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The Adivasi

Adivasi means "first inhabitant" and refers to the indigenous people of India and neighboring countries. Their ancestors had to live in the course of Indo-European immigration, which began around 1500 BC. Began and until 500 BC. Lasted to retreat into remote forest and mountain areas. Some of them have been able to maintain their traditional ways of life there to this day.

The immigrants established the caste system over the centuries to secure their supremacy. The Adivasi are outside of this caste system and therefore at the bottom of society. Out of resistance and self-assertion, politically active natives spread the Sanskrit / Hindi expression "Adivasi", which is widely used today.

The Adivasi artist Jamsheed

For many years Jamshed had to paint postcards in the basement of a house in Bombay. The artist received 50 cents a day for this. At some point he decided to go back to his village and live there from the traditional painting of the Adivasi, the indigenous people of India. Today he paints houses. The client determines the story: birth, wedding or other events are recorded. But actually Jamsheed is a freelance writer. First he draws the old stories on goat skins and then tells them to his guests.




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The displaced people from Rourkela

In 1953, the Indian government began planning and building a steel plant in cooperation with the Federal Republic of Germany. Around 5000 German companies including their suppliers were involved in the construction of the iron metallurgical plant. It was the first and most important post-war project with which German industry was able to demonstrate its newly won international competitiveness. It is at the beginning of the German export successes. The steel mill, in which 32,000 people work today, was built on the land of the Adivasi. To this end, 32,000 Adivasi from 32 villages were resettled. They were supposed to get compensation for their land loss, but they never did. Hundreds were deported to the jungle, many of whom died of disease and malnutrition. Others were resettled in ghettos in Rourkela. The land of the Adivasi, which was expropriated but not yet used, was never given back. The German federal government refuses to this day to recognize their co-responsibility for the expropriations and resettlements and to make compensation payments. This is a documentary from a research trip to Rourkela and to resettlement sites, some of which are more than 70 kilometers away in the jungle.

Documentation about the displaced Adivasi in Roukale, India

Documentation about the displaced Adivasi in Roukale, India

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Adivasi resistance to landgrabing and mining multinationals


For more than 100 years, India's indigenous communities have been systematically oppressed, disenfranchised, dispossessed and dehumanised. Even independence from the British colonial power and even the rights guaranteed to them in the Indian constitution have not changed the situation. On the contrary, globalisation and "India shining" (The capitalist push for modernisation after the collapse of the bloc confrontation) promoted land expropriation for the benefit of capitalist profit maximisation, legally legitimised and promoted by the instrumentalisation of the Indian state. The resistance of India's indigenous population has increasingly formed in recent decades. The Adivasi, as the indigenous people of India call themselves, are now the largest oppositional movement in India.



1. Stan Swamy - "It will be black desert"

The first part is a conversation between the Adivasi activist and human rights activist Stan Swamy and the journalist Michael Briefs. Swamy was a Jesuit priest and a supporter of Adivasi resistance against mining multinationals for 50 years. The conversation will focus on how exactly the government's and multinationals' approach to Adivasi land confiscation works, how peaceful resistance is organised and what support Indian and foreign activists can give. Stan Swamy died in Bombay prison on 5.7.2021, the oldest political prisoner in India, aged 84. The interview was conducted by Michael Briefs in 2004 in the Indian state of Jharkhand.

2./3./4. Bulu Imam - "Learn from us" / "We wiped out nine-tenth of civilasation" / "You have to give a real alternative"

Three "takes" with philosopher, environmental activist and human rights activist Bulu Imam. First he talks about the causes and in the second "take" about the concrete consequences of the modernity imported by the Weists in India and China, among others. In the last "take", he begins to outline the idea of a global alternative to the Western concept of modernity. This is based on a rejection of modern concepts of development, as they are pushed forward to the present for the benefit of globalised elites, regardless of the political system. This modernity is a "canibalistic modernity", the consequences of which are disastrous, especially in the countries of the South. It actively promotes the eradication of cultural and natural diversity. Climate change is only one consequence. The global consequences threaten the survival of all humanity. The interview was conducted in 2004 at Bulu Imam's home.

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