Candid Camera: Shining Bright | Verve Magazine
India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
February 02, 2015

Candid Camera: Shining Bright

Photograph by Prashanth Viswanathan. Curated by Tejal Pandey

When light and empowerment become synonymous, metaphorically and literally….

Location Baundispada in Odisha, 11:00pm

Moving image “Twelve women from the Bonda tribe, one of India’s most primitive tribes, are working late into the night arranging power circuits, attaching LED lights and soldering wires. In five days they assemble 750 solar LED lamps, an order received from the government of Odisha to provide light to government-run schools in the area. They earn about US$ 1500, more than six times the average household income of US$ 200-250 in the village.”

Background “The Bonda tribe lives in the remote hills of Odisha’s Malkangiri district. Most members of the primitive tribe are not educated, have little access to the outside world and live in extreme poverty. Life expectancy is so low, the tribe faces the threat of extinction. Since 2003, the International Fund for Agricultural Development has partnered with the Odisha Tribal Empowerment and Livelihood Programme to improve food and livelihood security for tribal communities in the state. In 2009, with the success of the initiative, the programme was expanded to reach out to particularly vulnerable tribes such as the Bonda in Baundispada. A community that lived by nature’s rules and seldom forayed late into the darkness after sunset, today works late into the night. While India has made impressive progress in extending the grid in rural areas, erratic and unreliable supply remains a key challenge. Alternate, clean energy is crucial to bridge the gap. Women entrepreneurs in remote corner of Odisha have been able to show the way to a well-lit future.”

Photographer Prashanth Viswanathan is a freelance photographer, working on news and assignment stories from all across India since 2006. His work spans across newswires, newspapers and news publications, non-government organisations and other feature agencies. The focus of his work is on documentary photography, including events, weddings, political activism, visual sociology and news photojournalism.

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