#THEUSUALSUSPECTS: certain communities were codified as automatic criminals in law, meaning that they could be arrested without evidence or due process, harassed and subject to indignities on the whims of the authorities. Those statutes were overturned and removed - not very long ago - but it is harder to change attitudes and prejudices that have been reinforced for generations. #VSSM worked tirelessly to return these tribes their rights and it often began with voting cards, enshrining their rights to rations and work and legal standing. Appreciate your right to vote, politicians will respect you more if you can and do. #tribes #nomads #denotifiedtribes #gujarat #votercardpower #disenfranchised #india #vote #photojournalism
#SNAKECHARMING: to underline the point that this tradition is dying, the chief’s son - backing away in the doorway - has lost control of the snake, and has been saved by his friend. Mike Davis, the great picture editor, observed that he’s looking out and not at the cobra suggesting he’s more worried about what other people are thinking. #india #vadi #nomads #tribes #gujarat #snake #cobra
#TRIBE: the chief of the #Vadi here is a magician and crack snake charmer. The tribe has suffered from the outlawing of snake charming - seven years in prison - without any alternative or assistance given by the government. I was upset to discover that in 2018, four women from this tribe were attacked and one was killed after accusations of child kidnapping. There is way too much to unpack in a single Instagram post, but it’s complicated. Outlawing traditional livelihoods is one thing - once you’ve seen the awfulness of dancing bears, you’d sign the legislation - but leaving people in poverty and starvation is another. #india #nomads #gujarat #photojournalism #snake #cobra #snakecharmer
#NOMADS: I met a a very famous photographer whose style I spent the summer of 2009 ripping-off, and he was photographing many of the same subjects as me. He gave me tons of great advice and one key point was that he thought it very important that I show them on the move. I finally nailed it after many weeks. The men have already left with the cattle, the women pack up camp and travel to the next site, literally carrying their beds. #tribes #gujarat #india #photojournalism
#TRIBES: the #Romani people originated in #India, and there are still many nomadic tribes wandering through Western India. #nomads #gujarat #photojournalism
Back in 2008 and 2009, I worked alongside VSSM in Gujarat to document the lives of the Nomadic Tribes scattered across the state. While I am not especially keen to look backwards, lockdown has presented me with a rare opportunity to revisit some of the images archived away to re-grade them with modern technology and see if there are any hidden gems that I overlooked first time around.
Since posting most of these on Instagram, I have considered following-up the story properly by returning to India, but they are currently in the middle of a terrible, terrible COVID crisis, largely caused by their indifferent and incompetent government, and my heart goes out to the whole country.