Vasanti Shinde, at home with two of her daughters Vrinda, 8 and Shruda, 10. Maharashtra. India ©Tom Pietrasik 2008 The struggle against the over-zealous patenting of life-saving drugs was dealt a victory in India last week. So it seemed an appropriate time to revisit my photographs, commissioned by UNDP, of Vasanti Shinde, an HIV-positive mother [...]
The Guardian website now features a short film I made about a health project in rural India called Jan Swasthya Sayhog (JSS). I have photographed the JSS several times before and always felt that their ceaseless commitment to the rural community they serve together with their understanding of healthcare in India would warrant the making of [...]
Administering the polio vaccination at a clinic inaugurated by the local Imam outside his madrassa in Moradabad. Polio eradication efforts are improved with the blessing of local community leaders. Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh. India ©Tom Pietrasik 2006 Two weeks ago India announced that 12-months had elapsed since the country last recorded a new case of polio. [...]
Towards the end of 2010, while photographing for a commercial client in New Delhi, I had to negotiate the not-insignificant challenge of working alongside a film-crew. I’ve been in this situation several times before but on this occasion there were six of them – directed by an Academy Award winner no-less; my assistant Sunayana and I were well and truly outnumbered! In this fast-converging world of still and moving images, many photographers are making the move into film-making. For my first outing into the world of cinematic journalism, I spent a weekend observing the very serious-business of male grooming on display in a lower middle-class suburb of New Delhi. The movie, entitled “Saloon”, provides a glimpse inside the intimate yet very public space that is the Indian barbershop.
These photographs will be displayed at Brighton’s AM Gallery from tomorrow as part of an exhibition called Indian Photography Today. The show will feature a diverse range of work from several photographers under the broad banner of contemporary Indian photography.
Dhanga’s is not an isolated case. Thirty-three percent of Indians are underweight with a BMI (Body Mass Index) below 18.5 which, Dr Binayak Sen says amounts to a “genocide without bullets”. Sen, a public-health activist and advisor to the JSS, currently resides in prison, serving a life sentence on false charges of sedition. Sen’s real crime has been to expose the Chhattisgarh state government’s appalling failure to represent the interests of those to whom it was elected to serve: ordinary people like Dhanga Baiga.
Think of an Indian farmer and it is likely that you will conjure up the image of a man, dressed a dhoti – or perhaps wearing a turban – toiling in a field of wheat or rice. But as Neelam Prabhat of AROH pointed out to me last week, it is women who shoulder the burden of 70 to 80 percent of the agricultural work that takes place in India.
Rajasthan’s chief wildlife warden Ramesh Mehrotra took objection to a story that accompanied my photographs in National Geographic Adventure magazine. In his vexed letter, which seems only to have been published in the print edition of National Geographic Adventure, Mehrotra appeared slighted by writer Paul Kvinta’s critique of Rajasthan’s tiger relocation policy. Mehrotra apparently considered that the fine hospitality and pleasant company he offered us obliged Paul to write a glowing report on the tiger conservation effort. But how much worse it could be if the charms of official hospitality were ever to silence those who scrutinize policy and continue to argue that there are systemic problems with India’s tiger conservation strategy.