[Reader-list] Photographs/ Labour/ IISH

Jeebesh Bagchi jeebesh at sarai.net
Sat Jan 17 23:32:42 IST 2004

A virtual exhibition of photographs has been featured on the Website of the 
International Institute of Social History.


This is a presentation of 53 photographs by Ravi Agarwal. Most of them
were taken in the Indian state of Gujarat in 1997-1999 for the book 'Down and
Out, Labouring Uunder Global Capitalism`. 

Poverty is the dominant feature of the working lives portrayed in this book.
But the misery of these men, women, and children in India has little to do
with the underdevelopment of the past. The poverty here is caused by
development and is concentrated mainly in what is referred to as the
informal sector of the economy, which is what four-fifths of India's
population depends on for its livelihood. It concerns the type of work 
that requires little or no capital investment or education and is small-scale
by nature. The wages earned from these enterprises are not only low but are
also characterized by great fluctuations in the amount of work each day,
month, or season. Two other factors characterize this type of work: the
absence of governmental monitoring as well as the absence of organizations,
namely unions, which traditionally represented the concerns of the working

Jan Breman, performed research over a 30-year period in an area located on
India's west coast, the site of enormous economic growth. Ravi Agarwal
presents a portrait of the working classes of this particular area. Together 
with Arvind Das, a well-known journalist and commentator on business
matters in India, Jan Breman has written the text that accompanies the

Ravi Agarwal is a photographer and environmentalist whose work encompasses
policy as well as grassroots work on issues of waste, recycling and chemical  
safety at the national as well as international level. He is a founder of  
Toxics Link, a national information exchange on toxics, and head of Srishti,  
an environmental group. His work has been shown in Documenta 11.

Jan Breman, Arvind Das, Ravi Agarwal
Down And Out. Labouring Under Global Capitalism
Oxford University Press / Amsterdam University Press
2000, ISBN 90 5356 450 0

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