Sunday, January 04, 2009

Pictures from the Edge

A must-read from today's San Jose Mercury News: photographer Dai Sugano publishes photos and video from the month that he spent in India, documenting its neoliberal economic explosion and the (often overlooked) consequences.

Fosco has written about Mumbai recently, as a consequence of reading Mike Davis's remarkable book, Planet of Slums. Sugano's photos and videos offer an exceptional (although at times, slightly pretentious) visual accompaniment to Davis's book.

As Sugano notes,

About one-third of the world's poor people live in India. More than 450 million Indians exist on less than $1.25 a day, according to the World Bank.

More than 6 million of those desperately poor Indians live in Mumbai, representing about half the residents of the nation's financial hub. They dwell in gigantic slums and roadside shanties that press up against the shimmering high-rises that serve as the most conspicuous symbols of India's new affluence.
This type of inequality isn't completely beyond our imagination (as anyone who has driven through parts of Los Angeles can attest to), but the scale is beyond anything we Americans have been led to believe (thanks to the cheerleaders of neoliberal globalization). Mumbai may be one of the great "success stories" of a globalized Third World (driven partially, as Sugano points out, by Silicon Valley cash), but it's also a social nightmare straight out of Victorian England. And for reasons both ethical and practical, we can't allow this kind of inequality to continue.

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