially in rural pockets dominated by certain other backward caste (OBC) groups.
Untouchability in practice 
Untouchability is prompted by the spirit of social exclusion and the belief in purity, contagion and self-righteousness that characterise certain societies. It had, for instance, generally been taken for granted that Dalits pollute people and are at the lowest end of the South Asian society and many a times Dalits were known to have been prevented from engaging in any work other than handling corpses, removing human waste (see “manual scavenging”), dragging away and skinning animal carcasses, tanning leather, making and fixing shoes, washing clothes and execution of criminals. They were supposed to reside outside the village so that their physical presence did not pollute the “main” village. Not only had they been restricted in terms of space, but their houses were inferior in quality and devoid of any facilities like water and electricity.The government of independent India has, however, introduced many measures like low cost or free housing and free electricity for those below the poverty line, to address these problems.
In rural India, Dalits are sometimes barred from using wells used by non-Dalits, forbidden from going to the barber shop and entering temples, while at the level of job recruitment and employment many Dalits are known to be paid less, ordered to do the most menial work, and rarely promoted, except in the government jobs reserved for them. In schools, there have been instances of Dalit children being asked to clean toilets and to eat separately, although the government comes down heavily in these cases and punishes the offenders, as soon as these are highlighted..
Untouchability and discrimination 
- Prohibition from eating with other caste members
- Provision of separate glasses for Dalits in village tea stalls
- Discriminatory seating arrangements and separate utensils in restaurants
- Segregation in seating and food arrangements in village functions and festivals
- Prohibition from entering into village temples
- Prohibition from wearing sandals or holding umbrellas in front of higher caste members
- Prohibition from entering other caste homes
- Prohibition from riding a bicycle inside the village
- Prohibition from using common village path
- Separate burial grounds
- No access to village’s common/public properties and resources (wells, ponds, temples, etc.)
- Segregation (separate seating area) of Dalit children in schools
- Sub-standard wages
- Bonded labour
- Social boycotts by other castes for refusing to perform their "duties"
Government action in India 
The 1950 national constitution of India legally abolishes the practice of untouchability provides measures for positive discrimination in both educational institutions and public services for Dalits and other social groups who lie within the caste system. These are supplemented by official bodies such as the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
Despite this, instances of prejudice against Dalits still occur in some rural areas, as evidenced by events such as the Kherlanji massacre.
Untouchable groups 
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- Al-Akhdam in Yemen
- Burakumin in Japan
- Baekjeong in Korea
- Cagots in France
- Dalit in South Asia
- Ragyabpa in Tibet (see Social classes of Tibet)
See also 
- India's "Untouchables" Face Violence, Discrimination. Hillary Mayell for National Geographic News. June 2, 2003
- Who are Dalits? & What is Untouchability? — Portal