The Referendum (Janamata)| 1hr : 05mins
Director: Tarun Mishra | Producer: Samadrusti tv
Focus Years: 2015 | Country: India
Referendum is a film that documents the culmination of the iconic and world famous struggle of the Dongaria Kondhs to protect Niyamgiri, the Sacred Mountain of law from mining. It represents a watershed moment in the fight for indigenous rights, environment and democracy in India. It describes a unique expression of grassroots democracy as the people of 12 villages in the Niyamgiri Hills of Odisha, India, take part in Gram Sabhas (Village Assmeblies) to decide whether they would allow Vedanta Plc, a global multinational, to carry out mining on top of sacred Niyamgiri mountain.
The democratic referendum over mining was an outcome of a longstanding struggle of the local communities against one of the most powerful and ruthless mining companies in the world Vedanta Plc. Vedanta Plc was strongly supported by the Government of Odisha, and the local resistance was sought to be intimidated and destroyed using state power. However, the resistance struggle against mining Niyamgiri had used both grassroots mobilization, national and international solidarity and legal action to stall the mining of the Sacred Mountain. The resistance received global attention, and after long and tortured legal processes, in 2013, the Supreme Court of India in an unprecedented decision directed that Government must take the consent of Gram Sabhas for allowing Mining.
Referendum is the visual story of these Gram Sabhas as they happen across the 12 villages. It captures the eloquent and powerful arguments of the Dongaria Kondhs against the mining of their sacred Mountain. In spite of the state's efforts to awe them by using armed personnel, and in presence of a district level judge, the dongaria kondhs deliberate on the issue of mining Niyamgiri with dignity and calm. The film is an eloquent testament to the wisdom of deep understanding of the people who are seen as backward people by the elites of India. It also exemplifies the relationship of care and mutual affect that exists between Dongarias and their environment, a far cry from the mindless consumerism and extraction signified by the mining project. The Dongaria Kondhs in their simplicity and wisdom, provide profound lesson to the modern humans on how to live lightly and with love in our environment and help us find a way out of the ecological and social impasse of the Anthropocene.
The Film was primarily produced to inspire and inform other rural and forest communities who are facing similar challenges of dispossession; and therefore is long and descriptive. Samadrusti Televisions has produced the film without any donor or corporate support and only accepts individual donations for its films.
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