niyam dongri, tribals of india, odisha tribals, tribalism, forest dwellers, farmers

Niyam dongar

By: Staff Reporter
Breaking away from tradition, The Other Hundred, a photo-book project, tells stories of a 100 people who are not rich or famous, but deserve to be celebrated for their extraordinary lives.

Jarapa Village’s unanimous ‘no’ completed the scorecard. In India’s first environment referendum, not one of the 12 villages, selected by the Odisha government to decide whether the Odisha mining corporation (OMC) and Vedanta Aluminium Ltd. (VAL) should be allowed in the Niyamgiri hills, cast a pro-mining vote. This meant that Vedanta did not get Stage 2 clearance—mining rights, for its project.

The Niyamgiri hill range in Odisha is considered sacred by the Kondh tribe and other forest dwellers. The area of over 250 sq km has a bauxite reserve estimated at 70 mt, which the OMC- VAL endeavoured to tap in order to supply Vedanta’s alumina refinery in Lanjigarh. Despite the recommendations of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) of the Supreme Court to revoke the Lanjigarh plant’s environmental clearance, the plant was built and marketing begun by the time the Supreme Court heard the matter in 2007. The people of Niyamgiri vehemently opposed the proposal. A reprieve came in 2010 when Jairam Ramesh, then environment minister, brought an end to Vedanta’s plans.

The protests, which began in 2005, have claimed the lives of several tribal people in accidents, police firing and forced displacements. The photo of the Niyamgiri tribals, part of The Other Hundred project, is a representation of this protest.  Such and many other stories spun together make the very novel ‘The Other Hundred’ photo-book project which features 100 photo stories of people who are not ‘rich’, ‘beautiful’, or ‘powerful’ but whose ordinary, at times extraordinary, tales remain unheard.

The 100 shots from 91 countries were selected by a six-member judging panel, from 12,000 entries from 156 countries, sent by 1500 photographers. The winning photographers received an honorarium of 300 USD. This not-for-profit project was conceived by Chandran Nair, founder and CEO of the independent Hong Kong-based think tank Global Institute for Tomorrow (GIFT). “The goal of The Other Hundred is both to inform and to provoke thought,” says Nair. “The implication of many of the rich lists and articles put out by the media is that being rich is the only way to succeed or live a life of meaning. The reality is that the majority of the people in the world are not rich and we wanted to tell their side of the story.”

However, the members did not want The Other Hundred to be a book about poverty. A glance at the stories chosen will immediately tell you that these are not ‘the poorest 100 people in the world.’ Implicit in it, of course, is a critique of the media’s obsession with extremes of both wealth and poverty. Readers thus get a terribly distorted idea of what the world is—especially about countries that they have never visited. The Other Hundred is a valiant and indeed attractive attempt to address that very gap.

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