India is a federal constitutional republic with a parliamentary democracy consisting of 28 states and seven union territories. India is not only the world’s largest democracy and second most populous country, but also a military and economically powerful and culturally influential state.

Prior to the foundation of the Republic of India in 1947, India was a part of the British Raj (British Indian Empire). Before that, during 16th and 17th century, the Islamic Mogul civilization flourished in the Indian subcontinent (present-day India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh). India became an independent nation in 1947 after a struggle for independence.

However, some Indian Muslims had concerns that the independent India would be ruled by the dominant Hindus, and formed their own State – Pakistan. This new State was divided into two parts: West Pakistan and East Pakistan. East Pakistan later separated from India in 1971 and became Bangladesh.

With regards to human rights issues, India struggles with many problems. Being one of the largest countries, it has diverse ethnic groups and is a home for almost all the religions in the world. This diversity naturally creates a variety of minority categories, such as linguistic minorities, religious minorities and demographic and gender differences.

The government generally respects the rights of its citizens and has made progress in reducing incidents of communal violence, expanding efforts against human trafficking, and reducing the exploitation of indentured, bonded, and child workers.

However, many serious problems remain.

Violence associated with caste-based discrimination still occurs, especially when it comes to “untouchable” Dalits and indigenous peoples. Furthermore, domestic violence, child marriage, dowry-related deaths, honour crimes, and female foeticide continue to pose serious problems to many people living in India.

In addition, India is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. The forced labour within the country of millions of citizens constitutes India’s largest trafficking problem. Men, women, and children in debt bondage are forced to work in industries such as brick kilns, rice mills, agriculture, and embroidery factories.

Ninety percent of trafficking in India is internal, and those from India’s most disadvantaged social economic strata are particularly vulnerable to forced or bonded labour and sex trafficking.