Summary Human rights in India

Illiteracy, poverty, the caste system, dowry deaths and female infanticide highlight the human right abuses in India. Women and children fare the worst in general across all socioeconomic groups in India. Incredible poverty deprives many of their basic rights. The caste system is alive and well and even though it is been illegal for six years and continues to dominate the lives of many who live the circle of poverty. Safe drinking water, sanitation, housing, basic health and human services impact the lives of hundreds of millions of Indians. Women and female children are especially vulnerable to violence and abuse at the hands of the male centered society. Tribal groups including the cast Dalits, or the so-called untouchables, continue to face discrimination and violence daily. The justice system has failed to prosecute very many abusers of these vulnerable groups. The practice of manual scavenging or the cleaning by hand of human waste by low caste members in India continues despite numerous laws on the books. Children, especially female children are often victims of sexual abuse and child labor.



Map by: luthfispace: April 2011

Map by: File: 2011 Census India literacy distribution map by states and union territories.svg - Wikimedia Commons,_births_per_woman_by_its_states_and_union_territories.svg/390px-2012_Fertility_rate_map_of_India,_births_per_woman_by_its_states_and_union_territories.svg.png

Map by: Demographics of India - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Map by: State Wise Per Capita Income of India

Map by: Remapping Poverty in India | GeoCurrents

Map by: April 2013 Archives — GeoCurrents (the data story information is further below)

These maps all tell a story of the unbelievable poverty of India. Overpopulation and lack of opportunity because of the caste system has left 80% of India and poverty that is difficult to imagine. Women are forced to marry very young and have no education to fall back upon them because they marry so young they have too many children that they cannot afford and their situation becomes worse and worse. Some of the poorest sections of India have the highest fertility rates. These sections also have the lowest literacy rates. The circle of poverty continues through generations. The caste system that makes it nearly impossible for those in the lowest castes to ever improve their life or the lives of their children. When these maps talk about poverty they do not take into consideration the extreme poverty of India. When 75% of the population earn less than $78 a month it would sound as if three quarters of the population are starving to death. The odd truth is that they are considered at risk not poor by international standards. You must earn less than a $1.25 a day to be considered extremely poor and at risk according to the United Nations. India has one of the largest population of people earning a dollar 25 or less a day. 35% of the population of India cannot read or write at all. The numbers are highest for women. Many women decide to start in the workforce as small children because adults feel that female children have no need for education and they need them to earn a living to bring the rest of the family money. Thus starts the circle of poverty.


  • 75% of the population of India are people earning less than $78 a month.

  • 1.2 billion people live in the seventh largest country of the world

  • When three quarters of your population live below the basic poverty line stakeholders in this situation are nearly every man woman and child in the country of India.

  • Like the United States India also has the upper echelon who represent the vast majority of wealth in the entire country.

  • The caste system has kept people down for generations and the cycle of poverty means it is difficult to get out

  • By Ritika Katyal, for CNN “India's latest Socioeconomic and Caste Census (SECC) paints a stark picture of widespread rural poverty and deprivation.

  • 75% earned less than $78 a month, 11% own a refrigerator, 35% are illiterate, 28% do not own a phone, less than 5% pay income tax

  • Of the 300 million households surveyed, an overwhelming majority (73%) live in villages. Of this rural population, less than 5% earn enough to pay taxes, only 2.5% own a 4-wheeler vehicle and less than 10% have salaried jobs.

  • Not only does rural India have miserable statistics on income and asset ownership, its literacy rates are low. Only 3.5% of students graduate and around 35.7% of residents can't read or write.

  • It comes as no surprise that the bulk of the Indian population is still overwhelmingly poor.

  • Past surveys and experts have continued to emphasize the chasm between the two disparate pictures of India -- one that owns ambitious space and nuclear programs, and boasts of billionaires and information technology prowess, and the one in the villages, of which 92 million households (51%) earn their living by manual labor.

  • The self-reported data from the SECC survey will be used for targeting new and existing welfare schemes. Toeing the line taken by the previous administration, the government refrained from making caste data public.

  • India's definition of "poor" has been hotly debated by development economists and activists, with several finding the official poverty line too low and leaving out a number of people who might still need government assistance. In 2014, a report by the Indian government Planning Commission estimated that 363 million Indians, making up 29.5% of the total population, were living below the poverty line in 2011-12. The report, by the Rangarajan Expert Group, also estimates that the India poverty ratio fell from 38.2% to 29.5% between 2009-10 and 2011-12, lifting 91.6 million individuals out of poverty. According to a Pew Research Center report released this month, while people were able to move up the social ladder from poor to low income during the last decade, the actual number of people in the middle class (living on $10-20 a day) barely budged from 1% in 2001 to 3% in 2011. Most developing countries set poverty lines far below those of advanced country levels.

  • Living on double the Indian Planning Commission poverty line of $2.40 per day would still mean not meeting nutritional and other needs at developed economy levels. Many poor people "lifted out of poverty" are still living at levels closer to $2.40 than $10 per day. The Pew report estimates that at the proposed Rangarajan poverty line, food consumption alone would take up 57% of a rural family's budget and 47% of an urban family's budget.

Historical Background

  • The first British outpost in South Asia was established in 1619 at Surat on the northwestern coast. Later in the century, the East India Company opened permanent trading stations at Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta, each under the protection of native rulers.

  • According to Wikipedia the British made the caste system very legal “The role of the British Raj on the caste system in India is controversial. The caste system became legally rigid during the Raj, when the British started to enumerate castes during theirten-year census and meticulously codified the system. Between 1860 and 1920, the British segregated Indians by caste, granting administrative jobs and senior appointments only to the upper castes.

  • India is the largest democracy in the world

  • India faces the challenges of poverty, corruption, malnutrition, inadequate healthcare and continual caste prejudices.

  • Mahatma Gandhi helped India move towards independence from Britain in the 40s

  • India was independent in 1947 that was split into two countries India and Pakistan.

  • In the 1990s economic liberalization created an urban middle class for the first time and India transformed into a fast-growing national economy.

  • In both urban and rural areas there is unbelievable poverty that pulls down there economy

  • there is both religious and caste related violence

  • India also fights with its neighbors China and Pakistan

  • Some people born into a life of luxury, while others are considered "untouchable" because they were born into the wrong caste, destined to live a life of poverty with occasional menial labour, if they are lucky

  • History of the Caste system: “In medieval times, a coterie of brahma-bandhus, wanting to hold on to brahminical privileges without developing the required character, started claiming that caste was decided by birth and was unchangeable. Further they misused their social influence to deprive lower castes of access to the practices of self-realization. And thus began the unfortunate history of casteist discrimination.” Says Chaitanya Charan, Spiritual mentor/ Author of articles on Bhagavad Gita and Vedic philosophy URL:

  • The Scheduled Castes(SCs) and Scheduled Tribes(STs) are official designations given to various groups of historically disadvantaged people in India. The terms are recognized in the Constitution of India.

Map by: What is the caste system?

Scheduled castes distribution map in India by state and union territory according to 2011 Census, Punjab had the highest% of its population as SC (32%), while India's island territories and two northeastern states had 0%.

Scheduled Tribes distribution map in India by state and union territory according to 2011 Census. Mizoram and Lakshadweep had the highest% of its population as ST (95%), while Punjab and Haryana had 0%.

Current Situation

  • The three main groups that have the brunt of civil rights atrocities are women, children and the lowest castes the Untouchables.

  • The asset Census map shows how poor most of India really is

  • there are areas in west central India that are hit with the most extreme poverty even though these areas are very close to the most prosperous cities right outside the cities are unbelievable slums in garbage heaps that people have lived in for decades

  • the corruption in India means civil rights laws are on the books that the police and judicial officials do nothing to punish people who do not follow them

  • Poverty India has the largest concentration of people living beneath the world bank international poverty line of United States $1.25 a day.

  • The people living beneath this poverty line have decreased from “the proportion having decreased from 60% in 1981 to 42% in 2005, and 25% in 2011.30.7% of India's children under the age of five are underweight. According to a Food and Agriculture Organization report in 2015, 15% of Indian population is undernourished.

  • Corruption in India is widespread.

  • 14 million people in India are living in conditions of slavery they are in bonded labor.

  • India has the largest number of child laborers under the age of 14 in the world many are doing jobs that are incredibly Data Stories (“… on India, One Chart at a Time”) recently published some intriguing maps and other visualizations of poverty and wealth in India. Its poverty map, posted here, shows households that “don’t own any of the assets listed on the census forms — that means no phone, no TV or radio, and no vehicle of any kind…,” a category that encompasses 18 percent of Indian households nationwide. This map deviates from more conventional maps of poverty in India in several regards (see the Pinterest map posted below). A number of districts in Kashmir in the north and in India’s far northeast (particularly in Nagaland) show much more deprivation on the Data Stories assets map than on the Pinterest poverty-line map. Uttar Pradesh in north-central India, on the other hand, appears much better off on the assets map than on the poverty-line map, as do some districts in northern Tamil Nadu (in the southeast). Particularly striking on the Data Stories map is the depiction of a belt of extreme poverty in west-central India, where the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra converge, an area near some of India’s most prosperous cities. The explanation of this belt, however, is clear, as it closely tracks the territory of the Bhils, a so-called tribal (or Adivasi) people some twelve-million strong. In several parts of India, the map of “asset-less” household” correlates relatively well with Adivasi populations.

Bhil People India MAP


Cultural Issues

Caste System

  • the caste system is a social hierarchy

  • in the long history of discrimination “The British colonial government, for instance, enacted the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871. This law states Simon Cole, a professor of Criminology, Law & Society, declared everyone belonging to certain castes to be born with criminal tendencies.”

  • social classes are defined by “thousands of endogamous hereditary groups, often termed as "castes". India declared untouchability to be illegalin 1947 and has since enacted other anti-discriminatory laws and social welfare initiatives. “ According to Wikipedia

  • Gandhi argued against castes by saying Caste in its current form, claimed Gandhi, had “nothing to do with religion. The discrimination and trauma of castes, argued Gandhi, was the result of custom, the origin of which is unknown. Gandhi said that the customs' origin was a moot point, because one could spiritually sense that these customs were wrong, and that any caste system is harmful to the spiritual well-being of man and economic well-being of a nation.“

  • it is often difficult to find work if you are not of the correct caste you will simply not be interviewed is not that you don't get the job it is that you did get interviewed so you never had the chance to get the job. It is a way around the law and part of the continuing civil rights violations that happen daily in India

  • many Indians are in an arranged marriage

  • the divorce rate is very low

  • Child marriages are common especially in rural areas

  • it is against the law because women are not allowed to get married before they are 18.

  • There are 50 million more males than females in the nation according to Wikipedia

  • deaths resulting from dowry mostly from bride burning are actually on the rise

  • there are many laws to protect people in the caste system since 1950 there are social initiatives to improve the socioeconomic conditions of the lower caste population of India.

  • There are quotas for college admission jobs and other affirmative action

  • Discrimination against lower castes is illegal in India under Article 15 of its constitution, and India tracksviolence against Dalits nationwide.

  • India today says“Independent India has witnessed caste-related violence. According to a 2005 UN report, approximately 31,440 cases of violent acts committed against Dalits were reported in 1996. The UN report claimed 1.33 cases of violent acts per 10,000 Dalit people. For context, the UN reported between 40 and 55 cases of violent acts per 10,000 people in developed countries in 2005. One example of such violence is theKherlanji Massacre of 2006.”

Women’s Rights

  • child marriage is very common in rural areas

  • death from bride burning is not going down but actually on the rise in India

  • India is a patriarchal country where men are considered in charge

  • a woman is a burden in Indian society if you are poor

  • the birth of the female child is not celebrated only male children are happy event

  • women are encouraged to abort female fetuses at an alarming rate in some of the poorest areas there are 30% more male children than female

  • there are many laws on the books to check women's rights that they are consistently ignored

  • honor keeps women quiet when they are raped or molested because they are afraid that their own family will kill them

  • many women are forced to marry their rapist to save their honor

  • dowry deaths are real thing and many women die each year

  • female babies are consistently undernourished

  • women get the scraps left over after men eat

  • women do not generally go to see a doctor people save their money for the males family to have proper health care

  • The Constitution gives equal rights to both men and women in every field. Today, women enjoy voting rights, right to inheritance and property. In fact, the Constitution lay down that the government should promote with special care the interests of the weaker sections of the people. Several laws have been passed since independence to promote the interests of women. These laws relate to marriage, inheritance of property, divorce, dowry, etc. In 1976, the Equal Remuneration Act was passed to provide for equal remuneration to men and women for similar work. Recently, the government has started a scheme for the protection of girl child. The scheme is called ‘Ladli’, in which an amount is set aside at the time of the birth of a girl child which she gets when she completes eighteen years of age. This amount is then used for the education or the marriage of the child. Similarly, there is another scheme called ‘Jaccha Baccha scheme’. Under this scheme, the state governments take care of the birth of the child and all expenditure related to medical assistance for the upbringing of the child. However, in spite of these provisions, we find a lot of discrimination against women.

Gender discrimination

  • In India females are discriminated in various fields like health, education and jobs.

  • The girls carry the liability of dowry on their head, and they have to leave their parents home after marriage.

  • To safeguard their old age parents prefer to have male offspring. Many female babies are aborted, abandoned, deliberately neglected and underfed simply as they are girls.

  • This is worst in the state of Rajasthan. In many communities, women and girls get less food or poor quality food compared to men and boys.

  • When they are ill, they get less attention or receive some attention only when the disease becomes extremely serious. There is ample evidence at the global level of disparity in health status between men and women and their access to medical services.

Dowry System

  • The practice of dowry is one of the worst social practices that has affected Indian culture. In independent India, one of the landmark legislations is the passing of the Dowry Prohibition Act in 1961 by the Government of India.

  • Despite the fact that the practice of both giving as well as accepting dowry is banned by law and such acts are punishable offences, the system is so thoroughly imbedded in the culture that it continues unabated.

  • Whether it is rural or urban India, the blatant violation of this law is rampant. Not only dowry deaths, even most of the acts of domestic violence against women including psychological as well as physical torture are related to matters of dowry.

  • Some of the very basic human rights of women are violated almost every day.

Child Abuse

  • A large number of children, because of poverty, do not go to school or are withdrawn from schools before they complete their elementary education and are forced to start working at a young and tender age in factories, brick-klins, restaurants, hotels, shops etc.

  • This hampers their growth physically, mentally, and emotionally.

  • A child in the age group of 6-14 years is supposed to be in the school. But unfortunately, of the 200 million Indian children in this age group, about 11.3 million are labourers.

  • The estimate by NGOs puts it at 60 million, of which 2,000,000 work as domestic help and almost an equal number as bonded labourers.

  • These children become vulnerable to physical and mental exploitation, they are starved, beaten and even sexually exploited.

Projected Outcomes

Possible Outcome 1: Human Rights Restored to the People of India Because of the Laws Meant to Protect Them

Laws to protect human rights

Pro: there are many laws on the books to protect women, children in the lower castes members.

  • Dowry Prohibition Act in 1961 by the Government of India.

  • Discrimination against lower castes is illegal in India under Article 15 of its constitution, and India tracksviolence against Dalits nationwide.

  • A 2003 article in The Telegraph claimed that “inter-caste marriage and dating were common in urban India. Indian societal and family relationships are changing because of female literacy and education, women at work, urbanisation, the need for two-income families, and global influences through television. Female role models in politics, academia, journalism, business, and India's feminist movement have accelerated the change”

Cons: most of the laws on the books are not followed and there is mass corruption in India at every level from placement to judges who allow atrocities to continue.

  • Wikipedia says “Critics believe that the economic liberalisation has benefited just a small elite and left behind the poor, especially the lowest Hindu caste of dalits. But a recent authoritative survey revealed striking improvements in living standards of dalits in the last two decades. Television ownership was up from zero to 45 percent; cellphone ownership up from zero to 36 percent; two-wheeler ownership (of motorcycles, scooters, mopeds) up from zero to 12.3 percent; children eating yesterday's leftovers down from 95.9 percent to 16.2 percent... Dalits running their own businesses up from 6 percent to 37 percent; and proportion working as agricultural labourers down from 46.1 percent to 20.5 percent.”

Possible outcome 2: Things Remain the Same

Pros: over time more and more intermarriages dilute the absolute control of the higher castes. Over time more and more women fight against their lot in life and slowly regain control of their own existence. Over time the international community helps more and more children in impoverished India and things get better for them.

Cons: things remain the same. Over time nothing changes and 80% of the population boom because so many poor women are having three or more children and the problem gets worse and worse.

Possible outcome 3: the poor figure out that they have the numbers to overtake the rich and a civil war ensues.

Pros: the poor of India easily outnumber the rich and handily defeat them in a civil war.

Cons: a civil war will kill millions and millions of people. The rich have access to the Army and slaughter entire cities at a time. A long drawnout war could kill 1 billion people.

Possible Solutions and or Obstacles to the Solutions

Possible Solutions:

  • Steps taken by the government to improve the situation of SC and ST lower castes

  • The Constitution provides a three-pronged strategy to improve the situation of SCs and STs:

  • Protective arrangements: Such measures as are required to enforce equality, to provide punitive measures for transgressions, to eliminate established practices that perpetuate inequities, etc. A number of laws were enacted to implement the provisions in the Constitution. Examples of such laws include The Untouchability Practices Act, 1955, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993, etc.

  • Affirmative action: Provide positive treatment in allotment of jobs and access to higher education as a means to accelerate the integration of the SCs and STs with mainstream society. Affirmative action is popularly known as reservation.

  • Development: Provide resources and benefits to bridge the socioeconomic gap between the SCs and STs and other communities. Major part played by the Hidayatullah National Law University.

  • Solution “But now there is a great change in this direction. In some states like Haryana where girl child ratio is very low, the government has taken out many schemes to promote education of girls. Reservation of jobs for women and even six months maternity leave is provided to them besides many others.”

Possible Obstacles:

  • a very long history of civil rights violations

  • corruption at every level

  • an honor code that does not allow women to report domestic abuse rape or violence

  • a patriarchal system that keeps women down

  • laws that protect generations of wealth in one caste

  • lack of international sanctions against India

Controversies Related To And Other Important Information

  • Caste system Marriage & Voting in 2013 the New York Times By LAVANYA SANKARAN JUNE 15, 2013

  • As India transforms, one might expect caste to dissolve and disappear, but that is not happening. Instead, caste is making its presence felt in ways similar to race in modern America: less important now in jobs and education, but vibrantly alive when it comes to two significant societal markers — marriage and politics.

  • No surprise on that first one. Inter-caste marriages in India are on the rise but still tend to be the province of the liberal few. For much of the country, with its penchant for arranged marriages and close family ties, caste is still a primary determinant in choosing a spouse.

  • Politics is where caste has gotten a surprising new lease on life. After money and education, democracy is, of course, the third powerful force transforming Indian society. But Indians, it turns out, are passionate about the caste of their politicians. Nearly half of the voting population of even a highly educated city like Bangalore considers caste to be the No. 1 reason to vote for a candidate.

  • Six decades of democratic statehood have attempted to correct the imbalances of the past through “reservation” — job and education quotas for the so-called backward castes, like the Dalits. This program has been effective, in a fairly hit-or-miss fashion. Some say that nearly all university seats are reserved for lower castes, effectively blocking Brahmins from higher education. Others point out that the vast majority of high paying jobs are still in the hands of the top three castes.


    “For the last sixty years, since it gained independence in 1947, India has claimed the position of the world’s largest democracy. For almost as long, skeptics have seen India’s democracy as an Indian rope trick, 1 an illusion in which the superstructure of democratic government — a parliament and prime minister, periodic elections, constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms — hides the reality of on-the-ground authoritarian rule by local landlords, bureaucracy, and party bosses, buttressed by a culture of caste-based inequality, and sustained by India’s continuing desperate poverty.”

  • The 1951–52 elections for national parliament and state legislatures highlighted the bold decision to adopt universal adult suffrage. Despite the high level of illiteracy and low level of education, all men and women twenty-one and older — the age limit has since been lowered to eighteen — had the right to vote

  • India is usually ranked among the world’s worst countries when it comes to the prevalence of corruption

  • With literacy and significant education still at very low levels, how can citizens cast their votes effectively? Do programs and policies change meaningfully when new parties come to power? Doesn’t the weakness of the rule of law at the lowest level encourage criminalization of politics and increase the difficulty of bringing corrupt officials to justice? Are there not powerful landowning and other classes that dominate and control politics in Delhi, state capitals, and local arenas?

  • Considerable empirical evidence exists that regardless of gender, most people no longer vote according to the dictates of husbands, or caste leaders, or even those with economic power over them. The secret ballot makes an enormous difference.

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