One of the ongoing debates among Dalit activists and scholars, besides other intellectuals, is whether the Dalits who are considered as 'Dalit Hindus' are really Hindus.
This is firstly because their ancestral religions have nothing in common with Brahaminism (Hinduism).
Secondly, their inclusion into the Hindu faith occured only when the electoral process was introduced by the British in India, in which numbers play an important role in elections.
But strictly speaking, they are not Hindus as laid down in the Hindu religious scripture 'Rig Veda' and in Manusmriti - the caste Bible.
Yet a majority of the Dalits in India remain in the anceint Hindu
fold and its caste system.
As per reliable statistics Dalit Hindus comprise close to 16.8% (168 million) of the Hindu population and it is this population, along with other low castes to a smaller degree, that continues to labour under the oppressive diktats of the caste system.
It is also this segment of Dalits who are subject to most of the excesses of
the caste system including seclusion, beatings, bonded labour, murder and rape to name a few.
The only succor for the dalits is that they are entitled to the benefits of affirmative action to better their conditions through what is known as 'reservation' in jobs and employment as far as government enterprises are concerned.
They are also eligible for other benefits such as cheap land and economic aid for self-employment.
The flip side of this affirmative action is that it benefits a extremely minsicule percentage of the Dalit population.
And they also have to go through more roadblocks, such as bureaucratic corruption and political indifference, before economic and other benefits actually reach them.
This segment of Dalits is also a vote bank for politicians and, therefore, exploited by the political class call with promises of development during election time, which are very rarely fulfilled once elections are over.
As has been the tradition, most such Dalits live in secluded areas and colonies both in urban and rural areas.
A very small percentage of them have seen better days through education and making full use of the benefits provided by the Union and state governments.
NOTE: You can get very detailed information about the plight of the Dalits in Hinduism in the eBook 'The Truth About Dalits'.