Can Bollywood shatter India’s caste system? Treating delicate subjects with intelligence, sensitivity and creativity

“Education has to liberate a person from narrow world view and the boundaries of caste, community, race and gender. Teachers have been entrusted with the responsibility of moulding the young minds to understand the world and make it better.” – Shri Pranab Mukherjee, President of India (National Award 2014 to Teachers)

Diversity, plurality and tolerance are “core values of our civilisation”: Rashtrapati Bhavan >>

Recently, Aamir Khan – leading film star and household name all over the India where Bollywood reigns supreme – began a prime-time show tackling India’s most serious issues. And the whole country is riveted. […]

Our elites care passionately about India’s image. We love to talk about our proud and glorious past, our ancient heritage. Yet we pretend the evil in our country does not exist.

Aamir wrote: ‘we can never be considered a superpower if we continue to practice untouchability.’ This is a message our rich and powerful care about. It’s one we need to hear over and over again. […]

Crucial social issues can be raised by fun movies, getting people to change their attitudes. The key is to make it ‘not cool’ to have a feudal backward medieval mindset. I believe India’s youth will come on board, for a variety of reasons.

Our poor and our oppressed so desperately need a new tomorrow. Rabindranath Tagore, poet, Nobel laureate and freedom fighter, pleaded for a new dawn with our independence. A new India ‘where the mind is without fear and the head is held high’. Can Bollywood make this happen? Or Aamir Khan?

Source: “Can Bollywood shatter India’s caste system?” by Mari Marcel Thekaekara, New Internationalist, July 13, 2012
Address : https://www.newint.org/blog/2012/07/13/bollywood-untouchable-force/?utm_medium=ni-email&utm_source=message&utm_campaign=intl-enews-2012-07-26
Date Visited: 20 December 2020

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“The theoretical debate on caste among social scientists has receded into the background in recent years. [C]aste is in no sense disappearing: indeed, the present wave of neo-liberal policies in India, with privatisation of enterprises and education, has strengthened the importance of caste ties, as selection to posts and educational institutions is less based on merit through examinations, and increasingly on social contact as also on corruption.” – Harald Tambs-Lyche (Professor Emeritus, Université de Picardie, Amiens) in “Caste: History and the Present” (Academia Letters, Article 1311, 2021) | Learn more >>

Source: “Tagore, Gitanjali and the Nobel Prize” by Nilanjan Banerjee in
India Perspectives (24 No. 2/2010) | More about Tagore and rural education >>
Freedom: Accountability, Democracy, Education & Rights of Indigenous Peoples >>

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Bhimayana | Navayana >>
Art by Gond artists Durgabai Vyam and Subhas Vyam

Tip: Bhimayana: Experiences of Untouchability: Critically acclaimed as “a magnificent work of breathtaking art that symbolises the soul-stirring biography of an exceptional leader” and “a must-read for every child and adult in the nation and a must-include in every school’s curriculum”. (Sowmya Sivakumar in The Hindu Literary Review) | Find a library copy on WorldCat.org | Learn more >>

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