Film on Uttarakhand village becomes a teaching tool in west

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Jun 27, 2015 10:24 IST

A 16-minute film on the life of Uttarakhand’s Makar Singh, his economic hardships and his efforts to uplift his community has won several awards and become a key teaching tool in universities across UK, US, Canada and Australia.

Titled ‘Lifelines’, the film has been produced by Jane Dyson, a researcher at the University of Oxford. It was awarded the Outstanding International Impact award by Britain’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) this week.

The film tells the story of the 32-year-old who hails from the village of Bemni. Like many of his friends, he tries to balance traditional work with his efforts to get ahead in the modern world, in times of economic hardship.

“The film is a portrait of Makar Singh, and through his story, a portrait of the village. The village is changing rapidly, and many big issues that educated unemployed youth encounter across South Asia are reflected,” Dyson told Hindustan Times.

“I have been conducting research in the village for over 12 years, and it has really become my second home. In that time, the village has changed dramatically, and villagers were really keen to tell their story,” she said.

“We really wanted to get it out to a wider audience than simply the academic community, and film seemed to be a good way to do that. It’s really important that we understand more about how global change plays out in the lives of individuals.”

The film has been viewed over 14,000 times in 126 countries and has been an official selection at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival (2015), Kathmandu International Film Festival (2014) and the Kendal Mountain Festival (2014), amongst others.

A US entrepreneur was so inspired by the film that he has begun fundraising for a new educational NGO in Bemni, the ESRC said.

“The film informs the society about a section of the world’s population that is poorly understood. It has found an audience that we could never have dreamed of reaching with just the written word,” Dyson said.

The film and an accompanying teaching pack now feature as a Welsh National Curriculum Resource, ESRC said.

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