One group of Hindus is regarded as being outside the varna system - they call themselves Dalits (from the Sanskrit, meaning 'suppressed'). This is a large and very mixed group found throughout South Asia. They do jobs often regarded as ritually unclean such as working with leather, handling meat carcases, street cleaning, cleaning latrines. Some are folk artists, poor farmers, or landless labourers.

Not all Dalits are poor and some are very successful business people. Despite changes in the law there is still evidence of discrimination against Dalits.

Hinduism teaches that all people are part of one unified whole. All life forms are part of the 'stream' of life, so harming another living thing is the same as harming yourself.

As a result, many Hindus believe that it is wrong to be prejudiced against someone just because of their ethnic origin or other differences.

Do not do to another what you do not like to be done to yourself; that is the gist of the law - all other laws are variable.Mahabharata, 5: 39