It is often overlooked that laws are driven by the values of the law makers. When these values turn against a particular community, such as the African-Americans in the Jim Crow South, zealous do-gooders often use the protection of the "law" to brutalize those communities. In India, the Animal Rights Act is such a cover, used by animal rights NGOs and forest department officials to prosecute the Madaris, an iconic community that has worked with animals through the millennia.

Fight for Survival won the second prize from amongst 85 films at the South-Asia Livelihood Documentary Festival "Jeevika", organised by the Centre for Civil Society, in New Delhi from 20-28 January 2006.

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In the film, Fight for Survival (20 mins), director Dakxin Bajrange shows us the results of this persecution. In Gujarat in 2003, the Animal Help Foundation and the forest department literally took the fight to the Madaris. Under the guise of protecting animals, Madaris were beaten by hired thugs, dragged out from their bastis, and locked up in dog-cages. Their snakes were taken away, depriving them of their only source of livelihood. But in the ruling values paradigm, officials and the urban NGO have greater credibility than the Madaris who are seen anyway as representative of an ignorant India, an India that 'India Shining' seeks to leave behind.

Bajrange spoke to the NGOs who decry that "India is known as a country of elephants and snake-charmers" and forest department officials to get their side for the film. The officials brush off the complaints of torture and beatings declaring that "to bring any change, some pain is necessary." Despite its focus on particular episodes of persecution, Fight for Survival is a rich record of the lives of the Madaris. The Madaris emerge not just as "snake-charmers", but a living, thriving, dynamic community.

Being a member of a stigmatised tribe himself, Bajrange brings to the film a sense of the real, lived experience of being on the wrong side of the law. In highlighting the situation of the Madaris, he speaks out for voiceless communities everywhere.