BOOK REVIEW 71
other countries. "These pariah groups are treated as inferior and devoid of human rights because they are outsiders, aliens, of different race and culture, often they are regarded as less than human. They live on the fringe of the society, often excluded from social contact with its members though their services are accepted as highly valuable and often necessary for the survival of the host society" (p 1). The blacksmiths of Arabia, Somaliland and in certain animal breeding societies of East Africa, a section of Aroi society in Tahiti, the Pygmy tribes in Central and Southern Africa, the South American Maku, the Jews of medieval Europe, the shepherds in Germany, later Negroes of North America, the blacks and the coloured of South Africa and presently the 'guest workers' of Germany—all these constitute pariah groups according to Fuchs. His understanding thus is that the existence of such pariah groups is not restricted to India, though only in India has social discrimination developed into the very peculiar and truly unique caste system. This obviously, however, is too simplest a way of looking at caste which avoids going deep into the complexities of the system, reflected as it is in the dual oppression of class and caste within the inner logic of production and exchange that has existed in India.
Fuchs, in attempting to establish that untouchability (on the basis of 'purity' and 'impurity') is the main yardstick for understanding social discrimination against the pariahs, gives various examples to show the disjunction between economic status and ritual ranking.
Fuchs states about the weavers, for instance: "It is perhaps significant that weaving and leather working often go together and leather workers change into weavers and vice versa. Both castes are employed as village watchmeji whose task is to skin dead cattle. ... And since working in leather is so objectionable to the Hindu mind, the weaver too suffers the same disabilities" (p 172). Then, "the drummers, musicians, actors, jugglers and acrobats", who earlier provided the land-owing aristocracy with entertainment, are now forced to look out for other employment because of the infiltration of radio and television, cinema etc. They are obviously landless labourers. Fuchs also gives the example of "groups of field labourers who once belonged to respectable castes, but through improvidence, misfortune or lack of enterprise and hard work, lost their land and were forced into casual labour or permanent field service. These people have largely retained their former caste status" (p 251). "On the other hand, it was even in the past possible for some field labourers, by sheer thrift and hard work, to acquire land and become cultivators or at least tenants. This economic progress resulted not seldom in a rise of their social status. The section w^hich had thus risen economically often severed its connection with the less fortunate and enterprising caste fellows, and formed a separate group, often adopting a different name also by improving its economic condition