While continuing my project on denotified and criminal tribes in India I was introduced to three brothers who are part of the Bhat tribe. The Bhats are known for their musicianship and work as great puppeteers. it’s difficult enough just being part of a DNT but to also be an albino in a community with little to no education can make it very difficult for anyone that appears different to be treated fairly and with dignity.
In 1871, the British colonial government enacted the “Criminal Tribes Act” to control supposedly ‘criminal’ communities. Despite the Act’s repeal in 1952 – five years after India gained her independence – these communities continue to have their livelihoods and dignity stripped away. Today they are like ghosts in their own country. Most live on the fringes of society in temporary encampments and extreme poverty. Without permanent housing, they lack official identity and cannot access vital social services or even cast their votes. Education becomes a luxury when children are needed to earn money for the family. Caught in cycles of intergenerational prostitution, a lack of education, and a fear of authority, these once proud communities are amongst India’s most dispossessed. #thebirthlottery