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India Shining, India Crying

2004-2008 - India
A story of contemporary India
Ambitious, gigantic and under international scrutiny, India has a plan: to become an economic giant among the world's nations. After centuries of submission under Islamic rule then the British Empire and finally fifty years of sluggish independance, the Asian elephant has awakened. Today the economic reforms begun in 1991 become clearly visible. But the machine of progress is impatient and greedy. Like a steamroller, this unbridled development ignores the destructive consequences it delivers upon the poorest.
Out of the booming Indian middle class, I got interested, specifically, first of all in the mining industry which severely affects the native populations, called the Adivasis. /.../
Personal projects
/.../ Then came the farmers, whose situation declines with each passing year, and who are no longer a priority for the authorities who concentrate all their focus on the industrial and service sectors. For cotton farmers the 'steamroller' is the liberalization of the agricultural markets.
China has its Mingongs. India has its Adivasis (or Tribals), its Dalits (formerly called Untouchables) and its OBCs (Other Backward Classes). Despite the rights and constitutional protections given since Independance to these communities, contempt, lies and exploitation remain rife.
These « second zone » populations harvest the abundant rotten fruit of the current economic development, surviving far from the golden bubble of the rapidly metamorphosing cities.
Two Indias. Rural and urban. Between which a gulf is widening inexorably.

To read pictures’ captions click on the images hereunder.

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Not far from the Bailadila iron mines area, a member of the Gond tribe with an arrow for the hunt with a bow, in a forest village. Bastar, Chhattisgarh.
Indigenous village of Kucheipadar, centre of the opposition against the bauxite mining site run by UAIL on the tribal land. This mining project has generated the famous conflict of Kashipur. Between moments of calm and return of the police violence, the project is still going on. But there are still villages of opponents who don’t give out their lands and resist to the pressure. Rayagada, Orissa.
Indigenous village of Kucheipadar, centre of the opposition against the bauxite mining site run by UAIL on the tribal land. This mining project has generated the famous conflict of Kashipur. Between moments of calm and return of the police violence, the project is still going on. But there are still villages of opponents who don’t give out their lands and resist to the pressure. Rayagada, Orissa.
Coal-rich Bokaro mining area. To the rear is a coal-powered heating station. Bokaro, Jharkhand.
An Adivasi man working on a coal waste-processing site in the Bokaro mining region. Having lost their lands and, little by little, their tribal culture, Adivasis in the region can look forward to little more than underpaid work as contract labourers. Bokaro, Jharkhand.
Coal mines around Dhanbad, the first coal city in India. Dhanbad, Jharkhand.
Adivasi people gathering leftovers of processed coal on wasteground in a disused mine in the Bokaro mining region. They will sell the coal afterwards in town. Having lost their lands and, little by little, their tribal culture, Adivasis in this region survive by any means possible. Those pictured here are considered as thieves by the authorities and are sometimes arrested by the police. Bokaro, Jharkhand.
Footprint and truck tyres prints on Bailadila iron mines area. Bastar, Chhattisgarh.
Village of Lodna, in the middle of the coal mines of Dhanbad (first coal city in India) where migrant workers classified OBC (underdevelopped castes) and coming from Bihar (the poorest state of the country), were surviving thanks to the abandoned remains of the coal mines, and sometimes with petty jobs. Following a major subsidence of the underground galleries, the village has been evacuated. But the people just don’t know where they’re going to go, and didn’t receive any help yet.
Talabira coal mine area, run by HINDALCO. Khageswar Rohidas’ former house. He is 31, and belongs to OBC’s, Other Backward Classes (underdevelopped castes). He used to own 2.5 acres of land and cashew trees, but has lost everything and has been waiting for 3 years for compensation for his lands. He received less than a third of the normal amount for the destruction of his house. Instead, he obtained, this cube of concrete on the site of the firm’s rehousing. Sambalpur, Orissa.
Talabira coal mine area, run by HINDALCO. Matulu Camp, a resettlement site for the villagers displaced by the company. Khageswar Rohidas, 31, who belongs to OBC’s, Other Backward Classes (underdevelopped castes), used to own 2.5 acres of land and cashew trees. He lost everything and has been waiting for 3 years for compensation for his lands. He received less than a third of the normal amount for the destruction of his house. Instead, he obtained, this cube of concrete on the site of the firm’s rehousing. Sambalpur, Orissa.
Female labourer building houses for the new middle classes in the new neighbourhood of Kalyani Nagar. Pune, Maharashtra.
Hiranandani Gardens, a new neighbourhood of Bombay under construction, offering luxury apartments and a western way of living. Bombay, Maharashtra.
Office colleagues at lunch time in a new business district in Gurgaon, the proud face of modern India.
Offices under construction in the new Kalyani Nagar neighbourhood. Pune, Maharashtra.
A banker at Costa Coffee, before starting his working day in a new business area in Gurgaon, the proud face of modern India.
Recently opened petrol station on the brand new high-speed road linking Bombay and Pune. Maharashtra.
Bowling alley in the Phoenix Mills Compound shopping centre, Bombay, Maharashtra.
On the beach at trendy Juhu beach neighbourhood, Bombay, Maharashtra.
Actress and model Bhairavi Goswami who goes by the name of Barbie, at the reception for the 4th birthday of the very famous and trendy Olive Bar & Kitchen. Bombay, December 2004.
A family at Mc Donald’s on a Saturday afternoon in the Phoenix Mills Compound, Bombay, Maharashtra.
Security guard at the entrance to some new luxury residences. Nouveau riche neighbourhoods are springing up all over the place in the country’s big cities. Bombay, Maharashtra.
Family at their luxury bungalow in the new town of Magarpatta Cybercity. Pune, Maharashtra.
Residential area in Magarpatta Cybercity new town. Pune, Maharashtra.
A couple who have recently moved to Magarpatta Cybercity new town. Pune, Maharashtra.
Suresh Sardar Chawan, a peasant from the district of Yavatmal, the most affected by the suicide wave, committed suicide on September 14, 2006. He had five children. Vidharba, Maharashtra.
Peasants pick up cotton in a field in the district of Yavatmal, the most affected by the suicide wave. Vidharba, Maharashtra.
The family to the funeral of a peasant of the village of Sunna, who committed suicide. He is the fifth person to put an end to his life in eight months in the same village. He had three daughters ans a son. His debt was 40.000 roupies (690 euros) high. Vidharba, Maharashtra.
Maroti Pachna Potrajwar, 62, a peasant of the village of Sunna, Maharashtra, committed suicide. He is the fifth person to put an end to his life in eight months in the same village. He had three daughters ans a son. His debt was 40.000 roupies (690 euros) high. Vidharba, Maharashtra.
The family to the funeral of a peasant of the village of Sunna, who committed suicide. He is the fifth person to put an end to his life in eight months in the same village. He had three daughters ans a son. His debt was 40.000 roupies (690 euros) high. Vidharba, Maharashtra.
Funeral of Maroti Pachna Potrajwar, 62, a peasant of the village of Sunna, Maharashtra, committed suicide. He is the fifth person to put an end to his life in eight months in the same village. He had three daughters ans a son. His debt was 40.000 roupies (690 euros) high. Vidharba, Maharashtra.

Exhibitions
  • First version of this project was produced for an exhibition by Visa pour l’Image festival in 2005 and the photo lab Processus, under the title “Oeil Public Agency: 10 years – Etat de Lieux”. This project India Shining, India Crying also received a supporting grant from the Plastic Arts Department, French Ministry for Culture and an acquisition of 15 prints for the National Collection of Contemporary Art in 2005.
  • Second version of this project was produced by the cultural department of the French embassy in India for the photo festival India Photo Now – IPN08, in 2008. Opening exhibition happened at the Bose Pacia gallery in Calcutta, followed by a tour in several French Cultural Centers of India (Chandigarh, Pondicherry…), and tour closing show was at the Romain Rolland gallery in New Delhi.
  • Other related exhibitions: Tops festival, China, 2008 / Seven Star Gallery, Berlin, 2009.
Publishing

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