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How many of us know that there are millions of Indians -- by some estimates, 25 million -- whom the law once *defined* as criminal? Who live their lives even today under the burden of that definition? That's the situation India's denotified tribes (DNTs) face daily. It's a startling thing, if you think about it: the power of such a stereotype, how it affects those who suffer it, how it influences those who believe it.



Dilip D'Souza

Penguin India, August 2001, 224 pages, Rs 200

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Branded by Law raises just such issues and demands such thought from all of us. What does it mean to brand entire communities criminal? What does it mean to know you are seen as criminal just by virtue of being born, of living? What does it mean to look at people through those glasses? DNTs are largely poor, true; but they are also damned, which makes their condition worse.

That's why the spirit of this book is really an examination of prejudice. Too much goes on around us that is driven by meaningless, seldom questioned impressions we all hold about each other. Through the lives of DNTs, perhaps India's most forgotten people, Branded by Law seeks to challenge those impressions in your own mind, to persuade you to question the prejudices you live with.


Dilip D'Souza is not Dinesh D'Souza. Nor is he related to him. But he has had the joy of dining with him once. Other than that, Dilip tries to balance his writing, a part-time software job and lots of inertia. The inertia usually wins.