Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Selvaprakash L. | Vanishing Tribes

Photo © Selva Prakash-All Rights Reserved
On every single trip to India, I am amazed at the Indians' ingenuity in creating and crafting employment and occupational opportunities for themselves...whether it's the punkawallahs waving their flag at Sufi shrines for a few paisas to the young boys who peer in the waters of Haridwar in search of coins donated by the visiting pilgrims.

Most of these "jobs"are slowly disappearing, largely because of India's rapid modernization and socio-economic progress, its modern generation prefers not to follow ancestral trade practices, and the desire to escape caste restrictions. Many ancient practices are fading or have already faded out, while others are currently on their way to become a quaint relic of the past.

What prevents the punkawallah at the Nizzam Uddin shrine being replaced by electric fans? Tradition perhaps...but that too might well change.

Vanishing Tribes by photographer Selva Prakash is a collection of 8 color environmental portraits depicting such transitory trades, ranging from the milkman who delivers milk to homes to the roving knife grinder.

As for the man holding a sort of doll at the end of a pole in the above photograph...I really have no idea what he sells. He seems to have been photographed against the backdrop of a Ferris wheel...so perhaps he's involved in a carnival.

Note: Through the photographers Selvaprakash and Subrata Bose, I learned that this man is a 'Jow Mittai" or candy seller. The red, white, green and yellow strips seen on the pole are gelatinous candy strips popular among rural and semi urban children of India.

I recall the occasional cry of "robabekyah" in the streets of the Cairo suburb of my youth. Most probably extinct now, it announced the man who bought one's old clothes and miscellaneous junk such as empty glass bottles, cans, old shoes, etc. Probably the cry was derived from the Spanish (or Ladino) ropa vieja. Ladino of course, was originally spoken in the former territories of the Ottoman Empire, as Egypt was.

But I digressed.

Selvaprakash L. started his career in photography as a staff photographer for a leading Tamil newspaper. He was Chief Photographer with Dinakaran and DNA, and is now Chief photographer with TIMEOUT, Bangalore. He participated in a number of international photo workshops such as ingapore International Photo Festival 2008 (SIPF), Angkor Photo festival( Projection) 2010 and Photovisa International Photo festival, Russia 2010, Noorderlicht International Photo festival 2011, Delhi Photo Festival 2011 and Lagos Photo Festival 2011 and won numerous international awards.
His photographs have been published in Asian Geo, New Internationalist, and several leading newspapers and magazines in India.