|Author||Mulk Raj Anand|
Untouchable is a novel by Mulk Raj Anand published in 1935. The novel established Anand as one of India's leading English authors. The book was inspired by his aunt's experience when she had a meal with a Muslim woman and was treated as an outcast by his family. The plot of this book, Anand's first, revolves around the argument for eradicating the caste system. It depicts a day in the life of Bakha, a young "sweeper", who is "untouchable" due to his work cleaning latrines.
Untouchable’ is the story of a single day in the life of 18 year old untouchable boy named Bakha, who lives in pre-independence India. Bakha is described as `strong and able-bodied`, full of enthusiasm and dreams varying from to dressing like a ‘Tommie’ (Englishmen) in ‘fashun’ to playing hockey. However, his limited means and the fact that he belongs to the lowest caste even amongst untouchables, forces him to beg for food, to often face humiliation, and to be at the mercy of the whims of other, higher caste, Hindus.
The day described in the story is a difficult one for Bakha. Over the course of the day, he is slapped in public for 'polluting' an upper caste Hindu through an accidental touch and has food thrown at him by another person after he cleans her gutters. His sister is molested by a priest, he is blamed for an injury received by a young boy following a melee after a hockey match, and he is thrown out of his house by his father.
In the story, Mulk Raj Anand presents two choices, or ways in which Bakha in particular and untouchables in general can be liberated from the life they are born into. The first choice is that of Christianity, a religion that does not recognize the caste system. The second comes from the teachings of Gandhi who calls for the freeing of Harijans.
The book was first published in 1935. Later editions carried a foreword written by E. M Forster. In 2004, a commemorative edition including this book was launched by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
- "Mulk Raj Anand, 98; Wrote About India's Injustices". Los Angeles Times. October 1, 2004. Retrieved 2009-08-31.
- "Indian author Mulk Raj Anand dies". BBC. September 28, 2004. Retrieved 2009-08-31.
- Bhatnagar, Manmohan Krishna; Mittapalli Rajeshwar (2000). The novels of Mulk Raj Anand: a critical study. Atlantic Publishers. p. 69. ISBN 978-81-7156-934-2. OCLC 237560616. Retrieved 2009-08-30.
- "Mulk Raj Anand draws closer to 100". The Times of India. December 11, 2003. Retrieved 2009-08-31.
- "PM releases special commemorative edition on Mulk Raj Anand". Govt of India, Press Information Bureau. December 11, 2004. Retrieved 2009-08-31.
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