Trades and professional practices have always been intertwined with the Caste System in India. Each caste and its sub-sets would stereotype an individual and dictate their occupational practice. In the 1860’s, people were not allowed to deviate from their fixed professions or they would be outlawed by society, which at the time, social morals reflected ignorance and strong attachment to orthodox beliefs. The tradition of professions and trades being passed down the line from father to son, continued for generations until the very moment when globalization and rapid socio-economic change resulted in the problem of enculturation and automation. At that point, many of the age-old practices faded out, while others are currently on their way to extinction. The modern Indian generation refuses to carry on with their ancestral professions and trades; they have become more daring and switch to the more lucrative business possibilities. The abandonment of traditional practices also result from insufficient incomes, a desire to escape the caste stereotypes, the constant neglect of the privileged classes of the society they serve, and a government that was not open to social reforms.
The practitioners of these Marginal (transitional) trades, businesses and professions were photographed in Kolkata, India, between 2011-2013. The images might just as easily have been taken a hundred-fifty years ago, when Calcutta (now Kolkata) was the capital of British Colonial India, and the commercial hub of the Indian sub-continent.
Global trends are constantly changing, therefore, in these increasingly frantic modern times, it is very easy to forget our past, culture and traditions. I am not opposed to modernization, but at the same time, I would want to slow things down and force one’s self to recognize and remember the beauty of these analog practices, within the realm of our digital age. As a photographer, I want to use my craft to pay respect to the tradesmen and bring them to light.