Tainted by their birth into a caste system that deems them impure and less than human, Dalits or untouchables live a life that strips them of their dignity. Aamir Khan bravely discusses the social monster of casteism that runs deep in our psyche
What if you are born with a label or an identity that deems you as impure, unacceptable and even guilty not just for a lifetime but it continues to discriminate you even after you death? Aamir Khan asks a pointed question based on the way people are being coldly categorised on the basis of their cast and creed in our country. Are all men truly born equal? Not really. Just take a look at headlines in our mainstream newspapers and you will know India’s untouchables are relegated to the lowest jobs, and live in constant fear of being publicly humiliated. In the 10th episode of Satyamev Jayate Aamir casts light on untouchability.
The show begins with a heart-wrenching story of Dr Kaushal Panwar who was born into a lower-caste family. Right from her schooling years to the present day where she is working as a university professor in Delhi, Panwar faced discrimination at every step in her life. With her story Aamir brings forth a shocking tale to introduce the monster of untouchability that exists even 2012 India.The discrimination is so deep-rooted that even elected MPs are not spared. MP PL Punia who is also the Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes was barred from entering the Kali temple in Odisha because he is from a scheduled caste and his community has been traditionally not allowed to enter the temple.
Documentary filmmaker Stalin reveals how untouchability is well-entrenched and is still being widely practiced across the country by people of all religions – right from children being discriminated at schools to people being ostracised at social functions. He shows us how dalit kids are forced to clean school toilets just because they belong to a particular creed. Stalin captures the biting reality in his camera and portrays it in his documentary film titled India Untouched. Aamir shows a few rushes of Stalin’s documentary to show the prevalent practice of discrimination, subjugation and casteism.
Justice Chandrashekhar Dharmadhikari believes that the labels of cast and community are so deeply ingrained in people’s mind that they continue to remain even after a person’s death, and the only way to stop caste-based discrimination is to refuse the existence of a caste system.
Aamir also discusses the provisions by law to stop manual scavenging. Statistically speaking, Aamir states that there are still around 13 lakh families across the country who continue to be employed in the most demeaning and humiliating profession ever known to man. Mostly people from lower caste (Dalits) are employed, or even forced to do manual scavenging, or cleaning other’s excreta.
Just like in previous episodes of Satyamev Jayate, in this episode too, Aamir gets different points of view and different voices in. And in the end, Aamir asked viewers all over the country to send in their opinion on the subject.He also urges young Indians to come forward and participate in wiping out the social evil of casteism.