India’s caste system is one of the world’s oldest forms of social stratification. Its most egregious manifestation is untouchability, which deems certain people “impure” and forces them into a life apart. Despite the fact that caste discrimination has been illegal in India since 1950, untouchability is still a part of modern Indian society.  

Since 2010, Video Volunteers has been documenting untouchability across the length and breadth of the country.  Correspondents have reported extensively on caste discrimination and caste violence There are reports on ‘manual scavenging,’ the inhumane caste-based occupation of cleaning and handling human excreta from dry latrines and sewers. There are testimonies of Dalit farmers whose crops or homes are burnt simply because of their caste; of tribal leaders killed for protesting their rights; young students forced to do maintenance jobs in schools because of their Dalit background.

These reports form the basis of a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court, filed by the Human Rights Law Network, which demands that the government take proactive steps to implement the constitutional prohibition of untouchability. VV’s reports are a unique record, in part because untouchability itself is often hidden from public view, and thus can only be captured by someone from the community.

Babasaheb is Angry

/ April 14, 2015

Babasaheb is angry. As I look up at a large photo of his on the wall in front of me; his thick, black eyebrows are knitted together, eyes scowling through spectacles. I can almost feel the disappointment that fills the air. Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, the principal architect of the Indian...

What does it take to make the government work?

/ January 16, 2015

January 16; Darbhanga, Bihar Most often, to get the government machinery working, all that is required is a nudge in right direction. For many in India’s poorest communities factors like caste and class stand in the way of approaching officials and getting things done. It was therefore that nobody in...

Impact: Procuring the Right to Food

/ November 14, 2014

Community Correspondent Arti Bai Valmiki’s report got the administration to improve the quality of Midday Meals for 237 students in the primary school of Batiagarh District of Madhya Pradesh. “We don’t get rotis to eat at home, so we come to school in hope of food,” a student of the...

Women discriminated against for not giving birth to boys

/ November 13, 2014

Savitri Devi gets beaten up by her husband very frequently for not having a son, reports Community Correspondent Mahesh Kumar from Ambai Bujuru of Kaushambhi district in Uttar Pradesh. Kaushambhi district celebrates a festival known as Sakat or Ganesh Chowk every year. In this festival, everyone can participate except the...

Upper caste men burn down dalit homes in Bihar village

/ September 27, 2014

“Attackers roam free. Our Community Correspondent Reena Devi reports from Maha Dalit Tola area of Chitauria Village in Katihar, Bihar, where in April 2014, 12 powerful men from the ‘upper caste’ burnt down the houses of 4 Dalit families. The families still await fair compensation and justice. Call To Action:...

Untouchability: Dalit children excluded from temple festivities

/ September 21, 2014

Untouchability steals the right of children belonging to Dalit community(considered untouchables)to be included in temple festivities unlike all other children, in this village. As per Article 17 of the Indian Constitution, untouchability is a punishable offence. However, that doesn’t stop the many social atrocities committed against the Dalit community across...

Good Deeds over ‘Good Caste’

/ August 6, 2014

The enforcement of any disability arising out of Untouchability shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law as per the Article 17 of the Indian Constitution. It was drafted in 1949 specifically to eradicate & abolish the practice of Untouchability. Yet 65 years later, the practice still reigns in...

Police ignores dying declaration, Accused out on bail: Sanjay Khobragade Murder Case

/ June 19, 2014

At 2:30 am on 17th May six people from a ‘higher caste’ tried to kill Sanjay Khobragade, a Dalit rights activist, over a caste based land dispute. They set him on fire while he slept in his house. With over 80-85% burns on his body, he passed away while at...