Jain grew up in an Indian village among fellow Dalits (formerly known as Untouchables). In writing this novel he has fulfilled his dream of sharing their stories and experiences.
A silvery brook meanders through a village towards paddy fields. Here, extremes of beauty and poverty exist side by side. The Dalit villagers scratch a living from the fields. They are easy prey for corrupt politicians who steal their land, even those places reserved for funeral pyres. Guruji, a spiritual master, has come to their village and bought the land. He builds an ashram from where he plans to enlighten the world. Trouble erupts when the villagers cross the boundaries set by the dominant castes.
Betel Leaves is a satirical account of social and religious prejudice in present-day India, set against the Dalits’ struggle for identity, dignity and freedom.