Distributor:  Bullfrog Films
Length:  24 minutes
Date:  2000
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English
Grade level: 7-12, College, Adult
Color/BW:  Color
Closed captioning available
Interactive transcript available
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Untouchable?

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The caste system and bonded labor are still alive and well in India.

Life - Untouchable?

Veerasamy takes in washing for his living. He lives in a small village in southern India where all the inhabitants are dalits -- outcasts or 'untouchables' as they're known in India.

But even among the dalits, there are divisions, and Veerasamy belongs to the lowest scale of the hierarchy. The only payment he receives for back-breaking work, washing and steaming and drying the village's laundry, is to receive the left-overs from their meals to feed his small family.

Discrimination based on caste membership has been, theoretically, illegal since India first gained independence in 1947. But, as this Life program from Danish director Poul Kjar shows only too plainly, it's an accepted part of everyday life across the continent.

Whole families of dalit people exist effectively as bonded or slave laborers, cutting up rocks with their bare hands in a Tamil Nadu quarry. Eight-year-old children -- prized for their docility, hard work and dexterity -- work ten 12-hour days in India's silk factories.

There are an estimated 100 million child laborers in India. Human Rights organizations are now, finally, taking up the dalits' cause and, as Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu urges in the introduction to the film, calling for the end of a system of discrimination as heinous as the former apartheid system he and his generation fought against in South Africa.

'Despite human rights reforms, this film emphasizes that the scourge of 'untouchability' remains an abominable blight on the Indian social landscape.' Timothy McGettigan, Professor of Sociology, University of Southern Colorado

Citation

Main credits

Halding, Esben (film producer)
Kjar, Poul (film director)
Bradshaw, Steve (commentator)

Other credits

Camera, Poul Kjar, Scott Jennison; music, The Definitive Break; editors, Marie-Louise Bordingaard, Damien Rea.


Distributor credits

Television Trust for the Environment

Poul Kjar

Television Trust for the Environment
Poul Kjar
Series Editor: Robert Lamb
Executive Producer: Jenny Richards
Series Producer: Luke Gawin

Docuseek2 subjects

India
Poverty
Cultural Anthropology
Human Rights Law
Human Rights
Labor Studies
Youth Issues
Sociology
Cultural Anthropology
Social Psychology

Distributor subjects

Anthropology
Child Labor
Developing World
Economics
Ethics
Geography
Global Issues
Globalization
History
Human Rights
Humanities
India
International Studies
Labor and Work Issues
Social Justice
Sociology
United Nations

Keywords

; "Untouchable?"; Bullfrog Films

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