Tag Archives: India

Hats (periodic markets) in South Bihar, 1976-1977


This is the last, and most important, in my series of images from 1976 and 1977 when I was in what was then South Bihar (now Jharkhand) in India.  I had the enormous privilege of assisting Sudhir Wanmali who was then undertaking research on the hats, or periodic markets in Singbhum District.  He taught me so much, not formally but just by being with him, watching and listening to how he interviewed, and above all by seeing the ways in which he interacted with people.  His wisdom, enthusiasm, generosity and passion for research were, and indeed still are, inspirational.

The hats are markets that take place regularly in different locations, and provide an opportunity not only for rural people to sell to the itinerant traders and others in the market, but also to buy things that they need and do not produce themselves.  As the following images show, it was possible to buy and sell almost anything you might need there, from the cloth, pots and brightly coloured glass bangles brought in by traders, to sweet potatoes, onions, tomatoes and many other vegetables, as well as the cattle and goats being sold by the farmers.  Some traders also collected products such as lac, collected in the forests by the people who lived there, and others would also buy up small amounts of paddy that farmers brought for sale. At the end of the day, I remember rice beer being sold in simple cups made of leaves.  The pictures below are mainly from places such as Bangaon, Hat Gamharia, Nakti, Tebo and Jagannathpur.

Sudhir’s work was published in an excellent monograph – Wanmali, S. (1981) Periodic Markets and Rural Development in India, Delhi: BR – but is also written up in other papers, including:

At the time, I was also working on medieval England and drew parallels between marketing systems that had been created there in the 14th century, and those that I had experienced in Singbhum. This was published as:

  • T. Unwin (1981) Rural marketing in medieval Nottinghamshire, Journal of Historical Geography, 7, 231–51.

I very much hope that these pictures, now some 40 years old, not only contribute to the archive of Jharkhand’s past, but also reflect the beauty of this special part of the world.  I often wonder how the lives of the many people I met there turned out…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a comment

Filed under India, Jharkhand, Markets, Photographs, South Bihar, Uncategorized

Agriculture and rural life in South Bihar, 1976-1977


Working with my dear friend and colleague, Sudhir Wanmali, in what was then rural South Bihar (now Jharkhand) in the mid-1970s was one of the most influential times of my life.  It taught me so much: that rural people are universally exploited by those living in urban areas; that rural life in South Asia is incredibly hard; and that South Bihar (as it was then known) is amazingly beautiful.  I very much hope that the images below show something of that inspiration, but they cannot sufficiently capture the smells and sounds of rural life in India in the 1970s.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a comment

Filed under agriculture, India, Jharkhand, Photographs, Rural, South Bihar

Small towns and villages in South Bihar and West Bengal, 1976 and 1977


Continuing digitizing the slides from my research and travels in India in 1976 and 1977, I share here some pictures of small towns and villages in what was then South Bihar (now Jharkhand) and West Bengal.  These include pictures of the towns of Chaibasa and Chakradharpur, as well as several villages in this beautiful part of India.  I remember particularly the paintings on the walls of the houses in the villages, and some of the writing on them as well, not least the slogan “Fight for malaria”! The pictures here also show the sadness of smallpox, with the solitary gravestone, and also other such stones which I was told marked village boundaries.  There are also images of tile and brick making, and the sequence closes with a village school, which I had forgotten about but now makes me think of all of the other schools, particularly in Africa, that I have visited in the last 15 or so years.   Other rural, agricultural scenes will follow in a future post!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

8 Comments

Filed under India, Photographs

Jamshedpur 1976-1977


Continuing my visual reflections of India in 1976 and 1977, I spent much of my time there based at the Xavier Labour Relations Institute in Jamshedpur, in what was then South Bihar, now Jharkhand.  This was an amazing oasis of peace, calm and intellectual discourse, at the edge of the “steel town” of Jamshedpur.  Interestingly, my photographs do not entirely capture my memories, but they do reflect the smart houses of the rich, the dominance of the Tata Iron and Steel Company (TISCO), the Jubilee Gardens park, the street stalls where I bought a copy of the Communist Manifesto, the vibrant somewhat frightening energy of the Muharram celebrations, the hazardous scaffolding, the peace of the nearby river, and the Gurkha guards who befriended me at the XLRI.  They are still vivid in my mind, and I hope that by sharing these images from 40 years ago others may glimpse into the past of this fascinating town.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a comment

Filed under India, Photographs

Fatehpur Sikri, January 1977


In January 1977 I was fortunate to be able to visit Agra, and took the opportunity to visit the amazing old city of Fatehpur Sikri, which was founded in 1569 by the Emperor Akbar, and served as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1571 to 1585.  It represents a wonderful amalgam of different architectural styles, but was abandoned shortly after its construction because the lake that supplied the city with water dried up, and increasing turmoil with the Rajputana areas made it insecure.  I also particularly remember seeing a leper settlement just outside the city walls, but couldn’t bring myself to photograph the poverty and misery I saw there.  Digitizing my slides from almost 40 years ago, I thought that others might like to see something of what I experienced there.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a comment

Filed under India, Photographs

Taj Mahal, January 1977


I had the enormous privilege of visiting India in 1976 and 1977, and in January 1977 went to Agra, from where I traveled the short distance to the Taj Mahal on the banks of the Yamuna River.  It was a wonderful experience, and I particularly remembered the fine beauty of all the inlaid stone.  Digitizing some of my slides, now almost 40 years afterwards, I just thought that it would be nice to share these here, so that others could enjoy the calmness and serenity of this beautiful mausoleum commissioned in 1632 by Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1 Comment

Filed under India, Photographs

ICTs and Urban Micro-enterprises in Mumbai


P.Vigneswara Ilvarasan and Mark Levy have just made available the final report from their exciting and innovative IDRC funded research on the use of ICTs by urban micro-enterprises in Mumbai, employing fewer than 20 hired workers.  This is one of the most important analyses of ICTs and entrepreneurs that I have recently read.  The methodology is much more rigorous than that of most research in the field of ICT4D, which means that considerable credence can be placed on the reliability of the results. Some 329 male owners or managers of micro-enterprises, and 231 female owners were interviewed between April and June 2009, and a further 102 men and women were surveyed in September and November 2009.

Whilst I might have some quibbles over definitions – surely in general usage, the term micro-enterprise is used to refer to much smaller units than those employing 20 people – this is a really excellent piece of research that deserves widespread citation.  Its key findings are:

  • “Nearly everyone who owned or managed a microenterprise—regardless of sex—had a mobile phone.
  • Many female and male microentrepreneurs who owned or managed microenterprises and who used a mobile for business communication reported that the year-over-year income of their business had risen.
  • Urban microentrepreneurs experience different levels of economic growth depending on how they use their mobiles for business communication.
  • The positive impact of mobile phones on microenterprises might emerge only after two years of use. Microentrepreneurs who owned a mobile for two years or less saw some growth in business income; those who had begun to use their mobile more than two years earlier experienced even greater income growth.
  • Levels of PC ownership and usage at home and work were low.
  • Few microentrepreneurs frequented Internet cafés for business purposes.
  • Only small numbers used their mobiles for the full range of business-enhancing activities.
  • Consideration of a microentrepreneur’s full repertoire of ICT use showed a positive relationship with microenterprise growth, especially when other factors such as gender and motivation were also taken into account.
  • Compared to women-owned microenterprises, microenterprises owned or managed by men had much greater increases in business income, although female owned microenterprises also experience some growth
  • The more positive a female microentrepreneur felt about her status and power because of her business, the more she was motivated to use ICTs in support of her business.
  • The more that a woman entrepreneur used mobile phones, workplace computers, etc., the more her microenterprise grew, especially businesses in the trade sector of the informal economy.”

Thanks Vignesh and Mark for enriching us with this important study.

2 Comments

Filed under Entrepreneurship, ICT4D