He was delivering inaugural address at the Decennial Celebration Conference of Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (IIDS) on 'Inequality Revisited: Theory, Evidence, and Policy' in Jawaharlal Nehru University here.

"The Scheduled Castes and the OBCs suffer caste-based discrimination. The tribals endure both physical and social isolation. Religious minorities, principally the Muslims, lag behind the majority population in most human development indicators and also experience social discrimination.

"Women who constitute half the population face prejudice, although its nature and form varies according to their caste, ethnicity, and religious backgrounds," he said.

The Vice President said that the SCs, STs, and OBCs account for about half of India's population and together with religious minorities and nomadic and denotified tribes, they comprise around three-fourths of our population.

"This signifies the magnitude of the challenge and the importance of addressing it," Ansari said.

The Vice-President said that our developmental experience, since independence, shows that there has been a significant improvement in the living standards of our people, including the marginalised groups.

Poverty, an important indicator, has declined in rural and urban areas and across social, religious and economic groups, especially in the last 20 years.

Similarly, incidences of malnutrition, infant mortality rates, maternal mortality, literacy rates, proportion of homeless, drinking water, and sanitation facilities have also fallen at all-India level and within the groups, he said.

Ansari, however, expressed his concern that despite these overall positive changes, the outcomes of our developmental agenda have been uneven across social, religious and economic groups.

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