Aftershocks: The Rough Guide to Democracy| 1hr : 07mins
Director: Rakesh Sharma | Producer: Rakesh Sharma
Focus Years: 2002 | Country: India
Aftershocks is about the transformation of the Welfare State into an ally of the Corporation. It examines the acquisition/displacement of two quake-affected villages for lignite mining/power generation. It probes the microcosm in the nature of a study "from below" of the globalisation of the Economy & the corporatisation of Democracy.
On January 26, 2001, Kutch (Gujarat, India) was devastated by a massive earthquake. Over 20,000 people died and tens of thousands of homes were destroyed. This film is set in Julrai and Umarsar, two villages in Lakhpat taluk (municipality), near the India-Pakistan border, close to the Gujarat coast. Umarsar is an upper caste Durbar village, while Julrai's entire population comprises low-caste Rabbaris, semi-nomadic shepherds, who began to settle down into permanent villages only in the last couple of hundred years. The two villages have nothing in common except that both were almost totally destroyed during the quake and both are sitting on top of lignite reserves. The Government-controlled Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation (GMDC) has a monopoly over all lignite mining activity in the region.
This film traces the story of GMDC's attempts to acquire the two villages. Eight weeks after the quake, on March 26, 2001, our camera accidentally bumps into the GMDC acquisition survey team in Umarsar. Over the next few months, the film moves in and out of Julrai, Umarsar and the GMDC's existing lignite mines and probes the processes of displacement and resettlement. Did GMDC succeed in exploiting the earthquake as a God-sent opportunity to hasten the acquisition? How did the obviously vulnerable quake-affected people of Julrai and Umarsar deal with it? What was the role of the state government machinery, entrusted with the welfare of its calamity affected people? How have the existing mines and the power plant affected the lives of the people living nearby? Have the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislative taken note of this human impact before they paved the way for the new mines and the new power plant? The film is a hitchiker's journey through the labyrinthine universe of Democracy, as it exists in its lowest unit level - the Indian village.
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