The awful stigma changed their outlook and way of life. It had a calamitous effect on livelihood and children were ostracised in schools if they got admitted at all. Having to live on societal fringes, many did take to crime.
D’Souza’s sympathy for the nomadic communities of Maharashtra and Gujarat is transparent. His heart is in the right place when he writes about the Pardhis, the Vagharis and other tribes still assumed to be born to crime despite the abolition of the infamous act. He gets worked up, rightly so, when he writes about police brutality and the shady dealings of the upper castes when it comes to tribal lands.
Sadly, what D’Souza lacks is writing skills and the services of a ruthless editor. The book is hard-going, but it meanders aimlessly. At one point, D’Souza takes on the plight of gypsies in Europe and the Red Indians. A large part of the book comprises quotes from other publications and research papers. This makes deadly dull reading. The book was written on a foundation grant and it reads like one.