This guy showcases the Unheard Stories of Rural India through a unique project

Indranil Sarkar, a person behind, The Rural India Project showed the rural India through his photographs. He is a student of Mass Communication from School of Communication , Manipal University. One of the most reputed website CAMPUS DIARIES featured his photographs and awarded him for his work on 25 photographs of rural India. India is not, as people keep calling it, an underdeveloped country, but rather, in the context of its history and cultural heritage, a highly developed one in an advanced state of decay.

Let’s know his journey of showcasing Rural India through his photographs

1. Was photography your passion from before?

Photography has been my passion since a very long time but I started handling a camera properly three years back in 2013. Though, I still recall the days as a kid, when I used to fidget with some really old SLR cameras at home, and clicked some decent pictures at that time.

2. The Rural India Project, what it is all about?

The Rural India Project (TRIP) is a storytelling initiative started by a group of students from the School of Communication, Manipal University. It is an attempt to capture the lives of people living in Indian villages. As students of journalism and media and as concerned citizens, we seek to provide a penned voice to those living in India’s villages.

3. What does The Rural India Project do?

Storytellers of The Rural India Project stay at a village of their choosing for a considerable period of time documenting life in the village to tell a story through writing, pictures or videos. It is a chance for the storyteller to explore and discover facets of rural India that makes it complex and unique at the same time. These stories are published on our social media platforms, and soon on the official website.

The Rural India Project is as much an archive as it is a living, breathing journal of life in rural areas. Not only does it archive the cultures, traditions and practices that are part of our rural landscape, it also simultaneously reports stories from rural areas that are both current and contemporary. From the picturesque countryside of Attapadi in Kerala to the unruly depths of the coal fields of Jharia in Jharkhand, our storytellers have documented the lives of everyday people living in these regions, complete with both their joys and successes and their travails and troubles. As much as possible, the stories are narrated from the perspective of the people living in rural areas.

The Rural India Project also organised events with the prime motive of narrating our unique stories archived from across India’s villages. It was invited to speak at The Manipal Conclave, the flagship event of Tech Tatva in 2015. TRIP organised events at Volunteer Services Organisation (VSO) — Tarang and Namma Angadi, an artistic fair conducted to exhibit a rural experience. It was published by Campus Diaries, an organisation that recognizes the work of students across Universities in India & recently collaborated with Letters of Love, to send letters to Syrian refugee kids tended to by UNHCR in Gaziantep, Turkey.

4. What is the main moto of The Rural India Project?

With its expansive and breathtaking landscape stretching from sea-level coastal areas to mountain tops interspersed with rivers and valleys, rural India captures a slice of the world while retaining its essence. The enormity of Rural India, however, comes with its own problems as rural India goes through a transformation that is making unique facets of rural India disappear without a trace. Languages are dying out, indigenous craftsmanship and art are increasingly becoming extinct. There are aspects of rural India that we surely could do without — extreme poverty, malnutrition, female foeticide and so on. With 279 million people living in poverty (according to the latest census) and widespread malnutrition, among a number of problems faced by people living in India’s villages, their struggle cannot be undervalued. While there are 3.3 million NGOs trying to help alleviate the lives of those in rural areas of India, 70–80% of them have almost zero web presence and thus exist separately.

This is where The Rural India Project comes in. We aspire to create a platform to showcase the unheard stories of rural India, improve awareness of our rich indigenous culture and create a discussion on the transformation experienced by India’s rural landscape.

5. Do you think India will always remain a developing nation?

To start off with, I don’t consider India as a backward/developing nation from any dimension. In fact, it is one of the richest countries in the world. The only thing is that we, as Indians need to realize it and stop competing with other nations unnecessarily. We don’t need to be labeled as First World to prove how developed we are. We have all that it needs. Like Albert Einstein rightfully said, “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it’s stupid,” something on the similar lines is happening to our nation. While we are so busy trying to be someone else, imitate some culture that is not ours, we are losing our own. We are overlooking our own people, own culture, own tradition, own wealth and still trying to develop in a parameter, which is not meant for us.

4. What was your achievement in Campus Diaries?

Campus Diaries is an organisation that is on a mission to connect 100 million students with each other, academia and companies across the world. The platform they have created helps students find connections, experiences and opportunities for their talent and careers. They are basically a team blending design, technology and communities to make the education ecosystem more open, connected and collaborative.

5. How did it all happen through Campus Diaries?

Campus Diaries awarded 100 of India’s brightest minds through their event Campus Diaries 25 Under 25 in four different categories: 1. Writing 2. Photography 3. Science and Technology 4. Visual Art and Design. And I was fortunate enough to be named one of the Top 25 Photographers under the age of 25 in the entire country.

6. Do you believe in taking your project forward through photographs?

TRIP is not just about Photography. It is a Storytelling initiative through any possible communicable media & a collaborative platform where we try to narrate the rural tales through different forms of media; it can be a photograph, an article, a video feature, a short film, paintings etc.

But as a Photographer, I want to keep making a mark by helping the people in need through any possible constructive way. Even when it comes to my future, I can’t think of anything else other than being a storyteller, someone who is responsible enough to tell the right stories the correct way.

7. Do you believe that something will change in India through your project?

The motive of the project is simply to tell stories from the rural areas of the country. As students of journalism and media, and as concerned Indians, we seek to give voice to those who need one. We might not be able to solve their problems, but we can be their narrator to the world. I feel we are living in a bubble. We live a comfortable life but if you see India as a whole, if you go to the villages, you see that most people live a hard life. I think we should try and break that bubble, not embrace it.

Look for his work in:

Indranil Sarkar in Campus Diaries

More about The Rural India Project

Originally published at Student Stories.

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