India Insight

Photo gallery: On World Sight Day, photography by ‘Blind With Camera’

Photographers say you need to have an eye to take pictures. These children, who lack some or all of their vision, have applied the same maxim to their photography. The pictures that you see below are images that I took of an exhibition by the Mumbai-based project ‘Blind With Camera’. The show is on display at the Alliance Francaise in New Delhi until Oct. 18th, and I shot these images on the World Health Organization’s World Sight Day.

“…Tactile, audio clues, visual memories of sight, warmth of light and cognitive skills are used by the visually impaired photographers to create the mental image before they judge to take a picture,” said Partho Bhowmick, a member of the project.

The first picture was taken at Dadar Kabutarkhana in Mumbai during a workshop in 2010. The photographer, Bhavesh Patel, who was born blind, according to the exhibition brochure, said he followed the direction of the sound of pigeons flying and took the picture based on the audio clue.

 

Here are some more:

 

Taking pictures at a concert or an exhibition is an engaging experience. You get to capture the moods of spectators and visitors. At an exhibition, you can have people in the foreground or background while capturing pictures on display. But in this exhibition, there was not a single visitor.

 

 

In the picture below, “Cycle”, the photographer, Ravi Thakur, was trying to follow the direction of the sound of a bicycle in motion, but was confused by the sound of the sea.

Not so safe on Delhi streets

As a thriving metropolis, New Delhi is taking steps towards becoming a world-class city but the safety of its residents remains a concern — especially if you are a woman.

A Thomson Reuters survey ranks India as the fourth most unsafe place for women in the world. And its capital is no safe haven for its female residents.

But what makes New Delhi so unsafe? Experts differ on whether it’s the deep seated psyche of a male-dominated society, its socio-economic diversity or perhaps both.

The bitter truth behind BJP’s deafening budget silence

To some, the parliamentary walkout by India’s opposition prior to the vote on the country’s annual budget motion marked the failure of India’s ruling Congress party to engage with its primary adversary, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), over its claims that the Prime Minister had lied to parliament to protect his own reputation.

To others, the sight of BJP leader Sushma Swaraj leading her MPs out of the chamber as Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee prepared to deliver the most important parliamentary bill of the year encapsulated the sorry state of India’s increasingly bitter partisan politics that show no signs of repair since trumpeting corruption became the opposition’s raison d’etre.
Lawmakers and leaders of India's main opposition alliance led by the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) including Sushma Swaraj (front, L) and L.K. Advani (front, R) attend a protest against rising prices wearing aprons with protest slogans inside the premises of the Parliament House in New Delhi REUTERS/Stringer(INDIA)
Swaraj would later tell The Hindu that her walkout was to avoid disrupting the passage of the bill, but the damning point rang out loud and clear: the opposition had decided the corruption drumbeat was more important than the budget.

Mukherjee had earlier pleaded with senior BJP leaders to allow the budget to be debated prior to any discussion on a parliamentary privilege motion submitted against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by Swaraj, promising a two-and-a-half hour debate on the issue after the budget had passed.

Should forces responsible for over 100 killings be praised for restraint?

India’s Prime Minister praised the work of security forces in disputed Kashmir on Tuesday, in a show of support for troops that killed over 100 separatist protesters last year that risks angering those that resent India’s large military presence in the state.

Indian policemen stand guard during a curfew in Srinagar September 21, 2010. REUTERS/Danish Ismail

The remarks represent a seal of approval for security forces that are cited by many Kashmiris as an element of the violence, rather than the preventers of it, and come as a team of interlocutors enters its fifth month of talks in the troubled region, and almost two months after Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said that a political solution to the troubles was likely to emerge “in the next few months.”

But can Manmohan Singh’s praise for the “tremendous restraint” of Indian forces in Kashmir be applauded considering they have been responsible for the death of over 100 separatist protesters in months of violent clashes since last summer?

U.S. questions India’s military response abilities

WikiLeaks’ secret U.S. cable dump exposed the first controversial remarks about India on Wednesday, when a cable published by the Guardian described American belittling of India’s ‘Cold Start’ military retaliation plan against Pakistan.
U.S. ambassador to India Tim Roemer (R) talks with security personnel after his meeting with the Indian foreign ministry officials in New Delhi  REUTERS/Buddhika Weerasinghe
The Cold Start is a much vaunted doctrine to rebuff any Pakistani aggression by a massive military attack across the border within 72 hours of any attack from its neighbour.

After India and the U.S. were spared any serious embarrassment in the first two days of WikiLeak’s staggered release of secret U.S. cables, save an outspoken remark from Hillary Clinton about India’s inflated global ambitions, the secret cable from U.S. Ambassador Tim Roemer states that it is unlikely that India would ever enact the planned retribution strategy, and the chances of success would be questionable if so, in a cutting critique of New Delhi’s military might.

The February 16, 2010 cable from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, classified by Roemer and released by WikiLeaks, describes India’s ‘Cold Start Doctrine’ as “a mixture of myth and reality.”

Where did it go wrong between the Delhi Games and the media?

Fireworks explode over the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium during the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony in New Delhi October 14, 2010. REUTERS/B Mathur
Delhi closed the 19th Commonwealth Games in spectacular style on Thursday — a Bollywood finale during which not only the crowd but athletes on the field, TV crews and young helpers swung and shook to the best-of-Bollywood medley.

Best of all, some journalists who perhaps had spent weeks cataloguing corruption allegations, filthy athletes’ flats and half-empty stadiums that hobbled the Games, clapped along and jigged their shoulders in between typing their story for the night on laptops. Others, though not all, smiled and clapped and the mood felt good.

The media’s relationship with the Games and its organisers, especially its pantomime villain and chief local organiser Suresh Kalmadi, has see-sawed. Violent swings in how the Games were portrayed tested Indian authorities’ patience.

Privatise the Commonwealth Games?

A labourer stands in front of boards advertising the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi September 23, 2010. REUTERS/Mansi ThapliyalThere are two reports today that say everything about the fiasco of the Commonwealth Games. On the one hand, while Delhi government cleaners are apparently refusing to clean the toilets at the Games village because they were so “nauseating”, the Games organisers are calling in the help of some luxury private hotels, including the Taj and Oberoi, to help with hygiene.

There you have it. After nearly four years in India, most of the positive headlines I have read have come from the can-do attitude of Indian business or the energy of non-government grassroots organisations. The negative has mostly come from rafts of stories of the Indian state – the skimming of billions of dollars, the failure of basic health and education services.

For all the criticism that is being levelled at India, the most unfair somehow is that this country cannot organise events to the standard of the globalised 21st century. False. Just look at how one businessman, Lalit Modi, set up the Indian Premier League (IPL), which revolutionised cricket with its 20-over format and imported cheerleaders. After security concerns in
2008, organisers moved the IPL — in many ways more complex than the Games because it takes place over nearly two months in different cities — to South Africa within weeks, a huge feat of logistics.

Commonwealth Games 2010 – LIVE Blog

Commonwealth Games closing ceremony

News, views and updates from the Oct 3 – 14 Games in New Delhi. Share your views.

Full coverage of the 2010 Commonwealth Games here

Adviser’s attack on Congress shows party tensions

Appearing to signal dissent in the ranks of India’s ruling Congress party, the Prime Minister’s media adviser told reporters last night that the “status-quoist” party was only concerned with winning elections.

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (C), Chief of India's ruling Congress party Sonia Gandhi (R) and India's Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel (L) attend the inauguration ceremony of the newly constructed Terminal 3 at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi July 3, 2010 REUTERS/B Mathur“The Congress is by nature a status-quoist, pragmatic party,” Harish Khare, media adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was reported by the Hindustan Times as saying on Tuesday.

“It does not believe in any conviction. (Its) only conviction is to win elections,” the Indian Express added.

Judgement day looms for Kalmadi

The reckoning has come for Suresh Kalmadi, the head of the Commonwealth Games in India.

Leading members of the press around various Commonwealth Games venues on a tour on Thursday, Kalmadi appeared unable to see, or hear, the construction work going on around him as he talked of “100% complete” stadia and accommodation.Labourers work at the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Swimming Complex, one of the venues for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, in New Delhi September 12, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer

Much has been made of the comparison between the upcoming event and a traditional Indian wedding, in which the chaos of preparation transforms into a glorious spectacle at the last minute. The problem is that Kalmadi and his committee are running out of last minutes.

  •