... <Chitra's followup question> Is it conceivable that a jati that was marginalized for whatever reason and denied full participation in the mainstream would fall into economic difficulties that made the same level of hygiene difficult?
V: Very much yes. For example, the level of hygiene in refugee camps is appalling even though the same jatis had led a very hygienic existence earlier ...
... [In response to Chitra summoning Oscar Wilde]
Oscar Wilde summed up the human condition thus:
"All men are born equal -- but some are more equal than others."
... Since we are discussing untouchability here, please show me that it existed in the pre-Islamic period in Hindu society. We cannot sustain pet theories that have no basis in facts. If you look at inscriptions, the Paraiyah jati is a very dominant jati until the 13th century yet subsequently they fall into untouchability under colonial rule. This is why I will expect that those who claim that Hindu society is guilty of discriminating adduce proof for their beliefs... "
Aravindan Neelakandan commented on one of K.Venkat's references:
"I am afraid KV has misinterpreted the statement of Manichavasakar. This is a self-depreciating poetic statement which can not be taken as a proof of a 'report' of 'the head of the Pulaiya being infested with lice. Here is my informal translation of the statement in its context: .."
Aravindan Neelakandan also mentioned:
"Untouchable is a social space. Any community relegated to that space due to socio-political dynamics will naturally become unhygienic. So to argue untouchability is a result of hygienic factors (or even to argue that hygiene is one of the factors leading to untouchability) is a circular argument.
During the course of the research for this book we came across many genuine Dalit leaders who toil for their community. They are well aware of how forces from the West lure their leadership. They have seen their counterparts given air flights and international forums when they become willing partners in the game. Yet they have kept themselves away. But even these Dalit leaders have a strong grievance and doubt against us. To gain their confidence we had to have many sessions of heart to heart talks. We need to look at history and their notions of why they became untouchables from their point of view. We have attempted that in this book [Breaking India] ..."
Venkat further noted:
"... I want to make a clear distinction between jatis that fell into untouchability and jatis that faced the hostility of the rest of Hindu society. Only a very few jatis among the SC have ever been untouchable. Some of the most powerful jatis such as the Mahar were not untouchable but were seen by Hindu society with hostile eyes. One should ask why..."
The thread ends with a commentator looking for textual references to Venkat's statement on Mahars.