society is divided into tiers of castes, where the 'untouchables'
are deemed so low that they fall outside the social scales - outcasts.
the Hindu notions of purity and impurity, any contact with them
is polluting. In the past, they would be beaten if their shadow
fell across an upper caste person. In some villages, they used to
be required to wear brooms around their waists and to efface their
spite of the attempts to introduce equality for the 'untouchables',
guaranteed by the constitution, discrimination still goes on in
a variety of ways, sometimes culminating in brutal murder.
AT BIRTH artfully contrives an open portrait of Indian society.
In CASTE AT BIRTH, Mira Hamermesh follows yet another conflict.
The film was inspired by friendship with the writer Mulk Raj Anand,
who was the first to write about the plight of the 'untouchables',
influenced by Gandhi's ideas. The book UNTOUCHABLES, published in
the thirties, is a Penguin Classic.
have about one hundred and fifty million untouchables in India who
are leading a life worse than the blacks under apartheid, and yet
the world is not aware of the magnitude of the problem …"
- Swami Agnivesh, Hindu priest