SOAS University of London

SOAS hosts photographic exhibition on economic growth in India

17 October 2017

SOAS University of London’s Brunei Gallery has opened a new exhibition on inequality at the heart of economic growth in India, which specifically explores the treatment of India’s low caste and tribal communities against the country’s economic boom.

‘Behind The Indian Boom: Inequality and Resistance at the heart of economic growth’ travels across India to meet its Dalits and Adivasis– historically stigmatised as ‘untouchable’ and ‘wild’. For the last quarter of a century the Indian economy has been booming, and is predicted to become one of the two largest economies in the world by mid-century. The exhibitions examines what this growth means for the people on whose land and labour it is based.

Behind The Indian Boom

Accounting for one in twenty-five people in the world, Dalits’ and Adivasis’ situation reveals insights into the conditions of oppressed people across the globe. Despite India’s significant economic growth, they remain at the bottom of its social and economic hierarchies. They are a source of cheap labour from which much of the world economy benefits, and some of the lands on which they have lived for generations are today important crucibles of global industry.

‘Behind The Indian Boom’ explores the precarious conditions of work and everyday struggles of the Dalits and Adivasis spanning the production of different commodities from tea to cotton, exploring the building of the infrastructure sustaining Indian economic growth from construction to dams, investigating the extraction of mineral resources. Importantly, it also highlights their fight back against the situations they find themselves in.

The exhibition is based on an ERC and ESRC funded Programme of Research on Inequality and Poverty in the Department of Anthropology, London School of Economics, led by Dr Alpa Shah and Dr Jens Lerche, Reader in Agrarian and Labour studies at SOAS and involves the work of several researchers, journalists and activists.

The exhibition will run until 16 December 2017.