Pinch of Salt – Tanmay Shah (India, 2016)

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Pinch Of Salt” is a documentary about the endless fight between nature of salt making and life of salt pan workers in Gujarat since last 5000 years in India. The Agaria produce 40% of specialized crystal salt out of the 70% of total salt production of India which comes from Gujarat. The workers though, produce tonnes of salt, are still buried till head in debt and poverty. Their life is miserable as the salt traders do not pay them fair for their production and on an average a family of 5 has to survive on the minimum amount of $80 to $100 per month which keeps them deprived of any basic amenities.

The poor working conditions leads to several diseases like feet infections, skin diseases, heart problems, night blindness and others. The workers do not even have access to any medical facilities to avail timely checkups and the nearest hospital is 200 km away which makes it harder for them financially and physically.

The medical conditions are such severe that even most of the children have night blindness and the average age of a male worker has reduced to 54 years. The death rate is so high that there is an entire village devoted to 600 widows of all age. There is also no means of communication and transportation that can help them save lives in time. They communicate with the help of mirrors and pregnant women are carried to hospital by men on a bed.

The children of salt worker start working in the field since childhood as they cannot be left behind in the village all alone and when they relocate for eight months to the saltpan fields they do not have any access to schools. The workers want their children to have a better future but in the absence of education there is not much which can be done by them to end the 5000 year old vicious cycle of poverty and debt.

The Agaria tribe is not short of talent or intelligence as they have a highly valued cultural legacy of folk music and the children are well aware of the entire process of salt extraction from saline water. The people of the tribe need support from government and individuals to improve their lives and an opportunity to let people know that the tribe that produces 40% of salt for one of the fastest growing economy is going through what kind of hardships.

This documentary is our initiative to communicate the resentment within the hearts of Agaria Tribe because of the ignorance they face. It is an initiative to let others know that how optimistic are these people even when stranded in the middle of difficulties. They do not expect any financial help, all they require is righteousness to be served to them in return of their efforts to make the lives of other people flavorful.


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