The government maintains a countrywide village development service, which endeavors to meet the villagers' needs for food, clothing, shelter, health services, and education. Village development workers demonstrate improved methods of sanitation and health and teach the villagers to read and write. The Employee Provident Fund administers a program of old age, disability, and death benefits for government and corporate employees, funded by contributions from both employers and employees. Pensions are provided as a lump sum equal to contributions plus interest. Miners and employees of factories with 10 or more workers are protected by a workers' compensation program run by the Labor Department.
Women are subject to gender discrimination, especially in traditional rural areas. The present constitution has strengthened provisions protecting women, including equal pay for equal work, but few women work in the money economy. Women's inheritance and marriage rights have been strengthened in recent years, but women suffer discrimination in both areas. Domestic abuse and violence against women are serious societal problems that citizens and governmental authorities do not recognize. The abduction of young girls to be taken to India to work as prostitutes is a serious problem.
Members of lower castes suffer from widespread discrimination and many are in positions of bonded labor. Senior positions in politics and the civil service are dominated by urban-oriented castes, such as the Brahmin and Chhetri.