It’s not always a good news when your land contains a large reserve of mineral wealth, at least not in India. In “A Disappearing World”, Photographer Robert Wallis reveals how India’s most ancestral tribe struggles against both the state and big corporations to stay alive.
I lived in India for 6 months and traveled around the country quite a lot. I’ve lived within Indian families enough that they have considered me one of their own. In fact, I’ve immersed myself in the culture in a way few Europeans dare to.
As a journalist, I have also followed Indian news attentively. After all, they affect my friends, some of the people I’m closest to. Yet I’ve missed out on what constitutes the fate of 26 million people in a province I was never really told about: Jarkhand.
Jarkhand – A rich Indian state not to be proud about
Jarkhand is rich yet filled with misery. It isn’t a state the usual Indian would proudly boast about. I discovered why in a photography exhibit at SOAS in London. As usual, I like to write to share what I’ve learned.
The source of Jarkhand’s wealth and misery lies in its soil. According to the Department of Forest and Environment of Jarkhand, “40% of the total minerals of the country are available in the state. The state is the sole producer of cooking coal, Uranium and Pyrite. It also ranks first in the production of coal, mica, Kyanite and copper in India.”
Hence, with the well-known unprecedented economic boost India is experiencing, mining corporations are taking over Jarkhand’s lands to extract its raw materials at an ever-increasing rate. But at what cost?
See the consequences of Jarkhand’s wealth at Brunei Gallery
Through his exhibit, Robert Wallis shows that Jarkhand is also home to “non-Hindu tribal groups, known as Adivasi, [who] have traditionally worshiped nature and maintained spiritual connections to ancestral territory where they have lived for thousands of years.”
Residing in the state’s dense forests, they draw all their basic necessities from a nature that is now disappearing. Wallis titled his series of photographs “A Disappearing World” justifiably. In fact, the Adivasis’ lifestyle and traditions are disappearing along with them.
Wallis’ powerful photographs show how today’s reality in Jarkhand contrasts with the tribes’ ancestral lifestyle. Jarkhand’s prolific natural resources is now the object of our modern capitalistic world’s needs. Exploitation of the country’s natural resources is condemning the fate of a culture that has lived in harmony with their land for centuries.
When: April 15th – June 25th 2011
Where: Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London.
Start challenging perceptions
To find out more about this issue and what you can do to help, I recommend visiting:
For more photos from Robert Wallis, please take a look at: