Manual scavenging is a caste-based profession that leads to discrimination and atrocities against those engaged in it. Generations of families
from marginalised communities in India have been forced to continue in this profession because of social ostracism and a lack of alternatives.
As India paid glowing tributes to Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, the architect of its constitution and a champion of the downtrodden, on his 124nd
birth anniversary last month, public attention also swivelled to the glaring social and economic discrimination that plagues the lives of lower-caste or ‘casteless’ communities – who comprise over 16 percent of the country's 1.2 billion people.
Watching Bittal Devi deftly weave threads of different colours into a vibrant patchwork quilt, it’s hard to imagine that this 46-year-old’s hands have spent the better part of their life cleaning toilets.