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India, the world’s largest democracy, turns 75. With his special brand of non-violent resistance, Mahatma Gandhi paved the way for the country’s independence. He campaigned for a pluralistic, secular state and equal opportunities for all. What remains of those ambitions, today?
How far as India distanced itself from the ideals of equality and non-violence espoused by Mahatma Gandhi and other founding fathers? How are democracy, human rights and social justice faring today - and where is India headed? These are the questions that form the basis for this film’s narrative. The film focuses on people still working today to keep Gandhi’s ideals alive - a challenge, as contemporary reality is often a world away from those goals. Taken together, their stories form a mosaic representing the multi-faceted nation that is India. A nation marked by stark poverty and great wealth. On the one hand blighted by Hindu nationalism, violence against women and overwhelmed by major environmental problems. On the other, India fosters great geopolitical goals and has an ambitious space program. Although discrimation on the basis of caste is banned by the constitution, the country continues to marginalize certain sections of its population; children continue to be exploited in urban brickyards; and indigenous populations are driven from their land to make way for corporate development. At the same time, India is a highly spiritual place with a rich cultural history; a nation that comes up with innovative, critical and creative responses to all manner of problems. Both films in this two-part documentary explore the intersections of these colliding worlds - brought to life through personal stories. Contemporary accounts of India frequently look to the past, when the foundations were laid for the world’s largest democracy. One person in particular who was able to build a bridge between the past and the present is Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, who was murdered in 1948. Arun lived with his grandfather for many years and relates personal anecdotes from that time. He captured his grandfather’s ideas in a well-respected book ("The Gift of Anger: And Other Lessons from My Grandfather Mahatma Gandhi”) and draws comparisons between India’s recent history and its current predicament. The Indian academic and globalization critic Vandana Shiva sees a vast chasm between Gandhi’s ideals and the modern reality. Her stance is unequivocal: civil disobedience is necessary to this day.