Over one-sixth of India's population, some 170 million people, live a precarious existence, shunned by much of Indian society because of their rank as untouchables or dalits. They are discriminated against, denied access to land and basic resources, forced to work in degrading conditions, and routinely abused at the hands of police and dominant-caste groups that enjoy the state's protection.
This book presents a systematic analysis of the human rights issues faced by dalit community in India and elsewhere. It also describes dalits efforts to overcome deeply entrenched caste hierarchies and to assert their right to live with dignity. While the evidence presented in this book suggests that the more blatant and extreme forms of untouchability appear to have declined, discrimination continues and is most prevalent in the religious and personal spheres. The objective of this book is to persuade organisations as to the need to use a human rights framework that incorporates economic, social and cultural rights to fight inequality and poverty.