Water Untouched: A film on Dalits' lack of access

Forming 17% of India's popultion, Dalits still have to depend on the goodwill of dominant castes for many things including access to basics. Why?
A Dalit woman in Ekta Nagar, Raipur A Dalit woman in Ekta Nagar, Raipur

“The Dalits of this country get access to water on the goodwill of the dominant caste. Water to untouchables is still miles away,” says Goldy M George, a Dalit activist and an expert on Dalit rights.

Caste-based discrimination still persistsin India many years after independence, and access to natural resources like land, water, etc. is still denied to most Dalits. However, this isn't the popular opinion at all although there are numerous case studies from across the country on violence against Dalits trying to access water.  

Who are Dalits?

According to the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, The word 'Dalit', comes from the Sanskrit root dal- and means “broken, ground-down, downtrodden, or oppressed.” Those previously known as 'Untouchables', 'Depressed Classes', and 'Harijans' are today increasingly adopting the term 'Dalit' as a name for themselves.

Dalit refers to one’s caste rather than class and it applies to members of those menial castes that have borne the stigma of “untouchability” because of the extreme impurity and pollution connected with their traditional occupations. Dalits are outcastes falling outside the traditional four-fold caste system consisting of the hereditary Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra classes. 

Some striking facts on Dalits and their access to basic services in India:

The film 'Water-Untouched' touches upon many of these points and raises several critical questions on their very existence.

 

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