XI. Conclusion

Under-educated, severely impoverished, and brutally exploited, Dalits struggle to provide for even their most basic daily needs. Dalits must also endure daily threats to their physical security from both state and private actors. The violence by upper-caste groups against Dalits have two major causes: the “untouchability” and discrimination upper-caste community members practice on a daily basis490 and the desire of upper-caste community members to protect their own entrenched status by preventing Dalit development and the fulfillment of Dalits’ rights.491 A review of the political, social, economic, and cultural status of Dalits in India shows the State Party to be in violation of its obligation to respect, protect, and ensure Convention rights to all individuals in its jurisdiction. India routinely denies Dalits the rights and privileges that many of its other citizens take for granted. 

This failure stems from the refusal to recognize that Article 1’s prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of “descent” encompasses social stratification on the basis of caste. Discrimination is entrenched in a number of facets of the government—from the discriminatory practices of law enforcement, prosecutors and judges, to the failure to eradicate segregation in public services, including schools, and in residential arrangements, to the failure to successfully implement programs to ensure the development and protection of Dalits, including in particular Dalit women. The State Party has also failed to ensure that private actors, in particular upper-caste community members, observe the prohibition on discrimination. Retaliatory violence, social and economic boycotts, and exploitative labor conditions enforced by private actors are unchecked, resulting in violation of Dalits’ rights to personal security and other rights that are notionally guaranteed by the Constitution and various legislative measures. The widespread practice of “untouchability” and the violation of Convention rights it entails necessitate that India undertake comprehensive review and reform of the existing law, polices, and practices that enable the extreme marginalization and persecution of Dalits to continue unabated. 

490 NCDHR Response to the Special Rapporteur’s Questionnaire, p. 4.

491 NHRC Report, Section I, p. 1.