Learning Together, Eating Separately

In Gairsen, Uttarakhand, embedded caste practices prevent children from sitting together at their midday meal.

According to the 2001 Census, 17,9% of Uttarakhand’s population belongs to a scheduled caste group – the figure proposed by Luxmi of 3% was given by her father, and does reflect the demographic reality. These groups are still facing caste-based discrimination – although the India Constitution has outlawed Untouchability.

Being from an urban background, Luxmi rarely witnesses caste discrimination personally, but she is aware that caste practices are still prevalent in her state. Thus, she decided to investigate the issue, to make visible a social evil so widely accepted that it rarely hits the front line of mainstream media. She decided to explore how things are going in school, which as public institutions should be exemplary in the anti-caste struggle.

But in Gairsen primary school, caste is still a divisive feature for students. Indeed, students from different castes do not sit together to eat their lunch, but group according to their caste. This sight infuriated Luxmi. She was all the more shocked when she discovered that this practice has been encouraged and supported by some teachers and students’ parents.Thankfully, a few teachers have started protesting, and have tried to encourage kids to share their lunch together, leaving their caste beliefs aside.

Luxmi shot this video with the hope that it would help put an end to socially divisive caste practices that have been prevailing for too long.

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