After nearly 20 years...
At the same time it is very disturbing and sad to know that the situation for Dalits in India, who now number almost 200 million, has barely improved. The caste system is still discriminatory and used to oppress Dalits.
- On the Edge of the Fold - is a programme of films made by independent voices, representing a diversity of approaches, topics and stories from Dalits in India, curated by Viknesh Kobinathan.
A 2001 study shows that more than half of the 80 million Dalit women in India experienced violence and abuse in their daily lives, primarily from dominant caste males. When French-Indian filmmaker Rani Khanna came across an image of a group of Dalit women in Bihar, who had embarked on a armed struggle against their oppressors, she was struck by their resistance and embarked on a quest to find them. While, corruption, mistrust and lack of safety mar her attempts at gaining access at every step, Khanna goes on a personal journey, where she comes across remarkable individuals who embody the fighting spirit of the armed Dalit women whom she never gets to meet. The film’s strength lies in its sincerity as Khanna grapples with her position as an outsider to the communities she faces, and the need for truthful documentation.
Coined by the 19th century Indian social activist and thinker, Jyotiba Phule, the Marathi word Dalit (meaning crushed, broken) is a descriptor for people who were considered untouchables by the Hindu caste system. This term then took on a more progressive and political term from the early 20th century with social reformer Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, at the height of the Indian nationalist movement, as a form of solidarity against caste oppression and colonialism. In India today, discrimination against Dalits is still a very pertinent issue, especially when observed in tandem with the rise of extreme right-wing Hinduism. Unequal opportunities in work and education, violence, abuse and denial of basic human rights plague these communities all through the country. Furthermore, Dalit experiences and narratives are generally either excluded or portrayed in an unfavorable light in mainstream media. However, the democratisation of digital technology and means of production in the past two decades have seen an increase and proliferation of literature and films that document Dalit experiences, opening up spaces for Dalit narratives to take root and thrive. On the Edge of the Fold is a programme of films made by independent voices, representing a diversity of approaches, topics and stories from Dalit India.