OUTCAST HEROES

THE DALIT ISSUE

By Ferri RONTELTAP

RONTELTAP FILM & TV - as PROD

Documentary - Post-Production 2008

The documentary represents an overall picture of a complex reality at the beginning of the 21st century and leaves the audience for a challenge to stop caste discrimination. It can be concluded that along with the widespread poverty, the persistence of discrimination against dalits is one of the most important challenges facing modern India and the global community.

    • Year of production
    • 2008
    • Genres
    • Documentary
    • Countries
    • NETHERLANDS
    • Languages
    • ENGLISH
    • Duration
    • 55 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Ferri RONTELTAP
    • Synopsis
    • Outcast Heroes
      Frontline heroes against caste discrimination in modern India
      Caste has been abolished by the Indian Constitution, but caste discrimination against the Dalits (the outcasts of Indian society) is still widespread. The contrast between India’s poorest and the rapid economic growth, the modern cities and the booming IT business is incredible.
      Trailer available June 2008
      SYNOPSIS
      Our camera penetrates deep into the rural lands of Southern India where we follow social activists in their struggle for empowerment and development; we investigate a case of a dalit women who became victim of rape and abuse in a village in Northern India; here, together with the village major, we try to find justice by confronting the police who refused to make a file. And not the least, we have an exclusive interview with the Minister of Social Justice of Empowerment. This woman, a dalit herself, explains the difficulties related to caste discrimination in India where caste feelings are deep-rooted in the mindset of people.
      The film is supported by national and international dalit (solidarity) networks which are of the opinion that caste-related discrimination and violence is a serious violation of human rights and that it should be recognised as such. The production of a documentary is considered to be an important tool to support this ongoing struggle.
      The film is part of a series (Change the World!) on social activists or local leaders from developing countries who successfully stand up against injustice and inhumanity.
      The series portrays the autonomous force and ability of developing countries and investigates effective local strategies against injustice and poverty today. Local leadership, good practices, self reliance, solidarity and empowerment are major themes.
      THE DALITS
      In India and other South Asian countries, people have for centuries been discriminated on the basis of their work and descent. The ancient caste system hierarchically classifies society into different social layers. Every segment defines one’s space in society, but also one’s rights and duties. Dalits, also known as “untouchables” or “Scheduled Castes” are outside the system and therefore “outcasts”. Dalits are condemned to a life of poverty. Socially, economically and politically, they are confronted with deprivation, exclusion and violence. Despite the constitutional abolition of the caste system 60 years ago, caste based discrimination remains one of the most severe global human rights problems, affecting at least 260 million people, including 170 million dalits in India alone.
      DALIT HEROES
      One of the leaders which play a crucial role in the film is Ruth Manorama, a dalit woman. Ruth stresses the importance of mainstreaming dalit and women issues and works in the slums of the IT capital of India: Bangalore. In 2006 she was rewarded with the Right Livelihood Award.
      Raj en Jyothi, a couple from the organisation REDS, dedicate their life to the needs of dalits in rural India. By organising political voice for dalits and reclaiming land, the dalits in that region will have a more sustainable future.
      Another leader is Ashok Bharti (NACDOR) who is worried about the accountability of the Indian government since budgets for dalits are wrongly accumulated and therefore will not benefit the poor.
      ABOUT THE MAKERS
      Fatusch Productions is a Netherlands based company producing audio-visual material. Fatusch touches upon important themes within the international community and focuses on social issues such as female circumcision, gender based violence, migrant and refugees issues and moderate Islam. Large-scale AV-projects successfully implemented by Fatusch in the recent past were Agents of Change on female circumcision in Somalia and Mali and Back to the Future on voluntary repatriation of refugees from the Netherlands to Bosnia, Afghanistan and Somaliland.
      The film is directed by Ferri Ronteltap
      For more details check www.fatusch.nl
      Contact: dennis@fatusch.nl
      INTERNATIONAL CONCERN TO ADDRESS UNTOUCHABILITY
      India is in transformation and the fast expanding processes of industrialisation and globalisation affect social relationships within the Indian society. Understandably, the dalits are involved in a complex process of change as well. Even though India has experienced a strong economic growth over the past decade, caste disparities continue or even increase. Therefore, the international community has begun to address caste based discrimination. Among others, UN
      treaty bodies and Special Rapporteurs have raised their serious concern with the governments of affected countries on the human rights violations pertaining to caste discrimination. In February 2007, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the human rights situation of dalits in India, urging the Indian government to take immediate action – particularly in response to violence against dalits and impunity for perpetrators of this violence – and calling on the EU institutions to implement special measures. This milestone resolution reflects the increasing political concern in Europe about the failure of the Indian government to address caste discrimination.
      In order to correct the imbalances associated with the caste system, the state has introduced affirmative action and reservation strategies in employment, education and political spheres. Despite the very progressive character of these policies, it has so far remained to only a small part of the shrinking public sector. Moreover, widespread prejudices within the bureaucracy and underlying attitudinal orientations amongst all levels of Indian society, hinder the actual implementation of laws and policies.
      The quest for emancipation, empowerment of dalits and change is held back by three obstacles: the heritance of 3000 years of exclusion and domination (the past); the new economic situation which is characterised by urbanisation, industrialisation and globalisation (the present) and thirdly, the government: India has a beautiful constitution, but the implementation of laws are neglected at a large scale
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